Announcement of Wake Forest’s 14th President

Dear Wake Forest community,

Thank you to so many of you who have contributed to Wake Forest’s search for its 14th president. On behalf of the Search Committee and the Board of Trustees, I am pleased to announce that we have invited Susan R. Wente to be our next president. Dr. Wente, who currently serves as provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs at Vanderbilt University, will begin her presidency on July 1, 2021.

A renowned biomedical scientist and visionary higher education leader, Dr. Wente has served as Vanderbilt’s provost and vice chancellor for the past seven years. She took on the additional role of interim chancellor from August 2019 to June 2020. During her tenure at Vanderbilt, Dr. Wente has advanced the excellence of academic programs and guided the university’s response to the pandemic.

Dr. Wente has been widely praised for her bold and engaged leadership and for accomplishing a number of firsts, including the appointment of Vanderbilt’s first female athletic director and the creation of the university’s Office of Inclusive Excellence. Wente led Vanderbilt’s efforts to launch a new structure for the university and medical center’s academic relationship. As provost, she has been the chief academic officer responsible for all 10 of Vanderbilt’s schools and colleges. She also developed the university’s 10-year strategic plan. Wente has overseen innovative initiatives to enhance the undergraduate experience and elevate the arts and humanities, and she served as the Vanderbilt faculty athletics representative for the Southeastern Conference and NCAA. I invite you to see her impressive biography and learn more about her.

When asked about her interest in becoming president of Wake Forest, Dr. Wente said, “I have long admired the people associated with Wake Forest. This is a special institution, committed to excellence with a tremendous ability to develop leaders of great integrity for our world. I look forward to joining the Wake Forest community and working with the outstanding faculty, staff, students and alumni to seize the multitude of opportunities for Wake Forest to excel even further as a national leader and model.”

The presidential search included an extraordinary field of diverse candidates who represented the full spectrum of the higher education landscape and several non-traditional backgrounds. Dr. Wente emerged as the leading candidate because of her unique combination of experiences, talents and passions, and she was the unanimous choice of the Search Committee. Noted for her dedication to the success of the institution above her own personal achievement, Dr. Wente is a deliberate, empathetic servant leader, intent on building teams and listening to members of the community.

I would like to thank the members of the Search Committee for their outstanding work and shared commitment in recommending Wake Forest’s 14th president. They entered this work with the intention of seeking the best leader for our community, and they fulfilled their responsibilities based on a common belief in Wake Forest and her mission and with great integrity, judgment and energy. Their comments and thoughts about the selection of Dr. Wente are available on the Presidential Search website.

I would also like to thank the Board of Trustees and the entire Wake Forest community for your advice and engagement in helping us understand what Wake Forest needs. Your input was invaluable as we went about our work. Together, we learned that the Wake Forest that we know and love has a distinct identity that is understood and respected across higher education.

Finally, I would like to again share my gratitude for Nathan and Julie Hatch, who have devoted 16 years to the flourishing of Wake Forest University. Their dedication to this community has been unmatched, and we are a better place because of their leadership, partnership and friendship.

In the coming months, I look forward to joining together as we celebrate the work and legacy of the Hatches and introduce Dr. Susan Wente, and her husband, Dr. Chris Hardy, and their family to the Wake Forest community.


Gerald F. Roach (’80, JD ’82, P ’09, P ’12, P ’12)
Chair, Wake Forest University Board of Trustees

Gerald Roach

“Dr. Wente is highly experienced and down to earth — approachable and personable, honest and ethical. She grew up in the Midwest, has lived on both coasts, and has made her home in the South.  More than anything, Dr. Wente is committed to the good of our institution and community. I am pleased to welcome her to Wake Forest on behalf of our community and look forward to working with her in pursuit of our mission.”

Gerald F. Roach (’80, JD ’82, P ’09, P ’12, P ’12)
Chair, Wake Forest University Board of Trustees; Chair, Presidential Search Committee