Wake Forest University announced today that new academic programs in Biomedical Sciences and Engineering will anchor the University’s undergraduate presence, referred to as Wake Downtown, in Wake Forest Innovation Quarter beginning in 2017.
Last fall, Wake Forest announced plans to lease space in the rehabilitated former R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company 60 series building in the Innovation Quarter, adjacent to what will become the home of the medical education programs of Wake Forest School of Medicine this summer.
Now, newly approved courses of study in Engineering, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Discovery will extend the exceptional faculty-student engagement that is a hallmark of the Reynolda Campus to one of the fastest-growing urban-based districts for innovation in the country. The proximity of the 115,000-square-foot facility also will make it possible for undergraduates to take classes taught by faculty from Wake Forest School of Medicine.
“The frontier of science and technology has rarely been as exciting as it is today. While many Wake Forest students already work with medical school research mentors, the next-generation building complex that literally and figuratively brings medical and liberal arts education together under one roof will greatly enhance students’ opportunities for closer collaboration and deeper engagement,” said Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch. “Wake Downtown presents a wonderful occasion to rethink how science is taught and how learning is best achieved.”
According to the Education Advisory Board, employer demand for undergraduate biomedical science and technology graduates increased by 58 percent nationally and 43 percent in North Carolina from 2012 to 2014.
Academic programs recently approved by College faculty are expected to meet employer, student and societal demands. New courses of study include:
“The distinct and compelling new set of programs of Wake Downtown represent the most significant academic innovation in recent Wake Forest history and one of the most audacious efforts to rethink undergraduate science education as we know it,” said Michele Gillespie, Dean of Wake Forest College. “Embracing the Innovation Quarter as a hub for a liberal arts education is central to our future.”
Undergraduate students in these programs are estimated to spend approximately equal time on the main campus – studying arts, humanities, and basic sciences – and in the new Biomedical Sciences and Engineering classrooms and labs downtown.
In addition to programs in Biomedical Sciences and Engineering, Wake Downtown will also enable expanded undergraduate offerings in entrepreneurship, bioethics, public health policy and the humanities.
“One of the most exciting aspects of Wake Forest’s undergraduate presence in the Innovation Quarter is the potential to collaborate with the greater Winston-Salem community, our shared City of Arts and Innovation. Along with contributing to the knowledge economy and growing job base in the Innovation Quarter, we plan to partner on community projects ranging from public arts to service to volunteer opportunities,” said Provost Rogan Kersh, whose leadership in the community includes chairing the city’s Poverty Thought Force. “As an extension of the Reynolda Campus, Wake Downtown will serve as an incubator for tomorrow’s leaders long before many of them even apply for admission.”
Approximately 350 undergraduates are expected to study downtown by 2021, when new programs are fully operational. Expanded facilities and an increased demand would enable the University to accommodate modest enrollment growth. Wake Forest also plans to hire additional faculty and staff – all of which would increase the University’s current $3.3 billion economic impact in the region.
“The Innovation Quarter has grown into a true knowledge community,” said Wake Forest Innovation Quarter president Eric Tomlinson. “The addition of these new Wake Forest University undergraduate programs align perfectly with our ‘Work. Live. Learn. Play’ approach to building such a community.”
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