Life is infinitely precious, and our grasp on it is but frail.
Thomas K. Hearn Jr.
Thousands of words have been written about Thomas K. Hearn Jr. and his tenure
as President of Wake Forest from 1983 to 2005. The man, the University, and the
times were dynamic. When reflecting on these twenty-two years, they can be viewed
as both exciting and transformational, with many people within the institution—­
faculty, staff, and students—as well as those outside of it, such as alumni, businesses,
and foundations, shaping the present and the future. Accomplishments of the era
a change from restrictive denominational governance controlled by the Bap-
tist State Convention of North Carolina to independent governance by a
self-perpetuating Board of Trustees open to all individuals who shared the
University’s values;
growth from a strong regional university to a top-thirty national institution
of higher education;
bold technology moves, such as the Plan for the Class of 2000, providing lap-
top computers to all faculty and students beginning in the fall of 1996;
a strengthening of the liberal arts tradition on the undergraduate level with
the approval of double majors, double minors, and interdisciplinary minors,
such as film studies;
the growth of new departments—for example, East Asian Languages and Lit-
erature, Communication, Computer Science, and Theatre;
a renewed focus on the first-year experience, including first-year seminars
and substance-free housing;
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