Recent updates

May 9, 2024: Update on the Campus Memorialization Project

Sept. 7, 2023: Fall 2023 Engagement Opportunities

Project background

In April 2021, the Wake Forest University Board of Trustees – acting on findings from the Advisory Committee on Naming— voted unanimously on a resolution to create a campus memorial. 

The memorial will remember and honor the humanity of the enslaved men, women and children who worked for or were sold to benefit the University. It will also put in context the record of Samuel Wait, Wake Forest College’s founder and first president, as a person who had enslaved persons serving his household, and who oversaw the liquidation of the Blount Estate on May 7, 1860, as chair of the Board of Trustees.

The Board of Trustees resolved that “the final context, appearance, and location of the memorial be recommended by the president, along with participation and consideration by the Administration and Finance Committees as the project progresses.” 


April 27, 2023:Next steps with WFU Campus Memorial Project: Design firm selected, steering committee named

“As an educational institution, we must not be afraid to talk about our past, indeed to educate about it, in order to ensure we learn from it as a community. I believe colleges and universities founded before the Civil War have an obligation to contend with our whole histories; the inspiring and the hopeful parts, right alongside the painful aspects.”
— President Susan R. Wente


The Campus Memorialization Steering Committee was appointed by President Wente in April 2023 to provide direction and expertise to the memorial project effort. The University has selected the architectural and design firm, Baskervill, to guide a community-engaged design process with direction from the steering committee. 

The Committee will also serve as an ad hoc administrative committee on honorifics to identify and recommend a permanent name for the Divinity and Religious Studies building. 


Michele Gillespie
Provost and Presidential Endowed Professor of Southern History (Co-Chair) 

José Villalba
Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer (Co-Chair)   

Derek Hicks
Associate Professor, School of Divinity

Keenon Mann
Association of Wake Forest Black Alumni (AWFUBA) President

Tanya Zanish Belcher
Director of Special Collections and Archives, ZSR Library

Lisa Blee
Associate Professor of History

Simeon Ilesamni
Professor of Religious Studies, Study of Religions

Terry Brock
Manager of Archaeology and Research, Wake Forest Historical Museum  

Morna O’Neill
Professor and Chair of Art

Janeel Black (‘24)
Undergraduate Student Representative

Savannah Littlejohn (‘23 and MSBA Candidate ‘24)
Graduate Student Representative

Special Advisor to the Committee:

Corey D. B. Walker
Wake Forest Professor of Humanities, Dean of the School of Divinity and Director of the African American Studies Program 

Ex Officio (staff to CMSC)

Ashleigh Brock
Chief of Staff, President


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