Our society is facing a crisis of leadership. While our students have tremendous talent, capability and drive, our culture is not offering them good role models or tools to become effective leaders. As a university president, I regularly consider how higher education can remedy this situation for future generations.
Ultimately, this crisis of leadership reflects a crisis of character. The institutions that once served as intentional training grounds for moral education – schools, religious communities and civic organizations – are playing less influential roles in the lives of our young people. Universities now have an opportunity to recover our focus on values and virtues and help our students learn how to lead meaningful and purposeful lives. We must offer an education that engages both intellect and character.
Wake Forest has long been a national leader in the study of character. Our faculty members – including Dr. William Fleeson, Dr. Michael Furr and Dr. Eranda Jayawickreme, and Dr. Christian Miller – have spearheaded well-recognized efforts through The Character Project, The Beacon Project, and The Honesty Project.
In Fall 2016, Wake Forest welcomed Dr. Michael Lamb, whom we recruited from Oxford to develop a new Program for Leadership and Character. A Rhodes Scholar who helped launch the Oxford Character Project and served as Dean of Leadership, Service and Character Development for Rhodes Scholars, Dr. Lamb is drawing on the best of our faculty research to develop programming aimed at transforming the lives of our students and communities. The Program has now grown to include over 20 staff to offer even more opportunities for our community.
One of my highest priorities is making Wake Forest a place that develops students into leaders of character. Through our new Program for Leadership and Character, we are creating a one-of-a-kind program, informed by cutting-edge research, that inspires students to become leaders of purpose, commitment and character.
Thank you for your interest in our Program for Leadership and Character.
Nathan O. Hatch