Dear Wake Forest community,

I write today to share important news about several changes in our academic leadership at Wake Forest. Preparation and planning for transition in key university leadership roles are integral to ensuring academic continuity, stability and momentum. We are so fortunate at Wake Forest to have such dedicated and talented professionals serving in senior leadership roles. 

After 10 years of serving his alma mater as Provost, Rogan Kersh has decided to return to full-time teaching and research as Distinguished University Professor after a sabbatical beginning July 1. As part of the transition, Dean of the College Michele Gillespie has accepted my invitation to serve as Wake Forest’s next Provost. Anthony Marsh, Senior Associate Dean of College Faculty, will provide leadership continuity as interim Dean of the College while we launch a search for the next Dean of the College to fill this role on a full-time basis.

I am grateful to Dr. Kersh for his tireless service and dedication to Wake Forest. He is among the longest-serving Provosts in the country, providing invaluable leadership to the University during a dramatic expansion of Wake Forest’s international reputation and through the bracing challenges of the pandemic. I am particularly grateful for his partnership in my first year as President. A Reynolds Scholar, Dr. Kersh received his B.A. from Wake Forest in 1986. After a distinguished career at Syracuse and New York University, he returned as Provost and Professor of Politics and International Affairs in July 2012.

During Dr. Kersh’s tenure, the University broke new academic ground: 

  • Sponsored research support among Reynolda Campus faculty more than doubled, placing Wake Forest among the national research universities realizing the most significant increases. 
  • Wake Forest expanded its academic footprint dramatically, opening the Wake Downtown campus and adding robust new programs in Charlotte, Washington, Silicon Valley, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Santiago/Southern Cone, Florence, and multiple locations in China. 
  • Wake Forest’s full-time faculty ranks expanded by more than 125 teacher-scholars during Kersh’s tenure, helping to accommodate the University’s growth of about 675 undergraduates and almost 500 Reynolda Campus graduate and professional students. 
  • Dr. Kersh chaired academic fundraising efforts during the Wake Will campaign, which raised more than $700 million for scholarships, faculty support, academic and arts programs, and classroom, faculty, laboratory and performance spaces and buildings. 
  • Working in partnership with Executive Vice President Hof Milam, Kersh helped the University transition to a new budget model, leading to expanded funding for academic initiatives, faculty and staff salaries and support, facilities renewal, and successful management of the fiscal challenges posed by the pandemic.

Dr. Kersh was instrumental to so many of the University’s achievements over the past 10 years. After a sabbatical year, during which time he plans to travel and teach abroad, Dr. Kersh will return to Wake Forest to continue his teaching and research at Wake Forest as Distinguished University Professor.

Since arriving at Wake Forest in 1999, Dr. Gillespie has established herself as a respected teacher-scholar and administrator. I am excited to welcome her back to the Provost’s Office where she served as associate provost for academic initiatives from 2007 to 2010.

Dr. Gillespie began her tenure as the Dean of the College in July 2015. She has an M.A. and Ph.D. in History from Princeton University and a B.A. from Rice University, where she majored in History and English. Prior to her time at Wake Forest, Dr. Gillespie spent nine years at Agnes Scott College, where she taught U.S. History.

Since her appointment as Dean of the College, she has developed inclusive excellence practices and policies; co-chaired the President’s Committee on the First Year-Experience; completed a major core curriculum review; and facilitated increased interdisciplinary and community-engaged teaching and learning in partnership with the Mellon Foundation and the Humanities Institute. Her priorities this academic year include creating an Office of Experiential Learning and faculty development for and implementation of faculty-supported core curriculum changes. Dr. Gillespie’s biography is available on the Dean of the College website.

Dr. Gillespie will begin her initial two-year term as Provost on July 1. 

Dr. Marsh came to Wake Forest in August 1996 and has served in a number of administrative leadership roles. I am grateful for his willingness to serve as Interim Dean of the College, effective July 1. In addition to his administrative roles, as professor of health and exercise science, Dr. Marsh teaches undergraduate courses in Anatomy and Biomechanics. He is an affiliate faculty member in the VT-WFU School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences and in Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine at the Wake Forest School of Medicine.

Please read the formal University announcement available on the Wake Forest website, and join me in thanking Drs. Kersh, Gillespie and Marsh for their leadership and service to Wake Forest.


Susan R. Wente, Ph.D.


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