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Stories this week at Wake Forest University

January 14, 2009

WAKE FOREST TO WATCH, REFLECT ON INAUGURATION – Wake Forest will mark the significance of President-elect Barack Obama’s Jan. 20 inauguration with public viewings of the televised proceedings and a panel discussion.  The community is invited to attend.  Members of the media are welcome, and interviews with participants can be arranged. 

  • The Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Office of the President will host viewings of the inauguration at 11:30 a.m. in Brendle Recital Hall and Benson University Center’s Pugh Auditorium.  At Brendle Recital Hall, students will hand out buttons depicting Barack Obama as 44th president and stickers reading “The Dream Fulfilled-January 20, 2009” to attendees, while supplies last.
  • Several Wake Forest faculty members, staff and students will present personal reflections on the inauguration at 4 p.m. in the Z. Smith Reynolds Library atrium. The event, titled “The Dream Realized? What Barack Obama’s Election Means to America,” will include senior Fred Parent reading an essay, “What to the African-American is the Fourth of November?” written by his father, Anthony Parent, a professor of history.  Other speakers will include Rhon Manigault, assistant professor of religion; two members of Wake Forest’s Student Government, Jermyn Davis, president, and Matt Triplett, speaker of the house; Wanda Brown, associate director of the ZSR Library; and James Bryant, visiting assistant professor of American ethnic studies.  Richard Heard, associate professor of music, will sing to close out the program.  Speakers will be available for comment at a reception following the event.

Contact: Pam Barrett, or (336) 758-5237.

SMITHSONIAN INAUGURATION EVENT FEATURES WFU DEBATERS – Two members of Wake Forest’s debate team will join students from five other universities to debate the priorities of the Obama administration at a Smithsonian Institution event tied to the presidential inauguration.  The debates will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 19 at the National Museum of Natural History’s Baird Auditorium.  The Inaugural Debate Series is presented by the National Museum of African American History and Culture in cooperation with the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the Debate Consortium, with support from the Presidential Inaugural Committee.  Top collegiate debaters will debate key issues facing the new administration.  Wake Forest students will meet students from Michigan State University to debate energy and climate change at 9:30 a.m.  “We’re thrilled and proud to be a part of the activities surrounding this historic inauguration,” said Ross Smith, director of debate at Wake Forest.  “Outreach and promotion of debate in the public sphere is an important part of our mission.”  Media is invited to cover the event in Washington. The debaters are also available for interviews on campus before they leave.

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


WHAT MAKES INAUGURAL SPEECHES MEMORABLE? – Presidents can put their personal stamp on a number of different Inauguration Day events, but this is especially true during the inaugural address, according to John Dinan, associate professor of political science. Inaugural addresses have usually been an occasion to unify the country, express continuity with founding principles and chart a course for the future. The most memorable inaugural addresses were delivered by:

  • Jefferson – “We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists”
  • Lincoln – “With malice toward none, with charity for all ...”
  • Franklin Roosevelt – “... the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”
  • Kennedy – “... ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country”
  • and Reagan – “In the present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

Dinan is available to comment on Inauguration Day events, including the inaugural address.

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

PRESIDENTS AND PRAYER – The choice of Rick Warren and Joseph Lowery to pray at the inaugural ceremony reflects important dynamics in public religion past and present, says Bill Leonard, dean and professor of church history at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity. “Lowery represents the prophetic, civil rights ministerial presence in the U.S., a powerful symbol of how far the nation has come since the days of segregation and Jim Crow,” says Leonard. “Rick Warren's presence reflects issues related to bridging the gap between evangelicals and Democrats – a considerable divide across the last two or three decades. His selection also refocuses attention on the role of ministerial celebrity in the public square, a role long held by various ministers who have formally or informally advised presidents. This was especially evident in the presence of Billy Graham as ‘national chaplain’ or America's most public Protestant minister.” Leonard is available to talk about prayer and public piety at presidential inaugurations, and implications of the absence of a non-Christian voice at this year’s event.

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


COMMUNICATION PROFESSOR CAN ANALYZE INAUGURAL SPEECH –“Inaugurals are meant to heal, which has oddly been going on already in this election,” said Allan Louden, associate professor of communication at Wake Forest University. Louden regularly provides expert analysis of political speeches and debates for dozens of national media outlets from Fox Business Network to USA Today to The Politico. He is available to provide post-inaugural analysis on the power and effectiveness of Obama’s speech, including the content and delivery. Leading up to the election, Louden provided commentary on the major speeches at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions for the Charlotte Observer.

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

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF OBAMA PRESIDENCY – For African-Americans, the election of a black president is not only a historic milestone but may represent a psychological catharsis akin to South Africa’s election of Nelson Mandela in 1994, says Anthony Parent, professor of history at Wake Forest. “African-Americans went to the polls in record numbers to demonstrate their support for Obama,” Parent notes. “They see within him the embodiment of hope for a brighter future that has eluded generations of their ancestors who had to endure enslavement, second-class citizenship and institutional racism. Obama promises a transformative presidency. At the very least, one that would begin to break down the great racial divide. His personal story — raised by his white grandparents and mother — offers him a unique perspective to address this most pressing American problem.” Parent, an expert on African-American history, world civilizations, colonial America and the civil rights movement, is available to talk about the historical significance of the Obama presidency.

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

SPEAKER SERIES EXAMINES CHALLENGES OBAMA FACES – In the weeks following the Jan. 20 inauguration of Barack Obama, Wake Forest will host a series of speakers examining foreign and domestic policy challenges facing the new president. All events are free and open to the public.

  • “Challenges Facing the New President” begins at 7 p.m. Jan. 29 in Carswell Hall’s Annenberg Forum, Room 111, with a faculty panel titled “Advice to the New President on Policy Issues.” The discussion will cover a broad range of domestic and foreign policy issues, and will include law professor Mark Hall on health policy and political science professors David Coates on economic issues and Charles Kennedy on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Stephen Hess, Senior Fellow Emeritus in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, will give a talk at 5 p.m. Feb. 2 in Annenberg Forum on “The Obama Transition: Hitting the Ground Running.” Hess is author of “What Do We Do Now? A Workbook for the President-Elect” and “Organizing the Presidency.”
  • The series continues at 6 p.m. Feb. 10 in Wait Chapel with “Fulfilling the Promise: David Gergen on the New American President.” Gergen was an advisor to four presidents and is currently editor-at-large for U.S. News & World Report and a senior political analyst for CNN.
  • The speaker series wraps up at 5 p.m. Feb. 17 in Benson University Center, Room 401, with “Looking to the Future: Will Young People Stay Involved in Politics?” A panel of leaders from the student Democratic, Republican and Libertarian political groups will reflect on the impact of young voters on the 2008 election and their likelihood of continuing engagement with the incoming administration.

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY CELEBRATED ON CAMPUS – Wake Forest will celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. at three annual events held Jan. 17-19.   

  • 11th Annual MLK Basketball Tournament; 12:30 p.m. - 8 p.m., Jan. 17; Reynolds Gym, Wake Forest.  The tournament brings together intramural teams from Johnson C. Smith University, North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Wake Forest and Winston-Salem State University, which will compete toward a championship game.  The event will also include slam-dunk and three-point shot contests.   
  • 4th Annual MLK GospelFest; 3 p.m., Jan. 18; Brendle Recital Hall, Wake Forest.  This year’s concert will feature renowned gospel artist Donald Lawrence.  Several Winston-Salem community choirs including the Wake Forest Gospel Choir, Chi Rho and Winston-Salem State’s Inspirational Voices will also perform.  Admission is $5; free for students with ID and children under 12.
  • 9th Annual WSSU/WFU Joint MLK Celebration:  “On Common Ground: One Dream Can Change the World”; 7 p.m., Jan. 19; Kenneth R. Williams Auditorium, Winston-Salem State.  For the past nine years, Wake Forest and Winston-Salem State have co-sponsored and alternated hosting a keynote event to commemorate King’s life. This year, the event will feature a keynote address at Winston-Salem State by actress and political activist Ruby Dee.  At 4 p.m., Wake Forest will host an invitation-only dinner, where students and faculty from both schools will be awarded the “Building the Dream” award in recognition of their efforts to promote racial diversity and harmony.  Media interested in covering the award dinner should contact the News Service at (336) 758-5237.

Contact: Pam Barrett, or (336) 758-5237.


LEGAL SCHOLAR AVAILABLE TO DISCUSS GITMO CLOSING President-elect Barack Obama has expressed his desire to close the remote U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but his transition team is having trouble finding countries to take the prisoners once they are released.  Wake Forest Law Professor Bobby Chesney suggests that the new Obama administration should capitalize on its reservoir of international good will.  “There’s some talk that, with a new administration on the way, other states, perhaps some European states, may be willing to take in some detainees,” Chesney recently told National Public Radio’s Jackie Northam. “But a lot of the smoke signals in that area suggest that the United States has to be willing to do some of the same.” Chesney is available to comment on national security, Guantanamo Bay and other legal issues.

Contact: Lisa Snedeker, or (336)758-5719.


FAMILIES INVITED TO CELEBRATE ‘YEAR OF THE OX’ – Wake Forest’s Asian Student Interest Association (ASIA) will host a celebration of the “Year of the Ox” at the 10th Annual Chinese New Year Festival from noon to 3 p.m. Jan. 31 in Wake Forest’s Reynolds Gym, Room 201.  The festival, which is free to the public, is a popular family event that has drawn more than 2,000 attendees each year.  This year, it will feature a new costumed giant panda that will greet attendees and be available for photographs.  A contest will be held to name the new mascot.  Other festival activities will include martial arts demonstrations; dance performances, including the traditional lion dance; arts and crafts activities; and traditional Chinese toys and games.  In addition, students will present a fashion show featuring Chinese costumes from various dynasties.  Chinese merchandise and authentic Chinese cuisine will be available for purchase.  Special performances will begin at 2 p.m.

Contact: Pam Barrett, or (336) 758-5237.

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