"Community in Progress" Archive

A message from the President's Commission on Race, Equity and Community

This message was sent to Wake Forest faculty, staff and students on Feb. 17 on behalf of José Villalba and Erica Still, co-chairs of the President’s Commission on Race, Equity and Community:

Dear Wake Forest Community,

Thank you to everyone who completed the survey for the institutional equity audit in the past week. Overall, 468 surveys were submitted, for an overall response rate of 4.02%. The survey is just one part of the auditor’s data collection process; they will also be holding individual interviews and a thorough document and artifact review in the next few weeks. Taken together, the data will contribute to a picture of the institution’s current position relative to its aspirations for a truly diverse and inclusive community.

We are also grateful to those of you who shared your concerns about the survey’s design, clarity, and methodology. Your questions about the accuracy and validity of the results are evidence of your commitment to achieving a more equitable Wake Forest, and we appreciate both the questions and the commitment. Your thoughtful observations are indeed shaping how we interpret the survey results, as well as how we will use them. The articulated limitations make it all the more important that the results be seen in the context of the additional data being collected.

A final note about the audit: we want to reiterate that it is designed to assess the institution’s efforts to create and sustain racial equity at the structural level. It is concerned with policies, protocols, and practices as they shape the experiences of students, staff, and faculty who are members of underrepresented groups on our campus. It is not a climate survey, which focuses on the feelings, relationships, and tensions experienced by the various constituents of the community. (In fact, conducting a climate survey may be one of the recommendations emerging from the audit and/or Commission, but that is yet-to-be determined.)

So again, thanks to everyone who has been engaged in this work thus far. We hope you will continue to ask questions, give feedback, and offer support. You can keep track of our work on the Commission’s website, and you are always welcome to reach out directly to us (José at villalja@nullwfu.edu and Erica at stillel@nullwfu.edu).

José Villalba
Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion
Chief Diversity Officer

Erica Still
Associate Dean for Faculty Recruitment, Diversity, and Inclusion
Associate Professor of English

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Campus activity related to executive order on immigration

This is a message emailed by Provost Rogan Kersh and Vice President Penny Rue on Feb. 3 to students, faculty and staff:

To the Wake Forest community:

On Monday, President Hatch affirmed the University’s values in the wake of the recent executive order singling out political/social refugees and other immigrants from a list of seven majority-Muslim countries. In addition, President Hatch, along with many other university presidents and chancellors, this week signed a letter to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly emphasizing the “chilling effect” of the Administration’s executive order “on the ability of international students and scholars to continue to see the U.S. as a welcoming place for study and research.” Wake Forest University leaders pledge our continued support for all our students, faculty and staff, particularly those potentially at risk of having their education disrupted by this and similar policies.

We continue to work with students as well as faculty and staff on campus who have personal or familial concerns about possible changes to immigration status, including the DACA policy.  Law School professor Margaret Taylor is coordinating this effort, along with José Villalba of the College Dean’s Office.

Through conversations across our community we understand that many seek to engage directly in activities consonant with our mission and values: educating ourselves and one another about ongoing developments and their implications, or extending assistance to those newly arrived in our city. This is an initial list of the many encouraging actions taking place on our campus and locally. We will continue to update the list at the Community in Progress website.

If you are interested in supporting recently-arrived refugees in Winston-Salem, information about ‘Every Campus a Refuge,’ and related opportunities, is available through Michaelle Browers in the Department of Politics and International Affairs and/or Sam Perrotta in the Provost’s Office. Michelle Voss-Roberts from the Divinity School and Alessandra Von Burg from the Department of Communication have joined in this effort — a testament to the cross-university nature of many related actions.

For those seeking to learn more about the administration’s executive order on immigration/ refugees, open discussions, led by faculty, staff and students are scheduled in the near future.

Today at 3 p.m. in Pugh Auditorium, a group of interdisciplinary faculty will host a forum on the administration’s refugee and immigration policy.

Next Wednesday, Feb. 8, our chapter of the national political-science honor society, Pi Sigma Alpha, will host a discussion focused on the President’s first 100 days in office, featuring faculty from the politics and international affairs department.

On Monday, Feb. 13, at noon, Law School faculty experts will discuss Trump Administration executive orders and other policies affecting immigration, climate change, and safety regulations in the 2nd floor courtroom of Worrell Professional Center.

Additionally, several campus groups are offering information and support:

Our Office of International Students and Scholars is also providing regularly updated information about the executive order’s apparent implications.  Contact Kelia Hubbard for more information.

SAFAR is a group of Wake Forest students, faculty, and staff committed to supporting refugees in the Winston Salem community. Rose O’Brien is the founding member, and sponsored Refugee Day last semester. She is the 2017 recipient of a Martin Luther King Building the Dream Award for this work.

The Social Justice Incubator in the Kitchin Hall lounge is a discussion/engagement space for students concerned about the executive order and impact on immigrant and refugee populations. Contact Chizoba Ukairo, student coordinator, or Marianne Magjuka.

There are several ways to get involved beyond our campus boundaries. Several local organizations support immigrants and refugees:

World Relief High Point

CWS in Greensboro

North Carolina African Services Coalition

New Arrivals Institute

Faith Action

The Center for New North Carolinians

We salute the many Wake Foresters who are taking initiative, and urge all of us to do the same. If you are organizing or are aware of related efforts to inform, discuss or assist, please send details to Matt Williams or either of us, for inclusion on the Community in Progress site.

The degree of engagement across and beyond campus emphasizes the care Wake Foresters are taking, on many fronts, to ensure that our learning community is preserved and that our core commitment to inclusion is exemplified during this difficult time.

Spiritedly yours,

Rogan Kersh                                                                                       Penny Rue
Provost and Professor                                                                       Vice President, Campus Life


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A message from President Hatch to the Wake Forest community

This message was emailed by President Hatch to students, faculty and staff on Jan. 30:

Dear Wake Forest students, faculty and staff,

On Friday, President Trump signed an executive order suspending entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days and barring entry for 90 days for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. While we are unaware of any Wake Forester detained as a result of the travel ban, we are reaching out to students potentially affected, and we know that faculty and students from other colleges and universities have been affected. We continue to closely monitor developments, and to communicate internally and externally our foundational concern to maintain a safe learning environment for all our students.

I deeply empathize with all of you concerned for your personal safety and the security of your family. I reaffirm my commitment to do everything within my power as the president of Wake Forest University to support every member of our community in their pursuit of an education.

We now have an opportunity to reaffirm our values. Wake Forest stands for the respect and dignity of all people, for the diversity that enriches a community of learning and for the spirit of inclusion that makes a community feel like home. Wake Forest stands for creating opportunity for the betterment of ourselves and our neighbors. Wake Forest stands for Pro Humanitate – in every sense of the word.

All students, faculty and staff are urged to monitor the changing situation to make informed decisions about travel, particularly travel outside of the United States. Wake Forest has a number of resources for students, faculty and staff to help navigate the turbulent times. Many of these resources have been collected on the Community in Progress website.

We will continue to work with individuals, student groups and advocacy groups representing the full political and social spectrum. You can expect additional guidance from Wake Forest administrators on how we will help our community navigate the uncertainty surrounding changes to immigration law. I am confident that we can uphold Wake Forest’s most time-honored values through civil discourse and a true willingness to learn from one another.


Nathan O. Hatch

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Update from Campus Climate Implementation Team

This message was e-mailed to students, staff and faculty May 5 on behalf of Chief Diversity Officer Barbee Oakes and Vice Provost Lynn Sutton:

Dear Campus Community,

With the end of the semester officially coming to a close with the conclusion of final exams, it seems fitting to update students, faculty and staff about Wake Forest’s ongoing efforts to strengthen our community and commitment to inclusion.

Over the past two years, several groups comprised of students, faculty, and staff met to provide recommendations on how to do so.

Through the work of our Campus Climate Implementation Team, a collaborative network of University leaders, faculty, staff and students commissioned by Provost Rogan Kersh, we have several notable updates to share:

  • Under the direction of Vice President for Campus Life Penny Rue and the Police Accountability Task Force, the University Police hired new staff and modified policies to ensure better relationships with community members. Significant changes include ongoing unconscious bias training, a new student patrol program, and continued dialogue between students and officers.

These improvements and many more are available at community.wfu.edu, our redesigned “Community-in-Progress” website that features updates about campus climate and sources feedback from members of the community to share with faculty, staff, and students driving change around diversity and inclusion.

We welcome any questions or comments and plan to provide details about forthcoming changes with community engagement opportunities this fall.

Thank you for your role in our collective and sustained efforts. We move forward only when we all remain committed to the promising work of making Wake Forest a place that truly feels like home to all university members.


Barbee Oakes, Chief Diversity Officer and Lynn Sutton, Vice Provost

Co-Chairs, Campus Climate Implementation Team


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A message from President Hatch regarding equity and inclusion

This is a message e-mailed by President Hatch to faculty, students and staff today:

Dear Members of the Wake Forest Community,

Colleges and universities have been in the national spotlight this week as students, faculty and staff at Missouri, Yale, Ithaca and other institutions have protested and demanded corrective action against bigotry, racism and injustice.

If you are feeling similar pain and tension on our campus, you are not alone. If you think the pain and tension experienced by others – at Wake Forest and on campuses across the country – do not affect you, I invite you to reconsider. As a nation and as a community of higher learning, we must make progress in handling issues of diversity, inclusion and equity.

Wake Forest’s commitment to an equitable and inclusive campus culture is unwavering. Making that a reality for everyone is overdue. I am, however, encouraged by the efforts of countless University leaders, faculty, staff and students.

Today in Washington, D.C., Wake Forest is co-hosting a daylong summit with the White House Council on Women and Girls on Advancing Equity for Women and Girls of Color. This morning, Provost Rogan Kersh announced that Wake Forest is part of a collaborative that has committed $18 million to support and improve related academic research. I encourage you to read more about this significant step toward closing the research deficit and its implications for policymaking.

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