A Message of Support from Dean Gillespie

Dear Students,

Please know that all the College faculty and staff miss you, and we understand that you miss your Wake Forest people, your place, and your routines. Know that we all do, too, and we’re all making big adjustments together even as we mourn the spring semester we imagined.

In the Office of the Dean of the College and across all units at Wake Forest University, we’ve been thinking around-the-clock about how best to support our students, faculty, and staff.

Because we know all Wake Forest students are high-achieving students, we know you may be feeling particularly isolated in this newer learning environment. Just as your professors had to switch to online teaching and learning swiftly, you, too, have made a dramatic pivot. We suspect your concerns and struggles may feel overwhelming at times, but please know they are very normal given these circumstances.

I hope you have been able to discuss any concerns with your professors. Faculty-student communication has always been a vital resource, and that matters now more than ever. Wake Forest faculty are hired and retained because they love teaching and love working with students. Our faculty want to hear from you about what you are struggling with and what you are embracing as you move through your academic careers. These established relationships will continue past this spring semester and beyond Wake Forest; I value this myself in teaching and advising my own first-year students. Like you, many of your faculty are wrestling with all the demands of school, life, work, and home. Given these extraordinary times and the distance, we’ll depend more than ever on authentic and clear communication, our relationships, and our collective Wake Forest culture.

If you need support, we want to empower you to get help via some specific Wake Forest resources:

  • The Office of Academic Advising team is an excellent resource if you’d like to talk more about your specific concerns with pass/fail, your course load, and your pre-med aspirations. Spring 2020 will be an asterisk on many students’ transcripts; honestly, higher education is figuring this out as we go along (many schools are expanding pass/fail), and that will include graduate schools and professional programs like medical, dental, and vet schools. For all academic inquiries, virtual appointments, and requests please call 336-758-3320 or email undergraduateadvising@nullwfu.edu.
  • We also encourage you to contact the Learning Assistance Center and Disability Services for their support services. We don’t need to tell you that this pandemic is an evolving, unpredictable, and unprecedented situation for our Wake Forest community. On your part, it will require adapting and learning more about how you learn. But please recognize that all of us will come out the other side knowing more about ourselves. Specifically, the LAC-DS is able to consult with you about time management and remote learning that might be particularly helpful now.
  • We’d also encourage you to take advantage of our numerous other campus resources that would support your mental and emotional health, namely, the University Counseling Center. We at Wake Forest understand that students are more than their grades. Crisis assistance for urgent mental health needs is available anytime, from anywhere, by calling 336-758-5273. These are high-stress times and all of us are feeling that; have grace with yourself. Additionally, the Office of Wellbeing offers free, virtual wellbeing coaching sessions on stress, anxiety, time management, and resiliency.

Please take care of yourself. Go on those walks, maybe first thing in the morning to create a break between home and school. Get outside. Write, text, or call your friends and distant family. Transfer the good and healthful habits you developed to deal with stress on campus—working out at the gym, socializing with friends, sleeping enough, and eating well—into what works during these very difficult times. Activate your go-to stress management strategies. That may mean finding a new routine. But more than ever, getting away from your computer will be key to your mental and emotional health, and your academic success, too. It will take a little more intentionality right now to feel connected to yourself—your inner-life—and your networks because you’re away from your familiar routine. This is an opportunity, although unexpected, to know yourself better. While that is certainly challenging, I hope it’s a little exciting, too; this experience and resiliency will now be part of your story.

The decision to adapt to new environments when faced with challenges like the one we are experiencing can help us grow, thrive, and discover new ways to experience community together. Find support in the ways that you need, whether that is ‘pit-sitting’ with your friends on Zoom, reconnecting with peers you have not heard from in a while, or sharing your virtual meetings with #WakeFromHome. Create a fun video with friends like our student-athletes have been doing. Stay connected with the organizations you love and take part in their virtual get-togethers. I hope you participated in last weekend’s virtual Wake ‘N Shake, which did an incredible job in transitioning to a digital platform and raised $383,550.25 for cancer research. Stay on track with your studying through virtual study sessions with your classmates or join a group session, such as the virtual LGBTQ+ Study Space. Download a virtual WFU background to stay inspired while you work at home. And remember, reach out to your fellow Deacs and let others know if you need the same.

All of us at Wake Forest are so looking forward to the time we can all gather together again. We deeply miss our students and our campus. We miss our classrooms and coffee shops, our conversations and communities. We miss our relationships growing and thriving in person. We know we’ll come out on the other side of this stronger, and we can’t wait to hear everyone’s stories about it all.

Sincerely,

Michele Gillespie
Dean of the College

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