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A Few More Commencement Tidbits

Coming down to the wire on Commencement.  Have you checked out the new stage?  Pretty spectatular, eh?  Chairs are going up right now, and I am telling you, they are lined up with the precision of a well-planted vineyard.  Straight lines and strict measurements.  See it on the Quad Cam.

As part of our sustainability efforts, graduation gowns are green again this year.  Not the color green, but green as in recyclable and sustainable.  The bookstore is distributing Oak Hall’s Greenweaver commencement gowns, which are made from downcycled plastic and can be collected for further downcycling and reuse.  If you have a graduate and he or she doesn’t want to keep the gown following the ceremony, students can recycle the gowns by depositing them in specially marked boxes in the residence hall lobbies or campus bookstores.  Look for the boxes that say “Recycle your gown here.” The gowns are made of recycled plastic and will be recycled again.  Nice work, Office of Sustainability!

There’s a great story about a WFU family of triplets, all of whom are graduating from different instititutions the same weekend!  This would be a fun story in and of itself, but one of the triplets is John Marbach (’15), who left Wake after one semester and accepted a $100,000 entrepreneurship grant — a prestigious Thiel fellowship that supports students who want to skip college to start a business. Ultimately he decided to return to Wake Forest – you can read more at that Wake Forest Magazine.

If you are a Deac family graduating – keep an eye on the weather and dress accordingly.  Here’s the forecast as of 9:40 am Friday, but it can change.  Remember:

– Sunscreen

– Layers

– Rain gear if needed (pray that it isn’t)

– Shoes get wet on the Quad.  If you are fortunate enough to have expensive designer shoes, you may wish to keep them at home unless you don’t mind that they get wet or grassy


— by Betsy Chapman

Run Into the Roar

Because it is Commencement season (for colleges and high schools), people will be talking about Commencement speeches: who was good (prediction: Stephen Colbert!), who fizzled out, etc.

One of the best Commencement speeches I’d ever  heard was at a high school.  It talked about an old African legend about lions, and danger, and choosing your path.  I don’t remember the speaker, and I can’t find a link to the commencement speech transcript online.  But I did find a link to another person retelling the story (thank you, Steve Barnhill).  Here goes:

“I once heard an old African folk tale entitled ‘Running into the Roar.’ Its intent was to teach that our survival instincts can sometimes be lethal. The fable has value for us now.

According to the story, a herd of gazelles was feeding lazily on the grasses of the Serengeti, when a pride of hungry lions caught wind of them.

african-lion-prideGazelles, as you may know, have little trouble outrunning even the fastest of lions. So to eat, lions, the pinnacle of hunting prowess, must outsmart their prey. In this story, they do.

Setting the table for dinner, the lions walked stealthily toward the gazelles, but stopped well short, downwind of the herd, at which time an feeble, old male lion broke silently from the others and snuck around to the far side of the antelopes, positioning himself in the tall grass where he could not be seen.

Once the frail lion – which posed no real threat to the speedy gazelles — was in place, other members of the pride jumped to their feet and rushed at full speed toward to herd of antelopes.

Instinctively, the startled antelopes sensed danger and, with lightening reactions, fled directly away from the approaching predators. Safety, they knew, awaited them that way.

Of course, in this instance, that way was the way toward the old lion staged cleverly in the tall grasses.

As the herd approached him, the frail old lion stood up, gathered all of his strength, and roared with all the meanness he could muster.

Egad! thought the gazelles. Hold everything! We’re going the wrong way! Let’s turn around and get out of here! It’s dangerous going this direction.

The antelopes quickly executed a u-turn and ran straight for the powerful jaws of the approaching pride.

Safety, the moral tells, is sometimes found not in running away from a perceived threat, but heading directly into it. Instincts can’t always be trusted.”

I remember the commencement speaker ending with this final shot to the graduates: run into the roar.

Commencement can feel like a scary time for our graduates.  There can be uncertainty about where they are going, what their jobs will be, whether they will like it.  They might feel joy or fear or excitement or dread – or more likely, all of those things at once.

Wake might feel like their safe place, and leaving it might cause some anxious moments.  But remind them that they are smart, and ready, and skilled, and wonderful critical thinkers and hard workers and they’ll be up for the challenge.

Tell them to run into the roar.

— by Betsy Chapman

The Stage Is Going Up

We’ve been slammed in our office so I have not had a chance to watch the Commencement stage being set, but I am sneaking glimpses via the Quad Cam when I can.  So far, so good!  Looks like the center section is starting to take shape.

We’re going to go light on Daily Deacs for the next few days as we get closer to Commencement.  Here are a few of some of the best shots from Commencements past, just to whet your whistle.

And remember, all prayers and positive thoughts welcomed for an ideal forecast – low 70s and sunny, mild breeze.  Repeat that mantra over and over again for us!

— by Betsy Chapman


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New and Newsworthy

This past Friday afternoon, we launched the website, which will be the place for the Class of 2019 (and their parents and families) to learn everything they need to know about beginning life at Wake Forest.  This site will have information added to it throughout the summer, so it should be checked regularly.  The hard back book Forestry 101 will be mailed to new students’ permanent addresses at the end of this week.

For our brand new P’19 parents and families, there is a special section just for you (scroll to the bottom left of the website and look for the purple Parents and Families section).  There is a section on Important Dates and Deadlines, as well as some important advice, and more.  You’ll want to sign up for the Just for Parents orientation session; this takes place the evening of Move-In during a required residence hall meeting (so your students will be occupied).  It’s a great session that will help explain some of the transitions your student and family will go through as college begins.

My office is in the midst of planning New Student Receptions in areas where there are concentrated pockets of incoming new students.  Regrettably we can’t hold these in every corner of the country (we don’t have enough time or staff to do that).  But if one is in your area and you are interested, we hope new students and parents will attend.  And if you are the parent of a rising sophomore, junior, or senior who would like to attend and help give an upperclassmen/women’s perspective, your students are welcome to register for a reception once Registration goes live (which should be in another week or two)

For our P’15 families waiting for Commencement, you can start to see the Quad transformed via the Quad Cam.   It’s already starting and this year the stage is new so I have no idea what to expect.  You can peek at the Quad Cam any time you like.   If you missed my informal tips for Commencement, they are here.

Busy and exciting times for all!

— by Betsy Chapman


If LDOC was Last Day of Classes, today is LDOF – Last Day of Finals.  The home stretch.  Then they’ll have 105 or so days of summer before returning to Wake in the fall.

During the time between Commencement for the seniors and Orientation for the new incoming first-year students, the campus takes care of business in terms of projects and renovations.  One such renovation is going to be in the ZSR Library; this from the ZSR enewsletter:

“As soon as the last car drives off campus on graduation day, the Z. Smith Reynolds Library – with the help of Facilities – will commence with several summer renovation projects:

Starbucks Refresh: After six years of brisk business, the Starbucks will receive a much-needed refresh. New furniture, carpet and finishes designed by Starbucks will be installed on both levels. The work will begin on May 19, and Starbucks will be closed for four to six weeks. The two adjacent study rooms and the library entrance on the east (Tribble) side will also be closed for the duration.

5 7 15 zsr renovationsAtrium: The final stage of the Atrium renovation will occur right after exams. Electricians will add new power sources. Existing furniture will be removed, and the cork floors will receive their annual strip/refinish process. This activity will begin the night of May 20 and will be completed May 22. During this time, the Atrium will be closed to make sure the new finish cures properly. Signage will direct visitors to alternate routes to the Wilson Wing. Right after Memorial Day, new furniture will be delivered and installed. Look for a complete update with flexible table configurations, cozy banquettes, tall tables, and cushioned bookcase seating, all with bright colorful fabrics!

Compact Shelving: ZSR has been installing additional compact shelving units in a multi-year effort to increase capacity for book storage using a smaller footprint, thus freeing up space in ZSR for people to use. Two installation projects will happen in Wilson 1 this summer, beginning in late June with completion slated for August. The books shelved in these areas will remain accessible throughout the project.”

While I will be sad to see the Starbucks close for a few weeks, it will be exciting to see the new decor.  Also, it will be interesting to see how students use the flexible seating in the Atrium.  That might be a huge plus for students working on group projects, or who just want to move their tables around to different spots.

One of the current projects you might see if you’re here to move your Deacs home after finals is the Spry Soccer Stadium renovations.  From the Polo Road entrance, you can see enormous piles of red clay (always makes me think of Gone with the Wind and “the red earth of Tara”) as the field is torn out to make room for improvements.  According to a news release, they will be installing new Bermuda turf, irrigation and drainage systems, conduit for future television and live-stream broadcasts, new fence and windscreen surrounding the field, upgraded lighting, and new team equipment, including new field goals and team enclosures.

And we’ll close today with a couple of entertainment tidbits worth a mention.  First is that one of our Deac moms emailed me about the Demon Divas, one of our campus singing groups.  They have a new album called Mine To Make, which is available on iTunes.

Chi Rho, another of our a cappella groups (men only) also had a new album out this spring; The One You Call is also available on iTunes.

Finally, our Commencement speaker, comedian Stephen Colbert, just made an extraordinary display of Pro Humanitate.  Colbert, a native of South Carolina, donated $800,000 to fund every existing grant request South Carolina public school teachers have made via an education crowdfunding website.  Stephen Colbert was already enormously popular and students have been so excited that he is our Commencement speaker.  To have him do something so generous and wonderful for teachers is just the cherry on top.

Pro Humanitate at its best.  Go Deacs!

— by Betsy Chapman

Dwindling Numbers and Gearing Up for Commencement

It’s finally getting to the “hot” stage in our weather year.  We have been around the mid-80s both yesterday and today, as well as sunny.  For those students who have already left campus for Post Exams/Beach Week, they must be enjoying some fine weather.

The number of students on campus is dwindling as finals come to an end.  And the number of parents and family members on campus is increasing as they come to help move out their students.  (Special thanks to the kind Daily Deac readers I chatted with in Starbucks today!)

2015 comm stageBecause Commencement is only 12 days away, we are starting to get some questions for P’15 graduating families about the weekend’s events.   Your best place to go for information about Commencement weekend is our Commencement web site:

The schedule of activities is here:  Your son or daughter may have ideas about which events he/she wants to attend, so it would be a good idea for you to talk your graduate about what he/she wants to do and which events you’d attend.

Some of our students (but certainly not all) attend the Baccalaureate Ceremony on Sunday morning.  It is similar to a worship service.  Students do not sit with their parents, they march in wearing their caps and gowns and sit as a group (no mention of them by name or anything like that).  It is very important to note that space for Baccalaureate is limited, and you’ll want to take note of all the information here so you understand about availability of seats:  When the doors open at 9:30 for families who have queued in the line to get in,  you will want to line up in advance of 9:30 for seats.  (And unfortunately I can’t tell you an exact time to get in line to guarantee you will get in.  Supply and demand for Baccalaureate vary from year to year.  I believe I have seen people in years past lining up at 8 am but it varies every year.)

Many of our students and parents go to the departmental open houses on Sunday afternoon.  Those give students a chance to visit with the faculty members in their major and introduce their families to them.

Formal graduation exercises (Commencement) is Monday morning.  More information is available here:

The Commencement web site also has a Checklists and FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) that may be helpful:

Now the informal advice from me.

– Bring some paper towels or a washcloth from your hotel (return it of course) to wipe the dew off your chairs.  Even though our Facilities team and Commencement volunteer staff try to wipe down seats, you might wish to do it yourself.

– Pay attention to the weather forecast and dress accordingly.  Consider layers that you can add or remove as you see fit.  In the sun, it can be quite hot, but if it’s a cool day it can be quite cool.

– Wear sunscreen.  3 hours outdoor is a long time and I have seen many a sunburn from people who wished they’d had sunscreen.

– Leave your fanciest shoes at home.  The grass will be wet with dew, and 10,000ish people will be treading the same paths to get to and from their seats.  Even with the amazingly lush grass we have, those paths can get muddy.  If you don’t want your most expensive, dressiest shoes to potentially be wet or muddy or grass stained, bring a different pair.

– Consider the comfort of older relatives.  My grandmother wanted very much to see me graduate, but she was very sensitive to too much heat and sun, and was not able to walk a long ways.  While we do our best to make everyone comfortable, if you have relatives for whom an outdoor event would not be good for them, consider that before you all come.  Each family needs to make the decision that is best for them.  There is a live feed of Commencement into Pugh Auditorium (in the Benson Center), which is indoors and a great option for folks who may not waish to be outside, are sun sensitive, need closer access to restrooms, etc.  Space is limited.

– Speaking of bathrooms…some of the Quad residence halls and Reynolda Hall are open, but there will be lines.   (We may also have portojohns, though I don’t know that yet).  To avoid lines, you might consider going to the Benson Center (a short walk) or Scales Fine Arts Center (closer to the Quad) if you don’t want to wait.  Because we read every student’s name, you will be able to see how long it takes as they begin and can plan your restroom break accordingly.

And for those of you who believe in a higher power, please send prayers and supplications for a mildly sunny day, 72-75 degrees, with a light breeze.  That is optimal Commencement weather.

— by Betsy Chapman

How Do You Know It’s Finals?

One word:  glasses.

I was in the ZSR Starbucks this morning and couldn’t quite put my finger on what seemed different.  And then I realized – it was so many students in glasses.  Particularly young women.  Normally you don’t see a ton of glasses on students, and it would be easy to assume either they have contacts or are still young enough to have 20-20 vision (ah, how nice that time was!)  The answer appears to be that a lot of our students regularly wear contacts and they must all be soaking their lenses and relying on the glasses instead.

So between the tired eyes, minimal makeup (women) and two day stubble (men), and the very relaxed clothing (somewhere between workout pants and tshirts that look like they had seen a lot of wear of late), our students are dressed for finals.

5 5 15 1There was not much of a line at Starbucks at 9:15 this morning, and you could find a seat downstairs as well as the comfy chairs in the loft.  I expected to see a bigger crowd, but then when I went to the other parts of ZSR I saw that the lack of bodies in Starbucks was because they were Everywhere Else.  In desks in the stacks.  At every table in the Atrium. In large reading rooms.  In the 24 hour study room.  Tons of students tucked away in every quiet nook and cranny.

My favorite glimpse of a student today was a young woman deep in study.  From my perch near Reference, I could see her through the windows of the old part of the building.  She kept making a motion that caught my eye and I couldn’t see at first what it was.  Looked like a brief wave of white.  And then as I watched her, I realized she had old school flash cards.  She’d pick one up, look at it a moment, and then do a flip to the reverse (where the answer presumably was).

I wondered what she was studying: foreign language vocabulary or verb conjugations?  Chemistry or math equations?  Dates for a history exam?  It had been ages since I’d seen anyone with flash cards, and it brought me back to my old days at Wake (back when the Card Catalogue consisted of a billion tiny drawers, not a screen on a computer).

5 5 15 2The feeling in the library was one of absolute quiet.  Yes, libraries are typically quiet, but at finals it is much more so.  The seat I’d chosen to observe the scene was not particularly close to the nearest student, yet it was quiet enough I could hear him typing on his ThinkPad.  Those keys are not loud.  It was quiet enough you could hear people turning pages in books – just little rustling papery sounds.  Occasionally you could hear a cough, or someone asking a question at Reference.  But overall, very very quiet.

5 5 15 3The ZSR has free coffee and lots of fun streamers and decorations in the Atrium.  That’s become a tradition each Finals Week.  Near Reference, some enterprising person had done this sheet of Tearable Puns (clever!)  And the student group DoRAK (Do Random Acts of Kindness) had chalked a lot of good luck messages on the sidewalk outside the main entrance.  Those tiny things can make a big difference and can give study-weary kids a momentary grin.  Well done, DoRAK!

5 5 15 4 5 5 15 5Finals continue through the 7th.  Steady on, Deacs – you’ve got this!  And special shoutout to Flashcard Girl.  I hope you get a great grade in whatever you were studying for!

— by Betsy Chapman

Reading Day

Reading Day is the day before final exams begin.  It’s one day off to prep for the finals to come.  Today I was in the center part of campus between 8:20-10:20 am and I could have counted the students I saw on one hand.  Not sure if they were all sleeping in, or all studying in one of the designated study spaces on campus, but your Deacs were not out and about first thing in the morning.

The report from ZSR was that typically on a reading day, it starts slow but students come in as the day progresses and it starts to get packed around 6 pm.  Wake the Library is starting tonight.  That takes a little bit of the pain out of finals.  There will be food at midnight (good stuff too – I am told ice cream, Biscuitville and more) – and my reliable source also tells me there will be some dogs on Sunday evening outside on the Starbucks patio.  So if your Deac would feel better having a dog to pet, tell him or her to keep an eye out Sunday night.

A few reminders for you as the year draws to a close:

– encourage your students to do Deacs Donate vs throwing everything way.  Reduce, reuse, recycle!

– there are summer storage options off campus as well as shipping services on campus

– remind your Deacs to be aware of check out policies for their residence halls

– have you sent your student a Deacon Greeting?  Send an e-card today and wish your Deac good luck on finals!

We’re thinking good thoughts for all your students as the semester ends.  Let’s do this, Deacs!  We have faith in you!

— by Betsy Chapman


LDOC = Last Day of Classes.  And it is here, hard as that might be to believe.

My good colleagues in the Wellbeing office who spearhead our Thrive efforts are doing their part to help students have manage stress and have a little fun as finals begin.  They teamed up with the ZSR Library, the Dean of Students, and the student groups DoRAK (Do Random Acts of Kindness) and Active Minds in the rotunda of the Benson Center today with bubbles, puppies to pet, mind putty and games, even free food – all to help your Deacs during crunch time.  The two puppies were siblings from the same litter and they were really fun.  If your students haven’t taken advantage of all this goodness, it runs until 3 pm today for fun and games, and massages were being offered until 5 pm (sign up via Benson Ticket Office).

4 29 15 logo 4 29 15 8 4 29 15 7 4 29 15 64 29 15 2 4 29 15 3It’s not just the students trying to get ready for finals – campus is also starting its pre-Commencement preparations.  Yellow ropes have gone up through the grassy places around the perimeter of the Quad so the grass can grow thick and nice before graduation.  There is an enormous thing of cable on the Quad, along with the biggest Ditch Witch I have ever seen.  Not sure what those are about, but undoubtedly part of Quad prep for May 18.  And as I looked around at the students on the Quad and in Benson, I noticed that students’ dress is moving more and more toward workout gear and less and less ‘dress to impress,’ a sure sign finals are coming.

4 29 15 5 4 29 15 4 4 29 15 1I was prompted today to think back to parents and families who have now been with us for 4 full years of the Daily Deac.  Many thanks for making us part of your WFU experience!  Since y’all are now just 3 weeks away from becoming parents of alumni, thought it might be fun to cast your memories back to Orientation 2011, when your students arrived.  Here’s a look at the pre-orientation program with SPARC (volunteering) and Wilderness to Wake, orientation receptions and lectures, and fun stuff like A Taste of Winston-Salem and Pros vs. Joes.  Your students have come a long way in 4 years.  We can’t wait to celebrate with you and them as they go across the stage to get their diplomas!

— by Betsy Chapman

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All the Sunny Spaces

Today is the final Tues-Thurs class of the spring semester.  Not a cloud in the sky.  Beautiful blue sky, around 65 degrees.  Totally perfect.  Unless of course you are trying to finish projects and papers and start studying for finals and aren’t outside to enjoy it.

But fear not, Deac families!  A good many students were outside between 1:30-2:15 pm.  Some of them were on the way to class, or to get a late lunch.  A LOT of them were destined for the ZSR Starbucks: when I arrived at 1:45 in search of a coffee, the line was all the way up the stairs to the ZSR loft level (my librarian friends told me that the line is really bad right before 2 pm classes start, then it drastically slows around 2:05 – and they were right).

Took a stroll through the ZSR Library and I have to say I can’t recall a time where I saw the lobby so full of people.  Lots of copies being made, students at every table in the atrium – in fact, I heard from a reliable source that every single table in the atrium was occupied at 8 am, which would NEVER happen if it wasn’t the end of the semester.  Normally our students keep vampire hours and would not want to see the sunrise there.

Students were sitting in most of the available nooks and crannies in the ZSR.  I saw tons of students on the 4th floor study room as well as the Wilson Wing.  Reference was pretty packed.  The Mandlebaum Reading Room still had an open table or two.

All the sunny spaces were also occupied outdoors.  On the Quad, I saw students sitting at the teak chairs with laptops on their laps and headphones in their ears.  Some were stretched out on the grass.  Others at cafe tables.  On the Mag Patio, they were reading in the rocking chairs or sitting in a big group around one table – not sure if that was a friendly lunch or some kind of group collaboration.  Outside Zick’s there were 15-20 people in a large group with chairs huddled together – maybe a class meeting there instead of in an academic building?

And as I walked across campus in the various buildings, I heard snippets of conversations.  Funny when you get just a couple of seconds of it.  I heard one that sounded like a student discussing community service, a faculty member getting flustered in a checkout line and saying a good-natured ‘it’s the last day of class, don’t confuse me‘ to the cashier, to someone talking about advising a student who wanted to do extra credit to boost his GPA.

Most of the time though, the students I passed were either in groups talking and smiling or looking lighthearted, or on their own and concentrating (but not grim-faced).  My guess is that even with finals looming, the joy of weather like this cannot be denied.

A final note: I got the following message from our Center for Global Programs and Studies (aka study abroad office).  One of our recent graduates

WFU alum (and current employee in Global Programs) Chelsea Tamura has had her video “Beyond the Forest” selected as a Finalist for the GoAbroad Innovation Awards. We’re trying to generate on-line votes for her and thought you all might be able to share on your social media pages. If so, we would really appreciate it. Details are as follows:

Voting opens today (04/27/15) and will continue until May 27th. All winners will then be announced at the GoAbroad Innovation Awards Reception during the NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo in Boston, on Thursday, May 28th, at 5:30 pm.

Vote for Chelsea’s video here.  Click on the name of the video and hit submit vote at the bottom of the page to vote. 

Watch, like, and share our post on Facebook here. 

Retweet our post on Twitter here. 

As always, thanks for your support of study abroad at Wake Forest!


So I hope you’ll join me and vote for Chelsea!

— by Betsy Chapman