Meet a Deac – Bill Wells (’74)

Bill Wells, Director of Financial Aid

You all know by now that I am a huge fangirl for our soccer team. Tonight at 7:30 is the MAC Hermann Trophy presentation, and our own Jon Bakero is one of the three finalists. You can watch a livestream of the event; details here. Let’s go, Jon!

Thanks to all of you who have written in to me to say you like the Meet a Deac feature. It’s a pleasure to be able to show you some of the folks on campus who have an impact on your students’ experiences (or yours as parents and families) but that you might not meet otherwise.

As we close out this very, very cold week on campus, we feature a terrific Wake Forester – an alumnus and longtime staff member, Bill Wells (’74), Director of Financial Aid.

OK Bill, you are the Director of Financial Aid here at Wake Forest. Tell me what that means in real terms.
I work with my financial aid colleagues to provide scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study jobs to students whose families cannot afford the full cost of attending Wake Forest.

You’re a Wake grad yourself, so you’ve walked this campus as both a student and an administrator. Tell me about your Wake experience as a student.
I got my BA history from Wake Forest, then Masters degrees in history and higher education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Some of my favorite memories of Wake are spending time with friends; participating in the activities of the Sigma Chi Fraternity; delving deeply and widely in the liberal arts, including courses on “American Art and Literature” at Reynolda House (taught by Joe Milner, Penny Griffin, and Nick Bragg), “Romantic Poets” and “Blake, Yeats, and Thomas” (taught by Ed Wilson), “History of the South” (taught by David Smiley), and “Christian Ethics” (taught by Mac Bryan).

Those are some august faculty names right there. I was one for two on Ed Wilson’s classes and still regret not getting into Blake, Years and Thomas.  If you had to describe today’s Wake Forest student, how would you characterize them?
They are smart, well-rounded, and ambitious.

What advice would you give to today’s students?
Get to know lots of people, including students, faculty and staff. Seek help when you think you may need it. Join organizations that will help you feel like you belong here. Volunteer to help others, and take on a leadership position in at least one of the organizations in which you participate.

How about parents and families? What advice do you have for them?
Encourage your student to try lots of things. Help your student understand that it is OK to be less than totally successful sometimes. Encourage autonomy and independence in your student. Appreciate attempts by your student to be authentic and express who they feel like they really are, even if that does not correspond with who you think they should be.

What do you like best about working at your alma mater?
I have caring, friendly, and hard-working colleagues, who are dedicated to helping our students have a great college experience and be successful for the rest of their lives.

The cupola of the Z. Smith Reynolds Library rises above the trees over Wake Forest University in this image made from the top of Deacon Tower.Do you have a favorite place on campus?
Yes, but it’s plural: “places.” I am very fond of the Z. Smith Reynolds Library, Wait Chapel, and Davis Field.

We’re down to the home stretch – the short answer questions!

What book are you reading now?
Brothers in Clay: the Story of Georgia Folk Pottery, by John Burrison, a great southern folklore scholar.

What music are you listening to lately?
Faure's RequiemRhiannon Giddens, Faure’s Requiem, Otis Taylor, Justin Townes Earle, Dylan LeBlanc, Tim O’Brien.

Give me a movie you’ve liked this year.
Goodbye Christopher Robin

Websites you frequent?
Wake Forest’s!
Arts & Letters Daily
Chronicle of Higher Education

Guilty pleasure?
Great food, which is mostly the result of the creative efforts of my soulmate, best friend and beautiful wife Sally.

Mont Saint Michel, FranceTell me something about you that everyone might not know.
Sally and I collect folk art (African, Appalachian, Native American, French, Spanish). I am interested in architecture and historic preservation, and I take photographs of historic places.
I like to travel around the United States, England, and France. I am active in the Episcopal Church as a choir member, lay reader, and convention delegate.

Ah yes, you and I share a great love of France.  Now for the final question – what do you wish I had asked but didn’t?
Why did you choose Wake Forest for college? My older brother enrolled here when I was fourteen. The campus was beautiful, the people were interesting and friendly, and it seemed like a place where I could immerse myself in the liberal arts and freely express who I am.

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