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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

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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


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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






Senior Orations – Buck Hinman (’16)

It’s the end of a glorious week on campus.  It’s been in the 70s and 80s all week, but to my dismay we’re about to hit a cold and possibly rainy stretch this weekend and early next week.

Big, breaking news of the day: there was an announcement this morning of Biomedical Sciences and Engineering programs that will start at Wake.  This story will be covered in Wake Parents & Families e-newsletter too (which I hope will go out today or Monday). But for now, do read the story online. So exciting.  Stay tuned.

And just as the week is ending, we are coming to the home stretch of our Senior Orations – one today, one next week.  Today we have “Creating Community Through Pro Humanitate” by Buck Hinman (’16).

Make it a great weekend, Deac families!  (And because it’s Friday, we remind you to talk to your students.  You love and miss them – give them a call).

— by Betsy Chapman


I read a story recently about a pregnant woman who found, reportedly, a human finger in her salad at an Applebee’s in California. Apparently, the finger belonged to one of the cooks, who didn’t even notice his finger coming off. When I saw this article, the journalist inside of me said, “You know this is a dumb story. This reads like one of those old tabloids claiming to prove the existence of marvels like the ‘Bat Boy’ and mermaids.” But do you know what I did? I devoured every word of that article. I couldn’t stop reading! I mean, come on, don’t you want to hear how the heck something like that can happen?

Yet, when I saw articles about the amazing expansion of Innovation Quarter here in Winston-Salem or the rapid revitalization of the downtown area, I just couldn’t bring myself to read the whole thing. I could get through the headline and maybe the first few paragraphs, sure, but rarely did I ever read the entire article. This struggle became especially apparent in a Community Journalism class I took with Professor Phoebe Zerwick here at Wake. We took quizzes each week with questions asking basic information about important local stories in Winston-Salem, and, for some reason, studying for those quizzes proved immensely difficult. I just couldn’t remember information about newly-elected city officials, business deals, or major construction on the highway as easily as I could recall that woman with a finger in her salad.

Sure, the reason this happened seems obvious – local reporting simply doesn’t seem to have the overarching consequences or heightened shock value as national political scandals or wars abroad. Reading big, investigative reports in the New York Times feels much more weighty and impactful than a local politician embezzling funds. But does that difference justify my negligence and occasional disregard for local news? These are stories that significantly impact the community in which I live and the lives of the people around me.

But that story about the finger is just so interesting, isn’t it?

So, let’s be honest with ourselves for a second. Don’t worry, it’s fine – there is no need to stress about a wrong answer. Just tell yourself the truth: how many of you read any issues of the Old Gold & Black this semester? I know some of you who have never even looked at a copy in your four years here at Wake!

Or, consider the place you call home. Can you name the mayor of your town or city? Any local officials? Your state senators? These are people who make the day-to-day decisions that affect your quality of life, and that of your neighbors. In addition to fighting for our allies and those struggling around the world, are you standing up to fight for the people you grew up with? How about those who you greet on the street every day and who make your food, or keep your electricity running?

Our generation lives in an incredible and wacky world where you and I can confidently discuss the Sunni and Shi’ite conflict plaguing the Middle East yet remain blissfully unaware of institutional racism or high numbers of sexual assault on our own university’s campus. We receive so much information every day through our phones, our TV, our friends, and our classes, that only the most attention-grabbing headlines hold our interest.

For the record, this speech isn’t only about being news-savvy. Following every news story reported every day would be exhausting – just ask the editor or news director of any major news outlet. This is about how the macro and the micro have importance. This is about how we often pursue the grandest goals and ideas without remembering the importance of the smallest.

As Wake Forest students, we tend to think big. Our teachers push us and we push ourselves to shape the world in the spirit of Pro Humanitate. A lot of you will leave here to run some of the largest financial sectors in the country, fill positions in our national government, or work on world-altering advances in medicine and technologies .In those worlds, it’s easy to forget what’s happening in our immediate surroundings and how we treat those in our communities, including ourselves. But we cannot forget that, however lofty Pro Humanitate sounds, it is crucial we apply it not just to those one thousand miles away, but also to those immediately around us. With the skills and talents we have developed at Wake, our class has the ability and the responsibility to improve the communities in which we live.

I’m hopeful about us. In my time at Wake, I have met people who will undoubtedly become dedicated public servants, and people who will always be willing to help someone in need. I know students at this school who spend hours every week going to shelters and organizations around Winston-Salem and helping out because they know they can use their knowledge and skills to improve the lives of people around them. And because of this, all the “strangers” that we have been taught to fear or ignore become friends faster than one might think.

The next time you feel disconnected from the people around you or you miss the strength and richness of the Wake Forest community, remember that we can recreate what we had here at Wake in every city around the country. It’s up to us, as we leave the Wake Bubble once and for all, to stop forming bubbles altogether.  Wherever you end up, go and learn about your community, engage with your community, and  work to create an environment where Pro Humanitate isn’t just an ideal, but a reality. Thank you.


Plugging a Few Events

The snow has melted away for the most part, and life goes back to normal at Wake Forest.  There are a couple of events coming up in the near term that merit a mention to you (in hope that your Deacs may take advantage).

Tonight at 7 pm in Wait Chapel, the Office of Sustainability will co-host Truth, Lies, and Politics 2016: Ideology, Rationality, and Choice in an Election Year.  This will be moderated by WF’s own Melissa Harris-Perry, and the speakers are from Harvard, Yale, and NYU. This is meant to be a conversation around our obligation as citizens in a democracy, to be informed about issues of public importance, such as the human impact on climate, and the causes of economic inequality. The event is free and open to the public.

On Thursday at 4 pm in Wait Chapel is our Founders Day Convocation, where we honor the history of Wake Forest, recognize the Medallion of Merit winners, and bestow faculty awards. If your student has not been to a convocation, they are a part of the ceremonial life of the insititution, and they should go. They should especially go if they are seniors, as there is a senior video shown, and three of the Senior Orations will be read.

This week we have a double shot of the Secrest Artist Series.  This is a special offering of two concerts on successive nights, Wednesday and Thursday, February 17-18 at 7:30 pm in Brendle Recital Hall.  Cellist David Finckel, violinist Philip Setzer, and pianist Wu Han make up one of the world’s finest piano trios. Finckel, Han, and Setzer will join the Secrest Series for an unprecedented two-night pair of concerts featuring the complete piano trios of Ludwig van Beethoven, including the Ghost Trio and the magisterial Archduke Trio.  You can see the offerings on their website.

Your Deacs will also have multiple chances to see the University Theatre performance of “The Waiting Room” in the next several days. I had friends go over the weekend and they praised the peformance.

Finally, this weekend is our big TEDxWFU conference. One of our speakers will be current parent Mark Hurd (P’18), CEO of Oracle.  Read more online and see how to get tickets.

So many dishes on the giant WFU smorgasbord. Sample many of the delicacies, my Deacs. The buffet does not last forever.

— by Betsy Chapman


Major/Minor Declaration

If you have a sophomore, this is the week for him/her to declare a major (and a minor, if desired).  The Registrar’s office has info on the mechanics of declaring. I want to provide a few thoughts on what I hear from students about majors (disclaimer – my opinions, not necessarily that of every adviser or WFU).

Students and majors tend to fall into one of a few camps:

I found my major and I love it!  

I have no idea what to major in and I am superstressed about it.

I want to major in X and I dread telling my parents.

Let’s look at those one by one.

For those of you with students who found their major and love it:

Kudos, congratulations, rock on! A student who is excited about his/her choice of major tends to be happier and have better grades than one who is majoring in Something They Don’t Love (but are doing it to please mom and dad). If your Deac loves his or her major area, be encouraging and excited for him or her.

When your student finds an academic passion, his/her grades tend to be better. This is a subject your Deac finds fun, invigorating, exciting. You don’t mind working hard for a subject you love, and typically the grades reflect that.

For those of you with students who have no idea what to major in and are superstressed about it (most of you are probably freshmen parents):

The choice of major ultimately has to rest with the student. It has to be his or her decision, because your student has to own the consequences of that decision.  Instead of offering suggestions of a major, you might try some prompting questions:

– Which classes have you liked the most so far, and why? What is it about those classes you liked?

– What can you absolutely rule out as a no? Are there Divisions you gravitate toward? And if so, where can you turn to learn more about the requirements for particular majors? (Hint: the Undergraduate Bulletin lays all that out for them!)

– What have other students you know said about that major? If you haven’t asked any of your friends/hallmates/classmates, would that be worth your time?

– Are there people on campus who might be able to help you think about options? Academic Advising? OPCD? Faculty or staff mentors?

Every student should ultimately be able to find some area of interest. It takes longer for some than others.  (And when your Deac does find his or her passion, go back to the first part of this blog and read the advice about when your student loves his/her major.)

For our students who say I want to major in X and I dread telling my parents:

Some of our students are actively worried about telling their mom, dad, or loved ones about their choice of major. If I had a dollar for every student who confided in me that he/she is worried about telling parents their intended major, I would have a much bigger and nicer house :)

In all seriousness, for some of our students, they feel a pressure/obligation (real or imagined) that mom and dad expect them to major in X, and they will be a disappointment to them if they do not. You may have never even talked about majors or suggested a particular one, but your Deac may feel so anyway.

To the degree that you can take that pressure off your student, do so. Tell your son or daughter that you don’t care what he/she majors in and you will be supportive of the decision.  Every single major can ultimately lead to a good job or happy post-Wake life (see #2 below).

Two bits of parting advice for all parents, then a story:

1) Let your student major in whatever he/she wants. That is the greatest gift you can give them.

2) Resist the urge to ask “what are you going to do with that as a major?” No matter the major, Wake Forest students develop strong writing skills, analytical skills, and critical thinking. Our students can access great personal and career development tools in the OPCD to hone their resumes, practice interviewing, etc. Any and every major can succeed and find jobs. (Another way to think of this: if you were a hiring manager, would you rather hire a student who had an overall GPA of an A in Major X That He/She Loved, or a student who had a B- or a C GPA in a Major They Felt Pressured to Choose?)

Finally, a story.

One of my best Wake friends fell into the “I have no idea what I want to major in” camp. She struggled and struggled and took most of sophomore year to test various departments and try to find it. And then when she hit spring semester, she fell in love with one of her classes, read up on the major requirements and got excited about the classes she had to take. It was like a giant weight was lifted off her shoulders. She found a purpose! She was excited.

And then she told her family.

The reaction was tepid at best, deflating at worst. My friend heard the message ‘you cannot major in that. you will never get a job. you have to pick something else.’ Being a people-pleaser, she did choose something else (she ultimately minored in the thing she loved, but she majored in something that was Fine but not Great).

Having that parental disapproval was a major blow to her at a time when she had been so excited. It was terrible to watch. I loved her family and still do to this day, but I wanted so badly to tell them how much their daughter had cried about being told she couldn’t follow her passion, and how she would have been plenty employable as a major in X, which she loved.

Please, please don’t do that to your kids.

— by Betsy Chapman

New MS Unveiled for Business Analytics and ‘Big Data’

There is news coming from the Business School that might be of interest to your Deacs, and I share it with great enthusiasm.  We just issued a news release on a new Master of Science in Business Analytics, which is a 10-month MS program that will begin with its first new class of students this July.

I heard our School of Business Dean, Charles Iacovou, give a presentation on this Master’s program several months back, while it was still in the design and approval process. And even though I am not a math person, this sounded like an exciting program. Dean Iacovou was telling us that “big data” is an important, emerging trend in business – and that there is a shortage of qualified employees who can analyze that big data. Seems like if this is a new, specialized market and there aren’t enough good people to fill the jobs that are out there, this could be a game changer for our graduates (probably good money in it too!)

Here’s a little more from their news release about what students in this program will do:

“Using live, real-time data from retailers, such as CVS Health and Lowes Foods, provided by our revolutionary Retail Learning Labs through the School’s Center for Retail Innovation, MSBA students will analyze large data sets, master technological skills such as data mining and predictive modeling, and formulate actionable insights to corporate partners through hands-on experiential learning. Through this blend of classroom and real-world experiences, our graduates will discern critical relationships between data and organizational performance.”

A couple points to note about this program:

“To be eligible for the MSBA program, applicants must hold or be pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business, engineering, mathematics, economics, computer science or liberal arts. Successful completion of coursework in calculus and statistics is required. Some programming experience is recommended but not required. Recent college graduates with limited or no full-time, post-graduate work experience are encouraged to apply.”

To find out more about the program proper, or to apply, your Deacs can visit the MSBA web site.

If you have a graduating senior who is a strong math/analytical type, this could be a really great program for him or her. Applications are open now.  Even for those of you with freshmen, sophomores, or juniors – if this sounds like something your student would have interest in, keep this in the back of your mind, or share it with your student at the appropriate time.

I am constantly amazed, impressed, and excited by the innovative programs we can come up with at Wake Forest. This could be a dream gig for some of our Deacs.

— by Betsy Chapman