My First Month at Wake Forest

Dear campus community,

My first month as Wake Forest’s president was a whirlwind of all things Old Gold and Black. I continue to enjoy meeting with dozens of you to learn about Wake Forest and our broader community. Some special opportunities have included visiting with Provost Emeritus Ed Wilson (’43) about the call of Pro Humanitate, engaging with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, touring the physical plant with our facilities team, meeting with some of our student-athletes on campus for pre-season, and participating in a Friday Harambee with local elementary and middle school students at the Wake Forest University Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School.

I see a vibrant campus focused on uncovering new knowledge and ways of benefiting society, inspiring our student-centered mission and examining issues through open dialogue embracing diverse perspectives. It is abundantly clear that Wake Forest is a genuinely remarkable community.

I am eager to renew Wake Forest traditions that were compromised by the pandemic and experiment with creative ways to heighten the student experience and sense of community for which Wake Forest is known. The most important lesson we all learned this past year is the power of collaboration. We succeed through finding new ways to work together to seize opportunities and collectively face challenges with a spirit of teamwork. I see this as “radical collaboration,” reaching deep into the wellsprings of Wake Forest culture. I ask each of you to take up this energy of radical collaboration and strive to find new partnerships and relationships to allow all to grow and thrive.

Recently updated guidelines from the CDC have not altered our enthusiasm for the fall semester. Put simply: We know how to do this. We are in active conversation with leading epidemiologists; with our own Dr. Chris Ohl, we are reviewing research and data as it becomes available. At this time, we know:

  • The vaccines remain the best defense against the Delta variant and have a documented record of reducing disease severity, hospitalizations and deaths globally.
  • The Wake Forest student body has been exceptional in stepping up to confirm their individual vaccination status or need for an exemption. We currently have at least 97 percent of all students vaccinated for the fall semester.
  • The Wake Forest faculty and staff across all our campuses have been equally diligent with more than 90 percent sharing that they have received the vaccine. Vaccination rates among faculty and staff in our academic areas (those who report up through a dean) are over 97 percent.

The response across our student, faculty and staff community to taking protective measures is amazing and places us in an incredibly strong position. Together, we will continue to take care of one other and be nimble, flexible and vigilant through the days ahead and fall semester. Communications and External Relations will share additional updates later today.

Radical collaboration can only come with trust, transparency and teamwork. Open communication is central to transparency and accountability. As I continue to learn about this community, I invite you to follow me on social media (@presidentwente) and tell me what makes Wake Forest special to you. I plan to rely on email letters like this for periodic messages and will also use Inside WFU and a new weekly Inside Wake Forest newsletter to communicate updates and announcements. In this way, the campus will be informed and aware of what is happening with key issues.

There is nowhere I would rather serve at this moment than Wake Forest University. We have the momentum and energy to fully embrace the responsibilities of being a great university.

I am excited to be with you on this journey of learning, discovery and new beginnings.

Susan R. Wente, Ph.D.
President

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