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Our Diamond Deacs

Over the long weekend, our Diamond Deacs got some great news – we are headed to the NCAA Baseball Tournament!  You can watch a video with Coach Tom Walter and the team’s reaction here.  Their game will be this Friday at 4 pm, so that is an extra reason for you to dress for Black and Gold Fridays.  Go Deacs!  One other bit of athletics trivia to report, Jim Grobe, our former football coach who led us to the Orange Bowl in 2006, has been named the interim head coach at Baylor.  Coach Grobe was always really nice to me, and I wish him well in that endeavor.

On the academics side, our newest Deacs in the Class of 2020 received an email over the weekend from the Office of Academic Advising.  If you are a P’20 new family, you can keep abreast of your new students’ official emails about Orientation here.  Be sure to check out all the pages in the purple Parents and Families menu that is on the lower left of all the pages.

It’s a beautiful sunny day here – check us out on the Quad Cam any time.

— by Betsy Chapman


Belated Blog

I was so busy at my office yesterday that 4 pm rolled around and I realized I’d missed the Daily Deac deadline.  Oops! (and sorry).

Here’s a little bit about what I observed on campus yesterday.  It was lovely weather – low 80s and sunny but with a nice light breeze.  Not too humid yet.

20090630meadow8552I took a walk at lunch up through Reynolda Village and by the long green space in front of Reynolda House.  As in some years past, it looks like the landscaping folks are letting these yellow wildflowers grow all over the fields (vs. cutting them down as if they were plain grass.)  The effect is pretty spectacular.  This is a pic from years past to show where we’re headed.  If your Deac is here for summer school, I hope he or she will take a walk out there to get a look at it.  For those of you who are film buffs, it reminds me a bit of the scene in E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View, where they go to a field of tall grass with (if memory serves) cornflower blue blossoms all over.  Ours is yellow, but the effect is still the same.  A beautiful flowered meadow.  What’s not to like?

On my way back, I saw a big picnic happening in the back side of Farrell near the fire pits.  The students who are here for the Summer Management Program (aka business boot camp for non-business majors) were having a group luncheon outdoors.  I hear a lot of great things about that program from students who have done it in the past, so if your Deac might want to go that route in a future summer, here is the link to the program.

Finally, from the Wake Forest Magazine Facebook account, this great picture and quote from one of our recent graduates, Stephen Goddard (’16). I had the good fortune of getting to know him a little during his tenure here, and what a joy to watch him grow and flourish over his four years.  And how wonderful to see him post such a happy reflection:

goddard“One week into post grad life and I have had time to reflect upon my four years at Wake. Many thanks to everyone at Wake for creating an environment that made great friendships and memories and allowed me to grow as an individual! We have been blessed with an education that will propel us forward into a life of service to our communities. I’m excited to see where we all use our talents in order to make our lives and the lives of others a joyful and fulfilled journey.” — @stephen_goddard/Instagram


— by Betsy Chapman

It’s a Small Wake Forest World

My colleagues and I sometimes joke that it’s a small Wake Forest world – meaning, you might be on vacation somewhere and see someone in a WFU hat, or find out in casual conversation that you and a friend have a connection to some other Wake person that you never knew you did.  Today is one of those small Wake Forest world days.

There is an article in the Huffington Post today about a legendary, famous commencement speech given at Kenyon College by novelist David Foster Wallace in 2005, and there is a Wake Forest connection.  Evidently the Kenyon student who had a major role in getting him to be the commencement speaker is now a faculty member in our English department, Meredith Farmer.  [Before I go any further, a warning to you, good readers.  The Huffington Post article drops the F-bomb.  Read at your discretion.]

The article, which you can read here, tells the story of how David Foster Wallace came to be the Kenyon commencement speaker, and in the article is a link to a YouTube video of the speech.  It is not live video, it is audio overtop a still photo of him at a podium, with occasional quotes from his speech appearing.

The speech is almost 23 minutes long.  It has been hailed by many as one of the all-time best commencement speeches.  It begins with this:

“There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, ‘Morning, boys, how’s the water?’ And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, ‘What the hell is water?'”

He talks about the value of a liberal arts degree in teaching you to choose what you want to think – whether to accept your default settings, or whether you will apply a different lens to your interpretations.  He talks about the tedium of adult life – the stuff no one tells college kids as they graduate, but the stuff all the parents have experienced.  He talks about being careful of what you choose to worship in life – money, beauty, youth – and what freedom is:

“The freedom to be lords of our own tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talked about in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying. The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom.”

It is raw, and sometimes painful.  I have to admit I was conflicted at times listening to it, but in the end I found it amazing.

Take a listen to his speech and read the article if you wish.  It might be the best 23 minutes I have spent today.  His speech reminded me that we always have the power to choose what to think, or to let ourselves get sapped by our own day-to-day drudgery vs. thinking more broadly and kindly about the world.  We get to choose that.  But we have to be aware to do so.

And if you don’t have 23 minutes or this sort of thing is not your jam, then just marvel for a moment that at the center of this acclaimed speech was a Kenyon English-philosophy double major who found her way to Wake Forest to teach.

— by Betsy Chapman

Advice to Incoming Freshman (But Still Applicable to the Others)

This appeared in my Facebook feed via the Washington Post:  “The 7 things new college students don’t know that drive professors crazy.”  Written by a former high school teacher turned college professor, this outlines some of the DON’Ts of interacting with college professors, at least from this one faculty member’s point of view.

Your students are either slammed with finals/vegging out if theirs are over/or for the incoming freshmen they are still in high school, so this might not be the moment to share this with them.  I submit it to you as background reading for you to see one way of looking at the faculty-student relationship in college.  Read and reflect, and if it interests you, have a conversation with your students about it over the summer.

Doesn’t have to be a lecture about these dos and don’ts, it can just be a conversation.  For those who have current freshmen through juniors, maybe you ask your Deac about what differences they have experienced with teachers in high school vs college professors (‘hey, I saw this interesting article – does this ring true to you? it’s been a long time since I was in college/I didn’t go to college and am curious about this‘ kind of thing).  In talks like these where you are trying to learn more about their lives, ask lots of questions – and listen more than talk.

For those with new incoming freshmen, maybe you share this more directly as a nonchalant FYI for them to read or not as they see fit.

busy and self careAnd a final thought.  I happened upon this picture on the internet a few days ago.  It seems especially fitting as finals come to a close.  I worry about college students (not just at Wake, at any school with a high-achieving student body) feeling like they have to push and push themselves to be as busy (or busier) than the next person, as sleep-deprived as the next person, etc., just to prove they are in fact working hard.  My message on this is:

Stop the madness.

Self-care is not selfish, it’s healthy.  Getting enough sleep, nutritious food, and exercise is healthy.  Not feeling like you have to out-do your hallmates in terms of how late you stay up, how tired you are, or how many hours you logged in the ZSR does not have to be a badge of honor or a sign of your commitment to your education.

My dream is that we have a student-led revolution where they agree to slow down, stop feeling like they have to compete with anyone else in how hard they work (or play), and do what feels most natural to them.  A change like this would have to come from students being brave enough to say they are willingly stepping off the gerbil wheel of perceived expected college student behavior, and honoring what is best for them.

I would love to see some new recruits in the living lives of balance/self-care army 🙂

— by Betsy Chapman


Finals Day 1 Field Report

It’s Day 1 of Final Exams, and the logical place for the Daily Deac to focus on is the ZSR Library.  Here’s an impressionistic field report (and some pics) from some well-placed sources at the ZSR.

“Thursday, Reading Day, started slow, with students taking advantage of the free day to study before exams began on Friday.  By Thursday evening, ZSR was packed!”

“It’s the first day of exams and the library is full, but quieter than usual as students focus on final exams, papers and projects.”

“The atrium was full when I walked in at 7:55 am – well not full, but probably 20-30 people in it.  Usually there are 2-3 max that early.”

I was in there myself around 10:30 am today.  The line at Starbucks extended at least half way up the stairs, telling you just how much our students need their java right now.  I wanted to find a spot and do a proper Five Senses of the ZSR, but most of the chairs were full and I wanted to keep the open ones for the students.

4 29 16 zsr4 The library decorating committee has done another great job providing a fun theme for Finals Week.  This one is all about playing cards, and dice, and everything is in red (my favorite!) and black.  There is this great sign IT’S YOUR LUCKY DAY spelled out in playing cards.  There are garlands of playing cards, streamers, and more.

Because I am an enormous Sinatra fan, the cards and dice made me think of this song.

Finals aren’t nice – but at least we can put a bit of whimsy into the process.  Here’s some shots of your hardworking Deacs below.

— by Betsy Chapman

4 29 16 zsr5 4 29 16 zsr3 4 29 16 zsr2 4 29 16 zsr1

Reading Day

reading day memeToday is Reading Day – the one day break between LDOC (Last Day of Classes) and final exams starting.  The idea, I suppose, is to give you a day to prepare for finals.  Here’s a Reading Day meme for your viewing pleasure.

Depending on your exam schedule, you could have more than one exam a day, and/or exams on successive days. If you’re lucky, you have a little bit of time between them.

The weather was did not start out as particularly conducive to studying – it was dark and rainy this morning, but as of midday its nice and sunny.

Even as finals loom in the minds of our students, we know many of them will be doing an internship this summer, either at home or in another city.  If your Deac will be doing an internship in the DC area, our Washington Office has asked that we pass on this information to you:

“The Washington Office is partnering with OPCD to track WFU students who will be interning in  D.C. this summer.  We are planning several networking events for students and alumni in the D.C. area, as well as other events such as Nats game outings and other fun things. We want to make sure we know which students will be in town this summer, so we have created this google form for students to complete.

If your student is interning in the D.C. metro area this summer, please send them this link – it will take them less than 2 minutes to fill it out and will give us information we can use to include them on invitations in general, and specific events based on their internship location.”

laundry mountainWishing your Deacs all the best as they start finals tomorrow. Soon you will have them home – and we’ll close with a final meme about what you might expect when they get back 🙂

— by Betsy Chapman


Deadwood Seminar

Today’s Daily Deac takes a look at an innovative class.  Mary Dalton, Professor of Communication and Media and Film Studies, taught a seminar this semester on Deadwood and the Western.  Mary is a member of the Class of 1983 and her teaching interests within the Communication department are in media studies focusing on film and television, especially the intersection of media and culture.  Mary shared the news of a fun project she’s been working on with her class.

“Over half of the students in the class (11) are graduating seniors, and we’ve been working all semester on a volume that will be published in early May. The volume, Critical Media Studies:  Student Essays on Deadwood, is available to read free online and available for purchase in paperback or Kindle editions through  This is the second edition in the series (volume one was Critical Media Studies:  Student Essays on The Wire published in 2015.”

4 27 16 bandanas 4 27 16 jeopardyIn her class, students played Jeopardy with questions about the show Deadwood.  They had bandanas, snacks, and one of the graduate students (who is one of the three co-editors of the volume) dressed as a combination of Alex Trebek and Al Swearengen (a main character in the show).

On Thursday, May 5 at 9:30, Mary plans to have a book signing party and bagels when [she hopes] students will get their copies of the book.

4 27 16 finalThis is a wonderful example of using multiple ways to engage students – clearly the fun stuff with active learning like the Jeopardy game, but also in engaging them in writing for a publication, which is something they can have on their resumes (and as bragging rights) that they are published authors.  And like most classes, they still had a final exam they had to prepare for, seen here.

Sometimes our freshmen and sophomores ask their academic advisers about which classes they should take once they have finished their basic and divisional requirements.  My answer to that is always “find something you like and you are interested in – maybe something you have always had a curiosity about, or you just want to try something new.”  This class might just be that kind of delightful surprise for a student.  Take a chance, try something new, scratch that itch you won’t be able to scratch later in life.  There are a couple of Wake classes I still kick myself for not taking when I had the chance, because I was too busy being ‘practical’ or trying to think of what would look best on my resume.  I urge any Deac who asks me to take a class purely for the love of it, while they still have access to all these great faculty and interesting classes.

— by Betsy Chapman (with help from Mary Dalton)

Go Deacs!

After the high of Campus Day and seeing all those smiling faces of new Deacs and new P’20s (parents/families of the new Class of 2020), we had some additional awesome this weekend.

First, the men’s tennis team took the ACC Championship!  It’s our first ACC Championship in men’s tennis, and you can see a great celebratory video here.  The Deacs came in 2nd in men’s golf at their ACC Championship.

In other athletic news, our baseball Deacs keep cruising, shutting out UNC over the weekend.

Classes end this Wednesday. You know what that means: stressing over final projects/papers and then final exams.  I’m in a class and in the thick of it myself, so I have the utmost appreciation for what your kids are going through.  Tough to keep the nose to the grindstone when the weather is sunny and 80 and you just want to be outside.

So to help your Deacs feel that sense of “I can do it!” as finals approaches, consider sending them a Deacon Greeting.  A little e-card from mom or dad or a loved one might be the thing that makes their day a little better.  A care package wouldn’t be the wrong answer, either 🙂

— by Betsy Chapman

Wednesday Witticisms

Classes end in 7 days, and students are feeling it.  So for today’s Daily Deac, a few memes about college, replete with some pop culture references.  You can hang onto these and bit by bit send them to your students if you think they need a laugh.

4 20 16 finals meme pI feel their pain; I am taking a research methods class too and I have a fresh appreciation of how taxed students feel at the end of the semester.  This one (a joke about statistical significance) speaks to me – but then again I am a giant, giant nerd 🙂

The rest are below.

— by Betsy Chapman


4 20 16 finals meme 7 4 20 16 finals meme 6 4 20 16 finals meme 5 4 20 16 finals meme 4 4 20 16 finals meme 3 4 20 16 finals meme 2 4 20 16 finals meme 1


For Those Sweating Major Choice

A common theme that I have heard from some of the freshmen I meet is “I have no idea what I want to major in and I am freaking out about it.”  They feel pressure that they should know (but don’t), they are dreading you asking what they want to major in, and knowing that they will come home for the summer soon is heightening that anxiety.  So a few thoughts on this.

Don’t ask, don’t tell.  By this I mean, don’t ask your Deac and put him or her on the spot.  Instead, you can ask things like ‘which of your classes have you liked the most?’ and ask your Deac to elaborate on what made that good.  Don’t suggest majors you think your son/daughter might like.  Maybe turn that around a little and say ‘what have you ruled out? as in ‘no way would I ever consider a major in X!’

Frequently I find that students gravitate to a specific Division in our curriculum:

Humanities (history, religion, philosophy)

Literature (english, classics, foreign literature in translation.)

Arts (music, theatre, dance, art)

Social Sciences (anthropology, communication, education, economics, politics and international affairs, psychology, sociology)

Math and Natural Sciences (biology, chemistry, physics, math, computer science)

So even if they can narrow down to a Division they like (or one they can eliminate) that gets them a step closer.

I always encourage students to look at the Undergraduate Bulletin for potential majors to see what the specific requirements are for that major. Read course descriptions of required classes and see if they could see themselves taking those classes.  BUT, understand that there is likely no major that will have 100% of what a student likes, and so it might require a class in X or Y that must be slogged through.  (It happened to me).

Freshmen can sample courses in potential departments this fall or next spring.  By then, they will most likely have a good sense of what appeals to them.  There are also some great ‘explore a major‘ resources on the OPCD website they can review this summer.

Important note: let your kids be the ones to explore the Undergraduate Bulletin and the OPCD website – don’t help them with it.  They need to own this research independently 🙂

Just a few thoughts for those of you getting ready to welcome ’19s back home.

— by Betsy Chapman