Update on Naming and Honorifics from Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion José Villalba

This message is shared on behalf of Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion José Villalba.

As was announced in September 2021, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) led efforts in fall 2021 to engage with the campus community around naming and honorifics. To facilitate this process, ODI organized the Honorifics Planning Group to assist in information sharing and data gathering activities. Community-wide involvement in the topic of naming and honorifics took place last term through seminars and forums, small group discussions with stakeholders, and an end-of-term survey emailed to students, staff, faculty, and alumni.

Regarding the survey, a total of 481 completed surveys were received by ODI. About 70 percent of respondents identified as alums, while student, staff, and faculty respondents represented roughly 10 percent each of the total. The survey asked recipients to provide feedback on themes and concepts the university could honor, names or groups of individuals to honor, and locations and methods for doing so. A review of responses can be summarized as follows:

  • A broad range of methods for honoring and remembering were suggested, including names on buildings and roadways, named professorships, scholarship opportunities for students, artistic creations that depict important themes and events in our University’s history, and the use of new technologies such as digital media to convey a more inclusive history of our institution.
  • Numerous individual names were suggested, including current and former faculty, staff and students, and historical figures with direct and indirect ties to the University. Several respondents recognized groups of individuals directly and indirectly connected to Wake Forest.
  • Respondents identified overarching themes and concepts reflective of Wake Forest’s aspirational commitment to Pro Humanitate, particularly around belonging, dignity, remembering, hard work, honesty, character, altruism, and humility.

These widespread efforts, grounded in our Guiding Principles on Naming, have generated the beginnings of a dynamic repository of ideas for how Wake Forest will honor and remember. This repository will continue to grow as we welcome new members to our campus community, and reconnect with those individuals that personify our institutional values. In the coming weeks, ODI will continue to update the campus community on honorific efforts, as well as broader and substantive initiatives to promote inclusion and belonging across Wake Forest University.

José Villalba
Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion