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Announcing the
2017-18 Secrest
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Wake Forest
Provost’s Newsletter
M A Y 4 , 2 0 1 7 V O L U M E 5 , I S S U E 4
I N T E R E S T :
May 3-10: Annual Benefits
May 14: Baccalaureate |
9:00 am | Wait Chapel
May 15: Graduation Exercises
| 9:00 am | Hearn Plaza
August 16-18: New Faculty
Orientation | Reynolda
Message from the Provost...
For those of you unable to attend the Senate-sponsored annual provost’s address in early April, here’s a
summary. When I returned to Wake Forest in summer 2012, a lengthy strategic-planning process had
concluded not long before. I was struck by how frequently that plan and its supporting documents
were invoked on campus—far more than at any university I’ve been part of. Faculty and staff regularly
cited the Plan’s guiding themes; student leaders were familiar with its core principles. Nearly five years
later, as we head towards the ninth anniversary of that strategic plan, what work does it do on campus
now? Given the vast changes in American society, higher education, and at Wake Forest since fall 2008,
are the Plan’s strategic imperatives still a meaningful basis for our annual plans and priority-setting?
Consider, in terms of changes, the visible transformations to our physical campus made just this aca-
demic year. This fall we opened new Sutton Center gym/event space additions to Reynolds Gym; this
August will follow the similarly superlative ‘phase 2’ improvements to Reynolds. The landmark opening
of Building 60 is a major downtown move for both Reynolda Campus and medical school academic pro-
grams. Recently we dedicated Maya Angelou Hall as well as the state’s newest Business Court, located
inside our Law School. Also in new space are academic departments (Health & Exercise Science), entire
academic units (our Graduate School moved programs and offices to renovated Brookstown Mill space),
and a host of athletic programs.
Even amid innovative changes both concrete and ideational, my sense is that our strategic course re-
mains true to that set out in the Plan less than a decade ago. Here I note this year’s progress along our
four major thematic guideposts, as set out in the Plan’s mission and vision statements, as well as execu-
tive summary and supporting ‘white papers.’
1. Exceptional teaching, discovery, and student engagement. Our ‘collegiate university’ combination of
a liberal-arts college’s intimacy and research university’s national reach remains both a guiding light and
a major strategic advantage. Wake Forest faculty and students exemplified that principle this academic
year. Lynn Neal, professor of religion, won the American Academy of Religion’s annual Award for Excel-
lence in Teaching. Across our professional schools, faculty were similarly lauded for exceptional teach-
ing—and our College rose to #5 in U.S. News’s ‘Best Undergraduate Teaching’ ranking.
On the ‘discovery’ front, here also faculty across the university are recognized for outstanding research
and creative work. The National Science Foundation each year honors a handful of researchers under
40 with its prestigious ‘CAREER Award’; WFU science faculty have won for a locally unprecedented four
years in a row, with chemistry (and now engineering) professor Michael Gross our latest honoree.
Grant-funded research on topics from ‘Strengthening Character Through Success & Failure’ to ‘Financial
Well-Being for Pastoral Leaders’ to ‘Biodiversity in the Amazon/Andean Forest’ remains at historically
high levels on the Reynolda Campus. Arts faculty share in national recognition: as one example, art-
history professor David Lubin is spending this year as the first Professor of American Art in Oxford Uni-
versity’s long history. Prof. Lubin is among our many faculty across our schools who involve students
directly in their research and creative work, a distinctive Wake Forest strength.
2. Open New Doors to Educational Opportunity. Here we have the Wake Will campaign to thank, as
financial aid across our schools is up dramatically in recent years: 54% more Law School scholarship
recipients since the campaign began, for example, and financial aid to undergraduates has more than
doubled. Our graduating seniors have seen significant reductions in need-based debt load, down from
over $25,000 in 2010 to c. $20,000 for 2016 graduates.
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