I S S U E : :
Update on
Wake Downtown
News from Global
Wake Forest, Center
for Global Programs
and Studies
Faculty Publications
April-August 2016
Provost’s Newsletter
S E P T E M B E R 9 , 2 0 1 6 V O L U M E 5 , I S S U E 1
I N T ER E S T :
September 15: Harvest Moon
Festival | Reynolda House |
6:00-9:00 pm
September 27: Faculty/Staff
Happy Hour and WakeUnited
Kickoff | Green Room, Reyn-
olda Hall | 4:00-5:30 pm
October 7-8: Family Weekend
October 12: Campus Connec-
tions | Benson 401 | 8:45—
10:00 am
October 28-29: Homecoming
Message from the Provost...
Happy new (academic) year! As the fall term swings into full steam, we welcome our graduate, profes-
sional, and undergraduate students (returned or newly arrived)—eight thousand of them this year
across all Wake Forest schools, our largest group ever. A few hundred students in various medical pro-
grams—MD, Nurse Anesthesiology, PA—are all exploring new territory, with the opening of the School
of Medicine’s new Bowman Gray Center for Medical Education in the north half of ‘Building 60’ in some
of the beautifully repurposed former R.J. Reynolds tobacco-manufacturing space downtown now
known as Wake Forest Innovation Quarter and where Wake Downtown will join come January.
Who are our students? Idiosyncratic, magnificently unique individuals each, of course. And we have a
few insights into their collective personality and makeup. They are a diverse group, for one, hailing
from nearly every U.S. state and more than four dozen countries. This early in the term we do not yet
have full information on racial/ethnic diversity, but the trend towards a richer mix of students contin-
ues: a decade ago, across our schools nearly 83% of students identified as white, a figure likely to be
around 70% this year. Again looking back a decade, 90% of Wake Forest undergraduate students report-
ed a religious affiliation, with Catholic (22%) and Baptist (14%) leading the way; today barely two-thirds
do so, of whom only Catholics (24%) represent double-digit percentages. We don’t collect figures on
students’ political affiliation or preferences, but judging from bumper stickers in the student parking
lots, informal conversations at new-student orientations and convocations, or informal polls from voter-
registration drives on campus, Donald Trump will harvest few student votes from the 27109 zip code.
The vast majority of our various schools’ students are members of the so-called millennial generation,
whose oldest members are well into their thirties. If the voluminous research on millennials is any
guide, this suggests that many of our students arrive with a strong Pro Humanitate focus: this remains
the most volunteer-minded generation of young adults in measurable history, going back several dec-
ades. They also, on average, exhibit strikingly high levels of stress and anxiety, compared to past gener-
ations of students. Across our schools, students seek out counseling services at unprecedented rates.
We’re grateful for the work of Penny Rue and her team, as well as our deans’ offices, for a considered
and comprehensive effort to respond.
Again based on national research into millennials aged 18-early 30s, we also know that this generation
tends to have a different relationship to authority: useful to note, for faculty teaching them and staff
working with them in myriad ways. This is the first U.S. generation to respond in large numbers to so-
cial-network surveys that their parents or caregivers are their “best friends.” Long-reliably reported
generational distinctions in culture—who over 30 listened to their parents’ music, regularly watched
movies and TV shows with them, or reported routinely (again on surveys) that they “enjoy hanging out
with my parents?” All hallmarks of the millennial generation. This worth mentioning because, as many
faculty have likely discovered already, the more casual/less hierarchical/friendship-based approach to
authority practiced in so many American homes has extended, as millennials age, into college and grad-
school classrooms as well as workplaces. I myself, teaching my regular fall Politics course last year, was
hailed after our first class—by text message, from a student I’d just met—with the salutation “Yo Prof!”
In our distinctively student-faculty-engaged Wake Forest culture—one that extends to many student-
staff connections as well—we will swiftly get to know them as individuals: brilliant, high-achieving, crea-
tively breathtaking…and occasionally troubled and self-destructive as well. We will also continue to
strive to understand them collectively as well—within schools, programs, affinity groups, and the like.
They are at the core of our mission; they are Wake Forest’s legacy; they are—the sporadic Yo Prof!
aside—the inspiration that keeps so many of us faculty and staff members feeling fortunate to be here,
doing this invaluable work.
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