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Today Is About Community

I suspect like many of you, I was shocked and horrified to see the events unfolding in Paris on Friday afternoon.  I worried for the French people (I had studied abroad in France while at WFU), but also for our study abroad students – those in France and in other countries, as there are a lot of weekend trips by WFU students to see each other.

Our students’ welfare was at the top of everyone’s minds here.  Our crisis management group got together on Friday evening and Saturday morning to make sure we communicated with campus about the status of the situation (see here  and here) and offered support to anyone who needed it.  Kudos to our Global Programs and Studies office for their comprehensive check ins and communication with students abroad so we could ensure we knew they were safe and accounted for.

11 17 15 5Our Chaplain’s office organized a Steps Towards Peace – a Living Vigil today.  I did this after lunch.  You begin in front of Reynolda Hall, and members of the Chaplain’s office staff ask you to take a slow and contemplative lap around the Quad – either to pray, or to meditate, or to send positive thoughts, or just to think peaceful things.  After you make the lap and return to the front of Reynolda, you can take a piece of cloth and tie it on the prayer pole.  As you can see, there were already a good many participants.  This will run through 8 pm tonight.  This is a way our community can come together and think, pray, grieve, and respond as a community.  I highly recommend it to your students.

So that is a noble example of community on campus.  To take the idea of community – or communal actions – down to a less-serious level, today I also went to the Pit with a couple of friends and colleagues.  Too often we get busy, but sometimes it is nice to sit and eat with friends and experience community that way.

To give you an idea of some of the Pit’s offerings today, I have taken some pictures below.  Caveat that 1) I am not a professional photographer, and 2) the interior of the cafeteria made these look a bit dark.  I can attest to the fact that the food was tasty.  Here’s some of the things I saw on offer:

11 17 15 7 11 17 15 6A great big salad bar with romaine and spinach, as well as some of the expected salad toppings – shredded carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, chickpeas, regular peas, onions.  You get the idea.  There was also several different options for cut fresh fruit – good looking honeydew melon, pineapple (which I didn’t have but my colleague did and said it was good), fruit cocktail.

There’s also a couple of spots in the Pit where you can get whole fruit – oranges, bananas, apples, etc.  We took a look at the whole fruit too and it all looked pretty good.  I didn’t have an orange today but I can attest to past oranges, which have been sweet and delicious.

The grill line and the homestyle foods line got a lot of takers while we were there.  The grill line is what you’d expect – burgers and such.  The homestyle line had a couple of different types of comfort food – tater tots among them, and those seemed to be going fast.

11 17 15 1 11 17 15 2The Mongolian Grill had noodles and stir fried vegetables with chicken or beef, which looked really good.  There is an allergy-free zone that had really good roast turkey (which I took to cut up on my salad and give it some protein), very fresh looking cooked carrots, sauteed spinich (or some greens), and baked sweet potatoes.

11 17 15 3Right next to that was the Italian area, which boasted a couple of kinds of pizza.  I have to confess, the veggie pizza looked SO good, but I am trying to watch my waistline so I skipped it in favor of a custom-made omelet.  You can choose all your toppings – lots of different diced veggies, as well as diced meats and cheeses, and it is cooked as you stand there.

11 17 15 4There is also a dessert station.  While I was making my loop taking pictures, there were cookies and cupcakes and muffins.  As I was leaving, there was a big fresh tray of brownies that was added to the offerings.  There was also a giant sheet cake in the middle of the various food lines, which I just had to sample.  As something of a cake glutton, I can tell you that they always get their sheet cakes right.  Delish.

My salad and omelet were both really light and hit the spot.  My colleagues had salads, as well as hummus and chips, maybe one thing more each.  Suffice to say, all three of us had a really satisfying meal.  I know from time to time students may grump about not liking the food, but I’m a pretty picky girl and I can always find something I like there.

I highly recommend both the lap in the Steps for Peace, and in taking some time in the Pit to be present with friends and share a meal.  In times of trouble, that sort of communal activity can really help.

— by Betsy Chapman


Five Senses of Farrell

I was out yesterday for Veteran’s Day, but belated thank you to all of those in the larger Deac family who have served or are serving our country, and especially to our ROTC alumni.

On today’s menu: the Five Senses of Farrell, as seen between 9:30-10:30 am today.

I see…

– About 3/4 of the tables and sofa groups are spoken for.  Because I am just that kind of a nerd, I was counting the distribution of people.  11 tables/seating groups had just one person seated; 4 tables had 2 people each; 2 tables had 3 people each; 3 tables had a group of 4; 1 table was a group of 5.

– Most of the tables had students clearly working – open laptops, open books, writing in notebooks.  There were a few with people eating breakfast.

– Attire erred on the side of ‘student’ (read: jeans and t-shirts) vs. professional dress.  You could spot the couple of MA in Management students who were in bow ties and jackets or nice dresses.

– What appeared to be a class of some sort taking place just outside by the fire pit.  There was a woman who I assume is a professor who seemed to be talking to some of the students at tables inside and moving them outside.  She had papers in her hand and looked to be leading a discussion.  It looked like a fun class anyway.

– One male student walking through the center of the Farrell Living Room reading what looked to be a paper or a homework.  My guess is this was a final read before turning it in.

– The shimmering of the air that comes from the fire pit.  You know how you can see heat as it rolls off a fire in waves?  That’s what I saw through the window.

– In the distance, students walking in and out of Magnolia, Dogwood, or the North Dining Hall.  From my seat I have a clear view all the way out the window wall.

– One Einstein’s staff member coming out to say hello to  a table of students.  Must be regulars.


I hear…

– The crinkly paper that bagels are wrapped in at Einsteins and the bags they are stored in.  This sound is repeated over and over while I am there.

– Doors opening and closing.

– High heels across the floor making a clip clop sound.

– A few coughs [it is that time of year].

– Not a lot of sound.  It’s pretty quiet – either because students aren’t quite awake, or because they are being deferential to those studying.  There is a group of 4 students at a table pretty near me and all I can hear is indistinct talking.

– The scooting of wooden chairs scraping across the floor as people sit down or get up to leave.

– Calling out of people’s names as their Einsteins orders are ready.  And the beep of the microwave.

– A few snippets of conversation as students pass directly by me.  “Change of plans…” – “See you later, buddy” – “It’s just like keeping up with class…

– The zipping of backpacks.


I smell…

– Toasted bagels.  (Heavenly and comforting).

– Coffee.

– The odd whiff of hazelnut coffee when someone walks by me.


I feel…

– The cool, smooth, tabletop.

– Not much more than that.  I am far enough away from the doors that I don’t feel any cool breeze as they open and close.


I taste…

– An absolutely scrumptious pumpkin bagel.  For real, if you have Einstein’s Bagels near you and you haven’t tried a pumpkin bagel, it is a delightful combo of sweet and savory at once.


So there’s your Five Senses, Deac families.  Whenever I do these, I like to imagine I am seeing all your kids and can bring you a happy report that they all look good and they are working hard as well as having a few laughs with friends.

— by Betsy Chapman

Finally, Some Sun

Yesterday was a punishing weather day.  It rained nearly nonstop – sometimes sideways – and was only in the low to mid 50s.  It was just a wretched day to be out and about.  Today, thankfully, the clouds are still here in patches, but at least we can see some sun.

11 10 15 trees 2 11 10 15 trees 1I took a few pictures early this morning.  I was struck by a couple of clumps of trees – each with a middle tree that was different colored than the others.  The one on Poteat field is particularly striking, because it is a very vivid yellow and the others are solid green.

When I was on the Quad, we had a sunny side (Wait Chapel) and a still cloudy side (Reynolda).  The contrast in the two skies was rather striking.

Because of the rain yesterday, there are still some puddles on campus – some bigger than others.  As I was walking toward Wait Chapel to take pictures, the puddle was big enough to catch the reflection of the chapel spire.

I liked the progression of the chapel in the puddle.  Hope you do too.

— by Betsy Chapman

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11 10 15 wait 6

There Are No Good Words

This weekend, we lost a Wake Forest student, junior Jordan Bayer of Brookline, MA, in a tragic car accident.  He was a member of the DKE fraternity and a student in the Business School.  Information about the funeral was sent to campus today.

There are no good words in times like these.  The unexpected loss of a young person is heartbreaking.

Parents and family members, you should know there are many ways your students can get support if they have been particularly affected by this loss, whether they were friends of Jordan’s or if this has triggered the memory of another loss in their lives:

– The University Counseling Center (UCC) – 336-758-5273 or 118 Reynolda Hall.  The UCC also has an excellent page on the UCC website for additional guidance about grief.  Grief affects each of us differently, and there is no “right way” to grieve – and there are some very wise words about how to support someone who is grieving.

– The Chaplain’s Office – 336-758-5210 or 22 Reynolda Hall.

– Students can also talk to their RA (Resident Adviser) or other trusted mentors who can direct them to support services.

Do urge your students to seek help and support if they need it.  We don’t want any students to struggle on their own when there are lots of people who can support them.

Having had a sudden and unexpected loss of a sibling, my heart goes out to Jordan’s family, friends, and loved ones.  It is a terrible, terrible loss.  Please join me in offering your thoughts and prayers to everyone who knew and loved him.


— by Betsy Chapman


Thankful Fridays

For so many of us, November begins the long procession of holiday celebrations, starting with Thanksgiving.  I thought it might be good to reflect on some of the reasons I am thankful for Wake Forest – and maybe some of these reasons will ring true with you as well.

fall-classesI am thankful for our beautiful campus.  It is a joy to walk across such a scenic campus, with stately buildings, gorgeous trees, colorful and ever-changing flower beds.  In a world where green space is getting hard to come by, there is still plenty here.

I am thankful for the wide-ranging web of support that can catch our students if they stumble or fall and help get them on the right track.  We have an immensely talented University Counseling Center, Learning Assistance Center, Math Center, Chem Center, Writing Center, Student Health Service, and Chaplain’s office – not to mention the Office of Academic Advising and the support that students can find from their faculty.  There are so, so many ways for students to get help when they need it.

The trick is getting students to seek out those services, of course.  And that decision has to be made by the student.  Occasionally I will get a question from parents about ‘how can I get my son/daughter to actually USE the resources?’  We cannot typically compel a student to make a command performance at any of our support outlets.  But this is where parents have a lot of sway and a lot of influence – you can set some expectations (or strongly worded suggestions) that you encourage your student to seek assistance when needed.  Think back to how you handled those situations in high school – how did you motivate your student to get help or support then?  Maybe that can inform your approach now.

20140905thrive7233Related to the above, I am thankful that we are putting an emphasis on Thrive and how to help our students achieve wellbeing.  I wish, quite frankly, that I had opportunities to learn more about those areas when I was on campus.  Easier to learn good habits – when and how to let go of stress, how to balance good nutrition and exercise, etc. – when you are 18 than 45.

I am grateful that our students have the freedom to try new things, learn new things, meet new people, and discover new passions.  This may be the only 4 years in their lives where they are totally free to explore their academic and extracurricular interests.  Wake’s vast smorgasboard has so much to offer – I hope they all nibble plentifully at the options.

Parents and families? What are you thankful for about Wake and your students’ experiences?  I’d love to hear and collect some.  You can email at – and let me know if you are willing to have your comments shared in other ways (on here, or in other publications).  We’d do that anonymously, by the way – you could use your first intial and Parent Year (ex.,  S. P’17).

Have a good Friday and remember today’s a great time to contact your Deacs 🙂

— by Betsy Chapman



It’s a Beautiful Day

Today is a gorgeous day on campus.  We are having one of those late fall warm snaps where it’s 77 and sunny.  It is a day where you don’t need a coat, and if you are standing in the sun or hoofing it pretty quickly across campus, you’ll feel warm.

Walking across campus today, people seemed in really good moods.  Maybe it is the warmth, or the sun.  On the Quad I saw a couple of students playing ping pong at the outdoor table, some administrators eating lunch at the cafe tables, and several clusters of friends walking and talking in twos and threes.  Everyone struck me as being happy to be outdoors and enjoying the beautiful day.

Down at Benson, the weather inspired a lot of folks to take their Food Court lunch outdoors, or if they were dining in Shorty’s, to request a table outside.

Supposedly next Sunday or Monday the high will be only 51, so enjoy it while you can, Deacs.

— by Betsy Chapman



Catch Up Wednesday

After a day that was full of rain yesterday, we have graduated to merely grey and a small chance of rain.  If you look out the windows and see trees losing their leaves and grey skies, you might expect it to feel a little colder than it actually does.  I’ve added some of our great Ken Bennett’s pictures at the end.  He’s captured some real stunners of fall in the Forest.

There a few items leftover from the weekend and earlier this week that bear mentioning here.

Our football team lost a heartbreaker on Friday night against Louisville.  But you could argue we had a sort of moral victory – when one of our Deacs was injured and had to be taken off the field, his teammates surrounded him and supported him, prompting ESPN to post this heartwarming video “Wake Forest reminds us what sports are all about.”  Never prouder to be a Deac.

Our field hockey team – a perennial powerhouse since the early 2000s – finished the regular season strong, ranked 5th in the nation.  They head to the ACC Tournament on Thursday as the #2 seed.

Men’s soccer continues its domination of the pitch, winning its first regular-season ACC championship.  They get a bye for the first round of the ACC Tournament and are set to play their first game on Sunday, 11/8 at 1 pm in Spry Stadium.  Be there in big numbers, students!  This is such an exciting time.

Moving from the athletic front to the artistic…while I did not attend this in person, I have heard several glowing reviews about the University Theatre’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest.  “Run, don’t walk to see it” was what my friends and colleagues told me.  There will be additional opportunities for your Deacs to see it this coming weekend.

And what promises to be a terrific event tonight at 7 pm is Irish poet Ciaran Carson.  “Wake Forest University Press will host Ciaran Carson for a lively reading on Nov. 4. The reading will begin at 7 p.m. in the Ring Theatre of Scales Fine Arts Center, and Carson will be available for a meet & greet and book signing following the reading.  Refreshments will be served.

The poet Ciaran Carson in Royal Avenue, Belfast, N.Ireland.

Carson is a highly acclaimed Irish poet, prose writer, translator, scholar of the Irish oral tradition, and traditional musician. His black humor, satire, and playful and serious interests in wordplay make him, as Ben Howard described in a retrospective of Carson’s career in Shenandoah, ‘one of the most gifted poets now writing in England and Ireland.'”

Our Secrest Artists Series will be back on November 12th with a dance concert featuring Kegwin + Company.  “Founded in 2003 by Artistic Director Larry Keigwin—choreographer of the current Broadway show If/Then— Keigwin + Company presents Keigwin’s electrifying brand of contemporary dance, with a theatrical sensibility of wit, style, and heart. Our performance will feature their signature work Mattress Suite.”  Please see the full description of the program for important details about the content of the program.

Big time speaker news on the horizon – our fall Voices of Our Time speaker: “Ta-Nehisi Coates, a national correspondent for The Atlantic and author of The New York Times bestseller, ‘Between the World and Me,’ will speak Nov. 17 at Wake Forest. Part of the University’s Voices of Our Time speaker series, the talk will begin at 7 p.m. in Wait Chapel. The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. Tickets can be reserved online at or by calling 336-758-5237….Known for writing about culture, politics, and social issues, Coates is a finalist for the National Book Award.”  More information here.

I think you get the idea – there is a lot going on right now.  And for many of our students, they are focused on work and worrying about grades and papers and projects, it would be easy for them to skip some of these great bonus activities in favor of work.  But these kinds of activities could be once in a lifetime chances to see great speakers, or winning our conference, or to indulge in the arts in inspiring and provocative ways.

ManifestoSo urge your Deacs to consider picking one of these events (or the many others on the Events Calendar) and treat it as ‘me time.’  Stop the gerbil wheel of work and take time to have some deep breaths and to do something fun.  Sometimes the best thing we can do for our health and wellbeing is to do something just for ourselves that brings joy and peace and fun.  I saw this manifesto on a web site called Greatist – and while this manifesto leans toward the realm of physical health, you can swap out any of the physical fitness references for emotional wellbeing (or any other dimension of wellbeing for that matter).

Food for thought anyway.

— by Betsy Chapman
One of the swings on Davis Field is framed by fall color on the Wake Forest campus on Friday, October 30, 2015.

One of the swings on Davis Field is framed by fall color on the Wake Forest campus on Friday, October 30, 2015.

Farrell Hall on the Wake Forest campus on a cool fall morning on Saturday, October 31, 2015.

Farrell Hall on the Wake Forest campus on a cool fall morning on Saturday, October 31, 2015.

Photos on the Wake Forest campus on a cool fall morning on Saturday, October 31, 2015.

Photos on the Wake Forest campus on a cool fall morning on Saturday, October 31, 2015.


A Sad Weekend in Winston-Salem

There were a lot of good things that happened this weekend (soccer and field hockey victories, a great opening weekend at the University Theatre).  I tried to write about those today but can’t quite find the right words, given the fact that there was also some terrible news this weekend: a student at Winston-Salem State University was killed and another was injured in a shooting on the WSSU campus, about six miles away from Wake Forest.

Our hearts go out to the students, faculty, and staff at Winston-Salem State, and to the loved ones of the victims. Anyone connected to higher education has a heavy heart when a tragedy like this occurs on a college campus – probably no one more so than parents.  I’m a mom too and I get it – I worry for your kids as well as my own.  Any news of violence and college students is especially distressing.

At times like this it is probably worth talking about emergencies and how we interact with our students in those moments.  Please know the safety of our students is our highest priority, and we are committed to informing them of any situation that poses a threat to our campus. Any time there is a security event that has taken place on our campus, or if there is a credible threat to our campus community, our students would be promptly notified of the situation. There are several ways to inform students of emergencies on campus such as mass email, outdoor alert system, cable TV, text messaging and the Wake Alert website.

Regrettably, there are occasional acts of robbery, assault, or other violence in the Winston-Salem area and we do not notify students of every such act when there is no direct, credible threat to the WFU community. Instead, we alert our students in situations that might likely have a direct impact on this campus. It is imperative students pay attention to the messages we need them to see – ones that have immediate impact on campus safety.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you – and more importantly, your student – to visit the University’s emergency notification website called Wake Alert at  Another terrific resource is Wake Ready, which is about emergency preparedness:

I hope you will join me in offering your thoughts and prayers to Winston-Salem State University and especially to the family members, friends, and loved ones of the victims.

— by Betsy Chapman


Happy Friday

Wake Forest students enjoy crisp fall weather as they walk across campus on Tuesday, October 20, 2015.

Wake Forest students enjoy crisp fall weather as they walk across campus on Tuesday, October 20, 2015.

Happy Friday to all our Deac parents and families.  It’s felt like a long week on campus.  Our first-year students and sophomores have been in the process of meeting with their academic advisers to plan their spring 2016 schedules; juniors and seniors meet with major advisers.  As I talk with other adviser friends of mine, there are some common refrains that many of us hear during these meetings, particularly from first-year students:

Concern about a particular midterm grade – some students are surprised (and unhappy) with a particular grade.  The best bet for those students is to go talk to his/her professor about their class performance and get suggestions on how to improve.  Augment that with going to the appropriate support office (Math Center, Writing Center, Chem Center, Learning Assistance Center) for extra help.  The reality is, students who might have had all As in high school will likely find that an unsustainable model for college.  But as long as students are doing their work, not procrastinating, seeking extra help, studying well, etc., they have done their best – and ought to feel good about that.  They also worry about what you, their parents or families, will think about their grades.  To the degree that you can help take that pressure off them, they will feel a lot more at ease.

Anxiety about registration time – registration is set up in two rounds: in the first round students pick up to 8 credit hours, then they complete their schedule one week later.  Registration times are assigned randomly, but with an effort to trying to be fair – so if you have an ‘early’ registration time the first week, a student will likely have a ‘late’ registration time the next week (that way, no one lucky student gets to go first twice and grab all the best classes).  Your students may tell you “I can’t get any classes I want” – but if you probe further, likely you will find that translates to “I couldn’t get the specific professor/time I wanted.”  There are almost always spots open in 8 am classes, so students need to be open minded and not lock in to a specific time slot (read: after 10 am) or a specific professor.

Concern about not yet knowing what their major will be – many of our students enter Wake Forest thinking they are going to go to the Business School here, or ultimately want to go to medical school.  And while some of our students go on and do just that, many others find along the way that some of the prerequisites for those paths don’t play to their strengths.  And then they are forced to say “What do I do now?”  The OPCD (Office of Personal and Career Development) has some wonderful assessments students can take to help identify their interests and strengths.  They also have a great page about choosing a major and being able to see what types of jobs students with those majors have landed.  That can be a great, and reassuring, resource.

Related: this past week, Dr. Kate Brooks – Executive Director of Personal and Career Development – was featured on the TODAY Show to discuss “how to land your dream job.” Dr. Brooks is a nationally recognized career specialist with more than 20 years of experience in higher education. She is the author of a best selling career coaching book, “You Majored in What? Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career,” and was named No. 6 on 2013 Career Services Insights Survey for the “10 Most Visionary and Forward-Thinking Leaders in Career Services and Recruiting in 2013.” Check out the story here.

I think it’s also the time of year when students are dealing with seasonal allergies, and/or colds or some sort of bug (I was felled by an awful one last week).  So some of them might be feeling a little extra droopy.  Would be a great time for you to think about sending a care package with some TLC from home.

As always on Fridays, we urge you to call your Deacs.  This Friday in particular might be an especially good time.  We referenced earlier in the week an email sent to parents about trying to reduce high-risk drinking behaviors associated with Halloween and the last home game of the season.  Parents’ attitudes and influences are important, as stated in the email: “Research has shown that parents are one of the biggest sources of influence on their child’s drinking habits. Conversations with your student can help reduce the risky use of alcohol, and we encourage you to speak with your son or daughter about your concerns about their use of alcohol, especially in a risky manner.”

importance of being earnestA great activity for your Deacs this weekend would be to go see the University Theatre production of The Importance of Being Earnest.  This is a terrific play by Oscar Wilde, and even better, it’s a chance for your students to see the immense talents of their friends, hallmates, classmates, and faculty who are involved.

Looking ahead to next week, here’s a little reminder for something coming up on Monday.  If your students want to learn some effective strategies for studying, they should attend the following program:

The Learning Assistance Center’s “Study Smarter, Not Harder” workshop series will introduce WFU students to a number of helpful strategies that will improve academic performance. Our second workshop for the fall semester is scheduled for Monday, November 2, from 5:00-6:00 in Greene Hall 145. This workshop will focus specifically on reading strategies, performance anxiety, and using Zotero.

— by Betsy Chapman

Fall Leaves

Here are a couple of beautiful shots of campus taken recently during the rainy weather.  Fall is just about at its peak right now.

If your Deacs haven’t taken a drive (or a walk) down Reynolda Road, the leaves are stunning.  Reynolda Road has trees on both sides of the street that form a sort of canopy over the road, and it is as pretty as it gets.  They should take a walk or a drive out the main entrance of campus and go left on Reynolda.  It’s a great view.

Fall leaves decorate Hearn Plaza on the campus of Wake Forest University on a rainy fall day on Tuesday, October 27, 2015.

Fall leaves decorate Hearn Plaza on the campus of Wake Forest University on a rainy fall day on Tuesday, October 27, 2015.

Fall leaves give color to trees in front of Collins Residence on the campus of Wake Forest University on Tuesday, October 27, 2015.

Fall leaves give color to trees in front of Collins Residence on the campus of Wake Forest University on Tuesday, October 27, 2015.

— by Betsy Chapman