Dear Wake Forest students, faculty and staff,
Happy New Year! Welcome to the beginning of 2020 and a new semester.
As we begin this year, I offer all of us a single challenge: Be present. Even as you juggle the many demands on your time, permit yourself to be engaged. Honor those around you by offering them your full attention. Allow the fear of missing out to be replaced by the pleasure of your present situation. Wherever you are, whatever you find yourself doing, be all there.
Last semester, our presence together produced some good results. We celebrated members of our community through the collaborative arts in “From the Ground Up.” We saw environmental science approved as a major course of study. We celebrated the victories of our athletic teams. And we launched our Wake West program, where students will learn, study and live in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Some of the work we started as a community last semester will once again require our full attention. As you know, the President’s Commission on Race, Equity and Community was charged with assessing the current realities of our community and the present condition of our institutional policies and practices to develop specific and actionable recommendations that will cultivate a more diverse, equitable and welcoming learning community. While the Commission made great progress in the last few months, the important work continues this semester. The best place to stay apprised of the current work and next steps is the Commission’s website.
Additionally, the Slavery, Race and Memory Project continues to guide the research, preservation and communication of an accurate depiction of the University’s relationship to slavery and its implications across our history. To keep updated on the progress of this group, including the many plans for this year, visit the Project’s website.
I am grateful to the many members of these groups who have made this critical work a priority. The progress is encouraging, and I look forward to hearing their recommendations to make Wake Forest a place where all feel a keen sense of belonging.
As this community focuses on topics surrounding race and inequity, we will also welcome various voices to our conversation. Among the many guests invited to campus are professor and author Ibram X. Kendi on January 20; NBA All-Star Kyle Korver on January 29; and author and public intellectual Cornel West on March 20. I hope you plan to join us in the ongoing conversation.
The commitment to focusing on the present is part of being a hospitable community. It conveys that the people and projects in front of us, asking for our time and attention, are important. May this semester be one where we find each other — wherever it may be — fully present.
President Nathan O. Hatch