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Senior Oration Finalist – Michael Dempsey (’14)

The Daily Deac is running some of the Senior Oration finalists in the coming days and weeks.  The three orations read at Founders’ Day Convocation were featured on the Wake Forest News website.

Today we invite you to enjoy “The Unspoken ‘Thank You’” by Michael Dempsey (’14).


When I was a freshman, I took a First Year Seminar called, “Image of Poverty and Wealth in the U.S.” Having just arrived to Wake Forest, I had the quixotic notion that I would take this class to gain a greater understanding of economic theory in order to bolster my background knowledge for my inevitable business major. After almost four years at Wake Forest, I can honestly say that I have never been in a harder class. To give you an idea of the difficulty of this class, our professor assigned us to read the entirety of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Diamond as Big as the Ritz in a week. Each student had a five page essay due every Wednesday, and our class was also assigned a group project due at the end of the semester on how we would solve the poverty crisis in the U.S. Needless to say, my classmates and I had a very stressful first semester of freshman year.

At the end of the semester on the final exam date, after our professor passed out our Blue Books, he walked to the front of the classroom and began to talk about how our First Year Seminar was to be his last class at Wake Forest. When we heard this, a hush swept over the classroom. He continued by saying that he had never taught a class as diligent and committed as ours, and that he was going to miss us immensely. Then, he began to cry. After a few moments, with tears still in his eyes, he pointed to the Krispy Kreme doughnut boxes on one of the tables and said, “For you, if you need find yourself in need of sustenance while you battle this exam.” And then, with as little pomp and circumstance as possible, he slipped out of the classroom, and I never saw him again.

I couldn’t stop thinking about what I had just seen. So, after my exam, I sent him an email that I still have today and would like to share with you. I said:

I just wanted to let you know that I am proud to be one of your students, and I thank you so much for being a role model.

Simple, concise, and all that I was capable of sharing with him as a nebbish freshman. He responded the next day, and I would like to share his response as well. He said:

Thank you very much. Such a response is why we teach. I look forward to hearing of great and worthwhile things from you.

So, here I am: a senior about to leave Wake Forest with great dreams and illusions like everybody else in my class. I’ve had an incredible experience here, but there are still a lot of things that I want to do with my life as is the case with every graduating senior. Our real stories have yet been told, and they will begin after we receive our diplomas on that either blisteringly hot or tempestuously flooded day in May. But, there is one thing I want to do right now in honor of my teacher. I would like to elaborate on that first email I sent to him almost four years ago because I think he might be interested to know how one of his former students is doing. A former student who was absolutely petrified when he had to give a speech in class defending the robber baron, Jay Gould. A former student who eventually got over his nervousness to speak in front of a class and would then perform in 12 theatre productions at Wake Forest. A former student who never did become a business major and instead chose to major in English because he enjoyed reading and writing so much in his First Year Seminar. A former student who never fully said “thank you.” So here it goes:


Dear Professor,

I just wanted to let you know that I am proud to be one of your students, and I thank you so much for being a role model. A lot has changed since we last spoke, and I’m sorry that we haven’t really had the opportunity to speak with each other since our class four years ago. But, I think you would be happy to know that I have done exactly what you told our class to do while at this University: to experience. I can honestly say that the main thing I have done for the past four years here can be summed up in your words, “to experience.” I have experienced the exuberance of life at this school, and it’s hard to believe that in just a few months I’ll be gone from here. But, I just wanted to let you know that the student you taught years ago is not quite the same, and I have you and many others to thank for it. I recently learned that you worked graciously with this University for 45 years, and I want to say that seeing your service in action is something that inspired me and my classmates to do so many things for this school. So, you should know that you to know that you made a bigger impact on me than you could’ve possibly known. Actually, now that I think about it, I think you did know. I think you did know that our class needed to experience life in both triumph and tragedy in order to truly become a part of this University, and subsequently, world. You did know, and for imparting such integrity and scholarship to a class of 20 nervous freshmen, I hope this speech in your honor expresses my eternal gratitude. I wouldn’t be here without people like you. Thank you.

Flow House in Vienna

Today’s Daily Deac is guest authored by David Taylor, Director of Global Abroad Programs (with some collaboration from students and colleagues).

But before we get to David’s comments about the Flow House, let me add mine.  I have a niece who studied there in the early 2000s and she said it was one of the most phenomenal experiences she had at Wake.  (My elderly mom traveled over to Vienna to see her and said the Flow House and the surrounding neighborhoods were magnificent.)   I also know a faculty family who spent a semester there teaching Wake Forest students and to hear them talk about the bonds they formed with their students and the fun they had – well, it is nothing short of extraordinary.

Again, studying abroad is but one part of Wake’s rich buffet of experiences.  Going to the Flow House could be the very schnitzel at the buffet that could transform your Deac!


2 26 14 vienna 1Wiener Mélange photo collage created by WFU student John Henry who recently studied at the Vienna Flow House. He described his photos thusly, “Vienna is the coffee capital of the world, and its signature drink is the Wiener Mélange. There is a coffee shop on every single street corner, and as a coffee addict myself, I visited just about every single one of them.”


With mid-terms rapidly approaching and student coffee consumption increasing, it makes us think fondly of the Viennese coffee house. And as central as the coffee house is to today’s U.S. student culture, it’s a whole new experience in Austria where art, literature, history, business, politics and culture are all on the menu….

2 26 14 vienna 2Applications are currently being accepted for fall 2014 at Flow House in Vienna. Encourage your students to consider spending a semester in one of Europe’s most vibrant cities. In addition to experiencing the rich and varied cultural heritage of Wien, your student will study under the tutelage of Dr. Michael Hughes of the History Department. Dr. Hughes will teach two history courses taking students from the formation of the Habsburg Empire through Fin-de-Siecle Vienna. These courses will fulfill both major and divisional credit. Your student can also satisfy his/her fine arts divisional with a wonderful course on Austrian art and architecture. And for students interested in business studies, a BEM courses on comparative management will be offered as well. Like any good coffee house, there’s a little something for every taste!

2 26 14 vienna 3As many of you may know, Flow House is one of our premier WFU abroad properties and is located just one block from the Turkenschanz Park in the prestigious 19th district – an area well known for its embassies, diplomatic residences and distinguished private homes.  The house accommodates 16 students featuring five bedrooms, library, wireless internet, dining room and living room.

The upcoming semester will feature walking tours throughout Vienna, outings to musical performances and museums, a cooking lesson where the students make schnitzel, requisite trips to the local coffee houses, and a ten-day fall break (perfect time for families to visit).

2 26 14 vienna 4When the autumn begins, students can attend Almabtrieb Festival where farmers dress up their cow herds and return them form the Alpine Pastures. The festival is celebrated with music, dancing, and naturally, cows in headdresses and flowers.  As students complete their semester in Vienna, they will experience the magical Christmas Markets lighting up the city before they return home to you.

Find the application and learn more at the Study Abroad website for the Flow House. Contact Jessica Francis ( in the Center for Global Programs and Studies with any questions.



Tony Dungy Coming to Campus

This email just popped into my inbox, and I have to say this is a pretty exciting thing.  Tony Dungy, Superbowl winning NFL coach, is coming to campus for a leadership initiative.  Full details are below in an email from President Hatch.

Please, please urge your students to take advantage of this opportunity.  This is not just an opportunity to hear from a famous and popular football coach, but is a chance for students to reflect on what leadership is, how they want to learn to lead meaningful and purposeful lives – in other words, lessons that will be invaluable in Life After Wake Forest.

As I often say, Wake Forest is like an amazing buffet – and those who take a lot of bites and sample as much as they can will have a more meaningful and profound experience here.


Dear Wake Forest students, faculty and staff,

I am pleased to announce the Leadership Project, a bold new initiative that engages Wake Forest students and our broader community in a personal and reflective conversation with leaders who span diverse career paths, generations and worldviews.

Intimate, enlightening, and revealing, the mission of the Leadership Project is to invite leaders to Wake Forest who will share their personal principles, triumphs, and challenges. In turn, students and guests from the community will consider their own humanity, values and skills and learn how to channel them in meaningful ways.

In its inaugural event on Wednesday, March 26 at 6:30 p.m., the Leadership Project will present legendary football coach and bestselling author Tony Dungy to speak in Wait Chapel. Doors to the event will open at 5:45 p.m. with seating on a first-come, first-served basis.

Dungy led the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl victory in 2007, the first such win for an African-American coach. He joined the Colts in 2002 after serving as the most successful head coach in the history of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Widely recognized as an inspirational champion both on and off the field, Dungy has authored several books on topics of significance, such as living life with integrity, courage, strength and purpose.

In keeping with our mission to educate the whole person, Dungy seemed a natural choice to kick off such an important and meaningful conversation – both online (#wfuleads) and offline – about one of society’s most pressing issues today.  The Leadership Project reaffirms Wake Forest’s promise to prepare students to lead lives that matter – building upon existing programs, courses and career development opportunities to help students discover who they are, understand what’s required to become an effective leader, and determine what actions to take to improve their own personal development.


Nathan O. Hatch

Tie A Yellow Ribbon Week

2 24 14 tie 2If your students have been up on the Quad, they will have seen yellow informational signs all over the place, as well as chalk on the bricks.  This week is Tie A Yellow Ribbon Week, which is a campus-wide sexual assault awareness week.  I took some pictures of the signs on the Quad, and the statistics may seem (or be) startling to you.  Some of them were to me, and probably to your students as well.  But this is an important topic for both women and men.

2 24 14 tie 1There are a number of Tie a Yellow Ribbon events this week, and I hope they will be well attended by our student body.  Looking at these national statistics on the signs, it is possible your students may know victims of sexual assault  at some point in their lives, or could be victims. themselves

Tie A Yellow Ribbon Week helps share information that can make a big difference - how to help support friends affected by sexual violence, where to turn if you are a victim, what resources are available.

There are survivors of sexual assault that will tell their stories (or read stories of other survivors) during Speak Out, which is an incredibly powerful program.

2 24 14 tie 3So urge your students to stop by the tables outside the Pit and get their own yellow ribbons to wear this week.  Show their support and compassion for sexual assault victims.  Learn the facts.  Find ways to help.  Be an ally.

2 24 14 tie 4


2 24 14 tie 52 24 14 tie 6

Spring? And Senior Orations

This weekend we had our first hints of spring.  The weather was sunny and warm and beautiful.  It was the kind of weekend where it was not ridiculously warm, but if you sat outside in the sun for a while you might begin to feel a hint of sunburn on your cheeks or arms.   On campus you could see the shoots of daffodils beginning to pop up, and the pink blooms of the cherry trees are starting to hint at opening.

Spring at Wake is a glorious thing.  And after all the cold and grey and snow and winter, I think the campus is eager for it.  Unfortunately, today it feels cold, and it looks like the 60s we felt over the weekend are going to evaporate later this week.

Wake celebrated a milestone last Thursday, and that was Founders’ Day Convocation, recognizing our 180th year of existence as an institution of higher education.  Each year, three students are selected to deliver an oration on Founders’ Day that addresses how they have changed during their four years at Wake Forest.

The winners of the 2013 Senior Orations Competition are:

These are excellent orations and well worth a read.  They provide unique and compelling perspectives, and we congratulate these three young men for their fine work.  We’ll also be running some of the other Senior Oration Finalists in coming days at the Daily Deac.

Founders’ Day also is the time when many faculty awards are given – and you can see some of those winning faculty members here.

Founders’ Day Convocation – Today at 4 pm

There is an important event in the life of the University this afternoon at 4 pm in Wait Chapel.  It is Founders’ Day Convocation.  Convocations are defined as follows, according to Wikipedia:  ”A convocation (Latin, “calling together”, translating the Greek ἐκκλησία ekklēsia) is a group of people formally assembled for a special purpose.”  Normally in a university setting, it is an all-call assembly for an academic purpose – to welcome new students at the beginning of their orientation, or to provide a venue for the president or other speakers to address the campus community, typically with some ceremony or recognitions (such as faculty awards, advising awards, etc.)

The Founders’ Day Convocation has a very special twist to it, and that is that we will have three members of the Class of 2014 read their Senior Orations.  These are papers they have written and submitted for consideration for this honor.  In past years, these have been really arresting speeches – sometimes reflections of a favorite WFU experience, other times on a challenge or personal growth the students had while in school.  They are always very moving.

Three will read theirs aloud today, and later today or tomorrow those should be posted on the Wake website (we’ll link to it).  There were ten finalists for Senior Orations, and most years the finalists have granted permission for me to reprint their orations here in the Daily Deac.  If they do so again, we’ll post them throughout the next couple of weeks.

Bottom line: encourage your students to attend.  There are only 8 or so Convocations in a student’s time at Wake Forest, and there is something to be said for some academic pomp and circumstance, as well as hearing from their peers.  Plus, there is a reception following, and your students can get some free food and mingle with the faculty, which is something that not every school does.  Encourage yours to take advantage of this great event.

More information from an email I received about Founders’ Day Convocation is below.


Please join us Thursday, February 20th at 4:00 p.m., as the Wake Forest community of students, faculty, and staff gather in Wait Chapel for the Founders’ Day Convocation. 

Seniors Michael HunterDavid Inczauskis, and Melvin Washington will present their winning orations.  Faculty awards for teaching, research, mentoring, and service will be presented to individuals from the College departments of Biology, History, Mathematics, Philosophy, Physics, and Religion and from the School of Law.  President Hatch will present this year’s Medallion of Merit to Margaret Supplee Smith, the Harold W. Tribble Professor Emerita. The Medallion of Merit is the highest honor bestowed by the University.

A reception following the Convocation will be held in the Lobby of Scales Fine Arts Center for all attendees. Hope to see you there!

Seen Around Campus

Today started out as a grey and rainy day, but is now a beautiful sunny afternoon and probably 60ish degrees.  I had to walk to the center of campus this morning and had to go off campus later in the day, and the difference between the am and pm students I saw was startling.  Early in the day when it was still nasty outside, the students were in their rain gear – parkas and hoodies and the like – but now that it is warm I saw some shorts on guys and skirts with bare legs on the lady Deacs.  Hopefully the sun will continue.  I get the sense from everyone that they are ready for spring.

On the Quad earlier was what looked like a sidewalk sale getting ready to happen – clothes and accessories, mostly for the women, were being unloaded from a big truck.  As I got closer to the ZSR Library, I saw a big group of touring prospective students and parents.  As we get closer to Spring Break for high schoolers, these sorts of visits are going to pick up.  Inside the ZSR, the new cork floor in the atrium looks great.  Starbucks was packed at 11 am, which is not much of a surprise.  Coffee reigns supreme.

intramural sports regI saw a flyer today for 4th Quarter intramural sports registration.  If your student likes sports and has not gotten involved with a group, this could be a wonderful outlet for him or her to meet new friends, get some exercise, and maybe even earn some bragging rights.  Campus Recreation has a whole host of great programs.

One other item to note – campus received an email today from Student Health about illness on campus.  You can read the full message online.   My takeaway is that everyone ought to practice “common sense” hygiene measures – although in truth we ought to be doing that sort of thing all the time.  Rest assured that if your student does need to see the doctors in the Student Health Service, they are all fantastic.  I would send my son to them at any time.

TEDxWakeForestU – This Weekend

Today’s Daily Deac was written by Michael Tantum, a senior from Pennyslvania.  I met him during the fall semester and he told me about the great plans for the TEDx conference, which will be held this weekend.   Michael wanted to be sure that parents and families knew about this wonderful opportunity to hear from innovative, creative, and inspiring speakers.  We hope at minimum you’ll encourage your students to attend – but if you want to attend too, I know Michael and his TEDx team would love to see you in Wait Chapel.

Here’s Michael’s message to Wake Forest families.


Dear Wake Forest Parents and Families,

This Saturday, February 22nd, Wake Forest University will host its 3rd annual TEDx conference. TEDx may sound familiar;  they are independently organized conferences in the same format as the famous TED talks.  The concept behind these talks is to have inspirational people discuss their “ideas worth spreading.”  TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, and most of the speakers are centered around those core concepts.

The TEDxWakeForestU conference was originally started in 2012 by student activist and campus leader, Lucy Lan, in order to promote technology entrepreneurship here on the Wake Forest campus.  With this in mind, she was able to bring a multitude of speakers from many disciplines to educate the Wake Forest community.  This event was a bigger success than she could have imagined, with over 1,000 attendees and immeasureable impact on the Wake Forest community.

This year’s conference theme is “Daring to Endeavor,” encompassing the entrepreneurial spirit, originality, and drive of our speakers.  These people come from very diverse backgrounds and disciplines; however, they all share an intense passion that they have acted upon to create something very special.  Each of the speakers are entrepreneurs in their own way and we are happy to welcome them to campus. This year’s speakers include the lead developer from Khan Academy, a data scientist at Uber (mobile app for ride sharing), founder of the US Whitewater Center in Charlotte, founder and co-editor of ORIGIN magazine, and bestselling author of “What is your What?” along with several others.

I wanted to take this opportunity to personally invite you to attend this event. I am extremely excited and I truly hope each of you can make it!  The planning committee has been working hard to make this conference successful and educational to the Wake Forest, Winston Salem, and North Carolina communities. My hope is to have each attendee leave this year’s talks and see the world through “new eyes.”  I expect a large attendance for this event like previous years.   In addition, I hope that you encourage your student to attend.  Please register on our website at and check out the speaker’s bios.  The event starts at 12 PM on Saturday and will last approximately 4-5 hours with two breaks.  Admission is free for students, faculty, staff and $10 for adults.

Thank you and I hope to see you at the 2014 TEDxWakeForestU conference.


Michael Tantum (’14)
Executive Director, TEDxWakeForestU

Well That Was Fun

Happy Monday to you, Deac families.  It’s a regular day of classes today – the first full day since last Tuesday.

All told, Winston-Salem probably got snow in the 6-10 inches range, depending on where you live.   Though it was warmer yesterday (the 40s) and sunny, there is still a lot of snow on the ground in places that don’t get sun.  We had gotten some freezing rain on top of the snow, so the snow had a crunchy hard layer on top that is harder to melt than the fine powdery stuff.  You can also see a fair amount of piled-up snow on the sides of streets from where plows pushed it.  The main roads look pretty good, but there are icy patches that have frozen overnight.

I ran into a Wake Forest student I know at the movies on Saturday and asked her whether she was surviving the snow.  On the contrary, she said the students were all loving it.  There were a number of great pictures of the Quad and snowmen being posted on Facebook and Instagram (check out Wake Forest Magazine on Instagram for some).  I was keeping an eye on the Quad Cam and it looked like a lot of students out there having a blast.

But for now, back to the old routine.  Classes begin again.  And temperatures for later in the week look like they will reach the 60s, so the snow won’t be here for long.

School Closed Again

Happy Valentine’s Day to all our Deac families and their students.  I don’t know if love is in the air, but there was certainly plenty of snow and cold in the air.

School is closed again today.  I have not been to campus myself, as the roads where I live are in no condition for driving yet.  However, I have been keeping an eye on campus via the Quad Cam, and was impressed yesterday afternoon to see a number of snowdeacs being built.

As always, if we have news or information to share from campus, it will be posted on the main Parents’ Page.

To close out this snowy week, we’ll look ahead to an event taking place next week.  Our friends in the Learning Assistance Center have passed along information about a workshop they are offering to students.

“The Study Smarter, Not Harder workshop series will introduce WFU students to a number of helpful strategies that will improve academic performance. Specific areas to be covered include time management, test anxiety, and active studying.

Our first workshop for the spring semester is scheduled for next Wednesday, February 19, from 5:00-6:00 in room 162 in Greene Hall.”

These kinds of offerings are wonderful extras for students, and hopefully many will take advantage of the opportunity to hone their study skills and be more effective.

Hope your Deacs take advantage of this – and hope they have been enjoying the snow and a couple days out of class.   Have a great weekend, y’all!