A Pivotal Year of Change
“Pro Humanitate is the motto given you this day with your diploma. Ed Wilson said
during our recent trek to old Wake Forest: ‘At our (Wake Forest’s) best, we reached not
outward for what the world might give us but inward for what we might find within
ourselves to give the world.’”
Thomas K. Hearn Jr., May 20, 1996;
Charge to the Graduates, Wake Forest University Commencement
n the 1995–1996 academic year, several events stand out. The Deanship of the
College transferred from Tom Mullen to Paul Escott, and leadership of the
School from Walter Harrelson to Bill Leonard. The construction of gates
at the entrances to campus was recommended, and in a major boost to morale, the
men’s basketball team won its second consecutive ACC championship.
Paul Escott, Reynolds Professor of History and author of four books on the Civil
War, was selected Dean of the College in February 1995, replacing Tom Mullen, who
returned to teaching in the History Department after twenty-seven years in admin-
istration. The three other finalists for the Dean’s position were Nancy Cotton (Eng-
lish), Margaret Supplee Smith (Art), and David Weaver (Anthropology). Escott’s
official start date was July 1, when the academic year also began. He had been at the
University since 1988 and was named a Reynolds Professor in 1990. He was seen as
knowledgeable, even-tempered, fair-minded, and forward-thinking with high aca-
demic standards.
Walter Harrelson’s term for planning the Divinity School, which was only
two years, ended on June 30, 1996. On May 21, Bill J. Leonard, fifty years old, was
appointed the school’s first Dean, starting July 1. A noted Baptist scholar like Har-
relson, Leonard had written widely on American religion and Baptist studies and had
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