Members of the Alumni Council, their spouses, and Wake Forest staff gathered on September 14, 2017, at Graylyn Conference Center in Winston-Salem to discuss leadership and character.

Our group examined leadership and character globally, in our communities and at Wake Forest. We shared personal examples of leadership and character by telling stories of individuals including clergy, fathers, classmates and community members, just to name a few. We were very encouraged by the notion of everyday character, noting that it is all around us if you look for it.

Character and leadership is not just what you say, but what you do, and a person might never know the impact of his or her actions. It can be just one individual’s deed that changes lives.

Through our stories and comments, our group demonstrated that real leadership requires courage and often sacrifice. Some of our group’s comments included, “Sometimes a leader needs to be silent and sometimes needs to speak,” as well as, “Leaders have to do things they don’t want to do.”  

The moderator asked us to consider New York Times columnist David Brooks’ concept of “resumé virtues” versus “eulogy virtues,” which generated many comments. One question posed for discussion was, “How do we teach a generation that leadership and character are not about recognition? We have trained them that they have to sell themselves and build their resumés to get into college and social media encourages the promotion of the self.”

Pro Humanitate was an overarching theme, which is no surprise to a group of Wake Foresters.