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Wake Forest asks 'Why Work?'

March 18, 2008

Along with age-old temptations that test ethical judgment, modern professionals face hyper-competitive work environments that often put career goals in conflict with personal values.  How can individuals rekindle the commitment to the common good that has been a traditional hallmark of professional identity?

Wake Forest University will explore this challenge with experts from business, education, government, law, medicine and theology during “Why Work? Business, Professions and the Common Good,” March 27-28.

The discussions are part of the university’s 2007-2008 Voices of Our Time series. A complete schedule of topics and sessions can be viewed at

New York Times columnist, author and broadcast commentator David Brooks will deliver the keynote address during the opening session, “Making Sense of Modern Professional Life,” at 4 p.m. March 27 in Wait Chapel.  The session is free and open to the public.

Six panel discussions March 28 will focus on challenges facing specific disciplines, all of which are represented at various Wake Forest professional schools.  Invited scholars and working professionals from across the nation will share their academic and practical expertise in sessions that will be recorded and later posted on Wake Forest’s Web site.

Session topics, times and locations are as follows:

  • “Theological Reflections on Work and the Challenges of Pluralism,” chaired by Bill Leonard, dean of the Wake Forest Divinity School, will be held from 9 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. at Worrell Professional Center, Room 1312.
  • “Re-examining Medicine as a Profession,” chaired by William B. Applegate, interim president of Wake Forest Health Sciences and dean of the Wake Forest School of Medicine, will be held from 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in Babcock Auditorium at the Bowman Gray School of Medicine.
  •  “The Legal Profession in the Marketplace,” chaired by Blake Morant, dean of the Wake Forest School of Law, will be held from 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at Worrell Professional Center, Room 1312.
  •  “Corporations and Human Flourishing,” chaired by Don Flow, chairman and chief executive officer of Flow Motor Companies, Wake Forest graduate and board of trustees member, will be held from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Worrell Professional Center, Room 1312.
  • “The Demands of Public Service,” chaired by former congressman Lee Hamilton, president and director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, will be held from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. in Carswell Hall’s Annenberg Forum. 
  • “Integrating Work and Values: The Challenges of Professional Education,” chaired by Jack Wilkerson, dean of Wake Forest’s Calloway School of Business and Accountancy, will be held from 3:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. at Worrell Professional Center, Room 1312.

Panel discussions will have free admission, but seating for the general public is limited and will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

“By gathering scholars and active professionals from many disciplines, this conference will link theory and practice, generating ideas that we hope will illuminate ways for both students and those already in the workplace to infuse their careers with purpose and meaning,” said Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch.  “It is our mission to challenge students and young professionals to relate their core values and commitments to the world of work and to develop a deep sense of responsibility to the common good.”

This event is sponsored by Wake Forest’s Pro Humanitate Center, a project of Lilly Endowment.  Voices of Our Time is an annual guest speaker series that exposes students, the Wake Forest community and the general public to some of the world’s leading thinkers for discussions on the important national and international issues of our time. Hatch established the series in 2006.

Members of the media who wish to attend individual sessions or interview participants are asked to contact the News Service in advance at (336) 758-5237. 

Press Contacts:

Eric Frazier
(336) 758-5237

Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237

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