I S S U E : :
Update on Wake
Downtown: Biomedi-
cal Science and Engi-
neering at WFU
Secrest Artists Series
2016-17 season
Summer Institute on
Intercultural Profes-
sional Development
and Pedagogy
Provost’s Newsletter
A P R I L 2 8 , 2 0 1 6 V O L U M E 4 , I S S U E 4
I N T ER E S T :
May 3: Benefits Fair | Benson
401 | 10:00 am—2:00 pm
May 15: Baccalaureate
Service | Wait Chapel |
11:00 am
May 16: Commencement|
Hearn Plaza | 9:00 am
August 17-19: New Faculty
Orientation | Reynolda
Message from the Provost...
Greetings to all, from our gorgeous spring season on campus—an April of timely weather to welcome
both visiting accepted students (across our schools; it’s admissions season everywhere at Wake Forest!)
and our re-accreditation team of administrators from other universities. That team was a striking
group: the presidents of Rice and Mercer; cabinet officials from Emory, Tulane, and Baylor; even inter-
lopers from up north (Bryn Mawr, and a longtime Cornell administrator who moved south a couple
years back). Re-accreditation reviewers sign up voluntarily; in my experience most schools don’t attract
this level of talent for their on-site visits. A welcome affirmation that others are keenly interested in
what’s happening here at Wake Forest. Indeed, along with requisite discussions of accreditation stand-
ards, we fielded a host of interested questions from our visitors, about how we successfully manage
everything from budgets to sustaining our liberal-arts commitment.
We’ve also had administrators from several schools visit campus this semester, curious about one or
another aspect of Wake Forest academic practices, business models, or cultures. And we have positive
stories to relate: applications are up across our schools (we topped 14,000 for the College, for example,
despite our forbidding seven-essay format; ten years ago, we had around half that number); the Wake
Will campaign continues to shatter WFU fund-raising records; and we continue to attract our first-
choice candidates for faculty and senior staff positions. Notably, those new arrivals tend to stay: our
retention rates are higher than those of most peers, for faculty and staff as well as students.
All this has us continuing to explore the question raised with several of you in groups across campus, as
well as at my annual Senate-invited presentation earlier this month: why is Wake Forest succeeding?
Our habitual practice is to identify problems, issues, or risks, and work to address those; that commit-
ment remains unflagging. But we also must understand the roots of what is going well. It is a strategic
imperative to identify sources of success, both to understand stakeholders’ positive responses and to
do more of what’s been working, and less of what hasn’t.
To date the five most frequent responses, collecting together conversations with faculty, staff, and Trus-
tees, are:
Engaged teaching/learning: our signature face-to-face mode of education, carried out by faculty across
our schools, is routinely cited (and celebrated). *We are improving our methods for evaluating faculty-
student engagement, in order to better understand what benefits such engagement provides—and
whether/how we are distinct from peer schools in this regard.
Applied/impactful research and creative work: many respondents note that WFU faculty, across our
schools, are distinguished for applied work. We ask meaningful questions about—or create compelling
creative works addressing—issues that truly matter. *This claim is difficult to test, but we are piloting
ways to understand the extent to which we emphasize applied and impactful scholarship, looking at
published work and performances, journal articles, sponsored research projects, and the like.
Commitment to innovative programs and practices: universities are generally great custodians of tradi-
tion, and Wake Forest is no exception. And they can also be engines of innovation. Those polled regular-
ly pointed to our accelerating ‘culture of innovation.’ *Here again measurable outcomes are few; we
hope to be a pioneer in assessing innovation, as well as exemplifying it. Qualitative as well as quantita-
tive evaluations will be necessary.
Close community ties: groups noted variously that alumni remain closely bound to their alma mater;
that current faculty, staff, and students exhibit a strong sense of communal bonds and purposes; or that
deep and abiding connections have always been central to Wake Forest. Whatever the particular
group, ‘community’ is frequently noted as a secret of our success. *Concrete evidence of stronger
bonds felt by alumni, for example, comes through attendance at Wake Will and other alumni events like
Pro Humanitate Day.
Next Page