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Question from a Parent

Happy Monday after a long weekend, Deac families.  Hope it was fun and relaxing and that you had your fill of friends and good food.  We’re back to work and had a great question from a parent come in late last week.

A Deac parent had contacted one of our administrative offices and mentioned the University of Richmond’s bicycle program.  Evidently they have a system of bikes all around campus that students can use free of charge.  For example, Student #1 could borrow a bike, ride it to the library, and park it there.  If Student #2 comes out of the library and needs a ride somewhere else, she can take that same bike and park it in another bike location.  Our Deac parent said that at U of R, they have enough bikes and that rarely does a student not have a bike to get from one spot to another.  He thought it would be nice if Wake Forest would consider a program like this.

We passed this suggestion on to our Parking Office and the Office of Sustainability.  Our Director of Sustainability, Deedee DeLongpre Johnston, said that this is a frequently suggested program (and thanked the parent for passing it on to us).  She told me that we have done four demand surveys over time and, though everyone loves the idea of having bikes to borrow, very few people actually think they would use it.  So at this point, while everyone agrees it is a good idea, if we do not have sufficient demand to use the service, it is hard to justify that investment (when we have a lot of other competing priorities that want funding).

So to our Deac parent who passed this on – thank you!  Your suggestion is a good one, but unfortunately the campus climate is not such that the students want to have this as a resource at this time.  Hopefully there might be a time in the future when the student body wants to look more seriously at that option.

Happy [Early] Fourth of July!

An early happy Fourth of July to all our Deac families.  Administrative offices will be closed on Friday the 4th, and in addition our Parent Programs office will be closed on the 3rd as well.  This is our most condensed period of travel due to all our New Student Receptions, so a long weekend will be just what we need to recharge our batteries.

For parents of incoming first-year students, I have an interesting book recommendation for you.  The Summer Academic Project for first-years is to read Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct.  They will receive a copy of this book at their permanent address in mid-July.

As an academic adviser, I am also supposed to read this book, which I did this past weekend.  It is an easy and quick read – a small, short book, but it makes a lot of very interesting points about civility and how we ought to act together in community.

This book is not rocket science and it might not tell you things you don’t already know, but it is a very good reminder about how the small things matter just as much as the big things, especially in relation to how we treat each other, and what that might feel like to the people near us.  So if you – or your upperclassmen Deacs – are looking for a book to read this summer, consider this one.  Practicing civility and being kind and attentive to others is a skill that will never go out of style, in my humble opinion.

There was a quote at the end of the book that I just loved.  The author, P.M. Forni, is recalling a passage he’d read in a book by Peggy Tabor Millin:

“I was on a train on a rainy day.  The train was slowing down to pull into a station.  For some reason I became intent on watching the raindrops on the window.  Two separate drops, pushed by the wind, merged into one for a moment and then divided again – each carrying with it a part of the other.  Simply by that momentary touching, neither was what it had been before.  And as each one went to touch other raindrops, it shared not only itself, but what it had gleaned from the other.  I saw this metaphor years ago and it is one of my most vivid memories.  I realized then that we never touch people so lightly that we do not leave a trace.  Our state of being matters to those around us, so we need to become conscious of what we unintentionally share so we can learn to share with intention.”




Uber is Here

Some of you in major cities might have already heard of Uber, which is an app that you can use to get rides in your area.  Think taxi service, but with the added bonus of them being able to geolocate you using your iPhone or smartphone, the ability to share rides, etc.

A colleague passed me an email last week about Uber coming to Winston-Salem (see the Uber blog here), and I have to admit I had no idea what Uber was and felt rather stumped.  But I looked it up and indeed it looks like this could be a great local transportation option for our students.

At the Pinecrest, FL New Student Reception on Sunday, we ended up talking about Uber.  Turns out many of the people present knew of Uber (their children have used it) and they said it was safe, fast, and very reasonably priced (sometimes cheaper than a traditional taxi).

I have not used Uber myself, and have no dog in the fight about whether your Deacs choose to use it, but I did want to put it out there for parents and families to know about and investigate.  At least you’ll know of another transportation option.

And in a follow up from yesterday – our question about quintessential NC foods – we have had some Deac families suggest the following:

“Great breakfast places. Winston-salem has more than any other place I have spent time!”

“There is nothing better than a double strawberry, peanut butter and banana, or cookie dough and chocolate CookOut shake!

Or a great breakfast at Sweet Potatoes!”

I have to concur; those are all pretty great options.  Cookout is a favorite of our students – fast and cheap, and those milkshakes are divine.  Keep your food suggestions coming at


It’s a light day for the Daily Deac, as I just returned from the Miami area for a New Student Reception.  We had a great group of both incoming students and parents, and some current students as well.  Many thanks to all who attended, as well as to our gracious hosts, the Jimenez family.

I was fortunate enough to be spirited to many of the sights of Miami, not the least of which was being around the Brickell area during the World Cup games with Brazil and Colombia.  To say there was revelry in the streets would be an understatement.  It looked like the happiest party block(s) in an already happening town.

Also got to sample some of the local delicacies, and my gracious hosts made sure I got to taste and try a lot of food, especially some fantastic authentic Cuban fare.  A demitasse of Cuban coffee is inked in my memory as a great delight.

Which made me think about this – for students (and their families) who come to Wake from some distance, what are the ‘local delicacies’ that they enjoy and associate with Winst0n-Salem or NC in general?

Is it sweet tea?

Krispy Kreme?

NC barbeque?


Pimento cheese?

Moravian chicken pie?

I’m from a Phili suburb, so the culinary delight of home (and what you can’t get here, sadly) is the cheesesteak.  But what is Winston-Salem or NC food to you?

Send your thoughts to  I’d love to know.

And Gracias to the good Deacs of the Miami area.   What fun it was to meet everyone!

New Student Reception Season!

Last night I had the privilege of attending one of our New Student Receptions – summer sendoff parties that we hold to welcome new students and their parents.  My first reception of the season was Greensboro, NC and it was a smashing good time.  There were a lot of excited new students and parents, and some terrific current students, some young alumni, and even a couple of alumni parents and current parents as well.

These receptions are fun and lighthearted ways to gather Wake Foresters together and begin building their network.  There is always good food and lots of conversation.  Our current students and young alumni had some excellent advice for the new students – so good it bears repeating here.  Among their suggestions:

- take classes beyond what your comfort zone is

- try new things; some of the students joined activities on a lark (rugby and archery were mentioned) and they ended up loving those activities

- take advantage of the fact that professors and administrators want to see you – go to their office hours and get to know them

- remember that everyone else is just as nervous and scared as you are about starting school (even if they put on their brave game face and don’t show it); you are all in the same boat

- get involved in campus activities like Wake N’ Shake, Hit the Bricks

- go to athletic events – Wake is one of the rare Division I schools where students can get tickets easily and cheaply

- be yourself! if you don’t want to do X or join Y group, don’t do it.  Be who you are.

Following our student panel, we opened it up for Q&A.  As you might imagine, our new students had some questions about the upcoming registration period.  One of our current students there was also a student adviser, and she reminded the group to take advantage of the student advisers.  They can be accessed in two ways: by joining a Google Chat session prior to registration (dates and times at the end of this website) or by emailing

If you are a new family and there is a reception in your area, we’d love to have you attend.  If you have a die-hard Deac upperclassman and he or she wants to come as a current student, we’d love to have your students too!   A full list of receptions is available here – please pre-register to attend the reception of your choice.

To all my new friends at the Greensboro reception (and some familiar faces as well), thanks for coming.  Up next for me is Pinecrest (Miami) – and if you are in the area, please register and attend the Pinecrest reception!



This is our magic number.

Between now and the end of the fiscal year (which ends for us June 30th), we need to receipt 757 more gifts to the Wake Forest Fund to be able to meet our yearly goal of support for our students and faculty.

Normally at the Daily Deac we don’t like to talk about money, but a couple of times a year – in moments when you can really make a difference for us – we like to put out the plea.  And right now we are looking for 757 folks who have not made a gift this year to step and contribute.

If you are a parent or family member, you can help us right now – today – to close that 757 gap.  You can make a donation online at: via secure site.  Choose whichever area of the Wake Forest Fund you wish to support (many of our parents choose the general Wake Forest Fund, the Wake Forest Fund for the College, or the Wake Forest Fund for the ZSR Library), and also click the radio button to indicate this gift is part of the Parents’ Campaign.

It’s that easy.

This plea will go out to alumni as well, but I wanted to appeal to our parents and families here.   For those of you that have already given this year – we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  If you have not given yet, please consider all the things your students are gaining here – not just an education, but access to world-class faculty (and staff!) who serve as mentors and help guide your students.  Think about the abroad program that might have shaped your student’s outlook, or the personal attention your student received from any of our campus offices (academic or otherwise), or the amazing resources your student has access to – inside and out of the classroom.

You do not have to make a million dollar gift (though I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t be thrilled).  At this point, we are looking for 757 donors, not a specific dollar amount.  So give what you can, no matter the amount, and help us reach our donor goal.

As I say when I am writing donors to thank them – we do a lot of great things at Wake Forest, but we don’t do them alone.  We do them because of people who believe in the work we do here and choose to support us with a gift above tuition.

Thank you for your consideration – and I hope some of our Daily Deacers might be among the 757 who push us to our goal by June 30th!

The Perfect Place

Summertime, and the living is easy.

mag patioEspecially if the living involves having the ability to sit outside – either in the sun, or under the shade of an umbrella table – and contemplate the universe while looking out at such a fine backyard as this one.

I didn’t see a lot of takers on the patio.  It was almost noon and even though it is a bit overcast, it is still warm outside.  Our summer school students seemed to prefer to be inside, in the Green Room of Reynolda Hall, where the air conditioning was on full blast and everything was shady.

Still, for what it’s worth, I’ll take the sun.  And this view.  The perfect place to sit, and read, or eat, or just have a few minutes of peaceful reflection.

Life at the Forest is good.

Seen Around Campus

Happy Monday, Deac families.  Have you shaken off your malaise after the USA-Portugal World Cup last night?  What a game.

This morning I had occasion to go over to the ZSR Library for a meeting.  Even early in the morning, it’s warm outside.  Nice and sunny, practically an empty Quad when I made my way over.  The only folks I saw were some moms who had just dropped off kids at Wake Forest camps (my guess was All Sports Camp, one of our very popular kids camps), and a few joggers – one was an adult woman, then a few teens.

The ZSR Library was not at all busy at 9 am, which is something you’d never see mid-semester.  It did not have the familiar ‘beehive buzz’ of a million different conversations and the sound of the coffee grinder.  Instead, it was nice and serene.  After that, I made my way back across campus and saw a huge group of All Sports Campers being led off Poteat Field en masse by one of their junior counselors.  The kids looked sweaty, but happy.

In the early afternoon I was driving through the North Campus area.  It was very strange to see no activity at all at the Student Apartments.  No one going in and out, no cars parked along the street or waiting at the curb to pick up a friend.  Not really even any cars in the apartment parking lot area.  That part of campus is very, very quiet.

What a difference it makes to have our students here!  It seems so much more alive.

Summer Conversations

If your student is at home with you over the summer, this is a wonderful time to have some important and meaningful conversations.  One of the conversations that you might wish to have with your student is about alcohol.

Whether your student is an incoming first-year or an upperclassman, it can be an important step to talk openly and maturely about alcohol and college students.  Incoming first-year students are required to take the My Student Body alcohol online course.  We recommend parents of first-year students complete the parent section of My Student Body (instructions on how to sign up are here).

Wake Forest has a good web site called CHOICES (Cultivating Healthier Opinions In Challenging Everyday Situations) and it has a section just for parents and families about alcohol and substances.  This site will be well worth your time.  We all know there are personal health and safety issues related to college students and alcohol, as well as legal issues.  Not many of us like having tough conversations about sensitive subjects, but there can be a lot of good that comes from having a talk with your student about alcohol use, personal responsibility, your family’s values, your parental expectations.

Hopefully these tools will be helpful in that process.


On the Importance of Finding a Niche

I was talking with one of my colleagues this week, Mike Ford (’72), who is an Associate Dean for Campus Life.  Mike has been working with Wake students for quite a long time, and he has a special talent for mentoring young people and helping them get engaged and involved in meaningful ways on campus.  Mike – along with many other fantastic Campus Life colleagues – works with students on a number of volunteer, philanthropic, and leadership projects.  And one of the takeaways I have learned through observation over the years is that students who are actively involved in a meaningful project or activity tend to find a greater sense of belonging and satisfaction on campus.  The transition to college tends to be smoother and happier for those who get involved early.

20110823sparc0811This is particularly important during the freshman year.  The first year on campus, students are going through so many changes and adjustments.  It can help tremendously to be grounded in a group, a project, an activity, a social network.  Just somewhere that the student can dig in and feel like they belong.

20100817sustainability1771Campus Life does a great job providing a huge variety of potential activities for our students.  Those start even before school begins, in programs we call Pre-Orientation.

md_20050817E_preschool6588These are optional programs, but are terrific enhancements to the Orientation experience.  Incoming freshmen come to campus a few days before the rest of the Class of 2018 and can get a head start on making friends and finding a niche on campus – which makes the transition process a lot smoother.  I am copying below some of the information Mike provided to me on the Pre-Orientation programs – and hope if you are the parent of a new freshman, you’ll urge your son or daughter to consider these programs.

20110822wilderness0398That said, if your student does not want to participate in a Pre-Orientation program, that is fine!  Not all students do, so don’t worry if yours is not interested or if it does not work for your family’s schedule.   The thing I want to impress on everyone (whether your student is an incoming freshman or a rising senior) is that it is important to find a way to get involved, the earlier in the semester the better.

There will be a Student Involvement Fair the first week of September, just after classes start, and our 175+ student organizations will all have tables set up on the Mag Quad (aka Manchester Plaza) for your students to see.  At each table will be sign up sheets where students can get on the email distro list for that group.  No matter your students’ year, urge them to go to the Student Involvement Fair and pick 2-4 groups to consider joining.  That will give your students exposure to new friends, shared interests, and will broaden their social network.

One final thought.  Not everyone is a “joiner,” as one of my dear campus friends would say.  I myself am a low-grade introvert, so the idea of signing up for a bunch of groups was Not My Thing.  If your student falls in this category, encourage him or her to find some other ways of getting involved and meeting friends in a style that might be more their speed.  Maybe that is forming a friendship with a professor, RA, or staff person they have come in contact with – and letting the trusted adult try to help broker some introductions with likeminded people.  Maybe that is hanging out in the art gallery or the library and seeing who else tends to be there in the same places – maybe that could be a potential friend to meet.  Maybe that is going to a lecture or an open house for a department, could be anything.  The trick is – and this is easy to say and hard to do for introverts – to try and get out and meet a few people that you can be close to during college.

The important part is for the student to determine his/her comfort level and get involved that way.  As parents, we might have done it differently in college (or might want our kids to try ‘our’ way of doing college rather than theirs), but I believe they will be happiest if they take their own path.




Class of 2018: Make a Fast, Firm and Fun Start to Wake with Pre-Orientation Programs!

For new students looking to understand the Wake Forest and Winston-Salem cultures, meet student and administrative leaders, and connect with fellow classmates, the university is offering several outstanding Pre-Orientation programs:

  • Deacon Camp: August 17-20
  • SPARC: August 17-21
  • Summit: August 18-21
  • World Wide Wake: August 17-20

Check out the descriptions and the deadlines for each program on the New Students website.  Participants get to move in early to their residence hall rooms.  For questions, contact Mike Ford, Associate Dean Campus Life, 336.758-5921.