Wake Forest University receives $30 million Lilly Grant for character education


Wake Forest University announced that the Lilly Endowment has awarded her a $30.7 million five-year grant to support the university’s emphasis on the study of character and also to build a national higher education network. creating that is aimed at educating character.

The grant advances the work of Wake Forest’s Program for Leadership and Character, which was established in 2017 and has become a leading center for character development research and education and for its integration into the curriculum.

In addition, Wake Forest will use the grant to help colleges and universities across the country develop and strengthen their own education initiatives.

“We believe that focusing on character can help many colleges and universities realize their aspirations to educate the whole person and generate the knowledge, capacity and character our students need to live and lead well in the 21st century,” said Michael Lamb, executive director of Wake Forest’s Program for Leadership and Character, FM Kirby Foundation Chair of Leadership and Character, and associate professor of interdisciplinary humanities. Lamb will serve as principal investigator for the grant.

Approximately $7 million of the new grant will enable Wake Forest to:

  • support the ongoing work of the leadership and character program, with a particular focus on studying the impact of character-related courses and extracurricular programming on students’ leadership and character, as well as their sense of belonging, civic engagement, career readiness, and academic interests.
  • organizing national conferences exploring new ways of developing and measuring character;
  • offering workshops on nurturing character and teaching specific virtues such as empathy, honesty, gratitude, resilience, justice, citizenship, humility, compassion, respect and hope;
  • conduct summer seminars for college and university faculty and staff interested in integrating character education into their teaching and campus activities;
  • Develop different types of character development learning resources that teachers can use to integrate character education into their lessons.

More than $23 million of the grant will be used by Wake Forest to administer a national competitive grant program that will provide funding to other colleges and universities for their own initiatives focused on character. Those grants include:

  • planning grants of up to $50,000;
  • grants ranging from $250,000 to $1 million for other institutions to launch character initiatives;
  • teacher scholarships for teachers who want to explore character;
  • professional development grants for faculty and staff;

“Universities are called to be catalysts for the good in our society,” said Susan R. Wente, president of Wake Forest, in the university’s announcement. “With this unique and truly significant investment from Lilly Endowment, Wake Forest will lead broader public conversations in higher education that put character at the center of leadership, and become a national resource for supporting colleges and universities across the country in developing their capacity to teach. character.”

In addition to Lamb, Kenneth Townsend, resident academic at Wake Forest University Law School and director of Leadership and Character in the Professional Schools, will co-lead the fair. Nathan Hatch, emeritus president of Wake Forest and widely regarded as the founder of the leadership and character program, will serve as senior advisor.

Over the past decade, Wake Forest faculty has received several grants to support their scholarship and character education, enhancing Wake Forest’s reputation as a national academic leader in this field. The grants include:

  • $3.4 million in 2019 from the Lilly Endowment for the Leadership and Character Program;
  • an $8.6 million from the Kern Family Foundation in 2021 that expanded Wake Forest’s character development work into his professional curricula, such as medicine, law, and engineering;
  • a multi-million dollar grant from the John Templeton Foundation that supported the Character Project, which featured research by psychologists, philosophers, and theologians on topics such as honesty, generosity, and empathy;
  • a $3.9 million grant from the Templeton Religion Trust to the Beacon Project, which has funded Wake Forest researchers who study the psychological, cultural, and spiritual factors that make people morally excellent.
  • a $4.4 million John Templeton Foundation grant to the Honesty Project, which supports research into the nature and science of honesty.

Speaking of the new Wake Forest grant, N. Clay Robbins, Chairman and CEO of Lilly Endowment, said: “We live in a time of deep cultural and political polarization and growing mistrust of leaders and institutions. We are pleased to add our funding to that of the Kern Family Foundation, John Templeton Foundation, Templeton Religion Trust, Templeton World Charity Foundation and other foundations and supporters to assist Wake Forest in further developing its character education capacity and strategies.

“We are also happy to support her efforts to help foster a national network of colleges and universities with the goal of educating a new generation of morally and ethically grounded leaders to rebuild trust and increase civic engagement,” added Robbins please.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here