Meet A Deac Monday

Happy Monday, Deac families! Today we bring you another edition of Meet A Deac. Going abroad was one of the best things I did during my time as a Wake student, so I am especially delighted to introduce you to today’s administrator (and a man whose passport stamps I envy!), David Taylor of Global Programs and Studies (GPS).

David Taylor of Global Programs and StudiesDavid, thanks for doing this! Let’s get the formalities out of the way at the beginning: your title, and what you do in layperson’s terms. I’m the Assistant Dean for Global Study Away. I work in the Center for Global Programs & Studies, where I manage initiatives and services related to study abroad/away programs and act as a liaison between the Office of the Dean of the College and GPS. In short, my unit is responsible for providing advising to all students who are interested in pursuing study abroad/away opportunities as part of their undergraduate studies.

Likewise, I (along with a team of other dedicated professionals) work to develop and support quality global academic programs for our students. In this way, our work spans across the various academic departments and administrative units. Most recently, the new program development on which I’ve worked has included Global AWAKEnings, the University’s first-year abroad program in Denmark, and the Wake Washington and Wake West semester internship programs.

Tell me a little about your educational background. I have an AB in French & Italian from Princeton University and an MA in Liberal Studies from  Wake Forest. I’ve worked here for 16 years.

You’ve been here a while, like me. What do you like about working at Wake? The strong sense of community that you find in our students, faculty, and staff. In my 16 years at Wake Forest, this has always been the case, but I’ve felt it even more during the pandemic.

Study abroad/away has been really impacted by the pandemic. Tell me about how that has affected your work. Without question, COVID has had an enormous impact on the operation of our outbound global programs. Prior to the pandemic, I coordinated the health, safety, and crisis protocols and processes for the our study abroad/away programs. I’ve continued in this role and have expanded it to include overseeing the review of all domestic and international travel as part of the Wake Forest’s “University COVID Travel Policy” which currently calls for the pre-authorization of all domestic and international travel. On a related note, since April of last year I have served as a member of the university’s COVID-19 Scenario Planning Team. This group meets multiple time each week to define the roadmaps for University operations (across academic, administrative, and other units).

What’s been your toughest COVID challenge? On the professional side, it’s been difficult to see so many of our students have to miss out on their plans for overseas study. We know the transformative nature and sometimes life-changing experiences that these opportunities represent, so we’re working hard to be able to bring these back as soon as safely possible.

What do you miss most about normal times on campus? The regular, daily interactions with students and colleagues. As grateful as I am for Zoom and other related technologies, I miss all the unscheduled moments that typically fill my days.

Let’s pivot and talk about advice. What advice would you give our students, and what advice for our parents and families? For students, resources abound at Wake Forest. Avail yourself of all of the people and offices that are specifically here to help you learn and to support you during your undergraduate years. For families, whenever possible, continue to encourage resilience in your students. Remind them that even when they have a good plan, sometimes obstacles will arise. Dealing with these obstacles is all about preparation and perspective.

Ready for the fun questions?

Book(s) you’re reading now: Mortals by Norman Rush. These last months, I’ve been making my way through a number of previously purchased books that I’ve not gotten around to reading. I’m particularly enjoying this one because it’s allowing me to “travel” to Botswana – a place I’ve never visited but that has been on my list!

willie nelsonMusic you enjoy: I love classic country and Americana/alt-country – Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Lyle Lovett, Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Wilco, Uncle Tupelo, etc.

TV/movies/Netflix, etc.: Savannah Smiles (one of the first films I remember seeing as a child), The War, Sling Blade, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Central Station, and Cinema Paradiso.

Mountain fried chicken logoGuilty pleasures: Mountain Fried Chicken on University Parkway. When I used to return from traveling, I would always work a visit into my schedule the following week.

Introvert or extrovert: Ambivert

wine bottlesWebsites you frequent: wsj.com, bbc.com, cnbc.com, ourwayforward.wfu.edu, and wineaccess.com. That last website could also qualify as my guilty pleasure!

Something most people don’t know about you: Before starting work at Wake Forest, I was briefly in the screen printing business.

What will be the first thing you do when the pandemic is over and we can live normal lives again? Travel domestically and internationally to see friends and take some vacation time while there. Also, I’m looking forward to some major celebratory meals and communal experiences like in-person concerts and sporting events.

What question didn’t I ask that you wish I had? Well, the question I get asked most often these days is, “What do you think the future looks like for study abroad and international travel?” Of course, there are no certain answers, but I can say that we are optimistic about the eventual resumption of our programming abroad and that we are working diligently to make these important educational and cultural opportunities available as soon as possible.

That’s a wonderful note to end on, David. Many thanks for sharing your story with us – and for all you do for our students and WFU!

(And if you want to see past Meet A Deacs, visit our archive.)

— by Betsy Chapman, Ph.D. (’92, MA ’94)

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