Our shared vision of Wake Forest as a catalyst for good in society builds on a deep-seated, shared belief that our University community is distinct in embodying its motto. Pro Humanitate illuminates our purpose, animates our values, and calls our community to seek a meaningful role in the world. Pro Humanitate is central to our future. Our unique value proposition provides the compelling “why” of Wake Forest:
“Framing our Future”
Affirming Our Values, Vision and Aspirations for Wake Forest University’s Third Century
Note: All content in the printed versions is also available on the pages of this website.
This value proposition guided the articulation of three thematic goals that affirm Wake Forest’s unique place within the landscape of higher education and focus our future investment and exploration.
- Wake Forest will be a lifelong learning community that calls all to develop their full potential to contribute in a diverse and complex world.
- Wake Forest will foster a community of inquiry through research, scholarship and creative work that transcends boundaries to address the challenges facing humanity and our world.
- Wake Forest will build meaningful, mutual partnerships to honor our commitment to the well-being of our local, regional and global communities.
Each of the thematic goals provides inspiration for who we will become, expressed as strategic aims, to be applied to all parts of the University and to grow over time as new ideas and initiatives are identified.
Who We Are and
Who We Will Become
Before deciding on the thematic goals, the Strategic Framework process had to identify what strong commitments define Wake Forest’s identity and understand how the University would extend those commitments into the future.
Thematic Goal 1: Community of Learning
We will be a community of lifelong learners that calls all to develop their full potential to contribute in a diverse and complex world.
Strong, equitable learning communities nurture undergraduate, graduate and professional student growth. We center the importance of the whole student by taking into account the many ways and the varying pace with which individuals develop over the course of their education – both inside and outside of the classroom.
Strategic Aim 1.1: Attract, create and promote a diverse and inclusive learning community that provides all students with equitable access and opportunity for success and belonging.
- Expand our financial aid resources so that becoming part of the Wake Forest learning community is financially accessible for all admitted students.
- Continue to fully adopt Swarbick’s Eight Dimensions of Wellness model, known to Wake Foresters as Thrive, as a framework for institutionalizing our emphasis on educating the whole student and serving as a lens through which we contemplate future actions as we frame our future.
- Establish new undergraduate orientation programs for first-year and transfer students that use a developmental framework that intentionally connects students with the web of resources available to support their journey and enable them to thrive.
- Activate a robust residential model that promotes dialogue across differences, increases faculty-staff-student interactions, and expands learning to enhance the academic and social integration of first-year students into college life through the Residential Commons initiative.
- Update our residential model for second- through fourth-year students to reflect our students’ needs relative to academic success, belonging, wellbeing and post-graduation success.
- Create graduate and professional student programming and support systems that bridge programmatic boundaries and foster affinity, belonging, integrity and success.
- Support transformational learning by ensuring that excellent teaching, which in and of itself is a catalyst for good, is supported, rewarded and equitably distributed.
- Provide professional development for all faculty and staff on inclusive pedagogy, including methods that facilitate conversations across differences and nurture open discourse, design activities and assessments that address disparities in learning, and integrate universal design for learning.
- Prepare all our graduates to embrace continuous learning as the embodiment of Pro Humanite and the pursuit of human flourishing. Wake Forest will support continuous learning through various modes, some of them formalized, some of them not, to address the complex problems of the present and future, and generate lifelong learning opportunities through the School for Professional Studies and other schools to support alumni in their continued personal and professional development.
Strategic Aim 1.2: Magnify Wake Forest’s model for transformational teaching by fortifying its foundation in mentorship and experiential learning and infusing new inclusive pedagogies that build the knowledge, skills, and mindset needed for personal and professional success in a rapidly evolving society.
- Refine and expand a distinctly Wake Forest approach by centering experiential learning upon our core Pro Humanitate values and leveraging our strengths in research, scholarship and creative work, career readiness, community engagement and study away/abroad, with the creation of an immersive, experiential learning center that teaches how substantive inquiry can address multiple societal challenges.
- Develop and incentivize substantive experiential-based curricular and co-curricular offerings that engage students and educators across multiple contexts – courses, programs, departments, schools, universities and countries.
- Inventory and assess the impact of existing partnerships, both internal and external, and identify and develop new partnerships that will enable us to better shape and support our signature learning communities.
- Document where and how data and digital literacy are currently integrated into our curricula, identify gaps between actual and needed, and develop approaches to address those gaps.
Strategic Aim 1.3: Provide multiple pathways through which Wake Forest students can develop the knowledge, skills, and values that enable them to critically examine, reflect on and embody Pro Humanitate; engage in dialogue across differences; and practice a bold new model for educating and developing leaders of character, integrity and courage.
- Create additional dynamic pathways and programming, curricular and co-curricular, for all students to build their lifelong capacity to lead with integrity.
- Coordinate curricular and co-curricular experiences for all students to promote the robust development of critical thinking, cultural humility and courage as distinctives in a Wake Forest education.
- Provide additional opportunities for developmentally-informed learning experiences in leadership, community engagement and civil discourse for all students.
- Develop meaningful student-based opportunities for informed dialogue around the most compelling issues of the day that leverage the expertise and experience of our community of educators and build on existing successful models, including the historical commitment to our national championship debate program, the deliberative dialogue workshops, the Face to Face series and Call to Conversation.
Thematic Goal 2: Community of Inquiry
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.
The culture within great universities – those that are steeped in independence of thought and academic freedom – provides a community in which lines of inquiry can be pursued unfettered. Universities are the primary engines for generating the knowledge needed to tackle the complex problems that vex society.
Strategic Aim 2.1: Facilitate an inclusive community of inquiry at Wake Forest that is grounded in generating new knowledge through research, scholarship, and creative work, providing enhanced opportunities and contexts for experiential learning, and spurring dialogue and discourse for faculty, staff, students, alumni and the larger community in service to humanity.
- Articulate and integrate a well-defined understanding of the teacher-scholar ideal that mutually reinforces the role of teaching and scholarship within our communities of learning and inquiry across all the schools.
- Leverage the creation of a center to promote access to and excellence in experiential learning (see Aim 1.2), and in doing so strengthen opportunities for student engagement in research, scholarship and creative work that foster critical inquiry, generate opportunities for faculty-student and peer mentorship, and support students as they apply their learning to societal challenges.
Strategic Aim 2.2: Strengthen existing and build new signature areas of excellence in research, scholarship and creative work that cross academic and institutional boundaries to address issues of importance to humanity with broad societal impact, positioning Wake Forest as a thought leader in important national and international dialogues.
- Strengthen key technical and administrative support services for research excellence, including the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and Corporate and Foundation Relations, to ensure we are highly competitive for extramural funding opportunities.
- Initiate cluster hires, joint appointments and endowed professorships to recruit top teacher-scholars in current and developing areas of University excellence.
- Articulate a specific rubric and process for determining whether nascent areas of research, scholarship and creative work hold promise to become areas of interdisciplinary and institutional distinction for Wake Forest.
- For example: African American Religion and Thought is an important developing area of research excellence inclusive of multiple programs within our College of Arts and Science (our new African American studies interdisciplinary program, religious studies, communication, sociology, political science, English, history, women, gender and sexuality studies, anthropology, philosophy, and environment and sustainability, and others); expertise within our School of Divinity; and expertise within our School of Law. The recent receipt of external funding to study and advance environmental justice exemplifies the potential for this to be an area of distinction for Wake Forest.
- Catalyze and disseminate research, scholarship and creative work in established or emergent areas of interdisciplinary and/or University distinction that crosses barriers and empowers new collaborations of importance to humanity. Articulate a specific rubric and process for defining areas of distinction, current examples include
- Health, Medicine and Humanity: Wake Forest is uniquely situated to support health, medicine and humanity. It is a collaborative, intellectual and community-based space for addressing ethical, social and policy issues of importance for biotechnology, health care, biomedical research, public health and health communication. Key areas of excellence at Wake Forest include the Bioethics Center, the Humanities Institute, health and exercise science, psychology, neuroscience, sociology, counseling, biostatistics, epidemiology, and public health sciences departments and divisions, the bioethics, humanity and medicine minor, and multiple programs, including the COMPASS Initiative, medical-legal partnerships like the Veterans Legal Clinic.
- Neuroscience and Society: Wake Forest has considerable expertise across the institution in the interconnectedness of brain health and the workings of the mind, including teacher-scholars in our law school, divinity school and medical school (including the Maya Angelou Center for Health); theatre and dance, biology and psychology programs in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School; our cross-school Bioethics program, and in our neuroscience clinical and basic science departments in health sciences, where neurological, neuropsychiatric, neurodegenerative and behavioral research, neuro-ethics and advanced tools such as super-resolution imaging, computational modeling and machine learning are helping transform Wake Forest into a national neuroscience hub.
- Environment and Sustainability: Faculty in the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences programs in environment and sustainability, biology, physics, statistics, engineering, chemistry, politics and international affairs, history, religious studies, and others; the Center for Functional Materials (CFM); and faculty in the Schools of Divinity, Law, Business, and Medicine, have collective expertise in specific areas of impact. Our world-renowned Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability (CEES) effects change by taking knowledge and technology from the lab to society, linking basic research and the tools – enterprise, policy, education, marketing, the arts – that turns ideas into action.
- Leadership, Character and Integrity: Wake Forest has developed significant research excellence in the analysis and promotion of character and ethical behavior through multiple programs including the internationally renowned Leadership and Character Program, the Allegacy Center for Leadership and Character in the School of Business, vocational formation research in the School of Divinity, through the award-winning research of a cluster of faculty in the philosophy and psychology departments on The Honesty Project, and in the work of the Schools of Law and Medicine.
- Emerging and Future Technologies: Emerging technologies have yet to be fully realized but they have the capacity to transform or disrupt established practices and ways of doing things, raising new questions about how we live, how we learn, how we work and even what it means to be human. This manifests in our academic programs in engineering and business and data analytics; our expertise in artificial intelligence, patent practice, and blockchain research; our Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials, Computer Science Network Security Projects, Center for Functional Materials and Center for Analytics.
Strategic Aim 2.3: Amplify Wake Forest’s scholarly excellence by strategically leveraging internal resources and external partnerships to connect, explain and communicate cutting-edge research, scholarship and creative work beyond our campus boundaries.
- Use our emergent excellence in key areas of inquiry to recruit new students and teacher-scholars, and reach broader audiences, all of whom can help us apply the relevant new knowledge we have created to address problems facing society.
- Facilitate new strategic partnerships based on our enhanced portfolio of research excellence that further enable us to contribute to critical national and international dialogue, policymaking and major funded projects.
- Leverage research partnerships with Advocate and Atrium Health to meet the nation’s most pressing public health needs using our shared expertise.
- Attract, hire and retain teacher-scholars in our areas of scholarly excellence whose work is recognized as catalyzing good for humanity as demonstrated by the top recognitions and awards in their fields.
Thematic Goal 3: Community of Partnerships
We will build meaningful, mutual partnerships to honor our commitment to the wellbeing of local, regional and global communities.
Our local communities geographically define our University; this is where our employees live and where our economic, cultural and human capital can be most directly felt. But the local is also global, and great universities must also directly engage their expertise and resources more broadly to nurture an equitable and educated society.
Strategic Aim 3.1: Enact a shared approach to all partnerships that foregrounds Wake Forest’s unique strengths in teaching and research, scholarship and creative work as we more fully honor our commitment to the wellbeing of our local, regional and global communities.
- As informed by the emerging work related to Goals 1 and 2, map our current community-based activities onto:
- our core strengths in teaching and research, scholarship and creative work;
- the most pressing problems facing our local and regional communities.
- Determine areas for prioritization by identifying areas of intersection between our core strengths and the needs of our communities (see Aims 1.2, 1.3, and 2.1).
- Determine and implement a comprehensive approach for more effectively coordinating with our external partners with whom we share a common commitment to the wellbeing of our communities.
Strategic Aim 3.2: Align our infrastructure for supporting community engagement with best practices for building and sustaining meaningful, mutual partnerships within the areas of emphasis identified through Aim 3.1.
- Implement a sustainable approach to securing, allocating, and understanding the impact of resources that support the well-being of our communities.
- Assess our capabilities and capacities relative to best practices in community-engaged research, scholarship and creative work to identify processes and principles through which we can become more effective partners within our communities.
Strategic Aim 3.3: Reinforce Wake Forest’s role as a leading collaborator in Winston-Salem, the Piedmont Triad region, Charlotte and the State of North Carolina by becoming a stronger partner in supporting and promoting the economic development of our communities.
- Map the existing ways in which Wake Forest contributes to the economic development of the region to include partnerships, memberships and other sources of support (see Aim 3.1).
- As informed by the emerging work related to Goals 1 and 2, determine the most strategic ways we can support the economic development of the region based on:
- Wake Forest’s unique areas of distinction; and
- The ways in which we can work with other local higher education institutions and non-profits to promote the economic development of our region.