Welcome to the Fall 2021 semester! I’m thrilled that we’re here on campus, starting this academic year together, in person. As a new member of the Wake Forest community, I have recently had the special opportunity and joy of discovering something wonderful about this University nearly every single day. And that’s so much of what college is about – discovery. I encourage you to seize the opportunity to discover who you are and where your passions lie.

Try new experiences, cross boundaries, explore untested ideas. Curiosity, creativity and discovery lead to new knowledge, not only about ourselves, but also about the world around us. As we start this semester, we all come to this community with various experiences and perspectives. But each one of us has something to offer our campus. To our first-year students – Like you, I’m just starting to learn about this community. Together, we will learn the cherished traditions and distinctions that are hallmarks of the Wake Forest experience. And we’ll be able to share our talents and find ways to contribute and serve our new community. To the sophomores

This is a year to explore and further discover this campus that you were just getting to know last year. You know the lay of the land, but we’re looking forward to renewing the traditions that we had to curtail last semester. I look forward to experiencing those with you. To the juniors – You’re jumping into your major area of studies and really pursuing the fields that grabbed your attention and imagination. I look forward to watching how you will learn and grow and become leaders on this campus in the next several months. And finally, to the seniors – You are the students who will lead and set the tone for this academic year. You know Wake Forest at its best and we all look to you to teach us about the special elements that make this community that so many love. To the professional and graduate students – Whether you are on our campus often or studying from a distance, you are part of this community. Many of you have degrees from other institutions and varied life experiences that we can all learn from, and we look forward to doing just that.

To the faculty – We would not be the University we are without you and your commitment to teaching, scholarship and mentoring. Our institution is strong because of you and your efforts. I know that you will advance your fields of expertise as you help your students learn and grow into people of great character. Thank you for all of your efforts to make Wake Forest such a distinguished university. To the staff – You are the backbone that supports the entire institution. If not for you, we would not have a vibrant and robust campus. You bring your skills, talents and unwavering dedication to our community every single day, and you have my enduring gratitude.

In my first weeks as president, I learned that the pursuit of excellence is a collective enterprise at Wake Forest. It takes each and every one of us. I’ve been introduced to a community that works together to support not only our educational mission, but our Pro Humanitate mission as well. Throughout this year, I invite you to embrace this spirit of radical collaboration. By acknowledging and intentionally uniting our talents we will strengthen ourselves as individuals, as a University and as part of the larger society we serve. In my experiences as an administrator, faculty member, mentor and even student, I have discovered that radical collaboration is what drives discovery. I invite you to explore the power of radical collaboration in my blog on Wake Forest President’s Page, where I will discuss harnessing our collective assets and energy to advance the mission of Wake Forest.

We have an exciting year ahead, and I truly look forward to discovering more about this campus and our community alongside all of you. You have my best wishes for a great start to this semester.

Categories: Speeches