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Wake Forest’s finest

Founders’ Day recognizes excellence in teaching, research, academics and service

By Jessica Blackburn ('13), Intern Office of Communications and External Relations
Senior Joshua Courtney delivers his senior oration at Founders' Day Convocation.
Senior Joshua Courtney delivers his senior oration at Founders' Day Convocation.

The Wake Forest community gathered together for Founders’ Day Convocation on Feb. 21 to celebrate the University’s founding in 1834 and the accomplishments of faculty and alumni in teaching, research and service. Applause and appreciation permeated Wait Chapel during the annual celebration, which also included videos and orations from graduating seniors reflecting on their time at Wake Forest.

View a photo gallery »
See video of the full ceremony »

Senior orations

It is an annual tradition for seniors to give orations. In Wake Forest’s early years, every graduating student delivered a speech. As the University grew, it came to be impossible for every student to speak. Now, three students are selected each year to deliver an oration at Founders’ Day that addresses how they have changed during their four years at Wake Forest.

The winners of the 2013 Senior Orations competition are:

Our Actions, Ourselves
By Joshua Courtney
“We at Wake Forest are girded by supports and institutionalized systems that we may not always see, but to which we owe a great deal. Whether because of ability, work ethic, or simple fortune, we at Wake Forest tread a comfortable and rewarding path that few have the opportunity to walk…our motto, Pro Humanitate, calls on us to shatter the illusion that knowledge is only for the privileged, that social stratification need dictate life, and that institutional injustice has to be permanent.”
Read more »

What a Tapestry WE Weave
Dean GuerraBy Dean Guerra
“As I stand here today reflecting on my time at Wake Forest I am so proud to be a part of a new page and lasting legacy that has been created here: that no matter what color, creed, religion, gender, you may be, YOU are important. I am important. WE are important because together we work to not right yesterday’s wrongs but to create a future together of equality, acceptance, understanding, and love.”
Read more »

The Confessions of a Show Dog
By XinxinStephanie” Zhang
Xinxin "Stephanie" Zhang“I want to live in a world in which none of us have to perform to get to where we want to go, but I don’t think such a world is possible. However, I will always remember even as I am being externally judged that I am more than what can be quantified, more than my grades, my scores, my list of accomplishments. I will remember that behind my performance I have an authentic self. The most important part of our journeys is to not get lost.”
Read more »

Senior video

A collection of the personal reflections, graduating seniors explain what they remember most about their time at Wake Forest.

Medallion of Merit: the University’s highest honor

Rhoda B. BillingsThe Medallion of Merit, the University’s highest honor, is presented to a person who has rendered outstanding service to the University. This year it was awarded to Rhoda B. Billings (JD ’66) for her outstanding engagement in the North Carolina law community and service as a professor at Wake School of Law from 1973 until 2003. First in her law school class, she became Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court in 1985 and she served as the first female president of the North Carolina Bar Association. “Her knowledge and ability need no other endorsement than the influential positions she was asked to hold, the decisions that she was asked to make, and the grace and professionalism that she artfully executed throughout her career,” said President Nathan O. Hatch. “Her service to jurisprudence is both historic and significant.”
See the video »
Past Medallion of Merit winners »

Honors and awards

John Reinhardt Award for Distinguished Teaching
Louis GoldsteinMusic Professor Louis R. Goldstein received the John Reinhardt Award for Distinguished Teaching, which recognizes faculty for being a distinguished teacher who exemplifies the ideals of a liberal arts education. Described as “dedicated,” “patient,” “inspiring” and “unique,” one student said, “He taught me that music is far more than theory and technique. In his classes I experienced profound insights about the ways that music allows us to express and experience the most important aspects of our humanity.”
Read more about the award

Reid-Doyle Prize for Excellence in Teaching
Oana JurchescuAssistant Professor of Physics Oana Jurchescu, who joined the faculty in 2009, was awarded the Reid-Doyle Prize for Excellence in Teaching, which recognizes faculty who are in the early part of their careers. This past year, Jurchescu published eight articles with her students, who describe her teaching style as “challenging and rewarding.” “She builds relationships with her students on trust, teamwork, and creating an environment where failure is allowed as part of the research process,” Provost Rogan Kersh said of Jurchescu. “She encourages her students to give their best and to extend their reach, never accepting ‘good enough.’”
Read more about the award and see past recipients

Award for Excellence in Research
Patricia Dos SantosAssistant Professor of Chemistry Patricia Dos Santos received the Award for Excellence in Research, which is presented to a young professor for outstanding scholarship. She was recognized for her commitment to advancing scientific discovery through collaboration and her work as a research mentor. She studies the ways bacteria build important molecular structures called iron-sulfur clusters. Since Dos Santos joined the faculty in 2008, she has published 12 journal articles and two book chapters. She has also given 34 scientific presentations and been awarded more than $1 million dollars in funding, including the prestigious NSF CAREER Award.
Read more about the award and see past recipients
Read more about her research

Donald O. Schoonmaker Faculty Award for Community Service
Anne BoyleAnne Boyle, Professor of English and Associate Dean for Student-Faculty Academic Initiatives, received the Donald O. Schoonmaker Faculty Award for Community Service. Given in memory of Professor of Politics Donald Schoonmaker, the award recognizes extraordinary community service by a teacher-scholar. “Her service and leadership on campus are extensive, including the Writing Program, Women’s and Gender Studies, the Public Engagement Advisory Board, the College Strategic Plan, and many others,” Kersh said of Boyle. “Anne does her excellent work in a quiet, gentle, kind, and unassuming manner, never seeking recognition.”
Read more about the award and see past recipients

Kulynych Family Omicron Delta Kappa Award
Ken ZickKen Zick, Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs and Professor of Law, was awarded the Kulynych Family Omicron Delta Kappa Award for bridging the gap between the classroom and student life. Zick has challenged Wake Forest students for the last 30 years to explore learning opportunities outside the classroom. A passionate teacher and mentor, he has counseled and engaged students on the larger questions facing their generation and guided them on their journeys at Wake Forest and beyond. On June 30, Zick will step down from the vice president position after 25 years in that role. He plans to return to teaching following a year’s leave.
Read more about the award and see past recipients

Joseph Branch Excellence in Teaching Award
Tracey CoanAssociate Professor of Legal Writing Tracey Banks Coan was presented the Joseph Branch Excellence in Teaching Award, which is given to a professor at the School of Law who displays outstanding teaching and service to the legal profession. Coan was recognized for her work in developing and directing the Law School’s Academic Success Program. Students state that the lessons they learned in Coan’s Secured Transactions course challenged them and gave them the confidence they needed to succeed.
Read more about the award and see past recipients

Marcellus E. Waddill Excellence in Teaching Award
Laura BiltonThe Waddill Excellence in Teaching Award was established in 1994 in honor of Professor Emeritus of Mathematics Marcellus Waddill, who retired from Wake Forest in 1997 after teaching for 35 years. The award is funded by his son David and given to two alumni who are exemplary classroom teachers. This year, Laura Bilton (’01), a second grade teacher at Old Town Elementary School in Winston-Salem, N.C., received the Waddill Award on the elementary level for her excellence in reaching students of diverse needs.

Jon WilliamsJon Williams (’95), who teaches social studies at McMichael High School in Mayodan, N.C., received the Waddill Award on the secondary level for the variety of instructional strategies he uses to engage students.

Read more about the award
See past recipients

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