President Wente speaks at the lectern in front of the choir.

Delivered in Wait Chapel on May 15, 2022. Remarks as prepared

To our families, friends, and visitors today, on behalf of the entire Wake Forest community, welcome to campus. 

We’re here to honor our graduating students — though of course most of you haven’t quite graduated yet. … That will come in the commencement, hooding and degree conferral ceremonies! 

And although this morning is a celebration, it is also a time for thought and reflection. This morning, the news of a racially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., is reason to pause and consider the brokenness in our world; a world desperately in need of healing and compassion; a world that will need your leadership in the spirit of Pro Humanitate.

In this space of worship, surrounded by loved ones, we grieve together for all those impacted, both directly and indirectly, by yesterday’s tragedy. And together we can turn our eyes to the future with the hope that comes from the prospect of change.

I ask you to join me in a moment of silence.  

Thank you.

Each of you is now beginning a new chapter in your personal and professional lives. 

For our undergraduates, most of you first came to Wake Forest four years ago in the fall of 2018. Across your time here, your academic studies and campus life have been characterized by change, and you have handled all that was unexpected with determination, and most importantly with adaptability, grace, and resilience. 

And so here today, on the cusp of graduation — I congratulate you.

On behalf of Wake Forest University, I’m pleased to welcome Dr. Eddie Glaude Jr., who will give this year’s Baccalaureate address. 

This morning we will also listen to a reading from the Old Testament. That reading, taken from the book of Joel, will undoubtedly have many meanings to many people, depending on differing perspectives and beliefs. 

Considering the text itself, you might hear how it gives a dramatic rendition of what change can look like. Change is portrayed as compelling and exciting, confusing and frightening, an opportunity, as well as a challenge. 

And we know from our own experiences: change can be personal, communal, or societal. It can be gradual or swift, incremental or seismic. 

Whether a gain or a loss, change is always a departure from what was before. With each change, something new commences. 

So, how will you manage change? This weekend you will transition from Wake Forest students to Wake Forest alumni. You will enter a rapidly changing workplace and world. You will inspire change as leaders, and you will continue to be changed by new knowledge and experiences. 

Because you successfully handled so much change during your time as students, I am confident that your experiences here will position you well should the future prove challenging, or at the least, always include change. 

I conclude my welcome this morning with this message: May your lives be marked by how you embrace change, how you anticipate it, how you roll with it, (and I don’t mean by how you roll the Quad!), how you celebrate change, and how you move with it — rather than how you fear it, avoid it, or lament it. 

And please know, one thing that will never change: You will always have a home here at Wake Forest.

Our stories are now forever intertwined. I look forward to working with you as alumni of this great university as together we seek to be a catalyst for good in society. 

In many ways, your journey to fully live our Pro Humanitate mission really begins — or should I say, commences — this week.

View video of the speech as part of the Baccalaureate ceremony.

Categories: Speeches