Mr. Wake Forest Through the Decades

A timeline of the life and career of Edwin G. Wilson ('43, P '91, '93)

Summer 2024

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1923: Born Feb. 1 in Leaksville, North Carolina

1939: Enters Wake Forest College

1943: Graduates summa cum laude and joins the U.S. Navy

1946: Discharged and returns to WFC to teach English

1947-52: Enrolls in Harvard’s graduate school, earning a M.A. in 1948 and Ph.D. in 1952

1951: Joins Wake Forest faculty 

1957: Named assistant dean

1959: Named acting dean

1960: Named dean of the college

1963: Supports founding of what is now the Mark H. Reece Collection of Student-Acquired Contemporary Art

1964: Marries Emily Herring (MA ’62); they would have three children and four grandchildren

1966: Esquire deems him a U.S. “superprof”

1967: Named University’s first provost and continues in that role through 1990

1971: Helps start University’s first residential study abroad program in Venice

1975: Supports founding of Wake Forest University Press

1977: Helps start residential program in London

1990: Steps down as provost and becomes vice president for special projects through 1993

1992: Addition to Z. Smith Reynolds Library named the “Wilson Wing”

1993: Honored with Distinguished Alumni Award

1993: Ten former students publish a volume of scholarly essays in his honor titled, “English Romanticism: Preludes and Postludes”

1998: Called back to administration as senior vice president, handling academic matters for Provost’s Office until 2002

2002: Receives the North Carolina Award for Public Service, the state’s highest civilian honor

2002: Named president of Atlantic Coast Conference

2004: Honored with Medallion of Merit, University’s highest award for service

2010: Publishes “The History of Wake Forest University, Volume V, 1967-1983”

2012: Inducted as part of inaugural class into the Wake Forest Writers Hall of Fame

2020: Publishes “Songs of Wake Forest”

2024: Dies on March 13 at age 101

Staff Favorites


Deac to Deac


by Warren Anderson ('74)

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Exit Smiling


by Maria Henson ('82)

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On tour with the Wilsons


by Kerry M. King ('85)

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