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Institute for Public Engagement

Engaging Minds, Empowering Communities

Visit the Institute for Public Engagement Website for more information

New Director Announced:

Steve Virgil is the new director of the Institute for Public Engagement, a three-year appointment effective January 1, 2010. He is associate clinical professor of law and director of the School of Law’s Community Law and Business Clinic, where Wake Forest clinical students offer legal services to non-profit organizations and entrepreneurs who create new businesses in low-wealth areas in Forsyth County. For the past year Steve has served on the Faculty Public Engagement Advisory Board and has become a familiar face in the local community. Before joining the faculty in 2008, Steve directed a similar law clinic at Creighton University School of Law; practiced law with the Urban Development Office of Cleveland Legal Aid in Ohio and the Kutak Rock law firm in Omaha; and clerked for the Honorable George W. White, Chief Judge, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio. He is the founder and general counsel of the Great Plains Environmental Law Center and a former National Association for Public Interest Law Equal Justice Fellow with the Nebraska Appleseed Center.


This year’s opening convocation featured a special video entitled, “Engaging Minds, Empowering Communities.” Watch that video now.


Building upon the educational philosophy of Wake Forest University and mindful of its motto, Pro Humanitate, the Institute develops for the common good university-wide excellence in public engagement, collaborative skills and interdisciplinary teaching and research. The Institute prepares students for civic leadership, action and reflection and supports innovative relationships among faculty, students, administration, staff, alumni and the broader community.

Goals and Objectives

  • Building Community: Strong, reciprocally beneficial relationships with community partners are fundamental to the work of public engagement.
  • Supporting Service: Wake Forest’s mission is rooted in its motto, Pro Humanitate. Service to humankind affirms our compassion and respect for each individual and promotes social justice, social responsibility and mutual trust. Service is most meaningful when it not only involves sustained engagement in the local, national and world community, but substantive opportunities for reflection and integrated learning.
  • Commitment to Publicly Engaged Teaching: Wake Forest University teacher-scholars encourage the development of imaginative thinking, creativity and knowledge; promote spiritual and philosophical inquiry; foster aesthetic and ethical judgment; and apply and use knowledge in the service of humanity. Institutional support is requisite to assist teacher-scholars in curricular development that facilitates experiential learning in the service of humanity.
  • Facilitating Community-Based Research: Quantitative and qualitative research in community settings involves community members in the design and implementation of research projects. Such research conveys respect for the contributions made by community partners, is committed to the principle of “doing no harm” to the communities involved and leads to the benefit of communities and the public good.
  • Sustaining Clinics: Clinical education opportunities allow for professional development while also serving the community and public good.