As part of an ongoing commitment to recognize exceptional Wake Forest faculty and recruit talented new professors, Professor of History Michele Gillespie has been named the first Presidential Chair. President Nathan Hatch announced the Presidential Chair initiative in 2012, and Gillespie is the first honored with the endowed faculty position.
The Presidential Chairs recognize and support faculty who embody Wake Forest’s teacher-scholar ideal.
“At Wake Forest, retaining and rewarding exceptional faculty is central to making it an extraordinary place of learning,” said Jacque Fetrow, dean of the College. “We are pleased to recognize Michele with a Presidential Chair for her academic leadership, her outstanding scholarship, and her passionate integration of teaching with that scholarly work.”
Gillespie, who joined the Wake Forest faculty in 1999, is currently the Kahle Family Professor of History. She also served as associate provost for academic initiatives from 2007 to 2010.
Gillespie teaches courses on the history of the American South, U.S. labor, women’s and gender history. Her research explores constructions of class, race, gender and region in the social and economic history of the American South. Her most recent book, “Katharine and R.J. Reynolds: Partners of Fortune in the Making of the New South,” received national attention. She is currently working on an interpretive biography of Mary Musgrove and racial identity in early Georgia, and co-editing the two-volume “North Carolina Women: Their Lives and Times.”
“Our signature Wake Forest tradition of prominent teaching and scholarship on southern U.S. history is carried on brilliantly by Michele,” said Provost Rogan Kersh. “Recognizing her exemplary work — and simultaneously honoring this central thread in the fabric of our institution — seems a perfect way to inaugurate this exciting program of presidential endowed chairs.”
Later this month, Wake Forest will announce the funding of two additional Presidential Chairs in the departments of history and economics. Recipients of these Chairs have not yet been named.