December 14, 2023

Dear Colleagues,

As we conclude this semester, I am delighted to offer this update on the great progress we have made on our strategic framing timing and sequencing efforts this semester. In the short three and a half months since President Wente shared Framing Our Future with the entire university community, the College, the Professional and Graduate Schools and the Z. Smith Reynolds Library have all begun rolling out their own strategic framing processes guided by our three university-wide thematic goals. While each school is creating its own approach and timetable for the Framework to suit its own needs, all the schools are examining the ways they already intersect with the Framework. Each is holding listening sessions with their communities, and each is looking at how their programs can bring distinction to the University. Campus Life has already completed its strategic vision guided by this framework. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion has mapped its current projects and initiatives to the framework as well.

Thematic Goal 1: Community of Learning
In respect to Thematic Goal 1 (We will be a lifelong learning community that calls all to develop their full potential to contribute in a diverse and complex world), the Deans have drafted a cross-school working definition of “Teacher-Scholar” to be shared within each school for further refinement. A Leadership, Character, and Integrity Working Group with cross-school and cross-unit representation is exploring how we can better define and enact these key leadership concepts across the University. A similarly diverse AI Working Group is investigating how best to facilitate learning, academic integrity, and professional development given the fast-paced artificial intelligence developments transforming the globe. We are preparing to launch an Alumni Lifelong Learning Working Group with representation from each of the schools, Alumni Engagement, and the Office of Personal and Career Development, which is tasked with investigating how best to support alumni in their continued personal and professional development. In addition, the Online Education Executive Committee is adopting a university-wide approach to considering online education in alignment with this thematic goal.

Thematic Goal 2: Community of Inquiry
In regard to Thematic Goal 2 (We will foster a community of inquiry through research, scholarship and creative work that transcends boundaries to address the challenges facing humanity and our world), a cross-school Neuroscience and Society Working Group co-chaired by Carlson Professor of Philosophy Ana Iltis and Professor and Chair of Biology Erik Johnston has been formed.  It has been charged with recommending how best to leverage our expertise and resources to deliver a bold vision for ensuring cutting-edge neuroscience learning and pathbreaking scholarship across Wake Forest and in partnership with the Medical School. 

Thematic Goal 3: Community of Partnerships
On Thematic Goal 3 (We will build meaningful, mutual partnerships to honor our commitment to the wellbeing of local, regional, and global communities), Wake Forest has been partnering with Carter and Front Street Capital to explore a long-term mixed-use redevelopment project in the University Boulevard area to drive local economic development. A Charlotte-focused effort is underway to explore opportunities to build more academic programming and partnerships with the new School of Medicine campus, Atrium Health, the business and non-profit sectors, and our strong alumni base in the Queen City. 

Across the university, administrative and academic units alike are integrating their institutional work with Framing Our Future. For example, the Budget Committee is asking that requests be linked to strategic framing wherever possible. The Steering Committee leading Wake Forest’s reaffirmation of SACS-COC accreditation seeks proposals for our required Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) (due January 8) that align with at least one thematic goal. 

Evaluating the impact of each strategic framework initiative will be critical to the framework’s long-term success as a living document that bears out the university’s collective vision. To facilitate this process, an Assessment Team has been formed to offer support on all strategic framing efforts based on models developed in the fields of public health and sociology.  This work centers on asking and answering the following questions: what are we trying to achieve; how will we know when we get there; what are the concrete tasks needed along the way; and what input, data, and resources do we need? 

As you can see, we have made significant progress since Framing Our Future was announced on August 31. Our ongoing progress will be shared in real-time on which has been updated to provide more in-depth information on these developments including composition and charges of working groups. 

Below please find a brief summary of the College, schools, and library strategic framework efforts to date. I could not be more impressed with the entire university’s commitment to this critical vision. While there is much more work to come, and much more engagement to ask of each of you, we are off to a great start. 

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday and a happy New Year!

Michele Gillespie

School of Business
The School of Business has been asking Strategic Alignment Questions: What are we already doing in the School of Business to contribute to each Thematic Goal/Aim; What are our existing “hooks” into the framework; What do we need to build, or invest in, to better contribute to each of the three Thematic Goals/Aims?; And how can we make our school more efficient, effective, and nimble to deliver on these goals? The School is exploring digital and emerging technology-enhanced learning capabilities; Sustainability & ESG Impacts; and Global Inclusion & Workplace Innovation, all to better prepare students to navigate and lead change, enhance understanding of critical issues, and evolve and grow our educational offerings and research efforts in line with the strategic framework.

College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
The College has begun department-centric or unit-focused conversations and will be having a day-long leadership retreat in January with chairs, collegiate senators, and the Office of the Dean of the College. The dean has been working with those groups on a set of “translation questions” that will focus their work on the upcoming retreat day. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is part of this process. Significant preparatory work into the GSAS has already been underway as a preface to a more formalized graduate program review plan critical for implementing the framework.

School of Divinity
Through ongoing conversations and meetings, the School of Divinity is developing its own framework to serve as a guide in positioning its vibrant theological community to contribute new knowledge in graduate theological education and interdisciplinary scholarship, equip new generations of learners to assume leading positions in congregations and communities, and support, sustain, and enhance meaningful partnerships that extend the mission and reach of the School. Divinity has also launched a school-wide questionnaire on Framing Our Future for all students, faculty, and staff.

School of Law
The School of Law has completed the first phase of its strategic framework process by conducting seven listening sessions with various stakeholder groups (students, faculty, staff, alumni). In all, feedback and input were collected from approximately 100 Wake Forest Law community members during these sessions. All community members will have another opportunity to provide feedback via email and survey through mid-January.  The next phase of the process will begin in January when the committee will convene to synthesize and analyze the feedback received in preparation for drafting a framework document in February and March.

School of Professional Studies
In addition to holding in-person discussions beginning in September, written input was solicited from staff, faculty, students, and program advisory board members. Stakeholders recognized several key areas of high alignment including: commitment to maintaining equity, ethical leadership, and digital acumen; a commitment to supporting accessible and inclusive learning environments for working adults; a commitment to develop and deliver market-focused graduate programs with purposeful experiential learning experiences; and a commitment to deeply connecting with our communities to ensure our programs support regional talent development and future needs.  An initial draft of the SPS framework will be reviewed and discussed with the SPS team in January.

Z. Smith Reynolds Library
A working group of ZSR library faculty and staff is using Framing Our Future to look at the ways the library supports and aligns with the thematic goals and strategic aims. The following questions are serving as their starting point: What action steps does ZSR already support and what should be our role going forward? What resources, partnerships, and changes would be needed to achieve that goal?; What action steps should ZSR be supporting that it is not already supporting?  What resources and partnerships would be needed to achieve that goal?; Are there action steps where ZSR should be leading campus plans?; and Are there areas where ZSR brings distinctiveness and excellence to the university? They held the first of several fora with library faculty and staff in early December and will also host focus groups with students and work with library liaisons to develop a feedback form for university faculty. In addition, they will be consulting with their campus partners, the Committee on Library Planning, and the ZSR Board of Visitors.