Thomas K. Hearn Jr., president of Wake Forest University, is scheduled to undergo brain surgery at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center on Dec. 11. The surgery is related to Hearn’s ongoing treatment for a brain tumor discovered early this fall.
Hearn announced the planned surgery in a Dec. 10 letter to the university community.
“Obviously, the surgery carries risk, and recuperation will require my full energies and attention for some significant time,” Hearn, 66, wrote in the letter distributed by e-mail to faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends.
“Accordingly, as provided by University policy in these circumstances, Board of Trustees Chairman Murray Greason has appointed Provost William Gordon to serve as Acting President of Wake Forest, covering my responsibilities,” Hearn continued.
Gordon’s appointment as acting president is effective immediately. Gordon joined Wake Forest in 2002 as provost, the university’s chief academic officer. Gordon is responsible for supervising and administering the academic programs and plans of the university’s Reynolda Campus. A former president of the University of New Mexico, Gordon earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology at Wake Forest before receiving his doctorate in experimental psychology at Rutgers University.
“I have all confidence in Bill Gordon’s ability to direct the important work of the university during this period. I know that you will give him your full support,” Hearn wrote.
Hearn, who has been Wake Forest’s president since 1983, announced on Oct. 6 that physicians at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center had determined that he had a brain tumor. He completed radiation therapy for the tumor on Nov. 28 at the Medical Center.
In his Dec. 10 letter, Hearn explained that he had learned that a complication had arisen that would require him to undergo brain surgery.
Hearn also explained that extreme fatigue caused by the radiation therapy had made it difficult for him to spend significant time in his office recently. Throughout the fall, Hearn has continued working in his office, but he did eliminate travel from his schedule due to daily radiation therapy in October and November.
Hearn has provided occasional updates on his progress in the past couple of months. In all of the correspondence, he expressed his gratitude to the university community and others for their messages of support.
In this week’s letter, Hearn wrote that he and his wife, Laura, “have been strengthened by your prayers and acts of kindness. We ask that you continue to remember us, and we wish for each of you a joyful and uplifting holiday season.”
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