Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College


Presidential Transition

Message from the Chair of the Board

Posted on February 24, 2014

I write with exciting news. The search for the college’s eighth president has reached a successful conclusion and I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Dennis M. Hanno as Wheaton’s next president.  He will take office on July 15, 2014.

The Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Saturday to approve the enthusiastic recommendation of the Presidential Search Committee and to make the appointment based on Dennis Hanno’s record as an energetic, creative and accomplished leader in higher education. 

Dennis will come to Wheaton from Babson College, where he currently serves as Provost and Senior Vice President, one of several expanding senior leadership positions he has held since joining Babson in 2006.  Previously, Dennis served as the associate dean for Undergraduate Matters of the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and an accounting professor on the faculty of Boston College. Dennis earned his Ph.D. in management from the University of Massachusetts, and has received numerous honors and awards, published articles, chapters, a book, served on editorial boards and professional associations, and presented extensively in his field.

His appointment as Wheaton’s next president caps off an intensive international search that began last summer. I want to thank and commend the entire search committee, and particularly Nancy Pearlstine Conger ’67, chair, and Polly Bartlett Bryson ’79, vice chair, for their leadership and extraordinary dedication to Wheaton over the last seven months.

The search began with a series of in-person and online consultation meetings with alumnae/i, students, faculty, staff, parents and friends. The good counsel received by the search committee is reflected in the presidential prospectus that was prepared at the start of the academic year and then shared with potential candidates for the position. With help from Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates, a leading search firm in higher education, the committee developed a deep and strong pool of candidates.  The interest in this position was exceptional and a talented group of finalists was considered for in-depth interviews and referencing.

What stands out about Dennis for both the members of the search committee and to members of the Board—beyond his energy and enthusiasm for serving Wheaton College—is his career-long commitment to, and accomplishments in, promoting the study of the liberal arts. Most recently at Babson, a school best known for its focus on business, Dennis, working with the faculty, increased the emphasis on the liberal arts both in the curriculum and with co-curricular programs, led college-wide discussions that resulted in adding social value in the college mission statement, and helped move the school from a focus that was purely on entrepreneurship as a discipline to the broad concepts and application of entrepreneurial thought and action, entrepreneurial leadership, and entrepreneurship in all disciplines and settings.

For more than a decade, Dennis has and continues to lead extensive initiatives in Africa that provide learning opportunities for undergraduates while empowering thousands of youth in four African countries through a unique curriculum he developed called "From Ideas to Action." Dennis has also created innovative programs for faculty and staff development through global experiences and made Babson a global-leader in developing students who create positive social impact. Dennis's leadership in Africa is representative of his deep commitment and belief in the power and value of diversity, and one of the many reasons he feels akin to Wheaton and is drawn to a school with a special history as a leading women's college.

Dennis is an energetic leader with a strong commitment to intellectual vitality, teaching and research, campus programming and building diverse communities. His energy and efforts have led to unprecedented student interest in Babson, with the number of applications to the college more than doubling since 2005 and with the most recent entering class setting records for its academic quality and selectivity. An intentional focus on diversity has created a campus community that includes students from over 80 countries and is approximately 25 percent international and 25 percent U.S. multicultural. The entering class of 2013 also set a record for the number of women students, with the percentage of first-year women increasing from less than 40 percent in 2005 to almost 50 percent today.

Dennis is known for his abiding commitment to students and a quality student experience.  As you learn more about him, I am confident that you will share our conviction that he possesses the qualities, skills and experience to lead Wheaton to new chapters of distinction and prominence.

Dennis and his wife, Susan, look forward to moving into the Presidents' House later this year and becoming deeply involved in the life of the campus, the Norton community, and having the chance to meet Wheaton alumnae/i and form friendships around the world.

I hope you will be able to join us in Cole Memorial Chapel in-person, or online, at noon (Tuesday, Feb. 25) when President Crutcher will convene the college community to officially welcome Dennis to the Wheaton community.

Thomas J. Hollister
Chair, Wheaton College Board of Trustees