Dimension Champions

 2017 THRIVE Dimension Champions Awards for faculty and staff

Thrive Dimensions featured in INSIDE WFU

 The Dimension Champion Awards highlight the leadership and scholarship of faculty and staff throughout the Wake Forest University community across the eight dimensions of wellbeing. 

Financial Wellbeing- Barbara Meredith

Emotional Wellbeing- Denisha Champion

Physical Wellbeing- Adam Carlson

Spiritual Wellbeing- Sylvia Green

Social Wellbeing-          Lisa Finney

Intellectual Wellbeing- Dr. Debbie Newsome

Environmental Wellbeing-
Lee Collette

Occupational Wellbeing-
Meisha Bullock















2016 THRIVE Dimension Champions Awards for faculty and staff

The Office of Wellbeing celebrated the 2016 THRIVE Dimension Champions Awards for faculty and staff, on Wednesday, April 20 –in the new Sutton Center. The Dimension Champion Awards highlight the leadership and scholarship of faculty and staff throughout the Wake Forest University community across the eight dimensions of wellbeing.  Twenty-two Deacons were nominated by their colleagues for creating a culture of wellbeing on campus.  “It’s an exciting time for the Office of Wellbeing and the entire campus.  We are inspired by the deep commitment each of these individuals has shown to not only bettering themselves, but by example, encouraging our entire community to live full and meaningful lives,” says Malika Roman Isler, director of wellbeing.


C48F1618Emotional Wellbeing – Michele Kurtz, the Office of Student Engagement
Michele is one of the kindest people that I know.  She goes out of her way to assist any student or staff member.  I am able to confide in her when I am feeling stressed and she always give great perspective helping me channel my stress into a positive energy.  Michele never lets a road block get in her way.  She will take the time to examine the problem and then work through it without getting bogged down in the stress that it can cause.  Michele and I recently traveled together to the ACC Leadership Symposium.  The symposium was a great learning experience, but also extremely tiring, busy, and stressful.  Michele was a sounding board to students and myself during the weekend when we felt stressed. This is indicative of how she handles everyday work at Wake Forest with student organizations, campus events, student union, and advising students one-on-one.   She keeps calm and never lets the stress get to her.   She rises above in trying situations and comes out with a smile each time!  Michele is the picture of emotional wellbeing!

Jim MussetterEnvironmental Wellbeing – Jim Mussetter, Facilities & Campus Services; Landscape DepartmentOne of our most valuable assets on campus is our trees.  As our University Arborist, and his team take great pride in caring for these assets.  Trees of course add great beauty and enjoyment to our campus community which in a sense helps with our overall Well Being.  Jim’s ongoing efforts to preserve and maintain our existing trees and by adding to our tree canopy each year provides the entire community and future communities with ever ending enjoyment.

Financial Wellbeing – Tom Benza, Office of Financial Aid6KEN9994
Tom is a wonderful advocate for our students and the importance of ensuring they have access to financial literacy opportunities while they are a student at Wake Forest. He has worked in his role as an Associate Director in Financial Aid to educate students on student loan debt and understanding what their financial life might look like after they leave the university. Given the student loan debt crisis that our country is currently in, the work He is doing on behalf of our campus community is of paramount importance.


20070216class4053Intellectual Wellbeing – William Hamilton, The Department of German and Russia
Billy combines a deep appreciation of the humanities and Russian linguistics with his passion for playing music for good causes and for good fun. Throughout his long tenure as Director of the Humanities Program, this Professor exemplifies generosity of spirit and intellectual depth in supporting interdisciplinary research, teaching, and community engagement by supporting faculty, students, and American Indian community partners alike. His office doors were always open for anybody to stop by and have a good talk while smoking his pipe. His legendary early days playing with Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead created an aura of glamour for his Banjo playing with other WFU faculty, students and community members at fund raisers and social events.  As a champion of intellectual wellness, he models creativity, intellectual freedom of spirit, and generosity.

20120517ross0642Occupational Wellbeing – Catherine Ross, Teaching and Learning Center
Catherine’s commitment to walking every work day and the initiative “pedagogy & pedometers” has been a pioneer in introducing walking as an important ingredient of occupational wellness. Leveraging our beautiful campus grounds, she seeded an awareness among faculty that one can talk well while walking well, and thus boldly changed the paradigm of office meetings, pedagogy training sessions, and appointments. “Pedagogy and pedometers” deserves recognition as an important new practice that could easily be replicated in other sectors of our campus. By nominating her as an admirable occupational wellness champion and walking pioneer, I would also like to remind all of us of philosopher Søren Kierkegaard‘s thoughts about the relationship between walking and wellness:​ “Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day, I walk myself into a state of well-being & walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. But by sitting still, & the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill. Thus if one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right.”

20121101terry3503vPhysical Wellbeing – Michael Terry, Advancement Gifts/Records
Head to the Reynolds Gym pool any weekday at noon, and you’ll find Michael swimming laps.  This commitment to exercise in itself doesn’t set him apart from many of his colleagues; however, for the past six years he has used his love of swimming together with his community-building skills to establish and lead the faculty/staff Inner Tube Water Polo group. This informal “team” meets every Friday at noon, and enthusiastically welcomes a truly all-encompassing section of our campus: men, women, faculty, staff, and students.  EVERYONE is welcome, no matter the level of ability or fitness.  Flopping around on an inner tube might not sound like grueling exercise, but an hour of paddling, throwing, and frantic kicking is a true full-body workout.  The swimming pool can be intimidating (especially for us middle-age types!), but his enthusiasm makes even novice swimmers and newcomers feel like part of the group.  As one player states: “He naturally builds community and does so in this case in the context of pursuing physical health. He has an innate ability to bring people together to have fun and compete all while actually exercising without always even realizing it is happening!”  Another enthusiastically adds that “it is definitely great exercise and promotes the wellbeing of all of us who play.  Michael is a consummate gentleman…he always plays super hard and gives it his all.  Thanks to his commitment to ITWP, this fun and aerobic exercise promotes camaraderie among faculty, staff, and students helps us all Thrive!”

IMG_1783Social Wellbeing – Margaret Kittrell, Student Health Service
Margaret is the person who keeps up with all the staff and what is going on in their lives. She initiates staff “lunches”, brings people treats or simple gifts to boost their spirits and to keep us connected. She knows everyone in the surrounding community and keeps us informed on births, deaths, weddings and funerals.  She is caring with our student population and with all of us. Margaret is planning to retire this summer and I am not sure if there is anyone who could fill her absence. She is more of a behind the scenes individual and does things for others without need for recognition or reward. She is a team player and keeps us going and connected in many ways but most of all with food!

Sharon Jones_2Spiritual Dimension – Sharon Jones, Aramark Sharon regularly connects with each of her Aramark colleagues and colleagues in the Office of the Chaplain to share words of encouragement, prayer requests, to offer prayer and a listening ear or to share her love of poetry.  She can be found reflecting quietly outdoors during her breaks and after her workday is over, as she knows the importance of rest amidst a demanding work schedule.  She recently demonstrated her deep care for the well-being of the community by working with the Office of the Chaplain to organize a memorial service for a colleague who died tragically.  She purchased several sympathy cards for the colleague’s family and shared them far and wide to provide a meaningful avenue for our community to express and process their grief.  She wrote a poem, planned a service, and assisted in creating and distributing invites, providing tangible comfort both for herself, her colleagues, and the family of the deceased.  She daily demonstrates through her actions the importance of human connection and connection with God, sharing her joys and sorrows with others while “weeping with those who weep” and “rejoicing with those who rejoice.”  The Office of the Chaplain knows of no other individual on campus who better exemplifies “Spiritual Wellbeing.”

THRIVE Dimension Champions awards

Inside WFU
Wake Forest news for faculty and staff
May 12th, 2015


As a part of the Thrive Initiative, the Office of Wellbeing was excited to launch its “Thrive Dimension Champions” Awards for faculty and staff this spring semester.

Each day, many members of our Wake Forest community demonstrate their commitment to individual and community wellbeing across the eight dimensions: emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social, and spiritual.

“The Office of Wellbeing has the privilege of leading Thrive, Wake Forest University’s comprehensive approach to wellbeing, but the foundation for this initiative is deeply rooted in the scholarship and actions of faculty and staff across this campus. They are the living examples of meaningful, purposeful lives that make the Wake Forest experience,” says Malika Roman Isler, director of wellbeing.

Nominations will open again for the 2016 academic year, so there is still an opportunity to nominate a friend or colleague that should be recognized for their role in making Wake Forest exceptional.

Along with the recognition for their efforts around campus, Wellbeing Dimension Champions also receive a THRIVE Swag Bag containing Wake Forest and Thrive paraphernalia, a gift card to a local restaurant and a framed Dimension Champion certificate.

Please congratulate Wake Forest’s first eight Dimension Champions.

January – Dawn Cadd (Financial) and Laura Giovannelli (Occupational)
February – Cherise James (Social) and Mike Ford (Spiritual)
March – Louis Gusbar (Physical) and Erica Still (Intellectual)
April – Ulrike Weithaus (Emotional) and DeeDe Pinckney (Environmental)

Read more about each honoree below.

 2015  THRIVE Dimension Champions

The Office of Wellbeing has the privilege of leading Thrive, our comprehensive approach to wellbeing, but the foundation for this initiative is deeply rooted in the scholarship and actions of faculty and staff across this campus.  They are the living examples of meaningful, purposeful lives that make the Wake Forest experience.

Please join us in congratulating our first eight Dimension Champions!     -Malika Roman Isler

Laura Giovanelli – Occupational Wellbeing

GiovanelliLaura Giovanelli is one of WFU’s newest faculty members and already a beloved professor in the English department. Though new to the faculty circle, other faculty look to her for advice, value her collaboration with faculty across departments, and respect her search for opportunities for professional development to improve her course design and student learning.  Dr. Giovanelli is described as “concerned and conscientious when it comes to students” and a “thriving member of our campus community, and a model for others.”


Dawn Cadd – Financial Wellbeing

DawnDawn Cadd, who works in Procurement Services as a Procurement Card Administrator, is known for her reassuring, optimistic, and confident attitude in the most stressful of times. Her exceptional knowledge of financial policies combined with her personal and professional accessibility are truly appreciated by her peers. As one staff member elaborated, “[H]er amazing flexibility in ensuring staff have access to fiscal management resources allows each department to meet their operational goals while maintaining the financial integrity of the university.” Her warmth and patience as a PCard trainer combined with her knowledge as a consistent and willing resource make her an exceptional example as the Dimension Champion for financial wellbeing.

Cherise James – Social Wellbeing

CheriseCherise James is the Assistant Director of Residence Life & Housing, but she also plays a pivotal role in the lives of her peers by providing a source of social support in the workplace. Cherise possesses a unique ability to create a sense of community and facilitate supportive relationships by initiating fun, and providing inclusive opportunities for colleagues from across campus to gather and share their experiences and learn from one another. “Once per month, Cherise organizes a ‘High Five Lunch’,” a colleague explains, “a time when colleagues from across the division can come together to support each other, provide feedback and resources, and grow in our field. I find myself looking forward to these lunches for weeks in advance.”

Mike Ford – Spiritual Wellbeing


Mike Ford is the Associate Director of the Pro Humanitate Institute and is best known around campus for his leadership to peers and students alike. Mike consistently goes beyond the call of his professional duty and serves as a mentor to students, faculty, and staff who need motivation, guidance, or direction. As many of his colleagues can attest, he is truly dedicated to the “Pro Humanitate” motto and embodies spiritual wellbeing in his dedication to the values of meaning and purpose inside and outside of the workplace. As one colleague described, “I have had the benefit of watching Mike inspire and challenge others to live out their core values not just through words, but by giving of himself for his fellow man and living a life of meaning and purpose on a daily basis, and I believe it is his soul’s desire to see others flourish and grow to the point that they will live out their own lives with grace and peace.”

Erica Still – Intellectual Wellbeing


Dr. Erica Still is an Associate Professor in WFU’s English department and the 2015 Dimension Champion for intellectual wellbeing. Though much of her career is dedicated to teaching the undergraduate population, Dr. Still is still committed to her own intellectual pursuits and inspires her peers to make learning a continuous and challenging journey. Beyond the classroom, she is involved in a variety of faculty clubs and learning communities outside of her specialization and is recognized for her enthusiastic support of her peers. She is described as “very engaged in both giving and receiving ideas with faculty across all ranks” and, as one faculty member noted, “her approachability, empathy, and experience is empowering, refreshing, and inspiring.”

Louis Gusbar – Physical Wellbeing


Louis Gusbar is the Assistant Director of Graduate Student Academic Services in the business school and March’s physical wellbeing Dimension Champion. Louis is a prime example of what it means to make time for physical wellbeing; from designating time during the workday for physical activity to bringing nutritious lunches to work, Louis actively demonstrates his commitment to physical wellbeing and motivates his peers through his dedication and willingness to share his insights. One staff member describes him as a “a very effective contributor in the office” and says that, “seeing him leave Farrell Hall and walk to the Miller Center almost every afternoon is a great reminder and motivator to me.”

Ulrike Weithaus – Emotional Wellbeing

Ulrike (1)Dr. Ulrike Weithaus is one of WFU’s most dedicated and innovative faculty members, and April’s Dimension Champion for emotional wellbeing. Dr. Weithaus is a professor in the Department of Religion and American Ethnic Studies Program, while also serving as the Faculty Fellow in the Teaching and Learning Center and inspiring her peers to embrace the value of contemplative practices inside and outside of the classroom. She consistently “promotes emotional wellbeing and connectedness between people” and demonstrates an intrinsic desire to help individuals “build emotional capacity and resilience.” Her passion for wellbeing motivates her students and colleagues to pursue their desires, but it is her open-mindedness and authentic spirit that make the WFU community eager to approach their personal and professional journeys with a fresh and fearless perspective.

DeeDe Pinckney – Environmental Wellbeing


As the Assistant Director of Marketing and Communication in the Office of Professional and Career Development, DeeDe Pinckney goes the extra mile to serve as a bright and positive presence and creates a healthy, welcoming environment. She helps students, faculty, and staff alike feel at ease when they enter the OPCD and is “one of the first people in OPCD that will make you smile,” despite her busy schedule and workload. DeeDe is a wonderful example of an individual whose presence sets a warm and encouraging tone, and creates an environment for others to relax and renew, which is why she is April’s Dimension Champion for environmental wellbeing.