Wake Forest College of Wake Forest University is the center of the University’s academic life; through it, the University carries on the tradition of preparing men and women for personal enrichment, enlightened citizenship, and professional life.

Wake Forest College is a place of meeting. Its teachers and students are of diverse backgrounds and interests, and that diversity is crucial to the distinctive character of the College. Wake Forest continually examines its educational purpose and evaluates its success in fulfilling it. A formal statement of purpose was prepared as part of the school’s decennial reaccreditation process and was adopted by the Board of Trustees.

Statement of Mission and Purpose 

Wake Forest is a university dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in the liberal arts and in graduate and professional education. Its distinctiveness in its pursuit of its mission derives from its private, coeducational, and residential character; its size and location; and its Baptist heritage. Each of these factors constitutes a significant aspect of the unique character of the institution.

The University is now comprised of six constituent parts: Wake Forest College, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Law, the School of Medicine, the School of Business and the School of Divinity. It seeks to honor the ideals of liberal learning, which entail commitment to transmission of cultural heritages; teaching the modes of learning in the basic disciplines of human knowledge; developing critical appreciation of moral, aesthetic and religious values; advancing the frontiers of knowledge through in-depth study and research; and applying and utilizing knowledge in the service of humanity.

Wake Forest has been dedicated to the liberal arts for over a century and a half; this means education in the fundamental fields of human knowledge and achievement, as distinguished from education that is technical or narrowly vocational. It seeks to encourage habits of mind that ask “why,” that evaluate evidence, that are open to new ideas, that attempt to understand and appreciate the perspectives of others, that accept complexity and grapple with it, that admit error, and that pursue truth. Wake Forest College has by far the largest student body in the University, and its function is central to the University’s larger life. The College and the Graduate School are most singularly focused on learning for its own sake; they therefore serve as exemplars of specific academic values in the life of the University.

Beginning as early as 1894, Wake Forest accepted an obligation to provide professional training in a number of fields, as a complement to its primary mission of liberal arts education. This responsibility is fulfilled in the conviction that the humane values embodied in the liberal arts are also centrally relevant to the professions. Professional education at Wake Forest is characterized by a commitment to ethical and other professional ideals that transcend technical skills. Like the Graduate School, the professional schools are dedicated to the advancement of learning in their fields. In addition, they are specifically committed to the application of knowledge to solving concrete problems of human beings. They are strengthened by values and goals which they share with the College and Graduate School, and the professional schools enhance the work of these schools and the University as a whole by serving as models of service to humanity.

Wake Forest was founded by private initiative, and ultimate decision-making authority lies in a privately appointed Board of Trustees rather than in a public body. Funded to a large extent from private sources of support, it is determined to chart its own course in the pursuit of its goals. As a co-educational institution it seeks to “educate together” persons of both sexes and from a wide range of backgrounds--racial, ethnic, religious, geographical, socio-economic and cultural. Its residential features are conducive to learning and to the pursuit of a wide range of co-curricular activities. It has made a conscious choice to remain small in overall size; it takes pride in being able to function as a community rather than a conglomerate. Its location in the Piedmont area of North Carolina engenders an ethos that is distinctively Southern, and more specifically North Carolinian. As it seeks further to broaden its constituency and to receive national recognition, it is also finding ways to maintain the ethos associated with its regional roots.

Wake Forest is proud of its Baptist and Christian heritage. For more than a century and a half, it has provided the University an indispensable basis for its mission and purpose, enabling Wake Forest to educate thousands of ministers and lay people for enlightened leadership in their churches and communities. Far from being exclusive and parochial, this religious tradition gives the University roots that ensure its lasting identity and branches that provide a supportive environment for a wide variety of faiths. The Baptist insistence on both the separation of church and state and local autonomy has helped to protect the University from interference and domination by outside interests, whether these be commercial, governmental, or ecclesiastical. The Baptist stress upon an uncoerced conscience in matters of religious belief has been translated into a concern for academic freedom. The Baptist emphasis upon revealed truth enables a strong religious critique of human reason, even as the claims of revelation are put under the scrutiny of reason. The character of intellectual life at Wake Forest encourages open and frank dialogue and provides assurance that the University will be ecumenical and not provincial in scope, and that it must encompass perspectives other than the Christian. Wake Forest thus seeks to maintain and invigorate what is noblest in its religious heritage.

Honor System

Wake Forest University upholds the ideals of honor and integrity. The Honor System is central to University life; its essence is a commitment by each person to do what is right and abide by community standards. Each student is pledged to be trustworthy in all matters, and a violation of that trust is an offense against the community as a whole. In the specific terms of the Honor Code, a student pledges in all phases of life not to cheat, plagiarize, engage in other forms of academic or social misconduct, deceive, or steal. The strength of the Honor System derives from the commitment of each and every student to uphold its ideals.

The undergraduate student conduct system is jointly administered by the Office of the Dean of the College, the Office of the Dean of Student Services, and the Judicial Council. Complete details are available at the Offices of the Dean of the College and the Dean of Students.

Summary of Computing Rights and Responsibilities

The policy applies to all computer and computer communication facilities owned, leased, operated, or contracted by the University. This includes, but is not limited to, tablets, personal computers, laptops, smart phones, computer networks, computer peripherals, and software, whether used for academic, administration, research or other purposes. This also includes use of University data or access to computer systems by personal devices such as computers, tablets, and smart phones by faculty, staff, students and guests. The policy extends to any use of University facilities to access computers elsewhere.

Wake Forest University provides each of its students and faculty with an email account. Outside of the classroom, email is an important means of communication between faculty, staff, and students. It is the responsibility of the student to regularly monitor his or her Wake Forest email account for University communications.

Basic Principles. The University’s computing resources are for administrative, instructional, educational, and research use by the students, faculty, staff, vendors and contractors of Wake Forest University. Ethical standards which apply to other University activities (Honor Code, Social Regulations and Policies, and all local, state, and federal laws) apply equally to use of University computing resources.

As in all aspects of University life, users of the University’s computing resources should act honorably and in a manner consistent with ordinary ethical obligations. Cheating, stealing, making false or deceiving statements, plagiarism, vandalism, and harassment are just as wrong in the context of computing resources as they are in all other domains.

Use of campus resources is restricted to authorized users. For the purposes of this policy, an “authorized user” is defined as an individual who has been assigned a login ID and authentication credentials such as a password for use of computing resources. Authorized users are responsible for the proper use of the accounts assigned to them under their login ID and authentication credentials. Users are also responsible for reporting any activities which they believe to be in violation of this policy, just as students are responsible for reporting Honor Code violations.

Use of these resources must be done:

  • In a manner consistent with the terms under which they were granted access 
  • In a way that respects the rights and privacy of other users; so as not to interfere with or violate the normal, appropriate use of these resources; and
  • In a responsible manner and consistent with University policies and the workplace and educational environment.

For faculty, staff, vendors, contractors, and other non-students, limited personal use of University issued computing resources is authorized so long as it does not impact University computers, network, or interfere with work related activities and is not prohibited by this or other policies.

For students, personal activity is allowed as long as it does not interfere with other University computers or network bandwidth and is not prohibited by this or other policies.

Systems Monitoring. This statement serves as notice to all users of campus computing resources that regular monitoring of system activities occurs and users should have no expectation of privacy while on the WFU network or computer systems. Only people engaged in supporting University computing resources are authorized to perform monitoring of systems and only for systems under their control.

Policy Violations. Suspected violation of this policy will be handled through the appropriate University process or office, such as administrative procedures, The Honor and Ethics Council, the Graduate Council, Dean’s office, or Human Resources.

Violation of this policy may result in one or more of the following, in addition to any other actions deemed appropriate by the applicable authority:

  • Suspension of one’s ability to perform interactive logins on relevant machines on campus.
  • Suspension of one’s ability to use the University’s computing resources.
  • Suspension of one’s ability to send or receive email.
  • Increased monitoring of further computer activity (beyond normal systems monitoring).

Locating Computing Policy Information and Policy Updates. The above summary is based on the “Policy on Ethical and Responsible Use of Computing Resources”. These policies may be updated, shortened, or expanded from time to time. Full policies can be reviewed online by searching on “Policies” at http://is.wfu.edu.

Student Complaints

Situations may arise in which a student believes that he or she has not received fair treatment by a representative of the University or has a complaint about the performance, actions, or inaction of the staff or faculty affecting a student. There are mechanisms in place for the reporting and resolution of complaints regarding specific types of concern (student conduct, honor system, bias, grade dispute, harassment and discrimination, for instance), and these should be fully used where appropriate. Students are encouraged to seek assistance from faculty advisers, deans’ offices in the College or Business School, or the Office of the Dean of Students when evaluating the nature of their complaints and deciding on an appropriate course of action.

The complaint process outlined below is meant to answer and resolve issues arising between individual students and the University and its various offices when a mechanism for reporting and resolution of the specific type of concern is not already in place. A complaint cannot be filed on behalf of another person. A complaint should first be directed as soon as possible to the person or persons whose actions or inactions have given rise to the problem—not later than three months after the event. 

For complaints in the academic (i.e., classroom) setting, the student should talk personally with or send a written complaint explaining the concern directly to the instructor. Should the student and instructor be unable to resolve the conflict, the student may then turn to the chair of the involved department (in the Wake Forest School of Business, this would be the dean) for assistance. The chair (or dean) will communicate with both parties, seek to understand their individual perspectives, and within a reasonable time, reach a conclusion and share it with both parties. If the student’s complaint is not resolved by these procedures he/she should consult with the Office of Academic Advising for assistance. Finally, a student may appeal to the Committee on Academic Affairs which will study the matter, taking input from all parties, and reach a final decision concerning resolution.

For complaints outside the academic setting, the student should talk personally with or send a written complaint explaining the concern directly to the individual involved.  Should the student and individual be unable to resolve the concern, the student may then turn to the appropriate administrative channel for assistance, which may be an immediate supervisor, department head, or Dean.  The immediate supervisor, department head, or dean will meet or communicate with both parties, seek to understand their individual perspectives, and within a reasonable time, reach a conclusion and share it with both parties. Finally, a student may appeal to the vice president with administrative responsibility for the issue that is the subject of the concern. The vice president will study the matter, work with the parties, and reach a final resolution. Students uncertain about the proper channels are encouraged to seek advice from faculty advisers, deans’ offices, or the Office of the Dean of Students. 

History and Development

Since 1834, Wake Forest College has developed its distinctive pattern of characteristics: tenacity, independence, a fierce defense of free inquiry and expression, and a concern that knowledge be used responsibly and compassionately. Its growth from a small sectarian school to one of the nation's most significant private universities proves the value of these core characteristics.

The brief history of Wake Forest is useful in understanding the University as it is today and appreciating the process through which it developed.

Chronological History of Wake Forest University

Year Event
1834 Founded in the town of Wake Forest, North Carolina, as Wake Forest Manual Labor Institute by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Samuel Wait, president
1838 Named Wake Forest College
1845 William Hooper, president
1849 John Brown White, president
1854 Washington Manly Wingate, president
1879 Thomas Henderson Pritchard, president
1884 Charles Elisha Taylor, president
1894 School of Law established
1902 Two-year School of Medicine established
1905 William Louis Poteat, president
1921 First summer session
1927 Francis Pendleton Gaines, president
1930 Thurman D. Kitchin, president
1941 Relocation of the School of Medicine to Winston-Salem and eventual change of name to Bowman Gray School of Medicine and association with the North Carolina Baptist Hospital
1942 Women admitted as undergraduate students
1950 Harold Wayland Tribble, president
1953 Wake Forest becomes a founding member of the Atlantic Coast Conference
1956 Move to Winston-Salem, 100 miles west, in response to an endowment from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. No American college has picked up roots as deep and moved them so far.
1961 Graduate School of Arts and Sciences established
1962 First major private university in the South to integrate with the enrollment of Edward Reynolds
1967 James Ralph Scales, president
1967 Change of name to Wake Forest University
1969 Charles H. Babcock Graduate School of Management established
1974 Purchased Casa Artom in Venice to serve as an academic international house for students
1977 Purchased Worrell House in London to serve as an academic international house for students
1983 Thomas K. Hearn Jr., president
1984 Sesquicentennial anniversary
1986 Established governing independence from the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina
1994 Carnegie Foundation recognizes Wake Forest as a Doctoral II institution, an upgrade that qualifies the University for consideration as a National University according to U.S. News & World Report rankings
1995 School of Business and Accountancy is renamed the Wayne Calloway School of Business and Accountancy
1996 Wake Forest becomes the first college in the history of the U.S. News rankings to advance from classification as a Regional University to a Top-30 National University. It remains the only school to make this jump.
1997 Change of name to Wake Forest University School of Medicine
1998 Purchased Flow House in Vienna to serve as an academic international house for students
1999 Divinity School founded
2005 Nathan O. Hatch, president
2008 Wake Forest announces it will become the first Top-30 National University to no longer require admission applicants to submit standardized test scores. This is a distinction we still hold.
2009 The Wayne Calloway School of Business and Accountancy and the Charles H. Babcock Graduate School of Management officially merged under the name Wake Forest University Schools of Business (now named Wake Forest University School of Business)
2010 Wake Forest begins a 10-year, $625 million construction effort that enhances academic, residential and athletic facilities.
2012 Opening of Wake Forest University Charlotte Center in uptown Charlotte, N.C.
2017 Opening of Wake Downtown, home to new biomedical sciences and engineering programs; opening of the Wake Washington Center at One Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.