Expanding the Narrative of Wake Forest: Update on the Advisory Committee on Naming

Dear Wake Forest community,

Over the course of the last several years, our community has taken important steps to illuminate our history, address our present and reaffirm our commitments for the future. The work of the Slavery, Race and Memory Project as well as the efforts of the members of the President’s Commission on Race, Equity and Community have led our progress.

As part of this important work, I created the Advisory Committee on Naming in the summer of 2020 to examine how we use names to identify, recognize and celebrate on the Reynolda Campus. Co-chaired by Dean Jonathan Lee Walton and Trustee Donna Boswell (’72, MA ’74), this committee is made up of University Trustees, administrators, faculty, staff, students and alumni. It is the charge of this committee to affirm a set of principles and decision rubrics for contextualizing sites and elements of honor at Wake Forest.

The members of the committee have divided this work into several areas of focus: guiding principles to inform how the University ought to consider proposals for naming parts of the University; historical research on existing names, which are currently held in honor; and consideration of additional names worthy of recognition on campus. The committee will make advisory recommendations to me and the Trustees as to the best ways the University should contextualize, remember and honor significant figures in Wake Forest’s history. Far from erasing history, this work seeks to offer a more expansive and inclusive narrative about Wake Forest’s history.

Today, I write to share with you the work of this committee, including the process and guiding principles that the committee has developed and will inform the work moving forward. Please take a moment to review the way the committee will approach its efforts.

The next step in this process is to engage our community in conversation around the principles and the work that is ahead. Soon, you will receive an invitation to participate in a community conversation about this topic. There are two ways to participate. First, there will be a brief survey that you may complete and submit. Second, there is an opportunity to participate in a Call to Conversation: Expanding the Narrative of Wake Forest University. Please consider contributing your thoughts to this work through one of these two avenues.

As we engage in this work together, please visit the Expanding the Narrative website to stay updated on progress, share feedback and follow the next steps of our community.

It is important for the University to grapple with our own history and work to make Wake Forest a more hospitable and welcoming place for everyone. Thank you for your participation and contributions.

With gratitude,

Nathan O. Hatch

Categories: Letters