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Summer Reading

For several years, our “Information for First-Year Parents” weekly message page would end the academic year with a “Summer Reading” entry, where we offered some picks for potential books parents and families (and students!) could read over the summer.  We’ve changed the format of the “Information for First-Year Parents” section a little this year, but I didn’t want to lose the Summer Reading ideas.

We have so many amazing minds on campus, and I have asked just a few of them I know well to offer their best books up for consideration.  If you have a book club and are looking for recommendations, we hope some of these might be interesting.  Or if you as a family want to tackle a book together, enjoy!

Many thanks to my outstanding colleagues for taking the time to send us some titles.


maria-henson-214x300from Maria Henson (’82)
Associate Vice President and Editor-at-Large

Maria oversees our award winning Wake Forest Magazine.  She said this of her book choice:  “The best book I’ve read in the past year is the Tenth of December, a collection of short stories by George Saunders. How this master storyteller can paint a surreal, dystopian future, strike a satirical tone and still leave this reader feeling Saunders’ compassion for humanity and our heartbreaking connectedness is a gift to behold.”


lynn-sutton-700x400from Lynn Sutton, Ph.D.
Dean, Z Smith Reynolds Library

Lynn is the head of our awesome Z Smith Reynolds Library.  She recommends Lee Smith’s Guests on EarthThis is a beautiful book about the thin curtain that separates us from mental illness, set in Asheville, with the always entertaining Zelda Fitzgerald as a compelling character.”


mary dalton 2from Mary Dalton (’82)
Professor of Communication, Film Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies

Mary is one of our Faculty Fellows and has been very active in welcoming our first-year students to residential life on campus.  She wrote: “As a Faculty Fellow in Luter Residence Hall, I encouraged a group of students to read Flight Behavior as a way to start a conversation across the humanities and the sciences.  Winter, spring, summer, or fall, any time of the year is a good time to read this book!

I have loved many of Barbara Kingsolver’s novels (namely The Bean Trees, Animal Dreams, Pigs in Heaven, The Poisonwood Bible, and Prodigal Summer) and put Flight Behavior up there with the best of them.  Some people may quibble that she has crossed the line into polemic with the climate change strand of the story, but I don’t think so.

The story works for me as a compelling examination of what happens when cultures collide, and Kingsolver presents both the perspectives of members of a rural, Tennessee mountain community and scientists who arrive there with understanding and tenderness; there is no condescension toward the indigenous folk and no exaltation of the scientists.

The story is framed around Dellarobia Turnbow, a woman who comes to have a foot in both worlds, and she is an exciting character, a woman who is meant to rise above her circumstances.  I love this (completely believable) story of female empowerment.”


rosalind-tedfordfrom Rosalind Tedford (’91, MA ’94)
Director of Research and Instruction
Z Smith Reynolds Library

Like all of my friends making recommendations, Roz is a prolific reader.  She echoed Lynn’s choice of Guests on Earth, and offered three more options for books:

Shakespeare’s Restless World: A Portrait of an Era in 20 Objects by Neil McGregor
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro

Roz also mentioned that the ZSR is keeping a list on Goodreads for anyone who wants to see what the librarians are recommending.


hu-womackfrom Hu Womack (’90, MBA ’00)
Instruction and Outreach Librarian
Z Smith Reynolds Library
and Faculty Fellow, South Hall

Hu recommends Choosing Civility by PM Forni.  He said this of the book:  “[it] is reading assigned to freshmen this summer! I’ve read it and think it is an excellent book for starting discussion about communal living and happiness.”  Hu also recommended the following:

The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska, both by John Green
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt


20080829phillips5690from Tom Phillips (’74, MA ’78)
Director, Wake Forest Scholars
Co-Director, Program in Interdisciplinary Humanities
Coordinator, Interdisciplinary Humanities Pathway to Medicine Program

Right now Tom is at the Flow House in Vienna, Wake Forest’s residential program there.  But he was kind enough to send along two recommendations.

“Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son is a stark and powerful look into North Korean culture and mindset through the fortunes of a young man who must determine what price he will pay to survive in a world in which reality is redefined with the flick of a switch (or knife).  This much-honored book is wholly worthy of its praise.

The City and the City, by Englishman China Mieville, is a genre-bending science fiction detective novel, a gritty and elegant murder mystery that pits a jaded cop against his own past as well as the mind-altering present, itself a dystopian future come to pass.”


Finally, we’ll give you two picks from the Daily Deac.   Neither could be considered high art or groundbreaking literature, but bear with me.

If you’ve been a longtime Daily Deac reader, you’ll know that I err on the side of the sentimental.  My first pick is Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.  This is the story of a young and dynamic upperclass Englishman, Will Traynor, who had been a big-time businessman and thrillseeker, who became a quadriplegic after an accident.  His new caretaker companion, Lou Clark, is given a daunting challenge in working with him.  This is a sweet and poignant story.  Have tissues.

I also like a good inside scoop, so the second book is in that vein.  Young Money: Inside the Hidden World of Wall Street’s Post-Crash Recruits goes undercover with eight new graduates who enter Wall Street as investment bankers and go through a rigorous 2-3 year transformation.  They face brutal work hours and capricious bosses but in return they earn ridiculous money and have access to some of the most exclusive places in New York.  Warning: this has a lot of rough language in it, so if you are easily offended, take note.  I wanted to read this book because I wanted to see what some of my former advisees (who are moving into I-banking after graduation) might experience.


Campus Day Part 2

Today is the second Campus Day for Accepted Students, which is bringing about 400 families to campus on this grey and overcast day.  Our Parent Programs office had a table set up with a display showcasing the Parents’ Page and other things, and we had a lot of nice families come up to say hello.

Interestingly enough, most of them who came to speak to us said their children were either Early Decision or had already decided to enroll.   Normally at past Campus Days, about half of the families coming were already sold on WFU, the other half had students who were trying to take one last look at Wake and determine if they were coming here or would ultimately go to [INSERT OTHER TOP CHOICE].

I want to give a special shout out and thank you to all our visiting families who came up and told us they read the Daily Deac or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.  We never know where our readers are unless they tell us, and it is always a delight to put a face and a name to the people we are reaching each day.  So thanks to all our P’18 (Parent of Class of ’18) families who said hello.

This week we ran a bit late on our Information for First-Year families, so I wanted to bring it to your attention here.  This week’s message was about “A Year in Review: A Look Back at the Academic Year.”  And while it might be of particular interest to our freshmen families, the idea of reflecting at the end of each year is not a bad practice (even if your Deac is a new one just finishing high school!)  If you think your student might benefit from some questions prompting reflection – if not now, maybe even over the summer – please feel free to share this.

President Hatch Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

A colleague of mine shared some pretty big news from campus today.  President Hatch has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  I will confess I did not know the particulars of this organization, but it is described as follows:  ”One of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies, the Academy is also a leading center for independent policy research. Members contribute to Academy publications and studies of science and technology policy, energy and global security, social policy and American institutions, and the humanities, arts and education.”

Even more impressive is the cohort that he is joining:  ”Members of the 2014 class include winners of the Nobel Prize; the Wolf Prize; the Pulitzer Prize; National Medal of the Arts; MacArthur, Guggenheim, and Fulbright Fellowships; and Grammy, Emmy, Oscar and Tony Awards.”

This is a great honor for Dr. Hatch and by extension for Wake Forest.  There is a story on the Wake Forest web site about this if you want the full details.  Congratulations to Dr. Hatch!


Gmail for Alumni

You may or may not know that your students’ WFU email addresses are run through Google and their Gmail system.  One of the tough things we have faced after students graduating is that their WFU emails would expire, and unless they told us their new email (and physical address, for that matter), we often “lost” some of our recent graduates just because we did not have a mailable address.

This matters a lot, because we send alumni information (frequently via email address) about Wake Forest Club events in their area, Homecoming information, special news, and more.  Not to mention we want them to stay in touch via physical copy of the Wake Forest Magazine and more.

The Office of Alumni Services just sent the following email out to graduating seniors about being able to retain a WFU alumni email address through Gmail (while keeping access to their Google Drive and old files!)  The email is below.

Please, please urge your graduates to take advantage of this program.  It is a wonderful way to retain access to important information they had in their own email account here.  And if not, please tell them to update their address/email via the Alumni website after graduation!


Gmail for Alumni

Congratulations on your upcoming graduation! We hope your years at Wake have been full of wonderful memories and we are so excited to welcome you into the Alumni family!

This year, the Alumni Office and Information Services will be offering Gmail accounts to all graduating students. This Gmail account will be an actual account with access to Google Drive and all of Gmail’s standard functions. It will allow you the opportunity to transfer your existing content (messages, files, contacts) to your new account.

The new accounts were automatically created for you on March 25. You should have already received an email notification from Information Services about this transition, but for more in depth details and instructions, check out the alumni website at

If you have questions or need help with your new account, feel free to reach out to us at Congratulations on your graduation and enjoy the remainder of your time on campus!

The Office of Alumni Services


Thoughts on Commencement

20130520commencement1071Commencement 2014 is just a few weeks away.   It is a time of great celebration and joy for graduates and their families.  It’s also time when we get a lot of questions in the Parent Programs office about Commencement.  So I thought I’d share some of my thoughts from nearly 15 Commencements on campus.  Take them for what you will.

Weather:  pay attention to the weather forecast for the days leading up to Commencement, and pack clothes accordingly.  That could include rain wear, umbrellas, light jackets, or your warmest, lightest clothing.  Keep an eye on the weather.  And between now and Commencement, your job is to send prayers and positive thoughts for a sunny day around 75 degrees with a light breeze.  That in my opinion is the ideal weather.

Attire: People always ask “what should we wear? how formal is it?”  My first bit of advice is that you need to dress for the weather.  It can be cool in the morning, hot if the sun is going to be out.  In terms of what people wear, you could see everything from suits and ties and dressy spring suits for women, to sundresses and golf shirts and slacks.  The tendency is to be a little more dressy perhaps, but Deac men should give themselves the option of taking off the jacket and loosening the tie if it gets warm.  Deac women, think about if you tend to be hot or cold natured and determine whether you want the option of a jacket or sweater or pashmina.

Shoes: Leave your most expensive and cherished shoes at home!  Really.  The Quad grass will be dewy in the morning.  If you wear your most impressive shoes, it is almost certain they will get wet, and very likely specked with mud or grass.  There are literally close to 10,000 people on the Quad, and the grass paths between sections of seating on the lawn do get worn down to the dirt (or mud, depending on the wetness of the ground).  Use your favorite fancy shoes if you go to Baccalaureate (as it is inside), but be conservative and wear shoes that you don’t mind potentially getting wet on Commencement day.

Sunscreen is a must.  Repeat:  sunscreen is a must.  Or a hat.  Or both.  If we hold the ceremony outside (again, prayers welcome for great weather!), you will be outside for 3+ hours and  there are not enough areas of shade.  If you are sensitive to light and sun, be aware of this.  And tell your graduates to wear sunscreen too!

Think about the comfort of grandparents or older relatives:  my grandmother wanted very much to see me graduate in 1992, but she was very sensitive to heat and sun, and was not able to walk a long ways.  While we do our best to make everyone comfortable, if you have relatives for whom an outdoor event would not be good for them, please consider that before you all come.  Each family needs to make the decision that is best for them.  There is typically a live webcast of Commencement, which might be a great option.

Seating on the Quad: seating is on folding chairs (not particularly fancy).  Bring some paper towels or a washcloth from your hotel (please return them!) to wipe off your chairs at Commencement.  While the staff tries to go through and wipe the dew off the chairs, they are not always able to get to all 10,000 chairs before guests arrive.

When to arrive Commencement Day: everyone asks this, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer.   My own parents were in line at 6 am because they wanted to be among the first to get on the Quad and have their pick of all the seats.  They then had a 3 hour wait, so they read the paper, took a stroll, etc.  Other of my friends’ parents chose to arrive later.  Only you will know how important it is to you to get there early and have lots of options about seating vs. how much you want to avoid having a longer wait before the ceremony starts.  Know that there will be traffic, and there will be lines as you check in, so plan accordingly.

Bathrooms:  there are many.  Residence halls and Reynolda Hall are open, but there will be lines.  You might fare well to consider going to the Benson Center (a short walk) or Scales Fine Arts Center (closer to the Quad) if you don’t want to wait.  Because we read every student’s name, you will be able to see how long it takes as they begin and can plan your restroom break accordingly.

FYI on the ceremony proper:  the Commencement ceremony has run 2.5 to 3 hours in recent years.  It starts promptly at 9 am.  There will be a break in the ceremony to allow graduate and professional students to go to their respective ceremonies (and for their families to follow).  So know that there will be some seats taken early in the day that become vacant at the break, and know also that you are able to get up and move around.

Earth Day Celebration – Tuesday 4/22

Last week’s Message for First Year Families was about Sustainability.  Tomorrow (Tuesday, April 22) there will be an Earth Day Fair for campus, and I hope your students will plan to attend.

The Earth Day Fair is being organized by the Office of Sustainability.  There will be music and food and entertainment and other activities, and it is also a great way to think about green issues and being kind to the planet.

Finals are coming up soon, and your students need to take good care of themselves and take the occasional break from work to get outdoors and do some things that might be fun and relaxing.

So tell your Deacs to head out to the Mag Quad (aka Manchester Plaza tomorrow  and enjoy Earth Day!)

Five Senses of Farrell Living Room

Tomorrow is an academic and administrative holiday.  If you have a concern about a student (either after normal business hours or on a holiday), University Police is our 24/7 contact.  You can call them at 336-758-5591 (non-emergencies) or 336-758-5911 (emergencies) and they will contact the appropriate on-call staff.

Yesterday I went over to Farrell Hall a little bit before a 2 pm meeting so I could take in the scene and bring you one of our “Five Senses” blog posts.  Here you go, Deac families!

I see…

- a giant blue crane on one end of the Living Room and an orange platform/people lifter on the other.  It is not clear to me what they are doing, but there are 2 men on one cherry-picker and 3 on the ground observing.  Yellow tape is roping off the equipment.

- half of the tables and comfy chairs in the middle of the Living Room are occupied.  It appears to be a mix of students individually studying or eating lunch, and some in clusters or groups.

- cold weather clothes.  It is chilly today, and most are in sweaters, sweatshirts, or fleece jackets (or have them nearby)

- lots of laptops, both at tables with just one student, as well as the groups of students

- a couple of students I know; one with a delightful accent comes up to talk to me

- administrators and faculty walking through the Living Room, occasionally talking to students they know or each other


I hear…

- the sound of the equipment moving up and down; rather a drill-like sound

- jingling keys

- the ice machine at Einstein’s Bagels

- people ordering from same

- laughter

- snippets of conversations.  I am near two girls who erupt into periodic giggles.  They appear to be rehashing someone’s escapades.


I feel…

- the nubby fabric of the chair at my table

- the very smooth and pleasantly cool marble-like/solid surface of the table.  The patterns of the tables reminds me a bit of a good French pate.

- the occasional breeze as doors open


I smell….

- cinnamon raisin bagels from Einstein’s

- hazelnut.  Einstein’s has a hazelnut-vanilla blend that is aromatic


I taste….

- a cup of that hazelnut coffee (couldn’t resist!)


And that, my friends, was the Five Senses of the Farrell Living Room at nearly 2 pm on Wednesday.  Hope you felt like you were there with me!

Phi Beta Kappa Induction

phi beta kappaYesterday I had the pleasure of attending the induction ceremony of the newest members of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society.   About twenty juniors and around 50 seniors were invited to join this year.  It was a wonderful event for them and for the many proud family members, faculty, and staff in attendance.  And as an alumna of WFU and a member of PBK as well, I was proud to see these exceptional young men and women being honored.  I knew a few of them and they are terrific.

In addition to celebrating the students, a member of the faculty was given an honorary membership as well.  The professor was Mary Foskett of the Religion department.  I have worked with Mary for many years and she is an exceptional teacher-scholar and has such a heart for both students and scholarship – a most deserving recipient of this honor.

The keynote speaker at the event was Blake Morant, dean of the School of Law (and a PBK member as well.)  Dean Morant opened by asking the audience if we knew some of the most famous members of Phi Beta Kappa (see list here).  He then shared a story about his first job following law school.  He had been on an Army ROTC scholarship and then was part of the JAG Corps (Judge Advocate General).

Disclaimer: Dean Morant is a phenomenal speaker and a very charismatic storyteller, so I can not do his live performance justice.  But it was a good story.

In his first JAG Corps assignment, he was at Fort Bragg here in NC and was working on general contract law, which is evidently one of the most complicated forms of law to practice.  His commanding officer assigned him to work on a contract for a particular piece of equipment – a tank – that the 3 star general of the base wanted to purchase.

Dean Morant researched this exhaustively and found that there was an endangered species of bird on base that was protected by new EPA rules that applied to military bases (as well as the general population) and that the general could not get this tank because of the risk to this endangered bird.

He presented his masterfully written briefing memo to his commanding officer, basically saying the general could not get the tank.  The officer read it and said it was one of the most thorough and well-developed briefings ever – and that Dean Morant would have to be the one to meet the general to tell him no in person.  Evidently the general was a real Patton-style guy and not used to hearing the word “no.”  The prospect of having to break this bad news to the general was fearsome indeed.

Being extremely well rounded in his own liberal arts undergraduate experience at the University of Virginia, Dean Morant relied on his critical thinking skills and tried to think outside of the box (or base as it were) to find other solutions.   He drove all around the base to see if there were other areas that did not have this bird in residence, but would also meet the needs of the general and would allow him to get the tank.  He was able to find a different section of land that had no endangered birds and room for the types of tank drills required.

He amended the briefing memo to show that the general could both safeguard the endangered bird and get him the tank he wanted.  A win for everyone.  But especially for Dean Morant, who had the academic training to think creatively and problem-solve.  He credited his undergraduate experience for helping him develop those skills.

After this story, Dean Morant urged the students to let this induction into Phi Beta Kappa be the *beginning* of a life of great things, not the crowning achievement.  Hard work and a firm grounding in the liberal arts can make anything possible – and he stressed that now more than ever, we need people with liberal arts backgrounds to help look into the problems of the world and find solutions.

Following the induction ceremony, the new members, their families, and faculty and staff celebrated the success of these great students.  It was a great night for all.

Congratulations to all our new members!

Focus on the Forest

Some of the most positive feedback we get at the Daily Deac is from parents and family members who appreciate seeing photos of things that are happening on campus, and also the “five senses” posts where we set up camp somewhere around the campus and just observe for 30 minutes and chronicle what we see.  Today the weather is supposed to be awful – 100% chance of rain for a good part of the day, although right now (9:20 am) it is still dry.

photoblog_tree_header1We’ll try to get a “five senses” post in sometime this week, but for now I want to draw your attention to a wonderful photo resource.  It’s called Focus on the Forest, and it is a Tumblr site maintained by Ken Bennett, our award-winning University Photographer.   He is taking pictures all the time, to document campus events as well as get shots of campus and students that can be used on the website, in publications, and more.  There are over 70,000 photos in our archive, dating back from late 90s or early 2000s.  Ken puts some of the best of them up on Focus on the Forest, and if you want a visual treat, you should check out the site.

For another look at campus any time, there is the Quad Cam.  If you are viewing it from your PC or laptop, it should work fine.  We are having a little hitch with it coming through on smartphones, and our IS and web teams are working on that.  So know that if you try it on your phone, you might not get it, but the issue has been reported and is being addressed, but it is a complicated issue and will take some time to fix.  Apologies to all.

One time I’d recommend you check out the Quad Cam is on April 25th – that will be our second Campus Day for Accepted Students.  There will be a lot of activity at the following times:

7:30-8:45 am – when people check in to register at Wait Chapel

9:30-10 am – when the first program in Wait Chapel ends and they all depart en masse for other sessions

2:00ish-4ish – students will begin setting up the Student Involvement Fair during the 2:00 time frame, as the admitted students and families are in their last program in Wait Chapel.  Once that finishes, the Demon Deacon leads the students out of the chapel and on to the Quad, where the band, cheerleaders, and dance team are waiting.  You’ll see a ton of prospective students and parents walking around to visit the tables at the Student Involvement Fair (student organizations set up tables to promote their groups)

Monday Morning News

Good Monday morning, Deac families!  Here’s a little bit of news from everywhere to help you start your week.

This weekend was perhaps the most beautiful one we have had all spring.  It was sunny all weekend, highs in the mid-70s, and all of the flowers and flowering trees seem to be exploding with blooms all at once.  It is hard to imagine a prettier time at Mother So Dear.

On Friday we had the first of two Campus Days for Accepted Students, with about 400 families (1,000 people total) attending.  These events are for students who have been admitted into the Class of 2018.  Some have already committed to WFU, others are kicking the tires between their final top choices.  It is a wonderful day for students and families to experience all Wake has to offer.  One new feature this year was a version of the Campus Involvement Fair at the end of the day, when student organizations manned tables around the Quad to feature the work of their organizations.  Many thanks to all the students who were there to greet the new families, and also to the Spirit of the Old Gold and Black and cheerleaders and dance team.  And of c0urse, our Demon Deacon!  I had also seen a great “Did You Know?” about some of Wake’s points of pride.  Did you know we did all this?  Did You Know

Friday we received an announcement that alumna Melissa Harris-Perry (’94) will return to campus as a chaired professor in the department of Politics and International Affairs.  This is a big get for Wake Forest.  Dr. Harris-Perry is an award-winning scholar and author who has taught at Tulane, University of Chicago, and Princeton. Her first book, “Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought,” won the 2005 W. E. B. Du Bois Book Award from the National Conference of Black Political Scientists and 2005 Best Book Award from the Race and Ethnic Politics Section of the American Political Science Association.  Her academic research is inspired by a desire to investigate the challenges facing contemporary black Americans and to better understand the multiple, creative ways that African Americans respond to these challenges.  She spoke on campus a couple of years ago and she is dynamic , interesting, and passionate.  She is going to be someone who engages students deeply in the classroom, and she will bring with her a wealth of knowledge and connections through her journalism career.

We also learned late last week of a $3 million gift from Blue Cross Blue Shield NC (BCBSNC) to support the University’s well-being initiative.  The $3 million gift from BCBSNC will help us create a campus community dedicated to well-being and support initiatives across eight dimensions: physical, emotional, spiritual, social, intellectual, financial, occupational, and environmental.  It will support the transformation of Reynolds Gym into a comprehensive center for well-being, fund a new director of well-being position, provide seed grants for faculty research on health and well-being, and support new well-being programs on campus.  This is big news too and very exciting.

Finally, residence hall selection has taken place.  As happens every year, there are some students who did not select a room (for a various of reasons).  If your student is in the Yet to Be Assigned group, here is some information about that process and how it plays out over the summer.

As always, big things are happening at Wake Forest.  And your students are the beneficiaries!