Founders’ Day program honors faculty and students

The Wake Forest community commemorated 184 years since the University’s founding at Founders’ Day Convocation in Wait Chapel on Feb. 15.

The celebration recognizes student leaders and honors faculty for teaching, research and service.

Student Orations

Each year, three students are selected to deliver an oration on Founders’ Day that addresses how they have changed during their four years at Wake Forest.

The winners of the 2018 Senior Orations Competition are:

Medallion of Merit

The University’s highest honor, the Medallion of Merit, is presented to individuals who have rendered distinguished service to the University, including past presidents, trustees, benefactors, alumni, and retired faculty and administrators. This year the honor was awarded to Michael “Mike” Gerald Ford (‘72) for his outstanding contributions to Wake Forest.

Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch presents Medallion of Merit to Mike Ford
Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch presents Medallion of Merit to Mike Ford

Ford retired from Wake Forest in 2017 after 36 years as a student life administrator and campus leader. His enthusiasm and ability to connect with students led to positions as associate dean of students, director of student development, associate dean of student life and director of legacy and philanthropy programs at the Pro Humanitate Institute.

In his mission to foster student growth and leadership development, he created programs and initiatives that continue to enhance the intellectual, social and spiritual growth of Wake Forest students. His work with the Brian Piccolo Cancer Research Fund Drive was fueled by signature fundraising events like Hit the Bricks and Wake ‘N Shake, and he is indelibly linked to student leadership programs like LEAD (later called CHARGE), community-service initiatives like Project Pumpkin, and pre-orientation programs like Wake World, SPARC and Deacon Camp.

See past Medallion of Merit winners here.

Faculty honors and awards

The Excellence in Advising Award recognizes outstanding advising in Wake Forest College, especially at the lower division level. The winners are German and Russian professor Alyssa Howards and anthropology professor Eric. C Jones.

Alyssa Howards, Department of German and Russian

Alyssa Howards

Students and colleagues affirm Howards’ tremendous dedication to advising, and the personal care and attention she gives to each of her advisees. Her advisees describe her genuine desire to get to know them as individuals, and to help them to discover and explore their own interests, passions, and talents.

Eric C. Jones, Department of Anthropology

Eric C. Jones

Jones’s advisees describe him as organized, diligent and thorough in reviewing academic progress and plans. One advisee said, “Dr. Jones was not only an academic advisor, but a life advisor as well.”

The URECA Faculty Award For Excellence in Mentorship in Research and Creative Work recognizes faculty members who engage Wake Forest undergraduates outside the classroom and inspire, guide and support the students’ intellectual and creative endeavors. The winners are physics professor Oana D. Jurchescu and English professor Jefferson Holdridge.

Oana D. Jurchescu, Department of Physics

Jurchescu has mentored 22 Wake Forest undergraduates in her nine years in the physics department, in addition to undergraduates from other schools and high school students. Her students, who consistently receive top awards for their work, have won Churchill, Gates Cambridge, Goldwater, and NSF Fellowships, among others. One student shared, “She taught me to never accept ‘good enough’ and to have my standard be excellence.”

Jefferson Holdridge, Department of English

Jefferson Holdridge

As an expert in Irish Poetry and Director of Wake Forest University Press, Holdridge works to bring out the best in his students’ writing. One of his students noted that Holdridge “inspired me to take the poetry workshop that spurred my new creative pastime of writing my own poetry, which led to one of my poems being published.” Holdridge has also mentored many students pursuing the Richter Fellowship.

The Award for Excellence in Research is presented annually to a member of the faculty who is an outstanding scholar at an early stage of his or her career. The winner is psychology professor Eranda Jayawickreme.

Eranda Jayawickreme

Jayawickreme’s research is at the intersection of personality, meaning and well-being. His research and theoretical developments on the topics of post-traumatic growth, intellectual humility and character have received significant national and international attention. He received the prestigious Rising Star Award from the Association for Psychological Science in 2015.

The Donald O. Schoonmaker Faculty Award for Community Service recognizes extraordinary community service by a faculty member. This winner is history professor Simone M. Caron.

Simone M. Caron

Caron’s record of dedicated service to the history department, the University, and the Winston-Salem community is truly outstanding for its sustained breadth and depth. Caron has a profound and passionate dedication to service, from promoting a living wage for all Wake Forest staff to mentoring junior faculty across multiple departments and volunteering with Samaritan Ministries and Meals on Wheels.

The Jon Reinhardt Award for Distinguished Teaching recognizes an experienced faculty member who exemplifies the ideals of a liberal arts education. The winner is Mary DeShazer, professor emeritus of English and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies.

Mary DeShazer

DeShazer consciously creates a classroom atmosphere for her students that is safe, interactive, open and conductive to learning. One student wrote, “the mentoring and learning relationship I had with Dr. DeShazer at Wake Forest is the kind of relationship that you hope you’ll have with a professor when you’re leafing through glossy college brochures in high school.”

The Joseph Branch Excellence in Teaching Award is presented to a member of the School of Law who exemplifies teaching and service to the legal profession. The winner is law professor Richard C. Schneider.

Richard C. Schneider

Schneider has a persistent dedication to the education of his students on both domestic and international law, while also serving as the Associate Dean for International Programs.

The Kulynych Family Omicron Delta Kappa Award recognizes an outstanding faculty member who bridges the gap between classroom and student life. The winner is Spanish and Italian professor Silvia Tiboni-Craft.

Silvia Tiboni-Craft

Tiboni-Craft has been celebrated for her dedication to her students’ growth and development both in and out of the classroom. Within the past five years, she has mentored students to receive a Richter Research Scholarship, an ACC-IAC Research Fellowship and two awards from the National Italian-American Foundation. She provides opportunities for students to learn outside of the classroom, including Italian cooking nights, programs at local elementary schools, and off-campus service opportunities.

The Reid-Doyle Prize for Excellence in Teaching is awarded to outstanding faculty members in the early part of their careers. The winner is psychology professor E.J. Masicampo.

E.J. Masicampo

Masicampo exemplifies what it means to be a Wake Forest teacher-scholar as he is continually described by students as “caring,” “considerate,” and “respectful.” His effectiveness in teaching is enhanced by incorporating his own and others’ social psychology research into his courses.


Click here to watch the full 2018 Founders’ Day program.