Welcome to the Fall 2022 semester

A message to faculty and staff from Wake Forest University Provost Michele Gillespie.

Dear Faculty and Staff,

Welcome to the Fall 2022 semester! It is with great honor and deep humility that, as Wake Forest’s eighth provost, I welcome you to a new academic year. I look forward to serving this community in a new role, and I pledge to approach our work together with the same energy and enthusiasm that I had when I first arrived at Wake Forest more than two decades ago.

While much has changed in the past few years on our campus, there is one aspect that remains constant: We come together to provide the best education we possibly can for our students so they can lead lives of meaning and purpose in a dynamic and complex world.

As we take strides to fulfill the academic mission of this University, we do so in the midst of some transition – welcoming new and interim deans; recovering from the implications and after effects of the pandemic; and restoring a welcome return to our academic routine after enduring disruptions to our research efforts and the continuity in our classrooms. While transition may leave us feeling unsettled, it also serves as a springboard for opportunity. That is what has me excited and anticipating a very productive year filled with growth, exploration and collaboration.

When I think about the opportunities in front of us, I believe we are well positioned to offer fresh perspectives threaded with deep experience to re-energize how we deliver the mission of Wake Forest.

First, we have the opportunity to determine what strategies will best serve us now and in the future as we teach students and pursue our scholarship, research and creative expression. In the coming year, we will be engaged in defining a strategic framework for the University – an effort that President Wente outlined in her August 18 blog post. With the efforts of the University Space Planning Group, we will expand on the recent space study to determine how we can better use our space to connect with our students and one another. Additionally, we will be building the student information system over the next few years, which will allow us to access and share information in a more effective and efficient manner as we meet the needs of our community. All of these efforts will help provide effective and transparent structures to assist us all in our critical work.

Second, we have a resounding opportunity to invest in and provide support for our faculty. As provost, that is one of my highest and ongoing priorities. As soon as we can, we will be recruiting and hiring an associate provost for faculty affairs through an internal search process. I believe we need to have more focused energy, attention and effort on faculty needs and support. Additionally, I want to hear from faculty members regularly. You are on the frontlines of our education, and you know the areas of challenge and opportunity that are before us. Therefore, I am hosting weekly lunches for permanent faculty across all schools to listen to your ideas and hear about your experiences. More information on how to be involved in those lunches will be forthcoming soon.

I truly believe that higher education serves as a public good. We have a commitment to our students, disciplines and community to ignite ideas and innovation in ways that will better our culture and society. That is a high calling – one that can be forgotten in the midst of uncertainty – but it is still worthy of our passion and our pursuit. I look forward to strengthening with you what is already excellent and engaging with you to find solutions, build new programs, launch exciting initiatives and position Wake Forest well for decades to come.

Again, I join President Wente in welcoming you to the Fall 2022 semester – and thank you for welcoming me as provost. I am grateful to be serving beside each one of you, and I anticipate the great work we will do together with collaboration, hard work and good humor.