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WFU launches Pro Humanitate Institute

By Kim McGrath Office of Communications and External Relations
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Since 1908, “Pro Humanitate” has been Wake Forest’s guiding principle. Today, “For Humanity” inspires Wake Foresters to seek ways to use their knowledge and skills to invest in each other, their lives on campus and in the lives of others in local, regional and global communities.

In classrooms and organizations campuswide, students, faculty and staff are conducting research that is changing lives, designing classes with service-learning components and volunteering their time and talents. Wake Forest’s new Pro Humanitate Institute will be a central place to organize and share ideas that will help improve how the University interacts with the world.

“The Institute will energize and expand on a host of relevant activities already underway, while inspiring new ideas for connecting a Wake Forest education with a deep and abiding commitment to improving lives by engaging our campus and surrounding communities in vital ways,” said Provost Rogan Kersh.

From a student who linked volunteer work in a shelter with sociology research on diabetes and homelessness to hands-free communication devices that help people with speech impediments to robotic painting arms that could one day lend doctors a hand with surgeries to the more than 140,000 hours of community service Wake Foresters offer through hunger relief programs, tutoring, construction and environmental work, Pro Humanitate takes many forms. And the new Institute will inspire more.

“Wake Forest is already a national leader in civic engagement, and the Pro Humanitate Institute will allow us to collaborate more deeply around the issues that matter most to students, faculty and staff,” said Vice President for Campus Life Penny Rue. “Students come to Wake Forest with every intention of making a difference. The Institute will help them connect classroom learning with real world challenges.”

The new Institute is consolidating Wake Forest’s various community engagement efforts, including the former Institute for Public Engagement, which sponsored teaching and research along with local outreach, as well as the former Office of Service and Social Action, which facilitated opportunities for students to connect with the community, serve others and explore social-justice issues.

“Today, there are many groups and organizations focusing their efforts individually. By forming an Institute, we can accomplish more. This is an exciting time for Wake Forest and the community as we strengthen the connections among the many ways we live out our commitment to Pro Humanitate,” said Kersh.

The Pro Humanitate Institute is located in the Benson University Center.

The Meaning of a Motto

    “The Wake Forest motto, Pro Humanitate, is regularly translated as ‘For Humanity’ and is often heard as a very specific call to community service. But Pro Humanitate gives us a focal point and reminds us that human cultivation, human flourishing — that is our fundamental commitment. When we as a University are truly doing our particular work of reflecting on humanness in all its richness and complexity then we are truly serving humanity.” — Professor of Classical Languages Jim Powell

    Read the “The Meaning of a Motto” in its entirety at Wake Forest Magazine.

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