February 22, 2024

Dear faculty colleagues,

Effective university communication isn’t easy. It has to connect all facets of academic life across five schools and the College, hundreds of faculty and staff and thousands of students. It must underscore the value and purpose of the education and research we provide and bring assurances of its legitimacy and integrity. Most importantly, it must help each of us deliver on our university’s mission. While social media has made it easier to share information, and the weekly Updates from Human Resources and Inside Wake Forest emails along with President Wente’s blog, From Wente’s Desk, link us all, it can still be challenging to feel connected, especially given our size and complexity. This month’s letter is all about what we are doing in the Office of the Provost, often in partnership with other offices, to connect and support faculty, and our community as a whole. We invite you to join us in any or all of these efforts.  

For those of you who were not at our annual Founders Day, the one-hour program last week reminded us of the huge strides we have made as a college and university over the last 190 years. Vice President of Campus Life, Shea Kidd Brown, connected our institutional past, present and future with our highest aspirations. We celebrated the pioneering contributions of retired Women’s Golf Coach Dianne Dailey and retired teacher-scholar extraordinaire Professor Emeritus of English Claudia Kairoff by awarding each the university’s highest honor, the Medallion of Merit. And we gained valuable insight about the role of music in the art of belonging from senior Austin Torain.  Please watch the recording, be inspired by it, and then add Founders Day to your calendar for next year. 

Meanwhile, the Office of the Provost and the Wake Forest News Team have partnered with The Conversation to find new ways for more faculty to share their expertise with broader audiences. This week, editors from The Conversation led workshops on “How to Write for The Conversation” that helped all interested faculty learn strategies for how to write academic stories that appeal to the general public and get picked up by more media outlets. To see examples of articles your colleagues have written already for The Conversation, an archive is available on our website. Please email Cheryl Walker, Executive Director of Strategic Communications, at walkercv@wfu.edu for further information or to discuss ideas for a pitch.

On Thursday, February 29 at 3:30 p.m. in Benson 401, come join EVP and CFO Jackie Travisano and me for our inaugural new faculty-staff program How Wake Works.  Building on the momentum of the How Wake Works workshop last May, we are introducing a jointly hosted, regular series of events that will focus on topics of vital interest to the Wake Forest community. This first session will discuss our Comprehensive Campus Space Strategy and the Project WakeDay implementation. A reception will immediately follow. While registration is not required, we ask that you please RSVP in advance.  Do not hesitate to write asktheprovost@wfu.edu to suggest future How Wake Works topics we can discuss together. 

Meanwhile, Project WakeDay, powered by Workday Student and the hard work of hundreds of faculty, staff, students, and administrators, goes live on Tuesday, March 4.  This monumental implementation will transform our support system for student academic success and ensure reliable, secure data for all our students for years to come. Please make the time to engage in the multiple online and in-person training opportunities offered all across this month. Come hear more about Project WakeDay at the aforementioned How Wake Works on February 29, bookmark the website, watch the videos, and subscribe to The Word on WakeDay. 

On Thursday, March 6, come hear my annual Provost Address at the invitation of the Faculty Senate in Broyhill Auditorium at 4:00 pm. I’ll reflect on the state of academics at Wake Forest and answer community-wide questions.  Please join me for this important conversation and the reception that will follow. Consider it a well deserved break from mid-term grading! 

Finally, do take a moment to look at the recently updated Office of the Provost website to see one way we celebrate our impressive faculty.  We are delighted to be able to offer many great stories about academic excellence in action here, and invite you to send new story ideas to Assistant Director of Provost Communications Stephanie Hudson at hudsonsa@wfu.edu

Let me close with some straight-up honesty about the downside of sharing all these university communications and events with you. Your challenge is probably less about knowing what’s happening, and more about having the time to attend. I wish I knew how to make more time for all of us. Yet, whenever I show up, despite the imploding to do list we all have, I am energized by being with such extraordinary colleagues, and leave delighted in the knowledge gleaned and the information exchanged, conversations had, and connections made. I wind up returning to my work with a renewed sense of purpose and connection. I hope you can make time for some of these events and that revitalization can be your experience too.

Best Regards,