Wake Forest University, June 12, 1967

by Harold W. Tribble


After long study, hard work, and significant progress in achieving academic and financial strength, the final decision has been made to change the name Wake Forest College to Wake Forest University and proceed as rapidly as possible toward the completion of the transition from college to university plan of operation and service. What does this mean? I shall try here to outline an answer to that question.

We are ready—history.

In 1834 Wake Forest was established as a manual training institute. Within a few short years it advanced to a liberal arts college. In 1866 a graduate program at the master's degree level was inaugurated. In 1894 the School of Law was established. In 1902 a two-year School of Medicine was begun. In 1941 the School of Medicine was moved to Winston-Salem, to take advantage of the clinical opportunities with the Baptist Hospital and in response to an offer of financial support from the estate of the late Bowman Gray, and expanded to a standard four-year medical school under the name The Bowman Gray School of Medicine of Wake Forest College. In 1946 an offer was accepted of financial support from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation on the condition that the College be moved to Winston-Salem. In 1948 the School of Business Administration was established. In 1949 the graduate program at the School of Arts and Sciences was suspended pending the development of resources and program to undergird both the undergraduate and the graduate program of service. The School of Medicine, however, continued its graduate program in awarding the Master of Science degree in several departments, a program which had begun in 1943. Construction on the new campus was begun in 1951. In 1955 the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation increased its support from $350,000 to $500,000 annually in perpetuity. In 1956 the College moved to the new campus. In the fifties and early sixties important studies were conducted concerning essential academic aspects of the expansion program of the College. In 1961 the graduate program at the Master of Arts level was resumed and a Ph.D. program was initiated. Thus Wake Forest has the components which go to make up a university, and in January 1967 the Board of Trustees voted to change the name accordingly.

We are ready — academic qualification.

During the transition that the College has experienced since 1950 much attention has been given to the development of academic strength that is essential to a good university. This involves three categories. The first is faculty. A good university should have a highly qualified faculty in terms of undergraduate and graduate competence. Strength must be shown in academic and professional preparation. This means graduate work culminating in the completion of doctoral programs, and competence in teaching and scholarly research. It means also the production of the fruits of scholarly research in published articles and books that merit professional respect. Along all these lines significant progress has been made. In 1950 forty per cent of our faculty had completed graduate study with the doctorate, and now that figure is 70 per cent which is about twice the national average. Scholarly articles and books in a steadily increasing stream, the quality performance of our students, and the appraisal of educational consultants, attest the caliber of our faculty.

Second only to the quality of the faculty is student qualification for university work. The students should be of superior quality in preparation and potential. In all of the means used to determine quality, our students rank among the best in the state. Much progress has been made in academic performance by the students in courses in qualification and performance of our graduates in graduate and professional schools, and in the maintenance of high standards on the part of our graduate students. Of our students who graduated in 1966, 37.6 per cent entered graduate or professional schools.

The third area of academic qualification is the provision of adequate facilities for superior undergraduate and graduate work on the part of faculty and students. Significant progress has been made in buildings, laboratory facilities, libraries, and financial resources. Consider the following figures in comparison with 1950: the library budget has grown from $40,710 to $532,000; the number of volumes in the library has tripled from 109,092 to 340,026; the total operating budget has grown from $1,573,444 to $13,587,000; and the total assets have increased from $10,454,000 to $91,267,900.

We must grow.

While in all of the respects indicated above we qualify at the higher levels of university rank and service, we must seek diligently to expand our strength and improve the quality of our work. We should seek academic integration of the entire program. By this I mean that all levels of our work, from the freshman college year to the final year in graduate or professional school, must be permeated by the philosophy and the ideals of quality implied by the name university. The graduate faculty should continue to be identified with the undergraduate program. Students must be given thorough preparation in their undergraduate work for graduate or professional education. Students should be put on their own initiative and responsibility as much as possible in their work at all academic levels. The library must be expanded further. The endowment must be increased. Financial support in annual gifts must be increased. While we have achieved a plateau of academic strength, we must not be content with that plateau; we must move on rapidly to higher levels.

Why now?

The period of preparation leading up to this decision has been long, and the study has been thorough. We know that we meet standards for accrediting and measuring university and graduate work. While we do not have all the resources that we need for further development, we do have adequate resources for launching this program. It is our strong conviction that the preliminary period has now come to an end, and the period of action and definite planning for growth has begun.

National trends in higher education indicate the wisdom of this decision now. The nation urgently needs more secondary and college teachers with graduate training and graduate degrees. We do not anticipate a large program designed to produce large numbers of graduate, but we do anticipate a program of high quality that will make a significant contribution to the national cause of higher education through well-prepared leaders and a limited, but excellent, program of research. In our state and in this area of the nation, the multiplication of junior colleges, community colleges, and technical schools at the post high school level, and the expansion of many junior colleges to senior college level underscore the need for more universities to serve the needs of the four-year colleges and junior colleges. Within the framework of our Baptist colleges in North Carolina, this becomes immediately apparent. Wake Forest University will be able to render still more significant service to the other six Baptist colleges as a strong university closely related to, perhaps integrated in, the program of the other six schools.

All of this means that we are now on the threshold of a new and exciting era. Many achievements and contributions of the past can be pointed to with justifiable pride and gratitude. We have enjoyed the experiences of the recent years in expanding as a liberal arts college with more than the liberal arts program of service. Now we respond to the beckoning call of tomorrow with high hopes, broad anticipations, strong courage, and fervent dedication.

—Harold W. Tribble, President

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