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Commencement Wrap Up

Yesterday was Commencement, and it was an absolutely picture perfect day on campus.  The weather was ideal – cool in the am, warming up to low 70s and sunny.  The mood was jubilant.  The campus was beyond gorgeous.  And what a joy it was to look upon a sea of such happy faces stretching almost the full length of the Quad.  All of our Deac parents and families beamed with pride, and throughout the weekend I witnessed so many hugs, smiles, pats on the back, and happy tears.  A beautiful thing to see.

Of course the really big news and excitement of yesterday was the remarks of our Commencement speaker, Jill Abramson, former executive editor of the New York Times who went through a very public and unexpected dismissal from her post.  This was going to be her first public statement since leaving the Times, and her story had been widely run on all the major media outlets – with lots of people speculating on gender equity issues, pay discrepancies, leadership styles and accepted gender norms, “leaning in,” and “glass cliffs.”  You name it, some pundit has been working the angle.   NBC had broadcast from campus on Sunday about her speech.  There was a segment about her (and broader issues of women in positions of power) on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.  Huge deal.  And  the eyes of the world literally were on us.

Our alumnus and Trustee Al Hunt (’65), who is himself a world-class journalist who spent four decades at the Wall Street Journal and now is at Bloomberg, introduced her.  For those who know Al Hunt, he is a great speaker.  Lively, fun, great with an audience.  He is fiercely proud of his Wake Forest connections, tirelessly supportive of his alma mater, and very giving to other people.  (Aside: as a very young staff member, I once had the privilege of picking him up from the Charlotte airport when he was coming to campus, and during the drive he was gracious enough to let me pepper him with questions about Washington the whole time, answering everything I asked.  He was interesting, interested, very smart.  I am absolutely certain that he had work to do in the car, but instead he spent that hour talking to me, and I will always be grateful).  So when he gave Jill a glowing a wonderful introduction and talked about how he mentored her early in her career, and how she was fearless, I could easily see that he would have been just as giving to her as he was to my curious mind.

Then Jill Abramson took the podium and delivered a speech that was smart, classy, full of grit and openness.  I’ve been working Commencements at Wake for 15 years now and I am not sure I have heard a better message.  She addressed head on the fact that she lost a job that hurt, and that now is the time to be resilient:

20140519commencement0977-300x200“Very early last Thursday, my sister called me and she said, ‘I know dad would be as proud of you today as he was the day you became executive editor of the New York Times. I had been fired the previous day, so I knew what she was trying to say. It meant more to our father to see us deal with a setback and try to bounce back than to watch how we handled our successes. ‘Show what you are made of,’ he would say.

Graduating from Wake Forest means you have experienced success already. And some of you – and now I’m talking to anyone who has been dumped – have not gotten the job you really wanted or have received those horrible rejection letters from grad school. You know the disappointment of losing or not getting something you badly want. When that happens, show what you are made of.”

She talked about the importance of the free press, telling truth to power, and why it is important to be true to yourself.  She mentioned some of her journalistic heroes, and told the story of a young boy in New York who had been killed by a speeding taxi, and how she and some colleagues (who had been badly hurt in similar accidents) wanted to be their voice.

Jill Abramson also showed great humor in her speech and connected to some of our own Wake Forest institutions:  ”Some of you have faced danger or even a soul-scorching loss, but most of you haven’t. And leaving the protective cocoon of school for the working world must seem scary. You will have a dozen different jobs and will try different things. Sure, losing a job you love hurts, but the work I revere, journalism that holds powerful institutions and people accountable, is what makes our democracy so resilient. And this is the work I will remain very much a part of.

My only reluctance in showing up today was that the small media circus following me would detract attention away from you, the fabulous Class of 2014. What total knockouts you are.

What’s next for me? I don’t know. So I’m in exactly the same boat as many of you. And like you, I’m a little scared but also excited. You know, I don’t really think Coach Manning could find as much use much use for me, but right after this speech, I have booked a private session with Andy Chan, whose career-counseling operation is a model for universities around the world.”

The full text of her speech is online and it is well worth your time if you didn’t read it.   Or watch the ceremony online.  Jill Abramson hit a home run out of the park.  I am not all worried for her future employment.  Oh, and by the way, Jill Abramson made a game-day call and asked our Commencement office if she would be allowed to stay and shake the hands of each graduate as he/she passed across the stage.  That is a probably two hour gig, nonstop, and she volunteered.  Another speaker who did that:  Colin Powell.  Classy move.

So that was the big news, but there were a million great moments, from Baccalaureate on Sunday through the last names being called and the ROTC cadets being commissioned (always a poignant and proud moment, and thank you for giving those young men and women a standing ovation.  They deserve it.).  To help you live (or relive) the moments, here are some options:

For those who want to experience the full range of Commencement coverage, the Commencement news site has it.

Our amazing University Photographer, Ken Bennett, has posted an online Flickr gallery

For a social media recap, visit our Tagboard site, which collected the best of the Tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram pictures with the hashtag #wfugrad

Revisit the Baccalaureate service with speaker Melissa Rogers.  She gave a knockout of a speech too; read the full text online.

For all of you with graduating Deacs in the Class of 2014, we salute you, and them.  It has been a privilege having your students with us on campus, we are proud to call them our alumni, and we hope you know that our parents and families are just as much a part of Wake Forest after graduation.

It’s Almost Here!

20090518grad_kb7240Welcome, Wake Forest graduates and families!  Commencement weekend is here, and we know this is a weekend y’all have been thinking and dreaming about for a long time (maybe even from the time your students started filling out their college admissions applications!)  Four years have passed and now it is their big day.  What a joy and a privilege it is for us as administrators and faculty to celebrate their success and their transition to Life After Wake Forest.

Because we have a lot going on today, the Daily Deac wants to hit a few highlights.

Jill Abramson, former executive editor of the New York Times, is still our Commencement speaker.  If you’ve been following the news, you know there has been a great deal of national conversation about Jill Abramson in recent days following her departure from the Times.  There is tremendous interest in both her and her message, and we anticipate a significant number of national media present to cover the ceremony. President Nathan Hatch said it best, when confirming her plans to speak yesterday: “I cannot think of a better message for the Class of 2014 than that of resilience. Jill Abramson’s accomplishments speak for themselves, and I am confident she will have an inspiring and timely message for our graduates.”

Can’t be on campus but want to hear her speech (and the ceremony)?  Watch the livecast online.  Please share this link with family and friends who cannot attend.

#WFUGrad - We want you to share in the Commencement excitement by joining in our social media efforts.  There will be some of our staff members present at the Baccalaureate picnic, Commencement morning (7-8:50 am) and post-ceremony.  They will have #MyWakeForest boards, and they would love to have you and/or your students share their WFU memories on these boards.  They will take pictures (with your cameras and ours!).  Some of these will end up on Tagboard, which will be displayed prior to Commencement on the big screens (7 am-8:50 am Monday morning).  We encourage you to live Tweet throughout the event and use the #WFUGrad hashtag when you do.  

Do you know where to follow our social media posts?    @WakeForest1834 on Twitter.  @WFUniversity on Instragram.  WFUniversity on Facebook.  Because the Parent Programs office is so busy during Commencement, we won’t be updating our own Facebook and Twitter as much, so be sure to follow these others.

The Commencement web site is your comprehensive resource – if you have questions, look there first


Finally, some tactical thoughts.  Parents of graduates, please pay attention to these (just in case your student is so excited and/or returning from the beach that he/she forgets to do some of these!)

Graduation ticket pickup:  Tickets are not mailed.  Students can pick up their ordered tickets and parking passes in front of the College Bookstore on Friday and Saturday, May 16 and 17, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.  Please be prepared to show ID.  The Bookstore will be open both days for cap & gown distribution.

PLEASE urge your students to line up on time for Monday morning!  This is very important.  Every year we have some students who show up right as the processional begins, or even 15-30 minutes later.  You do not want to have your student’s name not read because he/she has not reported for graduation at the right place and time.  Graduate Assembly Instructions are posted online.  In addition, informational emails from the Office of the University Registrar are sent as the graduation ceremony approaches. Make sure your students read these carefully and respond appropriately.

You might say a word to your students about alcohol and the ceremony.  Alcohol is not allowed in the ceremony, and if a student arrives with it, it will be confiscated.  Regrettably, every year we do have a few students who arrive at Commencement and seem intoxicated.  Students can be removed from the processional for their own safety if they are intoxicated.  Please urge your students to show up for Commencement in good shape.

Check campus weather. Graduation exercises are held outside and last less than three hours, but temperatures in May can vary widely.  Take note of the rain plan (and hope we don’t need to use it!)

Be aware of arrival instructions and Commencement logistics for families.   The Daily Deac also did an April blog post with a  reminder about some of the other practical matters.

If you need a copy of the Commencement Weekend booklet for the weekend, download the PDF here.

Travel safe, and bring good weather!

Rain Rain Go Away

This is why we put the Commencement tent up early, for days like these.  It is a gray and stormy day, and looks like the rain will continue throughout the day.

As you can imagine before a massive event like Commencement, the whole campus is all-hands-on-deck for the preparations.  So the Daily Deac will be very light this week.

The set of pictures below span two different days: yesterday afternoon, when it was glorious, and this morning right before the rains came.   This morning the Quad was all full of the big stacks of 200+ chairs and those were being moved on trucks to locations across the bricks.   Parking lots are roped off to allow all the deliveries and the equipment.  This is a major operation.

For all of you at home, please begin all supplications for the ideal weather – low 70s, sunny, warm with gentle breezes.  There is no better Commencement weather than that.

5 14 14 photo 2 5 14 14 photo 4 5 15 15 photo 1 5 15 15 photo 2 5 15 15 photo 3 5 14 14 photo 1


Graduation…Now What?

Today’s Daily Deac was written by John Montana, Associate Director for MA Enrollment Management in the Wake Forest University School of Business. 

Before bringing you John’s words, let me make this brief editorial note.  This MA program he describes is a fantastic opportunity for students.  I have known several students who have gone through the program and each of them saw outstanding results in terms of their business knowledge and the job offers they ultimately received.  This can be a tremendous opportunity for our soon-to-be graduates looking for their next move after Commencement.  Please consider it!


Graduation is an exciting time for students and their parents.  As your Wake Forest graduate begins the next chapter in life, new questions will emerge.  Amongst those, what is the best way to apply your student’s experience toward an interesting, rewarding career with future growth potential?

As you weigh the possibilities with your graduate, we invite you to consider the Master of Arts in Management (MA) program at the Wake Forest School of Business. This 10-month program allows liberal arts, science and engineering majors to build on their undergraduate degree, enabling them to pursue careers in a broader range of fields. The MA degree offers a core business curriculum, hands-on learning, and dedicated career services to give recent graduates a competitive edge in today’s market.

Wake Forest graduates can also take advantage of the MA Honors Program to be considered for preferred admission to the MA in Management program.  Wake students with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.2 are eligible for guaranteed admission to the Master of Arts in Management Program* and be qualified for scholarships from $7,500 up to $25,000.

There is still time for your graduate to join our next class, which will include at least 30 current Wake Forest classmates.  Don’t miss this opportunity to discuss the MA option for your graduate.  Schedule a brief phone consultation today or set up a time during Commencement week to speak with one of our admissions representatives.

For more information, contact John Montana via phone at 336.758.5025 or email (

Read more about the benefits of MA in Management program in the Businessweek article “Why B-Schools Must Educate the ‘Whole Person’” written by Derrick S. Boone Sr., associate dean of the Master of Arts in Management program.

* Applicants required to complete all components of the application process, including a personal interview and submission of a standardized test score (GRE or GMAT). Wake Forest students with a cumulative GPA below 3.2 are welcome and encouraged to apply to the MA in Management Program through the standard application process and will automatically be considered for scholarship award.




This Is a Week to Watch

My late father was the kind of guy who loved to watch any kind of neighborhood construction project, major tree trimming, etc.  And if you are one of those kindred spirits, this week is the week to watch the WFU webcam.

This is the week that the Commencement tent will be erected and 10,000 chairs (yes, you read that right!) will be laid out in pristine and orderly rows on the lush green Quad grass.   (As I type this blog post, I am peeking at the webcam and the grass is getting a final mow, and it is in a stripe pattern the length of the Quad.  Lookin’ good!)

cment 20070516setup658The first big part of the Commencement construction will be the tent where the speakers and the platform party sit.  There is a raised platform under the tent so the audience can have a better view of the speakers and students as they receive their diplomas.

What usually happens – and I would expect this to begin sometime later this morning – is they bring in all the poles and support for the platform and the tent, and they lay these long silver pipes out all over the Quad in a skeletal outline of the structure.  It looks a bit like an archeological dig, and I have lovingly named the bare bones skeleton the Tentasauras Rex. Once the bones are in place, they will start to raise the yellow and white striped tent.  Tent goes up first, then the platform within it.

2012 comm tent chairsAfter that typically comes the chairs.  The rental company brings them on to the Quad in giant stacks – this set has 225 in it – and those get placed at regular intervals along the brickway to later be moved on to the grass.  But first, everything has to be measured and ready.  There are long string lines that are used to set the exact path of the chairs and rows.  The chairs are different colors – I can’t remember if it is black for graduates and brown for guests, but once they are all up, you’ll see the color differentiation on the webcam.  It takes a long time to lay out 10,000 chairs.

20130516chairs3161So if you like to see behind the curtain, keep your eyes tuned to the webcam over the coming days.  It can be a nice way to take a quick coffeebreak or visit the site over lunch.  And you might be surprised, particularly on the chair-laying days, to see what a well-oiled machine it is.

If your student is graduating next weekend, do yourself a favor and take your shoes off and step on the grass and walk down one of the grass walkways.  There is no better grass than pre-Commencement grass.  It’s like a lush green blanket.  Feels wonderful under the feet.

Wake the Library – Part II

Finals are almost over!  Students are in the home stretch now.  Here’s a few more great shots from Wake the Library activities this week.



Wake the Library – Part I

The crack team at the Z Smith Reynolds Library has had another great run with Wake the Library.  Our librarians and staff are not only helping your students study, they are helping them destress and have some fun (if that’s possible) as they prep for finals.  Here’s a look at some of the things your Deacs might have seen this week in the ZSR.





Did You Know? WFU Style

As I look around campus today, I see a lot of the same stuff that’s been going on all week.  Students heading to their finals (with pinched, purposeful faces) or the library (with big backpacks).  Students moving out with bags and boxes and their worldly possessions.  The Quad getting spiffed up for Commencement (newly painted light poles and trim on buildings, grass looking green and lush).

Since it isn’t a newsy kind of day, I thought today we’d play a little bit of Do You Know?  Wake Forest style.

I hope that everyone out in Deacland reads and enjoys the wonderful Wake Forest Magazine that comes to your homes a few times a year.  I know well the creative team behind it and they are terrific people who have vision and style and certainly a way with words.  They also can uncover stories that are unique and fun.  Yesterday was one such day.

Our very talented Maria Henson (’82), who heads up the magazine, writes the Deacon Blog.  Yesterday she had a feature on a connection between designer Lilly Pulitzer and Wake Forest.  Who knew?  And if you doubt Lilly P’s enduring impact on Wake Forest, you should walk around on a sunny day (when finals are not in session of course) and you will see Lilly skirts or shifts or bags.

In more magazine news, they have a feature called Remember When?  Did you know Wake had fallout shelters so we could hide in case of a nuclear war?  Or that Archie Bunker was a Deac?   Remember When has the scoop on the inside story.

With Commencement just around the corner, there are some fun Did You Knows about our ceremony and its history.   This one strikes me: “8,500 bottles of water were distributed in 1993, when temperatures soared to the high 90s during the ceremony.”  (It strikes me because I graduated in 1992 and I would swear that the heat of my graduation prompted the addition of water bottles a year later.)

Even the Physics department has gotten in on the Did You Know trend.  If you visit their page and scroll down, they have a few factoids there.  My favorite: “The concept of momentum, taught in physics courses, shows that a karate strike aimed slightly behind the target achieves the most force.”  (Duly noted).

Jenny Puckett (’71), who taught Spanish for many years, did a wonderful lecture a few years ago about Seven Things You Probably Didn’t Know About You Mother (So Dear).  Jenny is a gifted alumni who has picked up the mantle of our go-to Wake Forest historian and keeper of the flame.

As your Deacs continue to finish up with finals and head out (or head to the beach!), we wish them well.


The View from Benson

Finals continue here at Wake.  We’re about halfway through them, and every day you see the parking lots a little more empty as students finish up and head for home.

I spent some time in the Food Court of the Benson University Center yesterday, waiting for a meeting and peoplewatching.  Here are some observations:

- Nearly everyone I saw was in tshirts and casual shorts, or workout clothes.  The outlier was one girl in a really cute coral summer dress made out of a lightweight material.  Everyone else looked like they had just rolled out of bed.

- Normally the Food Court is pretty packed, but yesterday was sparse.  There were a handful of people at the salad station, a couple of students buying items at the Sundry shop, and only a few of the tables were occupied with people eating and studying.

- Almost all the tables had only one person at them.  Only maybe one table had two people.

- I noticed one tall young man with big headphones on – he had his laptop open and there was a PowerPoint slide show on the screen, but he was playing Candy Crush on his phone instead.  (It’s OK, man, we all have to take a break from time to time!)

- I was struck by how QUIET it was.  In mid-semester, the room is pretty loud with the sounds of table after table of people talking, ordering food, etc.  But there was almost no sound.  It was like everyone was respecting the fact that people were studying and were appropriately hushed.  Even the folks who work at Moe’s (who normally yell “Welcome to Moe’s!” as you walk up to order) were quiet.

- A female student I was talking to in Benson about finals told me that the ZSR has been widely-used as a study space and that students have been loving the free-food-at-midnight part of Wake the Library.

That’s it for observations from Benson.  Here are a few parting thoughts:

In case your student have not seen them, Residence Life and Housing has posted closing procedures.  They will want to make sure they follow all the appropriate rules and regulations.

Mail Services has some extended hours this week, as well as shipping supplies for purchase, for any students who need them.  Students can go to the ground floor of the Benson Center for more information.

And a very special thank you to all of the parents and families who read the Daily Deac.  It is a joy to bring you news from campus every day (or nearly every day).  We’ll still continue to run over the summer, though it will be some lighter news with most of the students gone.  We look forward to continuing to connect you to life on campus while your Deacs are home with you.

Finals Week – The Best of the Internet

And so it begins.

Finals week.

zsr wtlMy inside sources at the ZSR report that this is what they are seeing: “Students are congregating around all the tables in ZSR, with ThinkPads, textbooks and water bottles at the ready. Heads are down and they are all focused on finishing up papers and projects and studying for exams!”  Here is the whiteboard showing what Wake the Library has planned for the day.

Because it’s a heavy time for students, and they are likely feeling it, we thought today’s Daily Deac would be 100% pure internet frivolity.  If any of these are images you think would make your students laugh, by all means send them on.  (If not, chuckle privately).

Good luck to all your students on their exams!



This could be my Class of ’27 Deac.






grumpy cat


Who does not love Grumpy Cat?







  Procrastination, Part I







 sound of music Procrastination, Part II







finals meme


The Finals Games








The eternal truth