Summer

T-minus three weeks before the new students move in on August 24th. Summer has its own rhythm on campus. At Wake Forest at least, it is a blend of construction projects big and small, groups of conference-goers and summer campers who stay a few days or a week at a time, and a steady stream of visiting families who are looking at WFU as part of their high schooler’s college tour.

The tour groups move through campus in unison, led by a WFU student who is here for summer school. If you stop and watch the faces of the visitors as they pause in one place to let the tour guide talk about what they are seeing, you can begin to read the faces. Sometimes the students (or parents) look like they have just landed in the best spot on earth (hint: they have). Their faces show things like joy, and wonder, and hope. On parents’ faces sometimes you see a little wistfulness – could be that they are contemplating how hard it will be to let their beloved son or daughter go off to school, or maybe they are remembering their own time in college and the freedom and fun it had for them. Sometimes the families have complete poker faces and you can’t read a thing. I always wonder if those students apply.

Part of the ebb and flow of our summer in the Parent Programs office is that a lot of us go to staff the New Student Receptions held across the country. In the smaller receptions, when we have time for every single person to go around and introduce themselves, we often ask the students and parents to tell a little bit about how they came to know Wake Forest. I have heard so many parents talk about how when they toured campus, people spoke to them, said hello (or “hey” as we often do here). Perhaps this is most surprising for the Northern families who visit, because it is not as customary to speak to everyone you see as you do in the South.

Ed Wilson (’43), our provost emeritus and much beloved professor of English, has long been the keeper of the flame of all the best of Wake Forest. From his time on the Old Campus in the town of Wake Forest until now, he’s been a constant example of the sort of kindness and community spirit we strive to have here. Back in his day, new students wore buttons that said “Friendliness and honor.” It was part of the code of who Wake Foresters were. And even though there are no buttons now, our students still have that spirit.

I am glad that our visiting families and students see that spirit.

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