"Diversity and Inclusion" Archive

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

University Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council (UDEIC) news

President Wente portrait

On September 21, 2021, President Wente announced the creation of the University Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council (UDEIC) to support the institution’s progress regarding matters of diversity, equity and inclusion.

This council will be advisory to President Wente and charged with supporting Wake Forest’s continual and ongoing commitment to each member of our community. The UDEIC will assess and provide input on the University’s progress toward fostering and sustaining inclusivity and belonging. The UDEIC will also be positioned to advise President Wente on emerging situations and to serve as an essential conduit for the campus community.

The University Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council includes students, staff, faculty and alumni from across the Wake Forest community as well as a representative from the Board of Trustees.

Read more and meet the appointees to the Council.

An Update on Remembering and Honoring

On August 10, President Susan R. Wente shared her institutional commitment to promoting and sustaining a sense of belonging and inclusivity. In her message, she emphasized the ongoing nature of this work, and more importantly, recognized that it will take every member of the campus community to achieve success. In that same letter, the president said the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) will lead the next steps for engaging the Wake Forest community in structured, open dialogue concerning the guiding principles for naming adopted in April 2021 by the Board of Trustees. The goal is also to collect names of individuals, themes and concepts which are not currently honored or remembered as fully as possible on campus.

This next phase of working toward the shared commitment of a more equitable community will be grounded in the work of the former Advisory Committee on Naming (co-chaired by Trustee Donna Boswell and Divinity School Dean Jonathan L. Walton) and the Advisory Committee on Re-naming (co-chaired by Trustee Donna Edwards and Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion José Villalba). The ODI engagement opportunities aim to expand the community’s knowledge around honorifics and remembrance.

“Honoring and remembering our values should be central to our mission as a University,” Villalba said. “These initiatives will ensure that all in our community have an opportunity to share their perspectives and insights.” Read more

Wake Forest offers support to women seeking senior leadership positions

Wake Forest University has joined North Carolina’s chapter of the American Council on Education (ACE) Women’s Network, which helps colleges and universities achieve parity by promoting the advancement of women, providing networking opportunities and assisting those interested in advancing their careers.

Headshot of Erica Still

Erica Still, associate dean for faculty recruitment, diversity, and inclusion and professor of English

Headshot of Steph Trilling

Steph Trilling, director of the Wake Forest Women’s Center

Steph Trilling, director of Wake Forest’s Women’s Center, and Erica Still, associate dean for faculty recruitment, diversity and inclusion, are the University’s representatives for the state chapter. Moreover, Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch is a Presidential Sponsor of NC ACE Women’s Network, which means, among other things, the University has made a commitment to the organization and its goals.

“We know that our institutions and communities are collectively more innovative, creative, visionary and successful when women’s voices are part of deliberations and decision-making at all levels, including the most senior,” Hatch said. “Therefore, I am proud to sign on as a Presidential Sponsor for the NC ACE Network of Women Leaders, whose work will help assure that a robust set of professional development, networking and leadership opportunities are widely available to members.”

Trilling and Still are excited about helping women better position themselves for leadership roles.

“We have a lot of women who work in higher education, but we’re still underrepresented in senior leadership roles, especially women of color or women who have other marginalized identities,” Trilling said. “Being a member of ACE will help women at Wake Forest gain the skills and the contacts they need to move into these roles and help us as a field achieve gender parity.”

Read more

A landmark week for equity and inclusion in the Supreme Court

A message from Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion José Villalba 

Dear Wake Forest Community,

Last week was a particularly affirming week for members of the LGBTQ+ and immigrant communities, as well as their loved ones and allies. In the span of four days, the U.S. Supreme Court issued decisions in two landmark cases. On Monday, June 15, a majority of Justices ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees. And on Thursday, June 18, a majority of Justices ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program could continue. 

The ramifications of these cases for employment and immigration law, respectively, will continue to be researched by legal experts and be the subject of public debate. For now, the impact on underrepresented members of our campus is positive and empowering. The recent court decisions are affirmations of Wake Forest’s non-discrimination statement, in place for many years, that declares the University will not discriminate against these groups. Our campus community will continue to emphasize the full dignity of all students, staff, and faculty. Now more than ever we elevate the voices and lived experiences of undocumented and LGBTQ+ community members.