Lastnight there was an extraordinary gala to kick off publicly Wake Forest’s capital campaign, Wake Will. Your students have perhaps told you of the giant tent that has been erected on the Mag Quad (Manchester Quad) on the south side of campus. There was a program lastnight for our Board of Trustees and other guests to launch the campaign, and it was held in this tent.
There was a program inside the tent where we heard some of the voices of Wake Forest’s history, including two great Wake Foresters, former Spanish faculty member Jenny Puckett (’71) and “Mr. Wake Forest” himself, Provost Emeritus and Professor of English Edwin G. Wilson (’43). They talked about Wake Forest’s origins, and how throughout our history we have faced major challenges but have always risen to the occasion at the times we most needed to. They also talked about our animating spirit as an institution and what we value: things like character, and honesty, and intellect, and kindness. They showed this great video about our history and our vision. “There’s no place like Wake Forest,” concluded Dr. Wilson. And it really is true.
There were some very special moments in this program, including the recognition of several of our alumni who have gone on to lead lives that truly represent our motto of Pro Humanitate (for humanity). These alumni work on a number of fronts – volunteer, spiritual, recreational – to give back to others. Starting with these alumni, we had a recreation of one of the most cherished campus traditions, the lighting of Moravian candles at our annual Lovefeast. The alumni all had candles and they went to each row of the audience to light the first person’s candle on the row, then each of us would light our neighbor’s candle.
The lighting of the candles represented the sharing of our light with each other, and when we all come together, we can create an exponentially brighter result. That’s what we want to do for Wake Forest and this campaign. We will raise and invest one billion dollars so that we can accomplish what is at once a simple and profound goal: to help prepare students to lead lives that matter. To do so, we will create opportunities, educate the whole person, and inspire excellence. That will come through world-class programs and facilities to be sure, but through the kinds of students and faculty we attract and support. And the things they can learn together and create to make our world a better place.
This was a night full of goosebumps and warm hearts. It was also a very interactive evening, with displays through the tent about faculty and student research, the great work of our award-winning Z. Smith Reynolds library, music and singing and incredible lighting. Oh, and some moist eyes (mine included).
One of the things I liked most was a giant book that had WAKE WILL INSPIRE on the top, and lots of places to write a message about what Wake has inspired/will inspire you to do. I believe that your students will be able to sign this today in the tent at the 12 or 1:30 pm shows.
I share this with all my ‘Daily Deac’ers because I want you to know what an amazing vision we have for this place and for everything we want to do for your students and the ones who follow in the coming years. Wake Forest is a place that cares deeply about providing as many chances for your students to grow, learn, and excel, inside and outside of the classroom so they can lead lives that matter both now and after they have their diploma.