Wake Forest has begun a pilot process to rename two sections of a Reynolda campus road named for Washington Manly Wingate, led by an ad hoc Administrative Committee on Honorifics (ACH) convened by President Susan R. Wente. Wingate (1828-79) was the fourth president of Wake Forest College in two terms bisected by the Civil War. He also participated – both personally and on behalf of the College – in the ownership and sale of enslaved African Americans.
In summer 2020, the Advisory Committee on Naming was charged with expanding on the University’s acknowledgment of its ties to the institution of slavery, as well as seeking input from the community to help shape a more representative and complete history of Wake Forest. In August 2021, President Susan R. Wente announced that the University would “determine an appropriate process to rename sections of the campus road that bear the Wingate name,” as a continuation of efforts begun by the Advisory Committee on Naming and the actions of the Board of Trustees in April 2021.
Wente also replaced the name of Wingate Hall with a temporary wayfinding name, the Divinity and Religious Studies Building. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion organized efforts throughout the fall 2021 semester to engage the campus community in conversations regarding how we honor and remember our history through naming; an update on that work was provided to the campus in January.
The ad hoc Administrative Committee on Honorifics (ACH), co-chaired by Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer José Villalba and Provost Rogan Kersh, will use the Principles for Naming, established by the Advisory Committee on Naming and approved by the Board in April 2021, to guide its work. Because road naming also falls under the jurisdiction of the city of Winston-Salem, the approved name options will then proceed through the city council’s procedures for road naming.
“As a community distinguished by excellence, discovery and service, Wake Forest is committed to becoming an ever more inclusive place,” Wente said. “Naming a campus building or landmark is one of the highest honors we can bestow and a rare event. We owe it to all Wake Foresters to ensure that our shared values shine through those choices.”
The committee is charged with identifying suitable potential names to replace Wingate’s on the sections of road, including systematic research to identify options for consideration that connect to Wake Forest’s history. In addition to individual names, Wente indicated that other name possibilities could include “places, important moments in time, groups, or events important to Wake Forest’s history.”
A component of the ACH’s work will include soliciting community feedback, via shared governance groups on naming options under consideration, to inform the Committee’s ultimate recommendation to the President. Community members also can share suggestions here.
“I anticipate the Committee’s work will yield a recommendation to me for these roads within the next few months,” Wente said. “I will then review the recommendation with the Board of Trustees through its established processes for deliberation and, ultimately, their endorsement.”
Wente added that the effectiveness of the pilot process would be carefully reviewed to inform future processes for honorific naming on Wake Forest’s campuses.
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