Fall 2023 Engagement Opportunities

This message was shared by Michele Gillespie, Provost and Presidential Endowed Chair of Southern History, and José Villalba, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Professor of Counseling, on Sept. 7, 2023.

Dear members of the Wake Forest community: 

We write as co-chairs of the Campus Memorialization Steering Committee inviting you to engage in an important set of upcoming conversations about what it means to remember and honor Wake Forest’s historical ties to slavery with a campus memorial. 

As announced last April, and with support of the Board of Trustees, President Wente has launched an effort to create a campus memorial to remember and honor the humanity of the enslaved men, women and children who worked for or were sold to benefit the University. 

This work will be led by the Campus Memorialization Steering Committee, which includes faculty, staff, students, and alumni whose critical expertise and perspectives will help guide this important effort, on behalf of our memorial design partner, Baskervill. Baskervill was selected by the University to lead a community-engaged memorial design process — with guidance and direction from our steering committee — based on their impressive expertise and distinguished commitment to a community-engaged process.   

We have organized opportunities for any member of our campus community to join the discussion and invite and encourage you to attend. Please click here to register for one of the open forum sessions listed on this page. In addition, we will hold intentional outreach sessions with representative campus organizations. 

Thank you and we look forward to engaging with you. 


To register for one of the following forums, please fill out this form.

  • [CLOSED] Faculty/Staff — *Virtual* Thursday, Sept. 28, from 3-4 p.m. via Zoom (Information about how to join will be sent to registrants before the session.)
  • [CLOSED] Faculty/Staff — Wednesday, Oct. 4, from 3-4 p.m. in Benson 401
  • [CLOSED] Faculty/Staff — Tuesday, Nov. 14, from 3:30 – 5:00 p.m. in Benson 401
  • [CLOSED] Students — Wednesday, Oct. 18, from 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. in Benson 401
  • [CLOSED] Students — Thursday, Nov. 2, from 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. in Benson 401

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


To share feedback or ask questions, please use this form:

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.