It all began during a brainstorming discussion among Library colleagues. I discussed my experiences as an undergraduate at Wake in relation to the Friday Nights @ ZSR initiative, which promotes hosting events after hours at the library on Friday evenings. “Students who make the Dean’s List are sent a congratulatory email,” I explained to them. “It would be neat to host a reception in the Library that honors their academic achievement!” Thus, the Dean’s List Gala was created. Co-sponsored by the Office of the Dean of the College, it was an exceptional event, as many of these students call ZSR their second home, and spend much of their undergraduate experience studying here.
It was an enchanted Friday evening. The atrium space betwinkled from floor to ceiling, transformed into a formal reception hall filled with flowers, bistro tables, and the sound of upbeat jazz. About 300 students, family members, and faculty gathered in the atrium to honor seniors who achieved the Dean’s List during their junior and senior years. Waiters strolled through the crowed to pass hors’ d’oeuvres and Arnold Palmers were served. Each senior was given a commemorative bookmark handmade on the Library letterpress, and their names flashed on our new digital signage congratulating them for their achievements. Students were delighted to see their names appear on the screen, and took pictures next to the board, proudly celebrating with their families.
Christy Buchanan, Associate Dean for Academic Advising and Lynn Sutton, our very own Dean of ZSR Library, gave remarks, and led everyone in a sparkling cider toast to the seniors. It was a memorable moment, and it embodied the caring, academic spirit that fills Wake Forest.
There are so many library and university colleagues who helped make this joyous event possible. The Library is grateful for the Office of the Dean of the College, Office of Parents Programs, and the Division of Campus Life for their contributions and support to the gala. Several Library faculty and staff played essential roles in all aspects of event planning and programming, and I cannot thank them enough for supporting this idea with such enthusiasm!
President Nathan Hatch and his wife Julie attended the entire event, and predicted it will become a new Wake Forest tradition. Dean Sutton proclaimed the night a spectacular success. The future of the Dean’s List Gala is bright, and I will be excited to see how this event expands over the years!