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It’s Almost Here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Travel safe, and bring good weather!

This Is a Week to Watch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did You Know? WFU Style

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The View from Benson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finals Week – The Best of the Internet

And so it begins.

Finals week.

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

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

Good luck to all your students on their exams!

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This could be my Class of ’27 Deac.

 

 

 

 

 

grumpy cat

 

Who does not love Grumpy Cat?

 

 

 

 

netflix

 

  Procrastination, Part I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 sound of music Procrastination, Part II

 

 

 

 

 

 

finals meme

 

The Finals Games

 

 

 

 

 

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The eternal truth

 

Reading Day

20130506library2599Today is Reading Day, which is the day after classes have ended and before final exams begin.  Typically this is a day where you see not a ton of foot traffic on campus – none of the usual crowds of people during times when classes change.  Most of the traffic you might see is into/out of the ZSR Library and a few other frequently-used study spots (I’m looking at you, Farrell Hall).

Starting now, and through next week, you’ll see a distinct change in our students’ sense of style.  For our young women, you’ll typically see less makeup, more ponytails.  Fewer cute dresses and skirts, more workout clothes.  For our young men, you’ll see fewer of them clean shaven and more of them sporting 2-3 day stubble.  You get the idea.  Everyone slacks off a bit because the focus is all on studying, studying, studying – or final papers and projects due.

If our students can get past the immediate thoughts of their finals, they might be anticipating a trip to the beach.  Post-exams (aka Beach Week) is a time-honored tradition here, where students rent houses or stay in hotels along many of the beaches on the NC and SC coasts.  Sometimes, just knowing you are going to be in great place surrounded by friends in a week’s time can help you get through the strain of studying.

Another way our students make it through finals is because we have a fantastic group of librarians and staff who host Wake the Library, which is a 24/7 operation during exams.  Your students can eat at midnight, take part in yoga and other relaxation opportunities, etc.  Tell your students to follow the Wake the Library action and get in on it!

And Deac families – always helps to get some pick-me-ups from home.  Whether that is a text or a call or a card or a care package, your students will appreciate hearing from you.

Finally, encourage your students to practice good self-care during the stress of finals.  That means eat healthy food, get enough sleep, and get out and get moving so they get some exercise.  While it sounds counterintuitive to take extra time for a walk or a healthy meal or to lose an hour of studying in favor of sleep, they will likely fare better on their exams if their bodies and minds have had been well cared for.

The Weather

Our thoughts are with all of the Wake Forest families who have been in range of the terrible storms of this week.  We hope that you have not been directly affected and are sending our positive thoughts your way.

Winston-Salem did not experience any particularly bad weather as a result of this storm.  We had some wind and some rain (and a thunderstorm very early this morning), but nothing like you might have seen (or feared) based on the news coverage about the storm outbreak.

Understandably, we had many parents who were watching and wondering what happened on campus and were concerned about how their students might be notified in case of a weather emergency.  So we want to remind you of those various efforts and resources.

- There is a Wake Alert site that you can bookmark (and you can also sign up to follow Wake Alert on Twitter).  The Wake Alert website is where we state the operating status of campus, and would state it there if there was an emergency.

- If there is an emergency, you will see a large banner message running across the very top of the main WFU web page.  That banner should also always be replicated on the Parents’ Page as well.

- There is also an emergency preparedness site called Wake Ready.  This is worth parents and families looking at, and also reminding your students to review it at least once a semester.  Wake Ready has a section on Emergency Situations, which talks about what to do in various emergency scenarios.

- If there were an emergency declared, the campus gets notified in a number of ways.  If there were specific safety instructions for that emergency, they would be included in the messages and alerts.

It is always good to think about emergency preparedness BEFORE the emergency, so please keep these sites in mind.  It would be a great thing for you to look at as family members, and have your students do the same.  Just as the fire departments urge you to change your smoke alarm batteries when you set the clocks forward/back for the time change, think about reviewing this emergency information with your students the week before they arrive on campus for the fall and spring semesters.

Campus Day Part 2

Today is the second Campus Day for Accepted Students, which is bringing about 400 families to campus on this grey and overcast day.  Our Parent Programs office had a table set up with a display showcasing the Parents’ Page and other things, and we had a lot of nice families come up to say hello.

Interestingly enough, most of them who came to speak to us said their children were either Early Decision or had already decided to enroll.   Normally at past Campus Days, about half of the families coming were already sold on WFU, the other half had students who were trying to take one last look at Wake and determine if they were coming here or would ultimately go to [INSERT OTHER TOP CHOICE].

I want to give a special shout out and thank you to all our visiting families who came up and told us they read the Daily Deac or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.  We never know where our readers are unless they tell us, and it is always a delight to put a face and a name to the people we are reaching each day.  So thanks to all our P’18 (Parent of Class of ’18) families who said hello.

This week we ran a bit late on our Information for First-Year families, so I wanted to bring it to your attention here.  This week’s message was about “A Year in Review: A Look Back at the Academic Year.”  And while it might be of particular interest to our freshmen families, the idea of reflecting at the end of each year is not a bad practice (even if your Deac is a new one just finishing high school!)  If you think your student might benefit from some questions prompting reflection – if not now, maybe even over the summer – please feel free to share this.

President Hatch Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

A colleague of mine shared some pretty big news from campus today.  President Hatch has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  I will confess I did not know the particulars of this organization, but it is described as follows:  ”One of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies, the Academy is also a leading center for independent policy research. Members contribute to Academy publications and studies of science and technology policy, energy and global security, social policy and American institutions, and the humanities, arts and education.”

Even more impressive is the cohort that he is joining:  ”Members of the 2014 class include winners of the Nobel Prize; the Wolf Prize; the Pulitzer Prize; National Medal of the Arts; MacArthur, Guggenheim, and Fulbright Fellowships; and Grammy, Emmy, Oscar and Tony Awards.”

This is a great honor for Dr. Hatch and by extension for Wake Forest.  There is a story on the Wake Forest web site about this if you want the full details.  Congratulations to Dr. Hatch!

 

Thoughts on Commencement

20130520commencement1071Commencement 2014 is just a few weeks away.   It is a time of great celebration and joy for graduates and their families.  It’s also time when we get a lot of questions in the Parent Programs office about Commencement.  So I thought I’d share some of my thoughts from nearly 15 Commencements on campus.  Take them for what you will.

Weather:  pay attention to the weather forecast for the days leading up to Commencement, and pack clothes accordingly.  That could include rain wear, umbrellas, light jackets, or your warmest, lightest clothing.  Keep an eye on the weather.  And between now and Commencement, your job is to send prayers and positive thoughts for a sunny day around 75 degrees with a light breeze.  That in my opinion is the ideal weather.

Attire: People always ask “what should we wear? how formal is it?”  My first bit of advice is that you need to dress for the weather.  It can be cool in the morning, hot if the sun is going to be out.  In terms of what people wear, you could see everything from suits and ties and dressy spring suits for women, to sundresses and golf shirts and slacks.  The tendency is to be a little more dressy perhaps, but Deac men should give themselves the option of taking off the jacket and loosening the tie if it gets warm.  Deac women, think about if you tend to be hot or cold natured and determine whether you want the option of a jacket or sweater or pashmina.

Shoes: Leave your most expensive and cherished shoes at home!  Really.  The Quad grass will be dewy in the morning.  If you wear your most impressive shoes, it is almost certain they will get wet, and very likely specked with mud or grass.  There are literally close to 10,000 people on the Quad, and the grass paths between sections of seating on the lawn do get worn down to the dirt (or mud, depending on the wetness of the ground).  Use your favorite fancy shoes if you go to Baccalaureate (as it is inside), but be conservative and wear shoes that you don’t mind potentially getting wet on Commencement day.

Sunscreen is a must.  Repeat:  sunscreen is a must.  Or a hat.  Or both.  If we hold the ceremony outside (again, prayers welcome for great weather!), you will be outside for 3+ hours and  there are not enough areas of shade.  If you are sensitive to light and sun, be aware of this.  And tell your graduates to wear sunscreen too!

Think about the comfort of grandparents or older relatives:  my grandmother wanted very much to see me graduate in 1992, but she was very sensitive to 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, please consider that before you all come.  Each family needs to make the decision that is best for them.  There is typically a live webcast of Commencement, which might be a great option.

Seating on the Quad: seating is on folding chairs (not particularly fancy).  Bring some paper towels or a washcloth from your hotel (please return them!) to wipe off your chairs at Commencement.  While the staff tries to go through and wipe the dew off the chairs, they are not always able to get to all 10,000 chairs before guests arrive.

When to arrive Commencement Day: everyone asks this, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer.   My own parents were in line at 6 am because they wanted to be among the first to get on the Quad and have their pick of all the seats.  They then had a 3 hour wait, so they read the paper, took a stroll, etc.  Other of my friends’ parents chose to arrive later.  Only you will know how important it is to you to get there early and have lots of options about seating vs. how much you want to avoid having a longer wait before the ceremony starts.  Know that there will be traffic, and there will be lines as you check in, so plan accordingly.

Bathrooms:  there are many.  Residence halls and Reynolda Hall are open, but there will be lines.  You might fare well to 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.

FYI on the ceremony proper:  the Commencement ceremony has run 2.5 to 3 hours in recent years.  It starts promptly at 9 am.  There will be a break in the ceremony to allow graduate and professional students to go to their respective ceremonies (and for their families to follow).  So know that there will be some seats taken early in the day that become vacant at the break, and know also that you are able to get up and move around.