Many Voices, One Wake Forest: Using Feedback to Propel Us Forward

January 26, 2022

From Wente's Desk logo

As I begin my second semester as president, my journey of discovery continues to unfold. I shared in my October blog post how I view transparency through open dialogue and intentional communication as one of my key priorities. There are so many voices to hear, and then opportunities to unite as one campus community, one Wake Forest.

To support such openness, throughout my career, I have incorporated the concept of feedback loops into how I approach listening and learning as a new leader and as a community member. Based on analysis by social scientists, in a robust feedback loop, outputs from a process are used as inputs for the next cycle as a way to help evaluate progress, analyze strategies and refine approaches. I am committed to ensuring that a wide range of ideas, insights and observations from across the campus community inform our next steps.

I see gathering feedback from the Wake Forest community as critical to my journey of discovery. While I always welcome your feedback through this web portal and interactions on campus, I have also created two different programs that offer dedicated opportunities to engage in person: Wednesdays with Wente for faculty and staff, and Gold and Black Chats for students.

I began hosting informal gatherings, called Wednesdays with Wente, last semester as a means of hearing from small groups of faculty and staff across campus. Conversations in this setting contributed directly to my getting to know Wake Forest and my early observations shared in my first presidential address. I plan to see many more faculty and staff in these settings and others this semester. I encourage faculty and staff interested in participating in the Wednesdays with Wente discussion groups to sign up on the president’s website.

In addition, for students, our new vice president of campus life Dr. Shea Kidd Brown and I are teaming up to engage with and learn from students in a number of different venues. This month, we launched Gold and Black Chats, monthly roundtables that will focus on hearing about the student experience and ideas, sharing campus updates and addressing student questions. Our goal is to offer opportunities to build further meaningful connections between students and administrators.

Dr. Kidd Brown and I are looking forward to these conversations and learning more about what makes Wake Forest special. Students may sign up for these Gold and Black Chats by emailing campuslife@nullwfu.edu.

Along with these personal engagement programs, I place high value on using formal campus-wide surveys to obtain broad-based input. This semester, at least three specific surveys are planned for gathering feedback on critical topics. This includes: 1) a mental health and emotional wellbeing survey for students, 2) a Reynolda Campus space use survey for faculty, staff and students, and 3) a campus sexual misconduct survey for students. Below I share further information on these three surveys. However, just like an event that no one attends, if no one takes the surveys, there will be no opportunity for feedback, and no feedback loop to propel us forward. Indeed, for the data from the surveys to be useful, full and broad participation from our community is essential. Every person is important; please take the surveys as soon as asked and encourage your fellow students, faculty and staff to do so as well.

Hearing your voices and incorporating feedback into our planning is how we propel Wake Forest forward. We become a stronger community by asking questions, engaging in open dialogue, and presuming good intentions and shared purpose.

As the semester continues, let me thank you for all you are doing to support our community and for being a part of these critical feedback loops.


Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing

Each year, the Healthy Minds Survey is administered nationally to undergraduate, graduate and professional school students to gain insight on the status of their mental health and emotional wellbeing. Wake Forest participates in this survey to gather important data about our students and then adjust or create new programs and dedicated resources to supporting wellbeing and mental health. This completely confidential survey will take place from January 25 through February 18. Please take the survey as soon as the email invitation arrives. The more students who provide feedback, the better we will understand the diverse needs of our community.

Reynolda Campus Spaces and Use

In early February, we will launch a survey about campus spaces and places, in support of the University’s Space Utilization Study on the Reynolda campus. The SmithGroup consultants are leading this effort and have devoted much of the fall semester to gathering data and conducting focus groups and interviews about how our community uses campus facilities. The survey will provide opportunities for everyone to share feedback about our facilities, parts of campus you love the most and places that could use improvement.

Campus Climate

Later in February, we will launch a campus sexual misconduct survey for students, in partnership with Student Government. This important survey will provide data and insights into how students experience our campus climate with respect to sexual misconduct and will directly help to guide our future actions to make campus safer for all. Continuing to do future periodic surveys on these topics will also allow us to assess whether progress is being made in supporting an inclusive campus environment.

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