Skip to Main Content

Pro Humanitate, defined 


Not only the Wake Forest motto, but the Wake Forest way of life.

5-second Summary

Just how do you pronounce Pro Humanitate and what does it mean?

Pro humanitate. 

These two words (pronounced “pro hyoo-mani-TAH-tay”) are core to our university community (second only to Go Deacs!). It is our motto and our way of life. So, what does it mean? 

The literal translation is “for humanity” — although it has also been interpreted as “for civilization” or “for kindness” — and it is a calling to use our knowledge, talents and compassion to better the lives of others. For many Wake Forest students, this motto has inspired a commitment to service and donations of time or resources to their communities. For others, it manifests as the pursuit of their best selves. 

What does that look like in action? Pro humanitate has inspired students, faculty, alumni and staff to launch multiple events to support cancer research, to throw an annual Halloween party for children in Winston-Salem and to deliver hundreds of Thanksgiving meals to those in need. It has motivated them to support social justice, civic engagement, educational equity, health and nutrition, and economic empowerment. And at the School of Professional Studies, we believe our motto has powerful implications in a rapidly changing world, both at work and in our communities.

Students come to the School of Professional Studies to advance their careers and enrich their lives at a time when expectations from employees and consumers have transformed the world of business as we know it. 70% of Americans believe it’s “somewhat” or “very” important for companies to make the world a better place. 77% percent of consumers want to purchase from companies with a mission to make an impact beyond their bottom line. And 95% of employees believe businesses should benefit all stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers and the communities they operate within. While it’s called everything from corporate responsibility to community building to unlimited volunteering hours, companies are increasingly embracing a pro humanitate philosophy. To put that philosophy into practice, they will need leaders who understand what it means to commit to improving themselves and the communities they serve. 

Pro humanitate is not an educational expectation. Instead, it is a philosophy, a way of engaging with the world. It infuses everything we do, and no matter what your personal interpretation, it is an opportunity to leave the world better than we found it.

Related Stories