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Advisory: Back-to-school story ideas

August 13, 2008

The return of students to Wake Forest University offers a variety of timely story ideas.  These include groups that dedicate themselves to volunteer projects in the community, intellectual and physical challenges during orientation programs that set the tone for the academic year, experts who are available to discuss how parents and students can navigate the transition to college life and freshman classes designed to engage new students in current issues such as voting and national energy policy.  The following list of activities, dates and times is intended to help members of the media consider whether particular ideas fit their needs.  For additional information, please contact the News Service at (336) 758-5237.


CLASS OF 2012 ARRIVES ON CAMPUS — Wake Forest expects 1,204 incoming freshmen will arrive on campus Aug. 21. Students will begin moving into their rooms at 8 a.m. Most residence halls for freshmen are located on the south side of campus near Manchester Plaza. Wake Forest staff and students will help freshmen and their families unload vehicles. With activities ranging from computer distribution to New Student Convocation, freshman orientation activities will continue until classes begin Aug. 27.



  • Minority students make up 18 percent of Wake Forest’s incoming class
  • Forty-four states and 12 foreign countries are represented
  • Twenty-six percent are from North Carolina
  • Thirty-seven percent graduated within the top 5 percent of their high school classes, and 65 percent graduated within the top 10 percent of their classes.


ROTC CADETS TAKE ‘FRESHMAN CHALLENGE’ — Wake Forest’s new Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps students and their parents begin orientation activities at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 22 at the military science department located in the Information Systems building. The following morning the new cadets will have their first Army physical fitness test and will be issued their uniforms and equipment the morning of Aug. 25. The “Freshman Challenge” will be held Aug. 26 at The Vineyard Camp near Mt. Airy. The cadets will complete a ropes course and engage in several other activities such as rappelling and rock climbing. Contact the News Service to arrange coverage of any ROTC activities.

Contact: Audrey Fannin, or (336) 758-5237.


FRESHMEN VOLUNTEER IN THEIR NEW COMMUNITY — Even before they register for classes at Wake Forest, a group of freshmen will begin volunteering Aug. 17 – 21 in the Winston-Salem community. Students Promoting Responsibility and Action to the Community (S.P.A.R.C.) is a program organized through the Office of Volunteer Services to show students first-hand the important role that community service plays in the life of the university. Led by 10 upperclass students, 40 incoming freshmen will volunteer at local agencies such as Campus Kitchen, El Buen Pastor, Second Harvest Food Bank and the Ronald McDonald House. For a schedule of volunteer activities, contact the News Service.

Contact: Audrey Fannin, or (336) 758-5237.


HOW PARENTS CAN BE HELPFUL WITHOUT HOVERING — When children leave home to begin college, parents often need help making the transition, according to Johnne Armentrout, assistant director of the Wake Forest Counseling Center. For the past 17 years, Armentrout has led a “Family Relationships in Transition” program for parents of first-year students during orientation. She helps parents understand some of the changes freshmen will experience and makes suggestions on how to encourage their children without being too intrusive. “Too much parental involvement can make freshmen less confident in the choices they are making,” Armentrout says. “It is important for parents to let them have some freedom to make their own mistakes.” Armentrout will be available for interviews from 9:30 a.m. – noon during the freshmen move-in Aug. 21, but other interview days/times can also be arranged.

Contact: Cheryl Walker, or (336) 758-5237.

LAPTOP COMPUTER DISTRIBUTION — Freshmen will pick up their Lenovo T61 ThinkPad computers and color printers from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 21 in the Information Systems building, Rooms 224 and 225. A shuttle bus will carry students from their residence halls to the IS building. Students and their families are invited to attend a reception at the Information Systems building featuring a visit from The Demon Deacon and a performance by the Wake Forest marching band.

Contact: Audrey Fannin, or (336) 758-5237.


OLYMPIC IMITATION: NEW STUDENTS TEAM UP FOR FUN — They might not be ready for the Olympics, but Wake Forest’s incoming freshmen will show off their athletic skills in the “Pros vs. Joes” contest Aug. 25. During orientation, “professionals”, including Wake Forest coaches and athletes, will take on the new student “regular Joes” at 24 stations scattered around campus. Students will arrive at Kentner Stadium at 6:45 p.m. From 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. teams of freshmen will compete in as many challenges as they can. They will play against the varsity volleyball team, swing bats in the home run derby and kick soccer goals with the coaches. The event is sponsored by Wake Forest’s Campus Recreation, Residence Life and Housing and Student Development departments. Contact the News Service for a complete schedule.

Contact: Cheryl V. Walker, or (336) 758-5237.


FRESHMAN READING ASSIGNMENT FOCUSES ON YOUNG VOTERS — Each year, incoming freshmen at Wake Forest are assigned a reading with a message further explored by a high-profile speaker during orientation. This year the students were assigned “Millennials Talk Politics: A Study of College Student Political Engagement,” published by The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE). Wake Forest was among the dozen colleges and universities participating in that study. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a nationally known scholar and commentator on politics and the media, will discuss trends in the 2008 election cycle and why they matter at 8 p.m. Aug. 22 in Wait Chapel. “Given the upcoming election, we wanted to bring someone to campus who could speak to the political transformations taking place, particularly as they relate to college-age students,” says James Ford, associate professor of religion and chair of the Orientation and Lower Division Advising Committee. Jamieson is director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, co-founder of, and an author, co-author or editor of 15 books, including “Dirty Politics: Deception, Distraction and Democracy.” The lecture is not open to the public, but members of the media are invited to attend.

Contact: Audrey Fannin, or 336-758-4393.


UNDERGRADUATE CLASSES START AUG. 27 — All undergraduates enrolled at Wake Forest and students enrolled in the Graduate School, Calloway School and Divinity School will start classes Aug. 27. The Wake Forest School of Law and full-time students in the Babcock Graduate School of Management begin classes Aug. 25.


DOES EVERY VOTE COUNT? — Voting and its quagmires have heavily influenced politics in the 21st century.  In his timely fall course for freshmen, “The Mathematics of Voting,” Jason Parsley, assistant professor of mathematics, introduces students to such mathematical principles as “Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem,” which indicates that if three or more candidates are running, there is no “fair” system for deciding a winner.  The course will examine the strengths and weaknesses of various voting systems in use, including plurality rule, instant runoff voting, approval voting and the Electoral College.  Students will also discuss current election topics such as the debates over electronic voting machines and felon disenfranchisement.

Contact: Audrey Fannin, or (336) 758-5237.


FRESHMEN SEEK SUSTAINABLE ENERGY — As high gas prices and national energy policies continue to dominate the news and the presidential campaigns, a first-year seminar called “Seeking Sustainable Energy” encourages freshmen to decide for themselves which energy options the nation should pursue.  “History has many examples of civilizations that rose and thrived using unsustainable resources and then collapsed when the resources were exhausted,” says Dilip Kondepudi, Thurman D. Kitchin Professor of Chemistry, who is teaching the course for the first time.  “When resources become insufficient, political conflicts and wars ensue.  Therefore, it is imperative that we base our global economy on resources that are sustainable.”  Students will review the historical relationship between economic growth and energy consumption and consider current energy resources, environmental impacts, and the role of technology, innovation and public policy in forming their conclusions.

Contact: Eric Frazier, or (336) 758-5237.


RELATIONSHIP WITH CHINA IS FOCUS OF FIRST-YEAR SEMINAR—The Olympic games in Beijing are providing television viewers with their most extensive look ever inside China.  That nation’s recent rapid development has prompted much speculation about future relations with China, but most people lack a broad, historical context for understanding Chinese-Western relations.  “Encountering the Other: Cultural Contact, Conflict and Confluence Between China and the West,” is a multidisciplinary course for freshmen which aims to provide that context by looking at cross-cultural exchanges between China and the West since the 16th century.  “China is no longer a distant country on the other side of the globe,” notes Yaohua Shi, Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures.  “It directly impacts people’s daily lives from the things they buy at Wal-Mart to the mortgage rates that they are able to secure from their banks.”

Contact: Eric Frazier, or (336) 758-5237.


COFFEE SHOP PERKS UP LIBRARY— Dramatic renovations made to the Z. Smith Reynolds Library during the summer include renovated study rooms with staircases leading to new second-level seating areas, a Starbucks coffee shop and new meeting rooms.  Work began in May to renovate the 5,900-square-foot area at the front of the library.  The lower level of the space to the left of the front entrance will house a Starbucks coffee shop, expected to open by the end of September.  The large study space to the right of the entrance will be completed in late August.  After talking with library directors across the country, Lynn Sutton, director of Wake Forest’s Z. Smith Reynolds Library, decided it would be important to have a coffee shop in the renovated space.  “Coffee shops have become common in university libraries,” Sutton said.  “Instead of leaving the library for a study break, students can stay in the building and have more of their needs met.”  The 23-foot ceilings in the two study spaces allowed for the construction of two mezzanines, which add another level of about 2,000 additional square feet.  In addition to the main study rooms, the renovated space at the front of the library will include three new meeting rooms for small groups, a graduate student lounge and new bathrooms.

Contact: Cheryl V. Walker, or (336) 758-5237.


WAKE FOREST LAW STUDENTS SHOW MEANING OF PRO BONO — To encourage a commitment to community service and later legal pro bono work as lawyers, the law school dedicates time during its five-day orientation program to a community service project. On Aug. 20 and 21, the entering class, in addition to faculty and staff, will work together to help build Habitat for Humanity houses in Winston-Salem.  Law students will work in shifts from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. both days.

Contact: Ann Gibbs,, prior to August 20 for more information.

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