Thematic Goals and Working Groups

The compelling ‘why’ of Wake Forest

The Core Planning Team articulated a clear, overarching, distinctive statement about why Wake Forest is driven to fulfill its academic commitments. This “unique value proposition” is:

Wake Foresters will embody Pro Humanitate at home and in the world. 


Nov. 17, 2022 — Dr. Wente addressed the Strategic Framework in her annual Presidential Address.

Nov. 30, 2022 — Dr. Wente added context to the next steps of the framework process in her blog post.

Dec. 15, 2022 — More information about the thematic goals and working groups was shared.

Thematic goals

To deliver on this value proposition, three thematic goals stand as the “what” that will enable the “why:” 

  • We will be a lifelong learning community that calls all to develop their full potential to contribute in a diverse and complex world.
  • We will foster a community of inquiry through research, scholarship, and creative work that transcends boundaries to address the challenges facing humanity and our world. 
  • We will build meaningful, mutual partnerships to honor our commitment to the wellbeing of our local, regional and global communities.

Thematic working groups

Over the spring semester,  thematic working groups will evaluate current University practices and identify best practices across higher education. By late spring, the working groups will identify what success will look like if we accomplish each goal, explore how to achieve these goals, and identify the choices to be made among current activities and future initiatives in each thematic goal area.

Each group is led by two co-chairs and composed of faculty and staff across the University. By design, the working groups are not aligned under an individual thematic goal. The areas to be explored by each working group overlap with multiple thematic goals and should produce broad discussions and opportunities for collaboration. The current draft description for each working group is viewed as a launching point with potential future refinements as the work progresses. 

Thematic working group topics

Provost Michele Gillespie and the Core Planning Team have engaged in an iterative process to develop and propose a set of key areas for focused work. The process, in addition to further review by President Wente and other members of the Strategic Framework team, has yielded the following working group topics:

1. Enrich the student experience.

This group will explore how we encapsulate the depth and complexity of our distinctive learning communities — undergraduate, graduate, professional and continuing — into a comprehensive, developmental model that “calls all to develop their full potential to contribute in a diverse and complex world.” The model should focus on key components of the student experience, including residential and non-residential; well-being and mental health; diversity, equity, inclusion; belonging and thriving; and broad-based leadership modalities. This group should consider the many avenues in which learning takes place in and beyond the classroom, and the opportunities to more intentionally integrate all student experiences across the diversity of available learning environments, and across a lifetime. 

2. Frame the future of excellence in teaching and academic engagement.

This group will envision the future of learning at Wake Forest, with an emphasis on exploring how we further develop a signature intellectual community for students that promotes inquiry,  integrity, and courage. Key areas of consideration will include expanding access to high-impact practices and especially to experiential learning and student research, scholarship and creative work; increasing opportunities for shared engagement and learning across the college, schools, campuses, and study away programs; fostering meaningful discourse across differences; developing strategies to address equity in access to learning environments; sustaining an environment that prioritizes the critical role of student mentorship by faculty and staff; and exploring the role of new technologies and online education.   

3. Enhance impact through distinction in research, scholarship and creative work.

Building on existing and emerging areas of defined university-wide collaborative excellence, this group will consider strategies for catalyzing a culture of intellectual inquiry and innovation across academic and institutional boundaries. The strategy should support designated current areas of distinction, increase the impact of selected emerging areas of distinction, and create the opportunity for future areas of distinction to evolve. This group will consider existing barriers to working across boundaries and propose strategies to enable cross-disciplinary and cross-unit engagement in support of our unique teacher-scholar model. Strategies for increasing the impact of our research, scholarship, and creative work in STEM, social science, the arts and humanities, public scholarship, and our museums and collections will be explored.  

4. Build on Wake Forest’s unique role in supporting the well-being of the communities we call home. 

This group will consider the many ways in which universities contribute to their communities, with a particular emphasis on exploring the capabilities we bring as a research university to supporting community well-being. One particular area of emphasis will be building on synergistic areas of research distinction that Wake Forest collectively – including the medical school and health sciences – can bring to community partnerships. This group will also consider best practices in community-engaged research, mechanisms for generating external funding support for this work, and ways to better facilitate collaborations among our Wake Forest and higher education colleagues for the good of our broader communities.  

5. Define principles and pathways for engaging in sustainable partnerships locally and globally. 
Strategic partnerships play an essential role in our ability to live out our mission and enable us to both enhance our capacity for and amplify the impact of innovation. This group will consider the principles that guide our partnerships and the pathways for identifying, developing, and sustaining them over time. They will also examine the strengths of existing partnerships and review partnerships for alignment with our new strategic framework. This group will explore how our motto, Pro Humanitate, should motivate the manner and methods by which Wake Foresters engage with the larger world.