With the beginning of our new academic year, I want to start by thanking you for your knowledge, passion and commitment. This time last year, I was new to Wake Forest. A year later, it is even clearer to me that this is a great university, full of extraordinary people doing incredible things.
I am excited to welcome the class of ‘26 — and welcome back our sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduate and professional students — as well as new faculty and staff. We come together as a confluence of people, with a range of different lived experiences and perspectives. This diversity makes us stronger as we serve, discover, and learn together.
We are united as staff and faculty in supporting and guiding our students as they hone their skills, develop their talents, focus their studies and discover their passions. What the past year has shown us is that we can and will find solutions to challenges. Our shared efforts are critical to our students’ success and acting on our mission, and, in my experience, deeply rewarding on a personal level. Thank you for being essential partners.
As we come together to begin the Fall 2022 semester, in addition to welcoming new students and colleagues, I’m thrilled to welcome Provost Michele Gillespie to her first semester in her new role. Since arriving at Wake Forest in 1999, Provost Gillespie has established herself as a respected teacher-scholar and a strong, talented administrator, most recently as Dean of the College. She understands what makes Wake Forest such a special place and is committed to our distinct community experiences. We also welcome excellent new leadership with Annette Ranft as the new dean of the School of Business, Tony Marsh as interim dean of the College, and Nell Newton as interim dean of the School of Law.
I think there is much to look forward to in the coming academic year. We have remarkable momentum to build upon in every corner of our university – from embracing inclusive excellence, to elevating the impact of our teaching and scholarship, to creating opportunities and pathways for learning and discovery. As I stated in my inauguration speech, it is our imperative as a great university to develop a clear vision and direction to support our mission, to communicate our value, to underscore our purpose, and to be responsive to society’s changing needs. Together, we will be a catalyst for good in society.
In my blog, From Wente’s Desk this week, I will announce the structure and timeline for how we will develop a new strategic framework for our future. This will be a comprehensive, transparent and inclusive process, unfolding across this entire 2022-23 academic year. It was this time last year that I first began posing the question “what is expected of a great university?” We are called to continually build upon our strong foundation and strive for excellence. We are called to prepare leaders with integrity to take up the common good for their communities. And, we are called to enrich our society with new knowledge and new solutions to the challenges of our time and the future.
Looking ahead, we can see an auspicious date on the horizon – 2034, when Wake Forest will celebrate its 200th anniversary. Based on all that I have learned over the past year, I propose that now – beginning today and through this academic year – is the time to focus our collective efforts on how to frame the journey to 2034. We must craft the strategic direction now that is required to deepen and sustain our claim to greatness for our University into its third century.
I trust we will share in a truly extraordinary year, and I wish all a successful start to the new semester. Again, thank you for all you do for our campus community. I am proud to call Wake Forest home and proud to call you colleagues.
Susan R. Wente, Ph.D.