May 7, 2021

In the summer of 2020, President Nathan Hatch created the Advisory Committee on Naming, co-chaired by Trustee Donna Boswell and Dean Jonathan Lee Walton, with the charge to establish guiding principles, conduct historical research and consider meaningful ways to contextualize, remember and honor individuals throughout Wake Forest’s story. Committee members, Trustees, administrators, faculty, staff, students and alumni came together to research and engage in a series of Call to Conversation events to determine how we can expand the narrative of the University. Building on the work of the Slavery, Race and Memory Project, these efforts have widened our understanding of the context in which Wake Forest was founded and operated from 1834 through 1862.

On May 7, 2021, President Hatch and leaders of the Board of Trustees shared the announcement that the University will take action to come to terms with its antebellum heritage. 

Read President Hatch’s message to the Wake Forest community »

Announcement from President Hatch and the Board of Trustees

“At Wake Forest, we are passionate about seeking knowledge and pursuing truth. The calling of Pro Humanitate is to use that knowledge and truth to better the lives and communities around us. Today, that community is our own. ”

President Emeritus Nathan O. Hatch

Reflections from the Co-Chairs of the Advisory Committee on Naming

Remembering Our History and Honoring Our Values

Donna Boswell (’72, MA ’74), Trustee and co-chair of the Advisory Committee on Naming

Something To Be Proud Of

Dean Jonathan Lee Walton, co-chair of the Advisory Committee on Naming


Research subcommittees comprised of faculty were charged with conducting comprehensive research on:

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Remember with Us:
Commemoration of the Enslaved

On May 7, 2021, Wake Forest held a ceremony to recognize formerly enslaved individuals with ties to the University. Names of the enslaved people who helped build the original campus in Wake Forest were read by faculty, staff, students, administrators, alumni and a University trustee. The ceremony was started by students in the University’s School of Divinity and its Sociology Department, who on May 7, 2019, gathered on the steps of Wait Chapel to remember the enslaved individuals who were sold by or worked for Wake Forest.

Order of Events

  • Opening: “Say Her Name” by Alysia Lee sung by the WFU and WSSU Choruses
  • Welcome from the Slavery, Race and Memory Project: Kami Chavis, Vice Provost and Tim Pyatt, Dean, ZSR Library
  • Invocation: Rev. Jonathan Lee Walton, Dean, School of Divinity, and Co-Chair, Advisory Committee on Naming
  • Framing remarks: Corey D.B. Walker, Wake Forest Professor of the Humanities, Inaugural Director of the Program in African American Studies
  • Reading of the names (Readers)
    • Mary Tribble (’82, MA ’19) – Senior Advisor for Engagement Strategies
    • Kelly Starnes (’93, MBA ’14) – President, Association of WFU Black Alumni
    • Miles Middleton (’21) – President, Student Government
    • Michael Eley (MDiv ’21) – Student, School of Divinity
    • Chris Burris (’93) – Board Member, Association of WFU Black Alumni
    • Leann Pace – Assistant Teaching Professor, Department for the Study of Religions
    • José Villalba – Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, Chief Diversity Officer
    • Donna Boswell (’72, MA ’74) – University Trustee and Co-Chair, Advisory Committee on Naming
    • Announcement from President Nathan O. Hatch and the University Board of Trustees