Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
In the news

  • Team spirit

    Alum prepares for first baseball season at the helm of two Minor League teams.

    It’s been just over a year since Wheaton alumnus Kenneth Babby ’02 purchased his second Minor League Baseball team, the Jacksonville Suns, and the upgrades he has made to the team’s home park—as well as his commitment to his new community—are receiving attention.

    Babby was featured in an April 4 article in the Jacksonville, Fla.-based Daily Record.

    The article follows Babby as he makes the rounds at the park in preparation for Opening Day.

    “Babby is always surveying the stands. He watches faces. What people are eating. How they’re interacting with each other and the game. It’s a trait that began when he was a teenager, a time when most of his peers would solely watch the action on the field,” Daily Record reporter David Chapman writes.

    But it’s not just press attention the alum is receiving; since purchasing the Suns last March, Babby has been invited to serve on the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce board of directors, and the $1.8 million in renovations he has made to the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville are getting positive reviews from local fans.

    “I don’t think we realize in the community what a gem we have,” Jacksonville Chamber CEO Daniel Davis said of Babby in the article.

    This is Babby’s first season juggling two teams. In October 2012, he purchased the Akron RubberDucks (formerly the Akron Aeros), based in Akron, Ohio. There, he also made a major investment, committing to $3.5 million in improvements to the team’s Canal Park.

    For Babby, who received a computer science degree from Wheaton College, baseball is essentially a family business. His father, Lon, served as general counsel of Major League Baseball’s the Baltimore Orioles in the 1980s and ‘90s. Babby often accompanied him on team business and even served as a batboy one year, getting to meet players such as Cal Ripken Jr., according to the Daily Record article.

    These days, Babby shares his work and his love of baseball with his own son, Josh, who hopes to attend as many games in both Akron and Jacksonville as possible.

  • The first potluck

    Religion professor Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus talks with The Huffington Post about the history of sharing dishes.

    Potlucks may be making a comeback, though these days they go by other names—“Friendsgivings” and “cook-offs,” to name a few.

    A March 25 article on The Huffington Post explores what’s new with the tradition of sharing dishes, as well as what’s old, talking to Wheaton Professor of Religion Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus about the history of the potluck.

    Brumberg-Kraus tells Huffington Post reporter Joseph Erbentraut that the concept of the potluck dates back to biblical times. He points to the Bible’s New Testament, where poor and well-off members of the community share dishes and unite through a symbolic offering of bread and wine.

    “They don’t call it a potluck, but that appears to be what’s happening,” Brumberg-Kraus says.

    Though the tradition has changed in many ways through the ages, today’s potluck still encourages people to be “much more inclusive and aware” of the needs of their brethren, whether it means bringing a dish that will have broad appeal or respecting the dietary restrictions of fellow diners, according to the article.

    “You want everyone at the meal to feel a part of it and have something to eat,” Brumberg-Kraus says.

    The Wheaton professor's research focuses on religion and food, particularly food traditions and rituals, and he often writes on the subject. He also teaches a First-Year Seminar on “The Rituals of Dinner.”

  • Meet and greet

    News outlets highlight Wheaton’s special delivery of acceptance packets to admitted students throughout New England.

    Wheaton’s in-person delivery of more than 75 acceptance packets to admitted students throughout New England has received attention by the Associated Press, NPR, The Boston Globe and other news outlets, as well as on social media.

    President Dennis Hanno, Vice President of Enrollment and Dean of Admission and Student Aid Grant Gosselin, the Wheaton Lyon and others from the college headed out Tuesday afternoon, March 15 to greet potential members of the Wheaton Class of 2020 with their acceptance letters, T-shirts, blue and white balloons and signs reading “Yes!.” All admission decisions were distributed electronically at 9 p.m. that evening.

    AP reporter Collin Binkley rode along with one of the groups as they visited a few accepted students, including Maya Wolf of Franklin, Mass., who was clearly excited and overwhelmed by the special delivery.

    The AP article, which was published in newspapers throughout the country, including The Washington Post and New York Post, mentioned a few other schools that have made an effort to personalize the admission process.

    Globe reporter Steve Annear also wrote about the visits, in an article published on the front page of the Metro section on Wednesday, March 16. He interviewed admitted student Paige Donahue of East Bridgewater, Mass., who said she was “stoked” to hear of her acceptance to Wheaton and called the personal delivery “heartwarming.”

    The new initiative also got a mention on the news site Mic.com and on the Web version of TeenVOGUE magazine and sparked a conversation on Boston radio station Mix 104.1 FM, on the Karson and Kennedy morning show. Locally, the story was picked up by the The Sun Chronicle

    On Wednesday, March 23, President Hanno was interviewed by host Audie Cornish on NPR's All Things Considered. Cornish asked the president whether all the "pomp and circumstance" was necessary.

    President Hanno responded: "For me, it really has that dual purpose of sending the prospective student a signal about the uniqueness and the personal nature of this place, but then also including all of our community in the process. And so, for me, you know, the pomp and circumstance, it was—it was fun. And I think, even if a student doesn't come here, they'll consider it as fun and a memorable experience."

    In April, CBS This Morning included a mention of Wheaton's unique deliveries in a piece about how the college admission process has changed in recent years.

    These visits are just Wheaton’s latest effort to show admitted students and others the kind of personalized relationships they can expect at the college. Last spring, a busload of people from the Wheaton community surprised one student who had been accepted for Early Decision by delivering her letter at her high school in Wakefield, Mass. The student’s emotional reaction was captured on video.

  • Nature vs. culture

    A Boston Globe review explores “Theories of the Earth,” a two-person exhibit on display at Wheaton’s Beard and Weil Galleries.

    “Theories of the Earth,” a two-person exhibition of drawings, sculpture, photographs and installations on display through April 9 at Wheaton’s Beard and Weil Galleries, was highlighted recently in the arts section of the Boston Globe.

    Globe correspondent Cate McQuaid calls the creative pairing of artists Beth Lipman and Lauren Fenterstock “stunning,” noting the “beauty and ambition” of their works and “the lovely way they fit together.” But she also offers a criticism: questioning the way the artists, and others, view culture and nature as adversaries.

    The writer looks specifically at Lipman’s all-glass installation, “Laid (Time-) Table with Cycads,” which she calls a "picture of exorbitance” revealing “nature’s persistence in the face of culture,” and at Fenterstock’s “The Order of Things”—a series of cabinets covered in black shells and other objects—which she calls a “dark and foreboding cornucopia.”

    Those who may be curious about the artists’ intentions—their thoughts on the relationship between culture and nature as well as other subjects—can attend a talk by both women on Wednesday, April 6. The talk will begin at 5 p.m. at Wheaton’s Watson Fine Arts Center, in Ellison Lecture.

  • The write stuff

    Julie Bogen ’14 offers career advice for young scribes in a profile published on The Lifestyle Edit.

    Alumna Julie Bogen ’14 discusses social media strategy, the value of the internship and finding her voice—and shares solid career advice for other young writers—in a recent profile featured in the career section of online publication The Lifestyle Edit.

    Bogen, who majored in film and new media studies and minored in journalism and Spanish, works as social strategy planner for Refinery29, an online fashion, beauty and lifestyle guide for women.

    “As someone in her mid-twenties, she’s living proof that if you knuckle down, learn fast and are truly passionate about what you’re putting out there, anything is possible,” the article says of Bogen, who offers “words of wisdom” for other women just starting out in their careers.

    Early in her time at Wheaton, Bogen worked as an editorial intern for The Litchfield County Times in Connecticut and Passport magazine—positions she said offered her lots of independence to pitch and write stories and helped her build her writing portfolio. In turn, that portfolio helped her land internships at Teen Vogue and Oribe Hair Care, and eventually get a job at Refinery29 just a few months after graduation.

    “By the time I left The Litchfield County Times, I had a portfolio that included both cover stories and news pieces, as well as a stellar recommendation from my supervisor,” Bogen told The Lifestyle Edit. “My bosses at Oribe and Teen Vogue saw the clips and knew I was careful and capable, so they felt comfortable assigning out stories.”

    Bogen also benefitted from a strong professional network she built through her freelance work while still in college.

    “Of course, a strong portfolio is great, but having someone who can say ‘I trust this girl and what she’s capable of’ gives you an advantage,” she told The Lifestyle Edit.

  • Entrepreneurial spirit

    Wheaton students’ business ideas were highlighted recently in the Sun Chronicle, while the college has announced two new programs that support business development.

    Several Wheaton students have been busy turning their ideas into new business opportunities.

    Michael Sadowsky ’18, Omar Al-Mogahed ’18, Bailey Robinson ’18, Khaled Sharafaddin ’16, Caleb Wastler ’17 and Claudine Humure ’17 are among Wheaton’s most recent entrepreneurs and were featured in a March 6 article in the Sun Chronicle titled “Innovative ideas percolate at Wheaton College.”

    Sadowsky has been working this year with Assistant Professor of Business and Management Nancy Scott and other students to launch an entrepreneurship club, and the group has big plans for the future—including a business pitch competition and the creation of a campus think tank.

    “This club is going to make a big impact on Wheaton,” Sadowsky told the Sun Chronicle. “It is going to be exciting to see how students’ social entrepreneurship projects affect the campus community.”

    In the meantime, Sadowsky and Al-Mogahed have been pursuing one business idea in particular: a textbook-sharing mobile app they call “EZBook.” They’ve formed a limited liability company, or LLC, and teamed up with chief strategy officer Robinson and software developers Sharafaddin and Wastler. They plan to work on the project this summer, with a possible fall 2016 launch date.

    Humure has been working with four students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop a more comfortable prosthetic for amputees. The project is both educational and personal for Humure, a biology major who in 2005 lost her right leg above the knee to cancer. The group recently completed a prototype and had it tested in India, according to the article.

    Humure is also developing a business plan for a future health clinic that would work with amputees.

    Wheaton’s entrepreneurial spirit may be news, but it’s not necessarily new.

    Brian “Mike” Beneduce ’16, recently launched a company to sell his original product, the Bucket-Back. The comfortable backrest, which can be attached to baseball buckets, aims to reduce lower back pain and pressure for coaches, players and others sitting on the sidelines.

    A few years ago, Nishon Radhakrishnan ’15 and Harrison Bramhall ’14 came up with an idea to design a less expensive but still stylish pair of all-wood sunglasses. Their company, Tints Wear, is still going strong, with Radhakrishnan at the helm as chief operating officer.

    Along with offering a strong interdisciplinary program for business and management majors that emphasizes experiential learning, Wheaton is committed to supporting business development across campus and recently announced two exciting new programs toward this end.

    In November, the college formed a partnership with MassChallenge—the world’s largest startup accelerator—called Wheaton Innovates (WIN) at MassChallenge. The program connects Wheaton talent with the people behind the latest MassChallenge startups. Wheaton students provide project- and internship-based support while gaining skills and experience working with real modern businesses.

    The second program, launching this summer, is Wheaton’s Summer Institute for Social Entrepreneurship. Open to current students, the month-long program begins with a week of business “boot camp” led by the internationally recognized Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship Network.

    Students will focus on creating companies and organizations that address social and environmental issues while adding economic value, working with coaches and experts to create and fine-tine a business plan and set their ideas to action. The program is being funded with a grant from the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation.

  • Education and the law

    Professor Gelber’s book on judicial oversight of higher education is spotlighted by Inside Higher Ed.

    In the popular imagination, colleges and universities enjoyed unquestioned authority in deciding access to education and student discipline before the social upheaval of the second half of the 20th century.

    In reality, that power has always been a source of controversy. A new book by Wheaton College Associate Professor of Education Scott Gelber, Courtrooms and Classrooms: A legal history of college access from 1860 to 1960, reveals that admission decisions and student expulsions have been a consistent subject for lawsuits and legal opinions.

    Inside Higher Ed, a national digital publication covering higher education, recently spotlighted Professor Gelber’s book, which was published in December by the Johns Hopkins University Press. The education professor, who also holds a courtesy appointment as a member of the history faculty at Wheaton, received a grant from the National Academy of Education to support his research for the book.

    Inside Higher Ed's editor and co-founder Scott Jaschik asked whether we might be entering a period in which courts will intensify their scrutiny of college’s decisions. Professor Gelber’s answer may be reassuring for college faculty members, who are responsible for designing curriculum.

    There may be some intensification of judicial oversight, but the overall pattern seems to have remained consistent for a few decades—judges are comfortable challenging colleges on procedural matters (how sexual assault cases are adjudicated or whether preferential admissions policies are too mechanical) but they remain fairly deferential when it comes to substantive academic matters.

    A former New York City high school teacher, Gelber studies the external public pressures that have influenced the development of American institutions of higher education. His first book, The University and the People: Envisioning American Higher Education in an Era of Populist Protest (University of Wisconsin Press, 2011), revised the conventional account of Populist critics of state universities during the late 19th century. The book arose from Gelber’s Ph.D. dissertation, which won the History of Education Society’s Claude Eggertsen Dissertation Prize.

  • Fiddling on film

    Music professor Sheila Falls-Keohane’s fiddle talents were featured in a PBS documentary.

    The fiddle music of Assistant Professor of Music in Performance Sheila Falls-Keohane was featured recently in a documentary that aired on PBS’s American Experience.

    “The Mine Wars,” a two-hour film directed by Randall MacLowery and produced by the Film Posse, looks at the lives of West Virginia coal miners and their eventual fight against the mine operators for better conditions. The film aired Tuesday, Jan. 26 on PBS.

    Falls-Keohane, who teaches violin and directs Wheaton’s World Music Ensemble, said colleagues at the Boston Symphony Orchestra recommended her to the film’s composer, P. Andrew Willis.

    “He asked me to give it a Celtic/Appalachian flavor,” she said of the fiddle music.

    The film can be downloaded on iTunes and viewed online at PBS.org.

    “The Mine Wars” was Falls-Keohane’s second appearance on PBS. A member of the Boston-based group Childsplay, she filmed a documentary with her fellow musicians titled “Childsplay, Live from the Zeiterion Theatre: A Story of Fiddlers, Fiddles and a Fiddle Maker,” which aired in December 2014 on the television channel. Her music can also be heard on a 2009 solo album, All In The Timing, and in the 2001 documentary Tommy Makem’s Ireland.

    In addition to her TV appearance, Falls-Keohane was recently named director of the Gaelic Roots Music, Song, Dance, Workshop and Lecture Series at Boston College.


  • Tax testimony

    Professor of Economics John Miller testified January 19 on a Massachusetts constitutional amendment that would increase the income tax for residents making over $1 million.

    Professor of Economics John Miller testified January 19 in support of a constitutional amendment aimed at creating a more equitable income tax system for Massachusetts residents.

    Miller and fellow economist Arthur MacEwan, co-authors of the book Economic Collapse, Economic Change: Getting to the Roots of the Crisis, were asked to testify at the Joint Committee on Revenue hearing by the lobbyist group MassBudget. Both have served the group as economic consultants in the past.

    The two also helped gather economists throughout the state to sign a statement supporting the amendment. In total, 71 experts have signed, including Miller and Wheaton economics professors Phoebe Chan, Russell Williams and Brenda Wyss.

    Some have dubbed the proposal, which would increase the income tax rate for residents who earn more than $1 million annually, the "millionaire tax." Miller refers to it instead as a “fair-share tax.”

    “The richest 1 percent of Massachusetts families—those with incomes above $860,000—paid out 4.9 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes in 2015 after deducting from federal taxes,” Miller said. “In contrast, families in the middle, with incomes between $44,000 and $70,000, paid 9.3 percent of their income, while the poorest families, with income less than $22,000, paid 10.4 percent of their income in state and local taxes in 2015.”

    Experts estimate the new tax, which would add a 4 percent tax on incomes over $1 million, would raise about $1.5 billion a year in revenues for the state—money that, according to the amendment, would be earmarked for public education and transportation. Miller said that estimate accounts for the possibility of “tax flight”— residents and businesses leaving the state in search of lower taxes—and that without that movement, the revenues would be even higher.

    The Joint Committee on Revenue has until April 27 to decide whether to support the measure, though an earlier decision is anticipated, according to an article published by the NewBostonPost. The amendment needs approval from both the Massachusetts House and Senate to appear on the ballot in 2018. If voted in by the citizenry, the new tax would take effect in 2019.

    Opponents of the tax worry about the aforementioned tax flight, pointing to General Electric’s recent announcement of plans to move from Connecticut to Massachusetts to escape the former state’s tax system, among other examples.

    They also question whether a constitutional amendment can include earmarking of funds and whether the new tax revenues wouldn’t just end up in the state’s general fund.

    Miller said he feels confident the money could be earmarked for education and transportation but said ultimately the amendment’s efficacy does rely on politicians.

    “Many of them talked at the hearing about how concerned they were about the increasing inequality in the state,” Miller said, referencing a recent report that lists Boston as the No. 1 city in the United States for income inequality. “That makes this a far different atmosphere than the last time a graduated income tax got voted down.”

    According to the NewBostonPost, Massachusetts voters have defeated surtax proposals five times since 1962, most recently in 1994.

    But Miller said he thinks citizens and legislators alike seem ready for the change now. At the January 19 hearing, spectators and those testifying filled all the seats and were standing two rows deep throughout much of the 2 1/2-hour presentation.

    “There were a lot of really moving testimonies—people who rely on public transportation, public school principals, college administrators and staff,” Miller said.

    The committee members themselves delivered passionate testimony in favor of the amendment, he noted.

    “I walked away feeling optimistic about our chances,” Miller said.

    As for any future involvement in the process, Miller said he’d like to be part of the campaign if the amendment makes it on the ballot.

    “I think this amendment would be fantastic for Massachusetts. Massachusetts is a rich state, but it’s a really unequal state, and these investments are really needed. This is the best and fairest way to collect the monies.”

  • Identifying Wheaton

    The longstanding confusion that arises between the two Wheaton Colleges was highlighted in a January 15 Associated Press story and shared in newspapers around the country.

    The longstanding confusion that arises between the two Wheaton Colleges—our college in Norton, Mass., and the other institution in Illinois—was highlighted in a January 15 Associated Press story and shared in newspapers around the country.

    The article,  written by reporter Collin Binkley after a recent visit to campus, discusses the many cases of mistaken identity the Wheaton in Massachusetts has faced over the years, including misdirected applications, donations, criticisms and kudos.

    As President Dennis Hanno tells the AP: “The name confusion is a longstanding and deep-rooted problem. But it's one that we often just chuckle about."

    Though it has been an ongoing issue, the mix-up has caused a lot of ruckus in the past several weeks, after the other Wheaton College, the evangelical institution in Wheaton, Ill., first suspended and then moved to fire one of its professors after she wore a hijab in solidarity with Muslims, saying Muslims and Christians worshipped the same God. College officials have said the professor’s stance is in conflict with the school’s Statement of Faith, which all faculty are required to sign annually.

    President Hanno has responded to the recent controversy at the other institution, which has no affiliation with this Wheaton, with a series of letters and statements shared with the Wheaton community and in an op-ed he wrote for the Washington Post. In the Post essay, he remarks on not only the name confusion but also the larger problem of “reckless incivility” and a “growing culture of harassment and rage” in our society.

    The controversy in Illinois, and the resulting confusion, has also created an opportunity to highlight exactly how this Wheaton—the one in Norton, Mass.—is different from its counterpart and to express the values, goals and expectations of the secular Wheaton.

    As President Hanno wrote in a December 16 statement: “Our Wheaton affirms the freedom of faculty, staff and students to share their beliefs while respecting the human rights and dignity of others. … The Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., values an inclusive approach to education and the world, welcoming people from every race, ethnic or national background, religious tradition and sexual orientation.”

    The commitment to diversity and inclusion is evident at every level, from the Building Community Together initiative, led by the Wheaton College Council on Inclusion and Diversity, to student- and faculty-led celebrations of many faiths, including the Muslim holy day Eid Al-Adha, the Jewish harvest festival Sukkot and the Hindu festival Holi.

    Wheaton (Massachusetts) students come from all over—at last count, 39 states and 72 countries—and they go all over, choosing to study, volunteer and work in places around the world (in fact, President Hanno and 12 students are currently finishing up a two-week trip to Ghana where they taught entrepreneurship strategies and skills to high schoolers).

    This Wheaton’s passion for engaging with and contributing to the global community is further evident in the number of students who apply for and win prestigious national awards like the Rhodes, Marshall and Truman scholarships and the Fulbright and Watson fellowships—programs that encourage students to explore and have an impact on the world around them. For 10 consecutive years, Wheaton College in Norton, Mass. has been ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country for preparing students to win Fulbright awards.