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Attention, Boston area families

The heat and sun of Commencement have left us.  Campus today is cool, misty, and grey.  And very empty.  Big Commencement stage?  It’s gone, as seen on the Quad Cam.

Things are slow on campus right now.  Summer school doesn’t start for a couple more weeks, and the university will be closed this coming Monday for Memorial Day.  But we do have some fun things happening in other parts of the country, and today I want to let you know about an event the first week of June in Boston.

There will be a financial outlook event on June 3rd, featuring several Deac parents as well as Jim Dunn, our outstanding CEO and CIO of Verger Capital Management.  Jim’s a remarkable guy and a great speaker; he worked for Wake Forest managing the endowment and then the university spun off the endowment management function into its own company.  If you live in Boston (or if your Deac is there working or interning over the summer), you really should go.

Full details and RSVP info is below.

— by Betsy Chapman


Outlook 2015/2016 Panel & Networking Event

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

You are invited to join fellow Boston-area Wake Forest alumni, parents, and friends working in the business, finance, and related fields for a panel and networking event featuring several prominent Deacs!

Beer, wine, non-alcoholic beverages, and light hors d’Registeroeuvres are included in the $10 registration fee. Friends and colleagues are also welcome. Please R.S.V.P. in advance.

Moderator: Neil Moses, P ’14, EnerNOC – CFO & COO. Neil has nearly 30 years of experience in financial operations and management in the retail and technology sectors. He previously worked at Dunkin Brands as their CFO & Chief Strategy Officer as well as PTC serving as EVP & CFO.


Bill Boyle ’80, P ’08, P ’09, P ’10, P ’13, D.A. Davidson – Managing Director, Institutional Sales. Bill has over 30 years of experience in both the Domestic and International equity capital markets. He joined D.A. Davidson in 2008 after working with Needham & Company, NationsBanc Montgomery Securities and Lehman Brothers.

David Carroll P ’18, P ’19, Financial Architects Partners – CEO. David specializes in wealth transfer life insurance and the design, implementation and monitoring of large life insurance portfolios. David started his career at John Hancock Life Insurance Company and has over 20 years experience specializing in advising high net worth families in the area of estate planning and generational wealth transfer.

Jon Jacobson P ’19, Highfields Capital Management – CEO & CIO. Jon is the founder of Highfields Capital, a Boston-based investment management firm which invests globally on behalf of endowments, foundations, pension funds and other institutional investors. Jon founded Highfields in 1998, following eight years as senior portfolio manager at Harvard Management Company.

Jim Dunn, Verger Capital Management – CEO & CIO. Jim oversees all investment decisions and is responsible for setting the course for the company, including corporate strategy. Previously, Jim was VP & CIO at Wake Forest University, responsible for investment of the University’s endowment, working capital and life income.


Registration & Reception: 6 – 6:45 p.m.

Panel: 6:45 – 7:30 p.m.

Networking: 7:30 – 8 p.m.

DATE: Wednesday, June 3, 2015
TIME: 6 – 8 p.m.
LOCATION:  EnerNOC Offices, One Marina Park Drive, Suite 400, Boston, MA 02210
COST: $1

Register now

Let’s Talk About Mental Health

I'm Blogging for Mental Health 2015.Today is Mental Health Blog Day – an effort to help raise awareness that May is Mental Health Month.  And it seems really fitting that we talk about mental health because it is a) part of Wake Forest’s Thrive efforts on holistic wellbeing, and b) mental health is critically important to all of us, but perhaps especially to college students.

I am not a clinician and cannot offer medical or psychological advice.  But as one who meets with a fair number of students and talks to even more parents as part of my job, I hear about a lot of issues.  Many students will experience some type of emotional or mental health issue while in college – it could be homesickness, stress, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and a whole host of other things.  Students may have issues of their own, or they could be concerned about a friend who seems to be struggling and they don’t know how to help.

Some students seem willing and comfortable to seek out help when they need it – and that is a wonderful thing.  For many others, they have not ever been in a counseling situation before and don’t know what to expect.  We don’t want the fear of the unknown to keep a student from seeking out services that might be beneficial, so with the help of my colleague James Raper, Director of the University Counseling Center, we drafted a description of what the first University Counseling Center appointment and subsequent appointments look like at Wake Forest.

You can help your students by being aware that counseling resources exist on campus and encouraging your student to seek support when needed.   My impression is that some students are reluctant or afraid to tell their parents about seeking counseling because they don’t want to worry their parents or they think their parents would be upset/disapproving to find out they are seeing a counselor.

If your student doesn’t know that you would be supportive of him or her seeking help if needed, the summer is a great time to have that conversation.  Let your student know you love and support him or her no matter what, and that mental health is a priority.  Sometimes hearing that it’s OK from mom, dad, or another family member can be the catalyst to students feeling empowered to take care of their mental health.

From my own personal experience, I found it difficult to do well at school if there was an area of my life that was out of balance or needed attention.  For example, if I was not getting enough sleep, it was hard for me to do my best in the classroom and be focused.  It worked the same with mental health and emotional wellbeing – I couldn’t do my best work if I was under too much stress or anxiety.  But once I addressed those issues, everything else fell into place much easier.

We want all our students to thrive across every dimension of their wellbeing.  We want to help them grow, learn, and be resilient.  Parents are our partners in this journey.  The University Counseling Center website has an excellent section just for parents that I commend to you.

mental health lets-talk-2015So let’s talk about mental health.


Without fear.

Without embarrasment.

Without shame.

And while I am making my wish list…

Let’s get help when we need it.

And support others when they need it.

And allow ourselves to feel what we feel.

Let’s talk about mental health.  For the good of all of us.

— by Betsy Chapman





Commencement Recap

colbert ftwStephen Colbert.

Stephen Colbert.

Stephen Colbert for the win.  Forever.

Commencement was yesterday, and it was an amazing day.  Hot, but amazing.  It wasn’t the hottest Commencement we’ve ever had, I don’t think, but it was pretty warm in the sun.

Hard to complain about the heat when you have Stephen T. Colbert delivering a wonderful Commencement speech.  This was no canned speech either – it was peppered with references to life at Wake Forest, our traditions, our people, and he even took a couple of swings at the schools in blue down the road east of us (I was already a shameless fangirl prior to his speech, but I admit to you I love him even more now).  He got laughs at times and was serious at times.  If you didn’t livestream it yesterday, you can watch his speech (and the whole Commencement ceremony) online.  Stephen Colbert begins right around the 59 minute mark.  I can’t do justice to it, you’ll have to watch it yourself.

Aside: on Facebook lastnight, I saw this picture of Stephen Colbert at Bib’s, a wonderful BBQ place downtown.  I would have loved to see the looks on the faces of Bib’s staff as he walked in.

comm 2015 awesome shotSpeaking of pictures, there are tons of great ones on the Commencement photo archive, including this one, which might be the best crowd view that I have ever seen.  One of the new parts of Commencement was the giant stage, which had jumbotrons on them.  During the wait for the ceremony to begin, you could see tweets that were being tweeted by guests as well as graduates.  There is a nice recap of social media online too.

We also had a rousing Baccalaureate speech.  Almost immediately after it was over, I was starting to get emails from parents who were praying it had been recorded.  Yes, it was recorded and is online here.  (About the videos, I have had a couple of people tell me they try to click the Play button and it says ‘the event has ended’ and they can’t watch it.  If that happens, try refreshing the web page and click it again.)

There were a couple of really poignant moments during the Commencement ceremony.  There were members of the Class of 2015 who had passed away and were posthumously awarded degrees.  Their family members accepted in their honor, and it was heartbreaking and wonderful at once.  And I witnessed so many hugs, and waves to parents, and smiles, and tears – a million family moments – that you could just tell were special based on the looks on faces.  Then there were the hugs from classmate to classmate, the meeting-of-the-significant-other’s-extended-family, or kisses between romantic partners.  Perhaps my favorite was the toddler of a graduate student (maybe law or med school) who saw his father in his cap and gown and proudly said in a toddler’s voice as he pointed to his own chest “I graduate!”

So many Wake Foresters.  So many moments.  Such pride and joy – for you, and for us.  We rejoice in their graduation the same way you do.

And if you are a P’15 graduating parent or family member, please know we welcome you to stay as involved at Wake as you wish to be.  You’ll always be part of the family, just like your graduates.

One final bit of Commencement data for all the wonks among us.  Yesterday during Commencement,  the Quad Cam was viewed by people in 137 foreign countries and 4 US territories, spanning from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.  The most populated country that had someone click on the Quad Cam was China, with a 1.36 billion population; the viewing country with the lowest population was the Turks and Caicos, population 49,000 and change.  Special thanks to my colleague Rob Daniels for supplying me with the numbers!

— by Betsy Chapman

A Few More Commencement Tidbits

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

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

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

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

– Sunscreen

– Layers

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

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


— by Betsy Chapman

Run Into the Roar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell them to run into the roar.

— by Betsy Chapman

Pictures to Take at Commencement

For our P’15 (Parent of a Class of 2015 graduate) families, Commencement is a wonderful time to take pictures.  Your students have called this place home for 4 years – or 5 – and are getting ready to depart for Whatever Is Next.  Hopefully they will return often, but in case they are not able to, get some good pictures.  Here’s a suggestion of some shots to consider.

– With the best friend(s) in cap and gown.  Two of my most treasured Commencement photos are the ones with my best friend and roommate of 3 years – we hammed it up and did a really fun pose – and with my group of closest friends.   While we certainly had tons of pictures of us in other settings, the cap and gown ones mean a lot.

– With the parents and family in cap and gown.  This one is a no-brainer.  Happy times for everyone.

– A shot of Wait Chapel and the Commencement stage when the Quad is empty.  It’s serene and peaceful at sunrise and at twilight – so grab a pic of the chapel when the lighting is good.

– A picture of any spot your student loved on campus.  Someplace that is meaningful to them.  Could be a place outdoors they loved, or a particular academic building, a nook in the ZSR, whatever.  But the place they felt happy and like this was Their Spot is what they want.

– If they have a Significant Other who is also a Deac, a shot of where they first met, first kissed, first date was held, etc. is a good one to have.

– Take pictures of their old residence halls, main academic buildings they spent a lot of time in, etc.

– With their favorite professor(s) at Departmental Receptions on Sunday afternoon.

– And of course, take a selfie or two with them :)


— by Betsy Chapman


The Stage Is Going Up

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

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

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

— by Betsy Chapman


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New and Newsworthy

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

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

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

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

Busy and exciting times for all!

— by Betsy Chapman

Dwindling Numbers and Gearing Up for Commencement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now the informal advice from me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— by Betsy Chapman


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

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

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

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

— by Betsy Chapman

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