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The Daily Deac

Winter Break

The University is closed this week, so that means the staff of the Daily Deac is enjoying a few days off with family – hopefully just like you are doing at your house!

So this week, we’ll be featuring some of the best photos from our very talented University Photographer, Ken Bennett.   This is an amazing shot of one of your Deacs in the shadows.

We’ll be back to regular Daily Deacs after the New Year.  Until then, on behalf of the Office of Parent Programs, we wish you and yours all the best for the holidays!


Final Thoughts

Today is the last day campus is technically open before the break.  The whole university is on holiday from Monday 12/23 through Friday 12/27.  And I have to say, campus is Q-U-I-E-T today – unless you are in the Z Smith Reynolds Library, where they are putting in a new floor in the lobby, as well as digging a trench for more power outlets.  It was strange to see the ZSR Starbucks so empty when normally it is one of the most bustling places on campus.

I have a few final thoughts to share before break , and they are on the subject of Finals.  Final grades appear to have been posted in WIN, our online records system for students; at least I could see all of my individual advisees’ grades.  For students who have signed a FERPA (Family Educational Right to Privacy Act) form, grades should also be coming home via US Mail.  For information about FERPA and grade reporting, please see the Parents’ Page FAQ and look under the Academics section.

To add a bit of perspective to grades for families of freshmen, my personal experience and the trend I have seen with all my years of advising students is that typically the first semester is the worst semester gradewise.  This is the first time your Deacs have been through a set of midterms and finals and the first time they have been tasked with college level work.  It is a big adjustment.  And if you were used to seeing all As or As and the occasional B in high school, you might well be seeing more Bs and Cs and fewer As.

Don’t panic.  And please don’t stress your students out about the grades – they are often *highly* stressed about discussing grades with you.  My anecdotal conversations with a lot of students over the years suggests to me that they are keenly aware of thinking they might be disappointing you (even if they are imagining that).

When you talk to your students about grades, I would urge you to think about asking some reflection questions – things like “what did you do well in your classes?  what might you have done differently?  if you knew then what you know now, how would you change how you studied or prepared for classwork and exams?”  Sometimes by focusing on process (not outcomes) you can help them think about improving their study or work habits, which ought to lead to better outcomes.

Just to keep you apprised of the schedule for the Daily Deac, since the University is closed all of next week and our crack staff has some PTO as well, we’re going to feature some Pictures of the Day between now and New Years.  But we’ll be back in January and will bring you all the news that’s fit to print, as the saying goes.

Until then, we wish you a wonderful holiday with your students.  And thanks as always for reading the Daily Deac!




Sorority Recruitment

Yesterday I was at a meeting to talk about sorority recruitment and the process our young lady Deacs will go through in early January.  Parents and guardians of girls going through recruitment should have received an email on Tuesday from Annie Carlson Welch, who oversees that process (information here: 2014 Sorority Recruitment Parent Letter).  If your daughter will be involved in recruitment, please do read Annie’s letter.

I also wanted to add a little bit about the process.

The first day of recruitment, the rushees (called Potential New Members) are assigned into groups and are given a Greek advisor (a Gamma Rho Chi or GRC).  The GRC takes her group to visit every single sorority party (whether the PNMs are interested in that sorority or not).   Then after the first day, each girl ranks her sororities in priority order from those she loves most to those she merely likes.  At the same time, the sororities do the same, so it is a narrowing down process on both sides.

Sororities issue invitations to the next day’s function to any PNMs they are still interested in getting to know better.  Which means that each day of recruitment, girls are invited back to successively fewer parties (and they may have to choose between all their invitation options), until at the end they have just up to two choices (in a perfect world if all goes well).   Along the way, some students drop out of the recruitment process, and some go all the way through but aren’t successfully matched.

While your daughters are home for the holidays, talk to them about the process of recruitment if they are going to go through it.  Particularly talk to them about the idea that they would be wise to manage their expectations – both about where they think they might end up (we all think we will get our first choice and are stunned when we do not!) and their expectations about the sororities’ personalities and reputations.

A million years ago when I was a student here, there were a couple of groups perceived to be the “best” or “most elite” or “coolest” or [insert your adjective here], and girls wanted to get into those Highly Desired groups.  Just as it was in my day, there are currently some groups that the PNMs are all dying to get into, but the laws of economics say that you can’t invite all the girls back to one or two groups, and make two or three giant SuperSororities, leaving the remaining groups to slimmer pickings.

An illustration:  for argument’s sake, say there are 400 girls going through recruitment and 8 sororities.  The pledge class size will end up all being about equal – say it will be 40 girls (accounting for some who drop out of the process).  If on Day 1 of recruitment, all 400 girls wanted to be in A or B sorority, that would be 400 girls vying for 80 spots.  Those are not favorable odds.  So it is to your daughters’ advantage to consider membership BEYOND just their dream group.

Every year there are girls who are not invited back to the sorority(ies) they wanted to be invited back to, and there are inevitably girls who drop out of the process, thinking “If I can’t be a [insert name here], I don’t want to be anything at all.”  Talk to your daughters now about reconsidering that position.  What I always tell my advisees (and any parents who ask me), is to stick with the process and see it through.  All the sororities will have some girls they’ll love, and some they don’t have as much in common with.  But they will all have Greek letters, and t-shirts, and fun and fellowship and opportunities for leadership and growth.  And if the women will look beyond what they perceive to be the Most Desirable Group, and not worry about perceived reputation or coolness or whatever, they might well find they are among a fantastic, amazing group of girls.

Sometimes there are girls who are hesitant to accept a bid to a newer, less established sorority – but I always challenge my advisees to look at this as an opportunity to help grow that group, provide leadership, and build it for the next generation of students.  I talked to a young woman last year who had a bid from just such a group and she didn’t want to take it because she was afraid of being in the new group.  I told her she should think long and hard about it – she is going to find fun and philanthropy and sisterhood in this group even if it is newer.  She ended up taking the bid and telling me later she was so glad I had urged her to reconsider her initial reaction of declining.  So in the event that your daughter does not get asked back to X but gets asked back to Y sorority, urge her to give Y a try.

One of the tough parts about the recruitment process is that it happens before classes start and the full student body arrives back on campus.  In some ways this is a positive, because there are no distractions.  But in the event that your daughter does not have a happy recruitment experience – whether she elects to drop out, or is not successfully placed – it can also be a stressor.  And this is where the excellent campus administrators and staff come in.  There are going to be a plethora of activities for young women who do not continue with recruitment – everything from movies to yoga to tv or movie viewing parties, to activities off campus to things in the residence halls.  We have a group called “Mary’s Posse” (named after an administrator here who started the group) who have volunteered to reach out in a mentoring and friendship capacity to anyone who has had an unhappy outcome.  We offer to talk to young women one-on-one, take them for coffee or a walk or a chat or a good cry.  We listen, and we care.  Please urge your daughters to consider opting in to some of these activities if they choose not to see recruitment through to the end.

Parents, part of what you can do during the recruitment process is urge your daughters to keep things in perspective!  Urge them to be open to choices and alternatives, to be mindful of other girls on their hall who might not be having as positive an experience and to offer support, and to ask for help if they need it.   You can also help by letting your daughters sort through this process on their own!  Try not to add any pressure about where she wants to join.  You might be a legacy but your daughter may not want to be in that group (or that group may release her – legacy status is not a guarantee of a bid!)

A common refrain you’ll hear from us to let your daughters have the opportunity to build resilience when they encounter a setback.  If recruitment has a bad outcome, you might want to rush here to help her or fly her home, but before you do that, think about whether that is really the best course of action.  One way you can help your daughter grow into a young adult is to let her navigate problems on her own.  And by letting her feel her way through a situation – even when it is painful – she will be growing critical skills of self-care, self-advocacy, and independence.  So NOW is the time to have some of those types of conversations with your daughters – talk about how they might seek resources and assistance on campus if they don’t finish recruitment successfully.  Help her build some ideas and a plan.  Let her rescue herself, instead of you rescuing her :)

We’ll talk more about recruitment closer to the time, but please think about having some of these tempering-expectations conversations now.  Good luck to any of your girls who will be embarking on this process!

Today I Am Asking for a Favor

Most of the time at the Daily Deac we are simply here to give you a glimpse of campus life and some snapshots of things your students might see, hear, or do.  Today I am going to ask our Deac families for a favor – and that is to make a gift to the Parents’ Campaign of the Wake Forest Fund.

Part of the responsibility of my office is to ask parents and families to make a gift to the Parents’ Campaign of the Wake Forest Fund every year.   (I get to do the Daily Deac and all the other fun communication things I do because it is agreed that several times a year I will also ask our Deac family for their support).

Many of you choose to make charitable gifts in December for tax purposes, so if you are one of those families, please consider making a gift now.  You can make a gift online - it is secure and easy.  

The Parents’ Campaign of the Wake Forest Fund helps provide support for a variety of campus needs and initiatives.  Your gift will be used this academic year in the areas where we deem it is most needed.   The Parents’ Campaign of the Wake Forest Fund provides a lot of the special extras that make the Wake Forest experience so special for your student.  (If you want to see a great illustration of what the Wake Forest Fund does, check out the Zombies and Hotdogs video here.)

Note that you can designate your gift within the Wake Forest Fund:

- The Wake Forest Fund is the most general designation.  Those gifts are applied to the University’s highest priorities.  Families who want Wake Forest to have the most flexibility in using their gift often give to this fund.  

- The Wake Forest Fund for the College is used to support students and faculty in the undergraduate College and associated programs and opportunities.  Families with freshmen or sophomores, and those with juniors and seniors who are not the business school often give to this fund.

- The Wake Forest Fund for the School of Business is used to support students and faculty in the School of Business and associated programs and opportunities.  Families with juniors and seniors who are business majors often give to this fund.

- The Wake Forest Fund for the Z Smith Reynolds Library is used to support the work of our library and librarians, including providing resources and programming.  Families whose students have great affection for the library and its staff and programs often give to this fund.  I’d like to add an editorial note here: if you were one of the families who participated in ZSRx Parents and Families: Deacon Development 101, I’d encourage you to consider making your Parents’ Campaign gift to this fund.  Dean Sutton and her talented staff gave a lot of time and effort to bring this class to families – and you can say thank you this way!

- The Wake Forest Fund for Student Aid is used to support students with financial aid needs.  Families who want to help increase the amount of money available to student financial aid often give to this fund.

I have long believed that our Daily Deac readers are the most generous and enthusiastic about Wake Forest, and you could help me validate that when you make your gift.  You can check the box at the very bottom of the form that says “I want to include a note with my gift.”  If you want to check it and write “Daily Deac” in there, you can help validate my theory.

Thank you for considering making a gift.   I know you are not only engaged, but generous in both your interaction with my office and the support you give to Wake Forest.

(And tomorrow we will go back to our regularly scheduled blog, I promise!)


Empty.  That is the only word to say it.  Campus feels empty without your students.  And beyond the temporary joy that comes from magnificently easy parking now that everyone is gone, it feels a lot less lively without the students.  So I am cheering myself up in Alumni Hall by listening to a Frank Sinatra Christmas.

So – what happens while your students are home on break?  Right now the faculty are scrambling to finish grading finals (they are due tomorrow at noon).  The Z. Smith Reynolds Library is getting a new entryway floor.  Residence Halls are being inspected and any needed maintenance done.  Work continues on the new dining commons, though the Starbucks opened early (I have not tried it but heard good reports).  Many of the administrative offices on campus are business-as-usual, trying to finish up work before the university closes.  We will officially be closed December 23-27.

We hope you are enjoying the break with your Deacs.  And many thanks to those of you who have sent our office good wishes and cards this holiday season.  We are happy to be part of your Wake Forest experience and wish you all the best at the holidays.


Crisis Management

Last week I spent three days in a Crisis Management training program.  There were 42 of us in class, representing University Police, Facilities, Residence Life and Housing, Parking, ARAMARK/food service, Communications, Chaplain’s office, Counseling Center, IS, Student Health, Athletics, HR, Budget/Finance, and a few more offices.

These would be the folks who would potentially be the first to respond to a campus disaster and/or who would be charged with arranging logistics and putting things in place to make sure your students’ needs were taken care of during and after an emergency.   And as a mother myself and knowing that there is nothing more precious in the world than our children, the first thing I want you to hear is that in a crisis, I would trust the people in that Crisis Management room without hesitation.  

The people on Crisis Management are smart, prepared, and well trained.  More than that, they are good people who work well together.  And all of them have the safety of your kids and the rest of campus as their top priority.  I want to say a special word of thanks to our University Police officers.  They train regularly as a department, but also work very well with city and county EMS, Fire, PD and others so that everyone is familiar with the campus and we have solid plans in place.

During our training class, we studied a number of case studies of other college crises (natural disasters, active shooters, hostage situations).  It is scary, wearying stuff.  We talked about efficient operations before, during, and after a disaster.  And then we did a WF-specific drill where we were presented with an imaginary disaster (in this case, natural disaster plus fire) and worked out how we’d approach it.

The second thing I want you to hear is the time for your students (and you) to think about and prepare for an emergency is NOW, not during the crisis.  We have a great website called Wake Ready that gives emergency preparedness information.  Your students need to be aware of things like how they would be notified in a crisis (cell phone text message, email, potentially also outdoor siren) and they should be accustomed to looking at their cell phone/email for official messages.  They need to know about what to do if they need to evacuate a building, or what to do in various emergency situations.  They also must understand terminology they might see, like what it means if they are told to “shelter in place“.  Wake Ready has all of that information for them.

If there were an emergency on campus, there will be official notifications on the WFU website main page and Wake Alert.  It is important to note that I will not be updating the Parents’ Page during a crisis (I will likely be deployed elsewhere), but you will see an emergency banner at the top of the page linking you to the official news and information.

Related to communication, the third thing I want you to know – and talk about with your students – is that we want students to let parents know they are OK as quickly and safely as they can.  If your student reaches out and tells you he or she is OK, we can help keep our phone lines and personnel here focused on the emergency.

My fourth point for you is we would ask both students and parents to follow directions and recommendations that are communicated to you.  For example, if we say that the campus is closed except for emergency vehicles, please do not attempt to drive onto campus (we will work out ways for you to reach your students and communicate those pickup points when the situation is stable).

No one wants to think about emergencies and crises, but it is to everyone’s benefit to plan and prepare now.  Though it is scary stuff, it is stuff we need to talk about.  So urge your students to be familiar with Wake Ready, and you as parents and families read it all too.

And this is the final thing I want you to hear: God forbid anything terrible was happening, our University Police  would be the ones running TOWARD the crisis and putting themselves in harm’s way so the rest of us can stay safe.  I have the utmost respect for Chief Lawson and her team.  They are ready to give it all on any day for us.

So please, the next time you see a campus cop, please say thank you to them for their service.



Class of 2018

This is one of those wonderful feel-good stories.

Two childhood friends whose families knew each other in college.  The families vacationed together and stayed close all their lives, even though they live in separate states.

Both friends apply to Wake Forest for college.  Early Decision.

Both got their acceptance letters this week.

Here they are as kids.  Maybe when they graduate as part of the Class of 2018, they’ll let me take their picture again.

2 class of 2018s as kids

Your Present: To Be Present

Your Deacs are slogging through Finals Week and they are going to come home tired, weary, maybe a little self-indulgent in wanting to sleep all day and do nothing of import.  Give them the grace to just “be” for a couple of days and settle back in to home life.  Once they are over that, you’ll have a fair amount of time to be with them.  Make the most of it.

Mother_teresa_quotes_2I ran across this quote the other day and it reminded me of how people hunger and thirst for the love and affirmation of those closest to them: families, significant others, people they respect.  During the holiday season, it seems that so many of us are running around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to buy gifts, prepare the house for visitors, attend a ton of social events.  It is a lot of hurry-scurry and not nearly enough sit-and-relax and enjoy-the-moment with the people you love best.

So consider this holiday season giving the gift of your presence to those who matter most to you.  Unplug from your phone, your laptop, your iPad and sit with your Deacs and other children.  Ask them to do the same.

Be present for each other for a conversation.  Listen – maybe even listen more than talk! – to what your sons and daughters have been doing at school all semester.  Ask what matters to them.

And most importantly, say the things that are in your heart to them, the things they might be desperate to hear (but might never tell you):

I love you

I am proud of you

You are a terrific son/daughter

I believe in you

You are going to change the world someday

It has been a joy watching you grow up

You don’t have to be perfect – I love you just as you are

It’s OK to fail sometimes. I fail too.

I would be willing to be that 10 years from now, your Deacs will remember your being present – kind words, time well spent together – more than they will remember the actual present you gave them.

Why I Love to Write – by Kevin Jordan (’15)

coach walter kevin jordanThe fall issue of the English department newsletter came out recently, and when I got my copy of it as an English major alumna, I was struck by this story below.  It is written by Kevin Jordan, a member of the Class of 2015 and a baseball player on campus.  For those of you who don’t know the exceptional story of Kevin, I want to let him tell you in his own words.  At the end, I’ll give you some extra links if you want more.

In all my years as a student and an administrator at Wake, I am not sure I have seen a more stunning example of Pro Humanitate than the Kevin Jordan-Coach Walter story.  Grab tissues.


Why I Love to Write – by Kevin Jordan (’15)

It‘s safe to say that a coach and player couldn’t be any closer than Coach Tom Walter and myself. It all started in the lobby of Emory University Hospital the morning of February 7, 2011. There, in front of his family and mine, we were both wheeled down a cold hallway so he could save my life. I didn’t know then that my career in baseball, my life and the beginning of my passion for journalism would unfold in the days and months ahead.

That morning, Dr. Allen Kirk first removed Tom‘s kidney then transferred it down the hall to my room where I was the recipient of this transplant. Meanwhile, ESPN, CBS and a couple of local new stations began rolling their cameras.

The reason the world soon learned of my unique story is because those cameras were rolling. But, only months before the surgery, I was questioning whether my kidneys would breakdown everything that I had built on the baseball field. Whether I‘d ever live the same way I had for the first seventeen years of my life.  My life didn’t have an ounce of certainty on the day I stepped on the campus of Wake Forest in the fall of 2010. Baseball had always been my cornerstone, and that was unexpectedly taken away from me because of my health.

What seemed like an endless fall during my first college semester can now be explained simply by numerous doctor visits and as many visits with Coach Walter and the baseball staff.  I didn’t feel right.  And Coach Walter had seen me at my best when he recruited me and at my worst when he observed me on campus. From the day he witnessed the sickness that I had been dealing with for months, we immediately got on the same page about one thing: the solution.

And the solution – Coach Walter donating one of his kidneys to save my life – was seen on national television: On E:60 it was called Sacrifice, and the day after our successful surgery, our story was on CBS‘s and ABC‘s morning news.

We knew what we were doing was special, but in less than 24 hours, it would become national news. I began to realize that this story was one that needed to be told and that it was the role of journalists to tell it.

Watching my own story being told opened my eyes to other people‘s stories. There were amazing stories happening in the hospital all around me. While I was in the hospital for that week after surgery, I heard a story about a lady giving one of her kidneys to one of her closest friends. Everyone has a different story to tell.

Listening and reading about the lives of other people may have had its roots in the fact that I wasn’t allowed to move after surgery. Since the surgery and the coverage of it, I have found a way to read more and more features and appreciate how they are put together. I can remember writers calling to check facts and follow up even after their interviews. Witnessing the final product proved to be more satisfying than I ever thought it could be.  I saw the significance of storytelling and I wanted to be a part of it.

I’ve only taken a couple of journalism courses so my intrigue certainly surpasses my experience. As a young writer I want to learn about different techniques of interviewing, different writing styles for different situations and create my voice as a writer. My life was saved in front of a national audience, and ever since then I’ve been inspired to tell other people‘s amazing stories. At this point in time, I’ve turned an intrigue into a passion, and I‘m hoping to turn this passion into a writing career.


As you can imagine, there was a lot of coverage of this story.  Here are some additional links if you want to read and see more.

The Gift – from the Wake Forest Magazine, June 2011

Coach Walter and Kevin Jordan reflect a year after – on

E:60 – Sacrifice – on


WF Hires New Football Coach?

Good morning, Daily Deacers.  We have a developing story in process.  All manner of media outlets are reporting that Wake Forest has hired Dave Clawson from Bowling Green as our next head football coach.

Most of the articles are saying that there will be a press conference sometime today to introduce him.  Unfortunately, the staff of the Daily Deac is in a 3-day training class, so we can’t be there to cover it in person.  Keep an eye on Wake Forest’s official sports website, for updates, or Google, Twitter, etc.

If this is indeed true, Coach Clawson, we welcome you to Wake Forest!

Here is a report from the AP that was picked up by the Raleigh News and Observer.


AP source: Wake Forest University chooses Bowling Green’s Clawson

AP Sports Writer
December 9, 2013
Updated 50 minutes ago

Wake Forest has hired Dave Clawson from Bowling Green as its next football coach, a person familiar with the situation said.

The person said a news conference to introduce Clawson was expected Tuesday in Winston-Salem, N.C. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday night because the move had not been announced by either school.

It comes three days after Clawson led Bowling Green (10-3) to an upset of then-No. 16 Northern Illinois in the Mid-American Conference championship game and one day after the Falcons were invited to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.

His hiring caps Wake Forest’s weeklong search to find Jim Grobe’s successor. He resigned Dec. 2 after a 13-year stay that included five bowl games, but ended with five straight losing seasons.

While saying he didn’t want to limit the scope of his search, athletic director Ron Wellman said last week that his preference was to find a proven winner who had experience at a private school.

Clawson certainly fits the mold.

His profile skyrocketed Friday night when his Falcons routed Northern Illinois 47-27 for the MAC title, in the process keeping the Huskies from their second straight BCS berth. The win earned Bowling Green its third postseason appearance in his five years there, and his record with the Falcons was 32-31.

Before coming to Bowling Green, he spent the 2008 season as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator — replacing David Cutcliffe when he left to take over at Duke.

And before that, Clawson rebuilt the FCS programs at Fordham and Richmond, which won the national championship during the season he spent at Tennessee. He was selected as the national coach of the year in what was then called Division I-AA at each of those schools.

Wake Forest spent the past week looking for a replacement for the 61-year-old Grobe, who stepped down after tying the program record with 77 wins and five years after guiding the small, private school to the best three-season run in school history.

Grobe was selected as the AP’s national coach of the year in 2006 after leading the Demon Deacons to a school-record 11 wins, their first ACC title since 1970 and an Orange Bowl berth. He followed that up with bowls in each of the next two years — the only time in program history that it appeared in three consecutive bowl games.

But the Demon Deacons finished under .500 in each of the past five seasons. They were 4-8 this season and closed the season with five consecutive losses.

Clawson faces a tough job going forward because Wake Forest shares the Atlantic Division with No. 1 Florida State, which is headed to the BCS title game; No. 12 Clemson, which earned its second Orange Bowl invitation in three years; and, starting next year, No. 18 Louisville, which replaces Big Ten-bound Maryland.

Making the rebuild even more of a challenge: Most of the Demon Deacons’ key players this season — including quarterback Tanner Price, receiver Michael Campanaro and nose tackle Nikita Whitlock — were seniors.