Wake Forest University celebrates 190th Founders Day

close up image of WFU seal

Legendary women’s golf coach Dianne Dailey and English professor emeritus Claudia Kairoff were each awarded Wake Forest’s highest honor, the Medallion of Merit, at the University’s Founders Day celebration on February 15.

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.

Dianne Dailey and Claudia Kairoff

Medallion of Merit awardees Dianne Dailey (left) and Claudia Kairoff

Claudia Kairoff’s, 36-year tenure as an educator, mentor and administrator left an indelible mark on the campus community. She taught undergraduate and graduate courses, chaired the English department, and spearheaded initiatives such as faculty mentorship programs and onsite childcare for University employees. Her scholarly contributions, including landmark research on British 18th-century poet Anne Finch, have garnered international acclaim. 

Dianne Dailey, renowned coach and mentor, was recognized for her extraordinary contributions to the University’s women’s golf program. Over her 30-year coaching career, Dailey’s leadership transformed the team into a national powerhouse, securing 30 team titles, 38 individual titles, and four ACC championships. Her commitment to cultivating student-athletes is evident in the numerous accolades earned by her players, including 27 All-Americans and multiple ACC honorees.

“Recipients of this honor truly embody the concept of Founders. Their contributions have had a tremendous impact across generations of students and colleagues. Wake Forest is undoubtedly better because of each of the Medallion winners’ commitments to our University,” said Wake Forest University President Susan R. Wente.

More about the Medallion of Merit and a list of past recipients can be found on the Founders Day website here.

Also during the program, Vice President of Campus Life Shea Kidd Brown spoke about the importance of origin stories in helping communities navigate the future with wisdom and purpose.

VP for Campus Life Shea Kidd Brown

VP of Campus Life Shea Kidd Brown

“Understanding our beginning as a University and where we have been matters. Like our own stories, it is filled with complexity and we can not move forward with clarity and confidence if we don’t hold space for all the ways we got here,” said Kidd Brown.

Senior Orations

Each year, faculty nominate graduating seniors who they believe have exceptional promise to write a speech that addresses how they have changed during their four years at Wake Forest.  

This year’s overall winner, psychology major Austin Torain, presented his oration titled “Surround Sound” during the Founders Day event. In his talk, he shared how carrying his portable speaker around campus helped him to facilitate meaningful connections with others and find his place at Wake Forest.

Oration winners and honorable mentions can be found on the Senior Orations and the Senior Colloquium website here.

The program in Wait Chapel also included musical performances by students from the University’s Chamber Choir, a celebration of Wake Forest milestones, as well as a video remembrance of Wake Forest community members who passed away over the past year.

A livestream of Founders Day is available on the Wake Forest website here.

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