2 The History of Wake Forest
deep, reflective thinkers in their scholas-
tic disciplines. However, their interests
and the paths they took personally, aca-
demically, and administratively diverged.
Scales, the historian, with a quick wit and
personal charm, first made his adminis-
trative mark as President of Oklahoma
Baptist University and next as a Vice
President at Oklahoma State University.
Hearn was a philosopher, an expert on
David Hume, with a scholarly interest
in the poet Robert Frost and a love for
the pop lyrics of Simon and Garfunkel.
A native of the Sand Mountain region
of Alabama, after receiving his doctorate
from Vanderbilt, he taught for ten years
at the College of William and Mary. At
that time, sensing a chance to move his
family closer to relatives, he accepted
an academic position in the newly cre-
ated UAB Department of Philosophy. He
ascended rapidly through the adminis-
trative ranks as Chair, Dean, and Senior
Vice President. Like Scales, he was ambi-
tious and wanted to be a university president. Unlike Scales, he was an introvert and
often initially perceived as somewhat distant.
Coming from an urban university, Hearn practiced a style of interaction that was
not familiar to Wake Forest. He was direct, aggressive, and oriented toward the big
picture. He spent less time with faculty than his predecessor had and more time with
Winston-Salem’s major corporate executives. He reasoned that Wake Forest would
only prosper if its community prospered. Furthermore, he knew that while Wake
Forest was rich in heritage, its endowment was weaker than that of most comparable
institutions. By cultivating relationships with the affluent and influential in the Pied-
mont Triad, he hoped to benefit all.
Reactions to the Appointment
Due to other commitments, Hearn could not officially begin his duties until October
1, but response to his appointment was immediate. Friends and colleagues in Ala-
bama conveyed congratulations tinged with sadness. The first telephone call the new
president received was from Bert Shore, Wake Forest College Class of 1937, who lived
in Birmingham. Hearn would recount Shore’s warm welcome on later occasions:
“I don’t know you, Hearn, but I love you because I love Wake Forest.”
Gerald Johnson, Editor Emeritus of the Baltimore Sun and Wake Forest’s most
famous non-athletic alumnus at the time, simply wished the new president well.
Dozens of other letters and notes flooded Hearn’s mailbox. Wake Forest Trustees
Newly appointed President Thomas K.
Hearn in front of Wait Chapel