President Nathan Hatch announced a historic milestone on Oct. 15 in a message e-mailed to students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and friends:
Dear Wake Forest community,
On this day in 1951, President Harry Truman helped Wake Forest College break ground on a new campus in Winston-Salem. That historic moment, made possible by an act of incredible philanthropic support by the Reynolds family, expanded the horizons for what would become a nationally admired institution of higher education. Today, philanthropic support again gives us occasion to celebrate a historic milestone in the life of Wake Forest University. I am humbled to announce that the Wake Will Lead campaign has surpassed the $1 billion milestone thanks to the generosity of alumni, parents and friends.
A $1.5 million gift from Arnold Palmer’s Trust to endow a professorship in literature pushed the campaign past this noteworthy mark. I am pleased to announce that Dean Franco, who has taught in the Wake Forest English Department since 2001 and currently serves as the Director of the Humanities Institute, will be the first to hold the Winifred W. Palmer Professorship in Literature. The endowed professorship, named in memory of Mr. Palmer’s late wife, is one of 52 endowed positions established during the Wake Will Lead campaign.
In his 2005 Commencement address, Mr. Palmer shared that at Wake Forest he learned about “the meaning of a productive and meaningful life.” While most people know Mr. Palmer as an iconic sports figure, an uncanny knack for bringing people together contributed as much to his meaningful and productive life as his athletic prowess. Mr. Palmer personified friendliness and honor, and the stories from his life and career with which he often regaled eager listeners emphasized the importance of relationships. Connecting the memory of Arnie’s beloved Winnie with his beloved alma mater is a fitting way for us to mark this milestone in a campaign that has united so many people.
With support from nearly 60,000 Wake Forest families and friends, the momentum behind this campaign will continue to create opportunity, educate the whole person and inspire excellence. In July, when the campaign has officially concluded and we account for the full influence of our community’s generosity, I believe that the most significant impact will not be calculated by what the University has received, but will be felt by what Wake Forest gives back to our world.
Please join me in celebrating this moment, and please accept my most sincere gratitude for your belief in Wake Forest.
Dean Franco, Professor of English and Director of the Humanities Institute at Wake Forest University, has been awarded the new Winifred W. Palmer Professorship in Literature.
Arnold Palmer’s Trust funded the professorship in memory of Palmer’s late wife. Her passion for literature will be remembered through this generous gift.
Dean of the College Michele Gillespie chose Franco for his outstanding excellence within the English Department and his tireless pursuit of scholarship, mentorship and leadership.
“Dean Franco is a superb example of the consummate teacher-scholar at Wake Forest. He is a dedicated, demanding teacher; a senior scholar who has shaped his field of 20th century American Literature, and especially American Ethnic Studies; and deeply committed to the equity and wellbeing of our community and the broader community we live in,” Gillespie said.
Franco, who joined the English Department in 2001, has served in a variety of roles, including associate chair from 2010 to 2016. His third book, “The Border and the Line: Race, Literature, and Los Angeles,” was published in January; and he continues to draft, edit and peer review essays and journal submissions. He co-authored the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant for the Engaged Liberal Arts awarded in 2018. He serves as a noted scholar on panels and as a guest lecturer on topics involving race and literature. Most recently, he presented the lecture, “On Race, Scale and Literary History,” at Indiana University Oct. 10.
Inside the classroom, Franco devotes his attention to his students, from their first year through graduation. His first-year seminars on such topics as “Inauthentic, Abnormal and Queer: Social Values in Art, Literature and Film,” “The Sacred and Secular in Public Life,” and “Uncertainty” have expanded the worldview for incoming students and provided an introduction to the Pro Humanitate motto that all Wake Forest students strive to achieve. He continues to mentor and guide English majors through their intellectual pursuits while also serving as the founding director for the Jewish Studies minor that began in 2014. Franco also contributes to the campus community through his role as the director of the Humanities Institute, which establishes programs and provides funding for University faculty in the humanities and other fields of study engaging in humanistic inquiry and scholarship.
Jessica Richard, chair of the English department, calls Franco an invaluable colleague and an exceptional contributor to the department, College and University.
“In his most recent book, Dean Franco examines ‘how we all live in relational proximity to our neighbors,’ and his commitment to understanding what divides and unites us is also the bedrock of his work at Wake Forest,” Richard said. “From his role as a co-founder and current director of the Humanities Institute to his department leadership and his classroom teaching, Dean models how literary study enables us to connect across difference. We’re thrilled to see his nationally recognized scholarship and his outstanding campus leadership and teaching recognized with this professorship.”
Congratulations to Kristen Beavers, assistant professor of health and exercise science, whose proposal entitled “Incorporating Nutrition, Vests, Education, and Strength Training in Bone Health (INVEST in Bone Health) has been funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Congratulations to Cindy Gendrich, professor of theatre and dance, whose proposal entitled “Served: Forklift Danceworks at Wake Forest University” has been funded by the New England Foundation for the Arts.
Congratulations to Jack Rejeski, research professor of health and exercise science, whose proposal entitled “Molecular transducers of physical activity consortium coordinating center (CCC)” has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and by (subaward/subcontract from) the University of Florida.
Categories: Faculty News
This is a guest post from the Secrest Artists Series:
As part of the Secrest Artists Series, the Chick Corea Trilogy will perform Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m. in Wait Chapel. A pre-conference talk will be presented at 6:40 p.m.
Chick Corea has attained iconic status in music. The keyboardist, composer and bandleader is a DownBeat Hall of Famer and NEA Jazz Master, as well as the fourth-most nominated artist in Grammy Awards history with 63 nods – and 22 wins, in addition to a number of Latin Grammys. From straight-ahead to avant-garde, bebop to jazz-rock fusion, children’s songs to chamber and symphonic works, Corea has touched an astonishing number of musical bases in his career since playing with the genre-shattering bands of Miles Davis in the late ’60s and early ’70s.
Yet, Corea has never been more productive than in the 21st century, whether playing acoustic piano or electric keyboards, leading multiple bands, performing solo or collaborating with a who’s who of music. Underscoring this, he has been named Artist of the Year three times this decade in the DownBeat Readers Poll. Born in 1941 in Massachusetts, Corea remains a tireless creative spirit, continually reinventing himself through his art. As The New York Times has said, he is “a luminary, ebullient and eternally youthful.”
We expect this concert to be very popular. Reserved seating is now being offered. To ensure admittance, make reservations on the Secrest Artists Series web site or call 336-758-5757. Walk-up seating is still offered, but not guaranteed.
Tickets for the community are $5 to $24. Free with Wake Forest ID. Wake Forest University and School of Medicine faculty, staff and retirees receive free admission for themselves and one guest to each Secrest Artists Series performance. Wake Forest students and School of Medicine students receive free admission for themselves.
Over the past few years, Wake Forest University has been committed to acknowledging and understanding the role slavery played in its past. In 2016, Wake began taking a deep dive into its history, and in 2017 it joined Universities Studying Slavery (USS), a consortium of colleges and universities that are examining the role slavery played on their campuses. Out of that work came the Slavery, Race and Memory Project, for which a website was unveiled this summer.
“There are many universities that have, over the past couple of decades, begun grappling with their relationship and connections to slavery,” said Kami Chavis, associate provost for academic initiatives and co-chair of the Steering Committee for the Project. “It’s important to understand those relationships because they can and do have implications for today.”
The Steering Committee has identified several core elements to this multi-year project, including:
“It is critical for this Project to be imbued with the principles of truth, integrity, legitimacy and transparency, around which we’ve agreed to work,” said Chavis.
Visit the University news page to read more about “Understanding Wake Forest’s history with slavery.”