From Wake Forest’s baseball coach donating his kidney to a player to the creation of an iPad app to assist children with verbal challenges to the discovery that beet juice is good for the brain, here are news highlights from this academic year.
In February, coach Tom Walker’s decision to donate his kidney to player Kevin Jordan led to stories by ESPN, USA Today, the New York Times and other media outlets around the world. Reynolds Professor of American Studies Maya Angelou was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contributions as poet, author, actress and civil rights activist. Junior Ashley Millhouse spent a semester in Ghana, then returned to Wake Forest to raise money to buy shoes for children in Africa, and Kate Mansetta launched Global Brigades to provide microfinance and medical assistance in Honduras. Locally, students in the women’s and gender studies program organized the Human Rights Clothesline project to raise awareness for human rights violations worldwide. For the 22nd year, the student-organized Project Pumpkin drew hundreds of local children to campus for trick-or treating and games. Seniors Lisa Northrop and Teddy Aronson were among many students who made a difference with their volunteer efforts in Winston-Salem.
Physics Professor Daniel Kim-Shapiro and other Wake Forest researchers discovered beet juice can lower blood pressure and increase blood flow to the brain—offering ways to possibly combat dementia and poor cognition as we age. Verbal Victor, an iPhone app and the brainchild of professor Paul Pauca and his computer science students, designed a program to help people with speech disabilities. In health and exercise science, professors developed an easy way for medical professionals to assess mobility in elderly people and conducted research to support that walking more and losing weight can improve mobility by as much as 20 percent in older, obese adults. Three professors were awarded $3.67 million, the largest ever received for humanities research at Wake Forest, to study the nature of human character. A half-million dollar grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities will support Wake Forest’s new Humanities Institute.
A new 23,000 foot Welcome and Admissions Center, designed to reflect Wake Forest’s approach to admissions and philosophy of education, opened in March. A team of researchers in biology, physics and education are working to turn the classroom upside down, allowing students to tailor course instruction to their own learning style using e-textbook technology. On campus, a new director of the Teaching and Learning Center, Catherine Ross, is bringing together faculty to encourage teaching and classroom innovation. The award-winning Z. Smith Reynolds Library’s ever-popular Wake the Library program helped students deal with midterm and end of the year exam stress.
A symposium tackling the issues of environmental justice drew a standing room only crowd with Emmy-award winning journalist Simran Sehi and Bennett College Julianne Malveaux. Campaigns to reduce water bottle usage and an art exhibit using repurposed materials were just two student-generated ideas highlighting the importance of sustainable living.
Undergraduate students from the Schools of Business won the world championship title at the KPMG International Case Competition in Istanbul, Turkey. Physics students traveled to Germany to attend the Plastic Electronics Conference to learn more about soon-to-be $30 billion market in flexible plastics. Students and faculty were recognized for their entrepreneurial spirit and a student-driven conference focused on moving scientific ideas from the mind to the marketplace. A $10 million gift from Wake Forest parents Mike and Mary Farrell in October helped Wake Forest break ground on Farrell Hall, the new home of the University’s Schools of business.
During new-student orientation, first-year students explored “The Andes of Ecuador,” and theatre professor Cindy Gendrich received an NEH grant to study what makes people laugh. A production of “The Grapes of Wrath” brought together the campus community to explore the Great Depression, economics and social justice.
For more news of the year, visit the Wake Forest University News Archive.