Wake Forest has announced that Ron Wellman, the longest tenured athletic director at any Division I school nationally, will retire after 27 years of leading the Deacons’ program.
He will be succeeded by Wake Forest graduate John Currie, who will take over as just the sixth AD in school history — and third since 1964 — on May 1, according to a statement issued Sunday morning by university president Nathan O. Hatch.
Wellman has served in his current capacity since 1992, a time in which the Deacons have won national championships in tennis, men’s soccer and field hockey. Wake’s football program has also experienced success during his tenure, winning an ACC championship in 2006 and earning three straight bowl bids under current coach Dave Clawson.
He has been less than successful, however, in returning the Deacons’ basketball program back to prominence with three unsuccessful coaching hires since the untimely death of Skip Prosser in 2007.
Away from the field of competition, Wake has experienced considerable growth in its athletic facilities under Wellman’s leadership while raising more than $400 million in philanthropic support for athletics.
“Ron has led Wake Forest athletics with grace, integrity and a commitment to excellence without pretension,” Hatch said in his statement. “He has overseen the most successful period in our athletics history, currently ranking first in the Directors Cup in the ACC while achieving a student-athlete graduation rate of 94 percent. It has been an honor to serve Wake Forest alongside a leader of extraordinary conscience and character like Ron.”
Wellman is the second AD at a state ACC school to retire this spring, joining NC State’s Debbie Yow. His replacement should provide a seamless transition, having served as an assistant to the AD during the 1990s. Currie, who graduated from Wake in 1993, also served as the assistant director of the Deacon Club.
The 47-year-old Chapel Hill native has experience in running athletic programs as the AD at both Kansas State and Tennessee. He is currently an adjunct professor at Columbia University in New York and is a consultant for the University of Texas.
Nationally recognized as a fundraiser and leader, Currie earned the Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year and received the Bobby Dodd Athletic Director Award in 2013. In 2011, Currie was the named to the Sports Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 list.
“Today is a very humbling day and one that my wife, Mary Lawrence, and I are grateful for the confidence that President Hatch and the Board of Trustees has shown us to make this dream come true,” Currie said. “Ron Wellman has been my long-time mentor and is responsible for everything I have in my professional life – the most important of which is the ethical foundation that has sustained me over the last 25 years.
“The many great accomplishments achieved by Wake Forest over the last 185 years has happened because of our collective spirit, energy, creativity and initiative channeled together – students, faculty, administration, alumni, parents, the Winston-Salem community and beyond. I look forward to reacquainting myself with old friends and collaborating with new ones to better understand our challenges and opportunities.”