A Personal Statement of Wake Forest Values

Guided by reason and sustained by a transcendent faith, Wake Forest University exists to inspire the imaginative pursuit of truth, knowledge, and justice for the benefit of humankind. As a community of higher learning it advances discovery through spirited free inquiry and dialogue. Informed by the past and drawn to the challenges of the future, it affirms the need of each person in its midst to explore her full potential for growth in a trusting climate of understanding.

In this University one will find a respect for ideas of thoughtful content and a tolerance for ideas that question orthodox knowledge. Learning cannot advance without illuminating answers to unorthodox questions, and probing hypotheses cannot be answered without evidence that the mind genuinely seeks the truth. In this environment all opinions deserve a hearing, although all ideas are not equal in merit or substance. In the crucible of the university each idea must support its own weight through evidence, experiment, reason, or faith.

Yet, if in civil discourse we differ for truths sake, our differences should be tethered to convictions rather than personal characteristics. Experience teaches us that reactive judgments of others based upon status, condition, race, sex, creed, or culture cloud the mind, confuse investigation, and oppress free inquiry. And the oppression of free inquiry inevitably feeds the fires of prejudice, intolerance, and injustice.

Although our climate of trust and freedom sustains our academic pursuits, even freedom finds constraints in the exercise of moral choice. In private and public life thought must finally bear its fruit in our actions. Wake Forest University is dedicated to the cultivation of the virtuous life, and the virtuous life is built upon a heartfelt accountability for our thoughts in action as well as our actions of thought. Individual self-reliance requires that we learn to live a principle centered life - a life which demands that each of us defend our choices of lifestyle, values, and individual endeavor. Only in this way do we grow in moral strength and character by justifying our actions in relationship to others.

The good University aims to promote the good society through the cultivation of people of virtue and good will. Through the example of its learned members, the good University should spark that illuminating light of virtue which prompts acts of kindness, sacrifice, and social justice. Whether the light pierces with laser scientific exactness or warm poetic illumination, each light casts its own brilliance or shadows on important moral questions facing our world. Wake Forest people embrace their obligation to carry the light of the good University into the world.

The good University reveals a vast unfolding map of choices for humankind which can be made for good or ill. But if these choices are simply mapped without landmarks, an itinerary, or the advice of sage guides, our students' paths might lead as often into the wilderness as toward meaningful destinations. Wake Forest believes in providing students with maps of reason and faith that guide them toward destinations that are worth the journey. Moreover, the paths of science, business, history, philosophy, letters, art, language, and law eventually converge on the broad road of awakening moral and ethical discourse. No one need travel this road alone at Wake Forest. For we are fellow travelers with a clarity of vision about the pursuit of enduring principles for a good life.