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Presidential Transition

Wheaton names Dennis Hanno as new president

Posted on February 24, 2014

The Wheaton College Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Saturday to appoint Dennis Hanno as Wheaton’s new president. Hanno, age 58, is currently Provost and Senior Vice President at Babson College. Hanno will be Wheaton’s eighth president in the college’s 180-year history. He will take office on July 15, 2014.

“There were many impressive and qualified candidates to lead Wheaton College. During our selection process, we listened carefully to the greater Wheaton community and concluded that without a doubt Dennis has what it takes to move this school forward,” said Thomas J. Hollister, chair of the Wheaton College Board of Trustees. “Wheaton has historic commitments to gender equality and diversity, as well as to the power of a rigorous liberal arts education. Dennis is not only equipped to ensure a successful future for Wheaton, he embodies the values on which this school was built.”

“Throughout my career, I have focused on the importance of diversity, a student-centered approach, and broadening the scope of what students study – from the arts and humanities to the social sciences and the sciences,” said Hanno. “Wheaton College is grounded in values that have inspired my life’s work, and I see tremendous possibilities ahead for this vibrant seat of higher learning. I am extremely honored to have the opportunity to build on Wheaton’s past, and to contribute to its future.”

Hanno has held several senior leadership positions at Babson College since 2006. Among his many accomplishments at Babson, Hanno is responsible for increasing the emphasis on liberal arts throughout the school’s curriculum. He also led the effort to integrate entrepreneurial thought and principles of socially responsible management throughout the curriculum. Beyond the classroom, Hanno has championed initiatives to enrich students’ residential and co-curricular experiences, focusing on the campus as a 7-day a week, 24-hour a day living and learning laboratory.

In addition to his campus-based work, Hanno has founded and led a number of programs dedicated to education and development in Africa over the past decade, working in Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana and Tanzania. He is the founder of the Babson-Rwanda Entrepreneurship Center (BREC) located in Kigali, Rwanda, which is dedicated to economic and entrepreneurial development within the country. He also created and directed the Babson Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy, which operates in multiple African countries. Hanno’s leadership in Africa is representative of his deep commitment and belief in the power and value of diversity, and it is one of the many reasons he feels akin to Wheaton.

“For well over a century Wheaton focused on creating opportunity for young women even when those opportunities were rare,” said Hanno. “These roots are clearly evident in its focus today on creating a diverse community that provides opportunity for all.”

“So much of Dennis’s work speaks to the values, integrated coursework, and experiential learning that make Wheaton graduates uniquely qualified to enter the 21st Century workforce,” said Hollister.

Leonard Schlesinger, former president of Babson College, enthusiastically endorsed his former colleague. Schlesinger stated: “I have had the benefit and privilege of working with Dennis throughout my tenure as President of Babson College. He is simply one of the most genuinely engaged academic leaders I have ever known. He knows everybody around the College and everything that is going on; is equally comfortable at a faculty curriculum meeting, a student athletic or social event, a budgeting session or with community leaders on one of his regular Africa trips with students, staff and alumni. The Wheaton College community has made an inspired choice …working along with Dennis the College will reach heights and aspirations it has yet to imagine!”

Hanno began his career in higher education as a professor of accounting, serving first at Boston College and then at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has continued to teach courses, most recently on entrepreneurship, even as a senior leader at Babson. He also has written extensively, contributing articles and book chapters on a variety of topics related to socially responsible management practices, education and entrepreneurship. He co-authored the book From Ideas to Action: A Guide for Young Entrepreneurs.

Wheaton President Ronald Crutcher announced in 2013 that he was stepping down, and shortly after the school began an intensive international search for applicants that could build on President Crutcher’s accomplishments. The search committee specifically sought a candidate with a background of leadership and achievement, an aptitude for financial management, and a record of accomplishment in the area of diversity, among many other attributes. The board enthusiastically selected Hanno after thoughtful consideration of several candidates.

Having grown up on a small dairy farm in Glenfield, NY, Hanno is motivated by the tremendous difference education made in his life. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame, his Master of Science degree in accounting from Western New England College, and his Ph.D. in management from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“I know from my own experience how education can transform a young person’s life,” said Hanno. “My personal experience has driven my commitment to education. I look forward to using this passion to enhance and expand the tremendous opportunities Wheaton College offers its students.”