Chapter Four: 1986–1987 55
[Scales] the day that the Baptist decision was made and called him and said it had
happened. He said he didn’t like it.”
By spring 1987, Hearn was more upbeat. In an April 23 letter to Joseph Branch,
he praised several members of his staff—Russell Brantley, Bill Joyner, Leon Corbett,
and John Anderson—for working with him throughout the process. “This group
conferred at every point of decision, and endlessly explored options, tactics and strat-
egy. . . . I regard this as the most important development at Wake Forest since the
‘removal.’ It has removed the last obstacle which might have prevented the achieve-
ment of Wake Forest’s full potential.”
In a note titled “What It Means,” Brantley laid out the crucial points:
The relationship between the University and the Convention is now fraternal
and voluntary, and the Convention no longer has any voice in the governance
of the University.
University Trustees will elect their own successors and will determine the
procedures for election.
The University will continue an expanded program of scholarships for North
Carolina Baptist students and will continue to provide existing services for
The Convention will not distribute funds to the University under the Coop-
erative Program, but individual churches may contribute directly to the
“Existing services for Baptists,” Brantley wrote, included and would continue to
include tuition concessions for ministerial students and children of Baptist pastors,
maintaining the Baptist Historical Collection in the Z. Smith Reynolds Library, a pas-
tors’ school, and a number of seminars, workshops, and lectures.
Overall, the new agreement allowed Wake Forest to answer only to itself in
forging a future. It would never again have to think of how its actions—from
faculty writing books to hosting official guests—would “play with the Baptists.”
Baptist ministers’ letters to the administration and visits to campus would no
longer carry the weight they had previously. Their recommendations on such
matters as the role of women in the church would not be perceived, received, or
responded to as before. While some on campus lamented the passing of a long
and often beneficial relationship, most did not. The politics and polity of the two
entities had moved miles apart over the years. Indeed, joy at the new freedom
was probably the overriding emotion of the day among the campus community,
alumni, friends, and supporters. Even those who were not fans of Wake Forest
seemed pleased with the results.
As if the split with the Baptists were not enough, more good news—almost shock-
ing in its magnitude—came less than three months later on January 15, 1987. RJR
Nabisco donated its corporate headquarters building to the University. At the time,
it was the largest corporate gift ever made to an educational institution. Although
the University’s space problems had been discussed before the gift was made, the
actual notification came in a fairly brief phone call to President Hearn from F. Ross
Previous Page Next Page