Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Making It Modern


President Cole

Samuel Valentine Cole (1851-1925). Unidentified Photographer. Photograph. 16.5 x 11.5 cm. 1897-1898.Samuel Valentine Cole (1851-1925). Unidentified Photographer. Photograph. 25 x 18 cm. Ca. 1923.

Taken during the early days of his presidency, the photograph on the left reveals the Reverend Samuel Valentine Cole as a visionary ready to propel Wheaton from a small, struggling female seminary into a successful and influential college. At this time Cole was working with architect Ralph Adams Cram to create a campus plan that would reflect the school's academic vision for the future as well as the long-standing value of providing education within a supportive, family-like environment. With Cole, Mrs. Wheaton's beloved school became a stable, permanent reality.

While the exact date of the photograph to the right is unknown, President Cole is shown within the last few years of his life, probably around age 70. The passage of time is clearly evident when this image is compared to the photograph of Cole as a younger man, soon after he became President of the seminary. In this image, Cole has been at Wheaton's helm for nearly thirty years and has lost his beloved first wife and the school’s founder, all of which exacted an extraordinary toll. By this time, Wheaton has been transformed from a seminary into a college and its built environment has become a quintessential New England campus. Here we see the stately and dignified president, no longer the informal and omnipresent man at the beginning of his tenure, but a leader who matured and changed along with the college. He should rightfully be proud of all his achievements. After all, where would Wheaton be today without President Cole?

-Mollie Denhard, Class of 2010

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