An Update on Remembering and Honoring

On August 10, President Susan R. Wente shared her institutional commitment to promoting and sustaining a sense of belonging and inclusivity. In her message, she emphasized the ongoing nature of this work, and more importantly, recognized that it will take every member of the campus community to achieve success. In that same letter, the president said the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) will lead the next steps for engaging the Wake Forest community in structured, open dialogue concerning the guiding principles for naming adopted in April 2021 by the Board of Trustees. The goal is also to collect names of individuals, themes and concepts which are not currently honored or remembered as fully as possible on campus.

This next phase of working toward the shared commitment of a more equitable community will be grounded in the work of the former Advisory Committee on Naming (co-chaired by Trustee Donna Boswell and Divinity School Dean Jonathan L. Walton) and the Advisory Committee on Re-naming (co-chaired by Trustee Donna Edwards and Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion José Villalba). The ODI engagement opportunities aim to expand the community’s knowledge around honorifics and remembrance.

“Honoring and remembering our values should be central to our mission as a University,” Villalba said. “These initiatives will ensure that all in our community have an opportunity to share their perspectives and insights.”

To carry out these objectives, ODI will plan and implement a series of events and conduct a survey of students, staff, faculty and alumni. Preparation for these events has started, with ODI establishing an Honorifics Planning Group — composed of faculty, staff, students and alumni — to ensure this initiative connects with a broad range of Wake Forest constituents and provides a myriad of opportunities for feedback.

From an organizational perspective, in late September ODI will commence campus-based programs and listening sessions focused on the guiding principles. In October, engagement opportunities will center on how and why Wake Forest “honors” individuals and events. In November, constituents will be invited to complete a survey, and the University will begin analyzing the outcomes of programs and listening sessions. The goal is to conclude this phase of efforts in early December so as to inform and inspire the University’s future endeavors.

Throughout the semester, please be attentive to updates on the diversity.wfu.edu website, particularly as they relate to upcoming programs and the community-wide survey. Specific questions or feedback should be directed to Villalba at villalja@nullwfu.edu.

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