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Stripey Quad

There is a lot of activity on campus this week with summer campers.  There is a large group of what appears to be high schoolers on campus, as well as elementary school kids for sports camps.  It is nice to see students walking about and playing on the upper and lower Quads.   Summers can feel lonely without our normal full complement of students.

It’s been another very hot stretch of days though.  Sunny and high 80s/low 90s with lots of humidity.  Somehow our intrepid folks in Facilities have managed to keep the Quad grass thick and green and lush.  Right now it is very stripey looking from what I assume is a recent mowing.  Check it out on the Quad Cam.

And remember folks, Quad grass under your feet is the best feeling in the world.  I highly recommend trying it barefoot next time you are on campus.

— by Betsy Chapman


Remembering a Great Man

james dunnWake Forest lost one of its elder statesmen on the 4th of July:  Dr. James Dunn, retired professor of Christianity and public policy at the Divinity School.  I didn’t know Dr. Dunn well at all (mostly by sight and through association with other colleagues), but my impression was that he was a heck of a guy.  He smiled broadly and often, greeted people warmly, and was deeply engaged in the community.

Maybe my most lasting memory of him was that he’d had a medical issue some years ago (my memory is faulty, perhaps it was his heart), and yet I saw him back on campus way sooner than I had expected to, and I was surprised at how well he looked.  He seemed as jaunty and exuberant as ever.

The fact that Dr. Dunn passed away on the 4th of July has an ironic twist.  Even as our country celebrated its independence, we lost a man who was known for being a champion of religious liberty and for the separation of church and state.

The Winston-Salem Journal has a nice article about Dr. Dunn’s legacy.  Our Inside WFU web site for staff and faculty also has a lovely tribute.

Your students might not have known him, but they might have seen a kindly older gentleman with a bow tie and a twinkle in his eye at campus events or on the Quad.  My hunch is he would have smiled at your students and said hello, whether he knew them or not.  He was a great Southern gentleman, and he will be missed.


— by Betsy Chapman



Post-Holiday Joy

Who else out there is still reveling in the Women’s World Cup victory?  I spent the evening with a couple of other WFU alumni/staff families and we were having a rollicking good time watching the US team and their amazing performance over Japan.  Way to go, ladies!

And today there is other great news to celebrate: Wake Will, our capital campaign, has reached the $500 million mark – ahead of schedule!  President Hatch sent this message today to all students, faculty, and staff.  Parents and families, you have played a huge role in Wake Will, so we want to be sure you see the message and hear our profound thanks for all you are doing for Mother So Dear.

WL poteat 2WL Poteat 1That’s celebrating our present and future Wake Forest.  Here’s a blast from the past of Wake Forest.  A colleague sent me these pictures, taken in Yanceyville, of the marker for the ancestral home of William Louis Poteat.  Dr. Poteat was an 1877 graduate of Wake Forest and its president from 1905-1927.  He was a professor of biology and a devout Baptist, and is best known for his defense of the teaching of evolution during a time when the topic was extremely controversial among scholars and theologians.

Finally, an article from Slate has been sent to me by a number of folks today and I thought I would share it.  This might be a controversial one, so brace yourselves, Deac families.  This is an article that is excerpted from How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success by Julie Lythcott-Haims (the NYT Book Review of same was shared here a week or two ago).  The article is called “Kids of Helicopter Parents are Sputtering Out” and the subtext is that college-age depression is tied to overparenting (there are some studies that show correlations).

I’m a parent myself, and I share this not to point fingers or lay blame (lord knows I hover over my Class of ’27 at times).  But because this is in the news, and because I suspect we share a keen interest in the healthy development of college students, I wanted to offer this article as food for thought.  None of us like to see our kids struggle, but the data seems to show that those college students who have to muddle through things in a more free-range fashion fare better (again, our Stop, Drop, and Roll method).

I wonder what students would say about this article and its premise.

— by Betsy Chapman

Happy 4th of July!

Wake Forest is closed today in observance of the 4th of July holiday.  On behalf of the Office of Parent Programs, we hope you and your family are enjoying a day off and happy times with friends and family.  Hope you get a chance to see some fireworks!

— by Betsy Chapman


Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, Deac families!  What’s that, you say?  New Year’s in July?  That’s right, we count today as the New Year because it is the first official day of the 2015-16 academic year (which coincides with the new fiscal year for our budget).  So today is a holiday in our office.

Couple of quick hits for today:

– For parents and families in the Class of 2019, the Orientation brochure PDF went live today. To see the Orientation schedule, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the link to the PDF version.  Also, are you keeping up with items on the Parents’ section of the website?  We have an Announcements page for you and a lot more!

– We are working on a virtual New Student reception for families in the Class of 2019 who cannot attend one (either none in their area or they did not wish to attend).  While it won’t give you the opportunity to meet other parents and students, it will give you the chance to hear some valuable advice by parents for parents.  Look for that [hopefully] next week.

– The University will be closed this Friday, July 3rd for the Independence Day holiday.

That’s all the news that’s fit to print for today.  Take care, Deac families!


— by Betsy Chapman



6 30 15 1 6 30 15 2Today I am in a meeting in the Benson Center.  This piece of art is hanging right outside the meeting room door.  It’s a Keith Haring, a well known name in the American art world.  Bonus that it is close to our school colors :)

Your students as they walk around the Benson Center have the ability to see this Haring, as well as a lot of other great artists.  There is a good story here:

“The Benson University Center is the home of a unique art collection, established in 1962, conceived by students and purchased entirely with university funds. Since the first buying trip in 1963, every four years a group of students works with an Art Department faculty member to research the contemporary American art scene, then travels to New York to purchase new works. This is the university’s premiere collection, numbering over 160 different pieces by over 100 different artists.”

In addition to the art in the Benson Center, there are some fine works located all over campus in public buildings as well as academic buildings.  You can learn more at the University Art Collections website.  If your student has not discovered our art collection yet (or is an incoming freshman,) he/she is in for a treat.  There is also the Charlotte and Philip Hanes Art Gallery in Scales Fine Arts Center, which sponsors exhibits throughout the year.  The Art department website has information about all the art on campus (check the Visual Resources link on the left side menu).

Deac families, if you are here for Orientation (or to move a sophomore, junior, or senior on to campus in August), you’ll have a chance to browse our art too.  Being surrounded by beautiful, interesting, thought-provoking, and even controversial art adds another layer of the depth to the WFU experience.  Savor it.

— by Betsy Chapman


With the 4th of July just around the corner, many of you probably have vacation on your minds.  Vacations are on our minds too.

But there’s another reason we are thinking about vacationing.  With the new Class of 2019, we are receiving lots of Parent Record Forms from our new families.  Those forms are vital to us, because we rely on parents and families to keep an accurate physical address and email on file so that we can communicate with you.  We use email for most of our outreach to parents – so if your email changes, please let us know at or use this update form (though it says Alumni, it is meant for parents too!  You fill out the first page and then can skip ahead to the sections you need as applicable).

When our office or others are hosting events, we tend to invite folks within that city or town.  And most of the time that’s great, but it doesn’t take into account people who might have another location they spend a lot of time in (the example from Philadelphia, where I grew up, was that some people had a place at the Jersey Shore for the summer).  So if you have another address that you spend part of the year in, please use that same update form and enter your information (first page, then skip to the Seasonal page).  And that way if we are hosting something in your seasonal area, we can be aware of that as we plan invitations.

We have two end-of-summer events coming up in the Northeast that may catch some of you during vacations.  Information is below, and if you will be in the area and want more details we can get it to you (be sure to click on the link in the invite to provide your contact information).

— by Betsy Chapman


Celebrate the end of the summer with Wake Foresters!

As we look to the beginning of the 2015-16 school year, we are holding two ‘end of summer’ receptions for Wake Foresters in the Martha’s Vineyard and Watch Hill areas. Wake Forest students and parents will be able to hear from Provost Rogan Kersh (’86), who will be in attendance.

If you live in the area or will be vacationing then**, we would love for you to join us at one of these receptions:

Sunday, August 9
Martha’s Vineyard, MA

details TBA

– or –

Monday, August 10
Watch Hill, RI

details TBA

If you are interested in attending one or both of these receptions, please click here. Details about the event will be emailed to you later this summer, once they are finalized.

** Wake Forest holds events throughout the country. If you would like to be included in invitations to events in other areas beside your permanent address, please provide your seasonal address. (Note: this form is used for alumni and parent record updates; complete the first page and then skip forward to Seasonal Address).

Rain At Last

This week’s unseemly heat has been broken by an impressive rain shower, happening right now (3:45 pm).  This is the kind of rain where the drops are just enormous.  It has been so hot and dry of late, and the flowers on campus have been a bit droopy as a result.  Having some water will do them a ton of good.  Hopefully it will cool the outdoors off a bit as well.

Today we had a couple of hundred alumni families on campus for the annual Alumni Admissions Forum, which is an annual event that gives an inside look at the admissions process (both at Wake Forest and at highly selective colleges) to alumni families of high schoolers.  I was gratified to see some black and gold attire on our guests (they know it’s Black and Gold Friday!)

6 26 15I took this picture earlier this morning.  This is the Worrell Center, home to the law school and future home of the Health and Exercise Science department.  Now that the framing is going up, it is beginning to really take shape.

Have a good weekend, Deac families, and hope it’s cool where you are!

— by Betsy Chapman



Book Review on Parenting and College Students

There’s been some chatter about a new book that was written by a former dean of freshmen at Stanford University.  She has written a book called “How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success,” and it was reviewed by the New York Times (see full review below).

As with all advice about parenting, this is likely to generate strong agreement from some and equally strong disagreement from others.   From my point of view, my observation is that the students who thrive the most in college are ones who are given the space and freedom to do things for themselves.  They learn to be self-sufficient and self-reliant when they have to figure things out or handle their problems on their own.  That’s why we say (with only the best of intentions and great love) that the best thing you can do when your student calls you with a [non life threatening] problem is to use the Stop, Drop, and Roll method.

Book review below for those of you looking for some summer reading.

— by Betsy Chapman

When did the central aim of parenting become preparing children for success? This reigning paradigm, which dictates that every act of nurturing be judged on the basis of whether it will usher a child toward a life of accomplishment or failure, embodies the fundamental insecurity of global capitalist culture, with its unbending fixation on prosperity and the future. It’s no surprise that parenting incites such heated debates, considering how paradoxical these principles can be when they’re applied to children. When each nurturing act is administered with the distant future in mind, what becomes of the present? A child who soaks in the ambient anxiety that surrounds each trivial choice or activity is an anxious child, formed in the hand-wringing, future-focused image of her anxious parents.

“How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success” seems to lie at the precise crossroads of this inherently conflicted approach. Like so many others in the jittery child-rearing mob, Julie Lythcott-Haims has identified overparenting as a trap. But once you escape the trap, the goal remains the same: to mold your offspring into thriving adults. Whether a child is learning to ride a bike or doing his own laundry, he is still viewed through the limited binary lens of either triumphant or fumbling adulthood. The looming question is not “Is my child happy?” but “Is my child a future president poised to save the environment, or a future stoner poised to watch his fifth episode of ‘House of Cards’ in a row?”

Even as tales of meddling parents reach a fever pitch, Lythcott-Haims’s bleak portrait may just be the “Black Hawk Down” of helicopter parenting. Lythcott-Haims, who brings some authority to the subject as Stanford’s former dean of freshmen and undergraduate advising, has seen varieties of extreme parental interference suggesting not just a lack of common sense, but a lack of wisdom and healthy boundaries (if not personal dignity) as well. Instead of allowing kids to experiment and learn from their mistakes, parents hover where they’re not wanted or welcome, accompanying children on school trips or shadowing them on campus. Caught up in what the author calls the “college admissions arms race,” parents treat securing their children a spot at one of 20 top schools (as decreed by U.S. News and World Report’s popular but somewhat dubious rankings) as an all-or-nothing proposition. Concerned about the effects of a flawed high school transcript, parents do their children’s homework, write or heavily edit their papers, fire questions at teachers, dispute grades and hire expensive subject tutors, SAT coaches and “private admissions consultants” (26 percent of college applicants reported hiring these in 2013). Even after kids graduate, the madness continues. Lythcott-Haims offers anecdotes of parents touring graduate schools, serving as mouthpieces for their shy, passive children, and submitting résumés to potential employers, sometimes without their children’s knowledge. These behaviors do more than mold kids into dependent beings, she argues; they corral and constrict their possibilities and their imaginations. “We speak of dreams as boundless, limitless realms,” Lythcott-­Haims writes. “But in reality often we create parameters, conditions and limits within which our kids are permitted to dream — with a checklisted childhood as the path to achievement.”

And in spite of her title’s emphasis on success, Lythcott-Haims takes pains to demonstrate that overparenting doesn’t merely threaten a child’s future income; it also does enormous psychological harm. She cites a 2011 study by sociologists at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga that found a correlation, in college-student questionnaires, between helicopter parenting and medication for anxiety or depression. One researcher at a treatment center for addicts in Los Angeles found that “rates of depression and anxiety among affluent teens and young adults . . . correspond to the rates of depression and anxiety suffered by incarcerated juveniles.” Other studies suggest that overparented kids are “less open to new ideas” and take “less satisfaction in life.” For Lythcott-Haims, the message behind this research is the same: Kids need to sally forth independently without constant supervision. They need to try and even fail. And when they fail and look around for a parent to bail them out, they need to hear the words, “You must figure this out for yourself.”

The irony, of course, is that after years of lamenting the benign neglect suffered at the hands of 1970s parents who told kids to “go outside and play until dinnertime,” today’s parents are starting to second-guess the ways they’ve overcorrected such hands-off child-rearing. Indeed, Lythcott-Haims’s explicit instructions for parents read like a page straight out of a ’70s-era parenting playbook: “Value free play.”  “Work on creating space between you and your kid.”  “Don’t apologize or overexplain.” Oh, and give your kids chores — lots of chores. Halfway through the book, one almost expects to discover instructions like, “When it comes to spanking, wooden spoons are far more effective than your bare hands!” And: “Push those kids out the door and lock it. Now, crack open that pack of Virginia Slims, fix yourself a nice Tom Collins, and dig into the latest Doris Lessing novel.”

But even as “How to Raise an Adult” joins others in the same vein — from “The Overparenting Epidemic” to “You Are Not Special” to “All Joy and No Fun” — this emphasis on giving kids a little more space hasn’t seemed to have had much effect on the premature apprehension of the schoolyard: the endless, nervous chatter about the Common Core, the uneasy comparing of report cards and standardized test scores, the tireless griping about the never-ending hassles of homework, soccer season, piano lessons, art classes, dance classes and Kumon tutoring. If everyone agrees that overscheduling and multiple hours of homework a night are the enemy, shouldn’t more parents be stepping back and relaxing a little, thereby showing, by example, how to live in a nonsensically competitive world and still be happy?

Lythcott-Haims sees this inability to disengage as a side effect of the prevailing fantasy among parents that the “right” college education will secure a child’s comfy seat in the upper-middle-class tax bracket. Parents are so laser-focused on how to ensure success against a backdrop of an increasingly insecure global economy that they’re willing to trade in the joys and self-guided discoveries of a rich childhood for some promise of security in the far-off future. But it’s absurd for parents to allow this illusion that success in life depends on admission to one of a handful of elite colleges to guide their behavior from the time their kids are in preschool forward, Lythcott-­Haims asserts. A 1999 study by Stacy Berg Dale and Alan Krueger suggests that graduates of a hundred or so “moderately selective” schools “had on average the same income 20 years later as graduates of the elite colleges.” While schools may be more competitive than they were 36 years ago, when the subjects of the study were in college, this statistic (which applied to graduates of “moderately selective” schools who had also gained admission to elite schools) should at least cast a shadow of doubt on parents’ extreme fixation on top-tier colleges. There are also several alternatives to the U.S. News and World Report rankings that could shift common thinking about what constitutes an “elite” education. The “Fiske Guide to Colleges” evaluates schools based on “the quality of the experience and their price tag,” while The Alumni Factor ranks schools based on intellectual development, average income of graduates and whether alumni would choose the college again, among other factors.

Although loosening that grip on getting kids into the “perfect” school does seem important, it’s somewhat unlikely to end the current plague of controlling, stressed-out parents and helpless, insecure children. In this anxious age, the future will always trump the present. But even if “How to Raise an Adult” gets thrown onto a growing pile of books for worried, upper-­middle-class parents and is summarily forgotten, Lythcott-Haims’s central message remains worthwhile: When parents laugh and enjoy the moment but also teach the satisfaction of hard work, when they listen closely but also give their children space to become who they are, they wind up with kids who know how to work hard, solve problems and savor the moment, too. In other words, get a life, and your child just might do the same someday.

Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success
By Julie Lythcott-Haims
354 pp. Henry Holt & Company. $27.



One of the many joys of being able to attend so many of our New Student Receptions is having the chance to talk to students (both incoming and upperclassmen/women) as well as their parents.  It is always interesting to hear our students’ perspective, particularly because as an adult, it is easy for me to forget what it feels like to be 18 or 20 and easy to forget the kinds of things that seem so important at that age.

I have to remind myself sometimes that despite their poise, and their intelligence, and all the things that make them seem very grown up, our students are still developing into the people they are going to be.  “Emerging adults” is a term that gets thrown around for college-aged kids sometimes.  They are in the process of growing up, becoming independent, discovering themselves and their interests/passions/values.   Still figuring it out.

And growing into who you are going to be as an adult can be exciting, confusing, contradictory, exhilarating, scary, overwhelming, awesome.  Maybe all of the above.  Depending on your relationship with your student, it might be helpful to acknowledge that, and let your son/daughter know this is just part of the road to adulthood.  Talk about some of the changes and transitions college life brings.  And remind them you are always there for support and love.

Your students will all have their own internal compass, and I have no idea what their ‘True North’ will be.  I found a bunch of quotes (below), mostly about happiness, simplifying life, being true to yourself.  They may or may not resonate with you, or your students.  But over a cup of coffee or a long car ride, this might be an interesting conversation to have and a good listening moment.  What are the ideas you can always fall back on?  For direction, for guidance, for inspiration, for comfort, for happiness, for your wellbeing?

— by Betsy Chapman



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