October 19, 2023 

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

This is a difficult time for all of us at Wake Forest and around the world. Our students look to their faculty for advice and answers we may not always have. What can we as a faculty bring to bear in this moment of polarized division, fear and even hatred?  In fact, Wake Forest faculty are poised to offer a great deal. We can provide our students with knowledge, context, and expertise, and deeper levels of understanding and meaning-making. We can offer compassion and care. We can explain to our students why we embrace free expression as a community regardless of our own views, beliefs, faiths, and identities. Most importantly, we can talk and listen – humbly and generously – as we face the tragedies that are unfolding in this country and thousands of miles away. And we can remind our students of our shared humanity, and as history has shown us, humankind’s enormous capacity for hope, healing and resilience in the face of despair.  

Perhaps all the more reason then to devote this month’s letter to faculty leadership. As our current Middle East crisis makes clear, faculty at all ranks are called to lead in their classrooms constantly. We provide significant pedagogical support to do just that, especially through our superb Center for the Advancement of Teaching. Our faculty are also leaders in their scholarly and creative fields. Yet few faculty, although highly trained professionals in teaching and scholarship, have received leadership training skills. This is ironic given the many leadership roles faculty play, from committee, area, department and program chair to senator and faculty board representative to associate dean, dean, associate and vice provost, and provost.

Given that faculty leadership in all its forms upholds core academic and democratic values, it is incumbent upon the Provost’s Office to help prepare faculty for leadership.  While the inaugural Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs will be charged with developing new leadership programs, here are the ways the Provost’s Office is already supporting faculty leadership programs and initiatives and partnering with Human Resources and the Professional Development Center to provide leadership opportunities here and beyond Wake Forest.

ACC Academic Leaders Network (ALN)
One of our most effective partnerships for faculty leadership development comes through the ACC Academic Leaders Network (ALN), formed by a collaboration among ACC school Provosts.  This annual program provides workshops for individual leadership growth, fosters internal and cross-institution networking, and builds institutional leadership capacity within the context of higher ed’s specific issues and challenges. A cohort of five faculty with administrative leadership responsibilities are selected annually to attend a series of leadership conferences hosted at 3 ACC institutions each year.  Wake Forest’s cohort for 2023 will finish their ACC ALN program with a final session at Duke University in early November. These exceptional leaders include: Rodrigo Castro, Director of Public Services, ZSR Library; Amanda Griffith, Chair of the Department of Economics and Associate Dean for Academic Planning, Wake Forest College; Kevin Jung, Professor of Theological Ethics and Moral Philosophy and former Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, School of Divinity; Tanya Marsh, Professor of Law and Senior Associate Dean, School of Law; and Jennifer Rogers, Associate Professor of Counseling and Associate Dean for Students, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. 

The Provost’s Office is pleased to announce the opening of nominations for the 2024 Wake Forest cohort to the ACC ALN. Nominees should have at least one year of experience in a current leadership role, commit to the series of conference meetings throughout 2024, and be supported by the dean of their school/College. Please contact Associate Provost Anne Hardcastle for more information. 

National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD)
Another important opportunity the Provost’s Office provides for exploring faculty leadership, as well as faculty development in general, is through our institutional membership with the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD). This membership gives faculty free access to organized and on-demand NCFDD programs in “four key areas to help achieve extraordinary writing and research productivity while maintaining a full and healthy life off campus.” Over 150 WFU faculty have participated in NCFDD programs like the webinars “Every Semester Needs a Plan,” “Building a Publishing Pipeline,” and the popular “14-Day Writing Challenge.” The NCFDD is a nationally-recognized, independent organization that provides online career development and mentoring resources for faculty, post-docs, and graduate students. Access these resources by activating your WF membership with a wfu.edu email account. 

Wake Forest’s Leadership Development Program (LDP)
In addition, Wake Forest’s Leadership Development Program (LDP), sponsored by the Professional Development Center, is open to administrative senior leaders and tenured faculty members who are in leadership roles, or who have a desire to attain one in the future. The cohort of faculty and staff meets for monthly sessions throughout the academic year that focus on critical leadership/management topics, as well as individual coaching on personal desired outcomes. The next cohort of the LDP will begin accepting applications in the spring for the 2024-2025 academic year program. Please see more info here: Leadership Development Program

New Initiatives
Lastly, we have several important leadership initiatives in the works. Bill Gentry, Director of Learning and Development in Human Resources, is piloting a New Leaders Institute, launching in Spring 2024, which will be geared toward faculty and staff new to or seeking first-time formalized leadership roles. Contact Associate Provost Anne Hardcastle for more information. The Provost’s Office is also excited to announce a generous gift from longtime Wake Forest friends, Marc Miller ‘77  and Chris Horsman, aimed at enhancing faculty leadership development opportunities. The Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs will use these funds to support programming for aspiring faculty leaders and will roll out plans in 2024 as well. 

Faculty leadership in all its many facets is critical to Wake Forest’s bright future. The Provost’s Office wants all faculty to feel supported in their professional development and the pursuit of career ambitions. We invite you to explore the opportunities we have outlined above and look forward to providing you more in the year ahead.  All of these opportunities are posted on our revised website and don’t forget asktheprovost@wfu.edu.

With all best wishes,

Michele Gillespie