Coronavirus Update: Wake Forest closes study abroad program in Venice

The following message was emailed to the campus community on behalf of Provost Rogan Kersh:

Dear Wake Forest community:

In response to news of growing numbers of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in northern Italy and the possibility of increased travel restrictions, Wake Forest University is closing its study abroad program in Venice for the semester.

The 19 students and one faculty member will leave Casa Artom by this weekend.

They can return to campus here in Winston-Salem starting March 15. There is no evidence that they have been exposed to COVID-19, and their risk of contracting the virus remains low.

University health officials are in contact with our infectious disease consultant from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. The University is following the recommended protocols from the CDC.

The University has communicated directly to the affected students and families and will work to make their transition back to campus as smooth as possible. Wake Forest’s top priority is the safety and wellbeing of Wake Forest students, faculty and staff.

While the health risk to the students and the faculty member in Venice remains low, the decision takes into consideration the uncertainty regarding local and international travel restrictions if the coronavirus continues to spread. Such restrictions would affect the study abroad experience for these students and could impact their ability to return to the United States at a later date.

WFU continues to closely monitor COVID-19 

Wake Forest continues to closely monitor the spread of coronavirus and its impact on other countries where Wake Forest students and faculty are studying and traveling during spring semester. The University is prepared to respond as needed and will continue to communicate with students, their families and employees potentially impacted by the spread of the coronavirus abroad.

One of the challenges associated with the coronavirus situation is that things are changing very rapidly; the recommendations in place currently might change if the virus spreads and as new information is gained. Wake Forest has a coronavirus website with links to international health organizations, and the site will be updated as new details emerge. We encourage any student, faculty, or staff who choose to travel to stay alert to State Department travel advisories or restrictions, airline cancellations, and recommendations from the CDC.

University health officials, Campus Life leaders, Global Programs and Studies officials and others are meeting regularly to discuss coronavirus, review operational plans and take proactive steps to minimize exposure and risk for our campus community. Decisions are being made based on many interrelated factors and considerations, including the most recent restrictions and recommendations of international and local health organizations.

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Transdisciplinary projects sought to represent Wake Forest at festival

The following is a guest post from Tim Pyatt, dean of Z. Smith Reynolds Library, and Assistant Vice President Andrea Ellis, Office of Personal and Career Development:

Wake Forest University will be participating in the third ACCelerate: ACC Smithsonian Creativity and Innovation Festival to be held in Washington, D.C. on April 9-11, 2021 during the cherry blossom festival. Attendance is expected to exceed 60,000.

We are seeking exciting transdisciplinary projects to represent the University at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.  Projects involving WFU/faculty/student/community teams are highly encouraged. Projects submitted will be evaluated based on completion/readiness and the potential to actively engage the festival audience.

The timeline is as follows:

  • April 17, 2020: Application deadline for project consideration for the upcoming festival.
  • May 12, 2020:  Projects will be reviewed by the Festival Steering Committee.
  • June 23, 2020:  Representatives from all ACC schools meet to prioritize projects
  • September 2020:  Notifications of final acceptance for the festival will be sent.

Support from the Office of Provost will be available to help with the creation and transportation of the exhibits and exhibitors.

The first ACCelerate festival was on October 13-15, 2017 and second was held April 5-7, 2019. To learn more about the previous Festivals, please visit 

Please complete this form with as much detail as you can provide.  We understand that you may not be able to answer all questions by the deadline. For more information, contact Tim Pyatt at or 758-5094, or Andrea Ellis at or 758-4322.

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Categories: Guest PostInside WFU

Inside Higher Ed highlights research on teaching evaluations by WFU professor, student

Research by a Wake Forest professor and student on student evaluations of teaching is highlighted in an Inside Higher Ed news story written by Colleen Flaherty and published online Feb. 27.

The research was done by Justin Esarey, associate professor of politics and international affairs, and senior Natalie Valdes.  Entitled “Unbiased, Reliable and Valid Student Evaluations Can Still be Unfair,” the research paper was published in Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education.

The Inside Higher Ed story reports that the researchers found “that these evaluations are deeply flawed measures of teaching quality.”

In the research paper, Esarey and Valdes note that “using invalid, unreliable or biased student evaluations to make decisions about hiring and tenure is obviously harmful to students and faculty alike.”

For further information, see the news story and the research paper.

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Categories: Inside WFU

Z. Smith Reynolds new staff and promotions

The following is a guest post from Mary Beth Lock, assistant dean and director of access services for Z. Smith Reynolds Library:

Headshot of Veronica Brady, Z Smith Reynolds Library Business Manager

Veronica Brady

The Z. Smith Reynolds Library is delighted to announce that Veronica Brady will be joining the library staff as Library Business Manager, beginning on March 1, 2020. Veronica comes to us from Tyler, Texas where she worked most recently as the Innovation Manager for the Mayor’s Innovation Pipeline, and oversaw the administration of programs and the strategic plan of both the Innovation Pipeline and City University. She is well qualified to join the administrative team at the Z. Smith Reynolds Library, and will be assuming many of the leadership roles vacated by former associate dean Susan Smith who recently retired. Veronica’s portfolio will include managing policies and procedures for the library on financial and budget issues and serve as the liaison with Financial Services. She will also serve on the Senior Business Administrators group and the Academic Business Managers group. Veronica will aid in preparing the annual budget for the library, and utilize thorough assessment methods to ensure that our budget is allocated in ways that will best meet the library’s goals

Kathy Shields has been appointed as the Research Services Lead at ZSR. Kathy has been with ZSR since 2016 and currently serves, and will continue to serve, as the liaison to Psychology and History. In her new capacity, Kathy will work with our liaison group on professional development, help coordinate our communication and training around our upcoming switch to a new library catalog and search engine, and coordinate new faculty training and faculty outreach.

Amanda Foster Kaufman has been promoted to Learning and Instructional Services librarian. Amanda has been with ZSR since 2013 and has been serving as an Associate Teaching Librarian teaching 12 sections of our LIB100 classes each year. In her new job, Amanda will be coordinating ZSR’s instruction program including outcomes and assessment, and working with instructors on professional development. She will still be teaching LIB100 classes, although at a reduced course load.

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Proposals funded: Giles, Young, McDonald

Congratulations to Steven Giles, associate professor of communication, whose proposal entitled “A Coordinated Parent/Child Dyad Weight Loss Intervention: Dyad Plus” was funded by the National Institutes of Health and by (subaward/subcontract from) Wake Forest University Health Sciences.

Congratulations to Kyana Young, assistant professor of engineering, whose proposal entitled “Technology Development and Demonstration of Grit Assisted Patch (GAP): Improvement and Field Test” has been funded by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and by Marquette University.

Congratulations to Sarah McDonald, associate professor of biology, whose proposal entitled “Mapping Rotavirus Reassortment Restriction Determinants” has been funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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Categories: Faculty NewsInside WFU