Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
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  • prescrutcherhires3-150x150 Online high school

    President Crutcher comments on the limits of distance learning

    The far-reaching impact of the Internet and communication technology has yet to be fully understood. Every week, it seems, a new business venture appears that applies the power of digital technology to a new arena, raising mind-boggling possibilities and new complications.

    One of the latest developments: online high schools established by colleges and universities. The New York Times takes note of this trend with the entry of Stanford, one of the recent institutions to embark on this new business.

    While Wheaton has not joined the rush to establish its own high school, President Ronald Crutcher's role as co-chair of a national campaign to promote liberal learning led the New York Times to talk with him about the trend.

    “From my perspective, colleges, concentrate on what you’re good at,” said Ronald A. Crutcher, president of Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., who added that he had recently declined an offer from a for-profit education company to join other small liberal arts institutions in forming an online high school in their image. “Be consultants, but don’t contribute to a trend that I think has some real problems.”

    In more extensive remarks on the subject, President Crutcher has said that distance learning, itself, shows great promise.

    "Online learning has tremendous potential for extending access to education, but it has limits," Crutcher said. "This is true on the college and university level, but these limits may be even more obvious, given the age of high school students, and the importance of human interaction in their development. High school students are still developing in so many ways--intellectually, emotionally and socially as well as physically. A traditional high school provides students with opportunities to grow in all those dimensions".

    In other areas, President Crutcher has championed the use of technology in education. In fact, Wheaton and a small group of other leading liberal arts colleges are currently exploring the establishment of an online learning program in which courses would be made available to the students at each of the member institutions.


  • Where there's water

    Prof. Geoffrey Collins comments on finding water on one of Jupiter’s moons

    The possibility that life might exist, in some form, beyond planet Earth intrigues scientists and science fiction buffs alike.

    The latest findings by a group of NASA scientists who are studying Jupiter's moon Europa suggest that there may be large lakes, one of which holds enough water to fill the American Great Lakes.

    The research, which was published in the journal Science, inspired widespread international news coverage. Several journalists called on Professor of Geology Geoffrey Collins for perspective on the exciting new findings.

    News reports that quoted Prof. Collins included articles published by Sky & Telescope and the Christian Science Monitor.

    The team's new explanation "is a really interesting half-way point that is much more realistic," says Geoffrey Collins, a planetary scientist at Wheaton College in Norton, Mass. "It's not just 'only liquid down here and only ice up there.' There are perched lakes or slushy areas in the ice shell that may be having a huge effect on the surface geology," he says.

    The topic is one in which Collins could be considered an expert. His research explores geological processes on the icy satellites of the outer solar system. He has been involved with various NASA projects such as the Galileo mission to Jupiter and the Cassini mission to Saturn. A 2007 study by Collins and a research partner suggested that there is a sea of liquid water trapped beneath the ice on Enceladus, raising questions about whether the Saturn moon might feature other conditions favorable to life.

  • Brainy rep

    Counting the colleges with the smartest students

    We hate to brag about how great Wheaton students are, but we appreciate when other people are doing it.

    Case in point: The Daily Beast/Newsweek 2011 college rankings, which included a list of America's 25 Brainiac Schools.

    In order to find “where brainiacs flock and flourish,” Newsweek/The Daily Beast measured the number of scholarships awarded at each institution in proportion to its student enrollment.

    The list weighted students who have won the most competitive fellowships in academia. This includes Rhodes, Marshall, Gates Cambridge, and Truman scholars as well as winners of the Fulbright award, which is the largest international exchange program based in the U.S.

    Since 2000, Wheaton students have won 139 of these prestigious scholarships (not that we're counting).

    In compiling the list, the two publications also considered other factors, such as the percent of freshman in the top 10 percent of their high school class, the percent of applicants admitted, and SAT scores for math and reading using data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

    Five Massachusetts colleges made it on to the list: Harvard, MIT, Williams, Wellesley and Wheaton.

    Yeah, we love it.


  • On academic obligations

    Professor explores the public responsibility of private liberal arts colleges

    The public mission of private liberal arts colleges is not always well defined. Professor of English Paula Krebs, professor of English and now a special assistant to the president, would like to change that. In her view, the change should start with encouraging liberal arts colleges to think seriously about their community responsibilities.

    "The social contract between the nation and higher education, ideally, means that both parties recognize our mutual obligations," writes Krebs in an essay published by Inside Higher Education. In large measure, liberal arts colleges meet this responsibility by "preparing educated critical thinkers, ready for graduate study or a career." But campuses should also think beyond the education of individual students to building institutional efforts to serve others.

    Contributing to the institution's communities in a systematic and organized way would also serve the mission of the college, she says, by adding value to students' learning. "Becoming aware of and then cultivating ties with various off-campus entities can strengthen a liberal arts college as well as strengthening the job prospects for our students," Krebs wrote. "We need to be in the business of defining our relevance beyond our own walls as we prepare students for life beyond our campuses."

    Commenting on her essay in Inside Higher Ed and her new role at Wheaton, Krebs said:

    "We have a whole range of connections with the world beyond our walls--through the Office of Service, Spirituality, and Social Responsibility, with the volunteerism it promotes; through the Office of Career Services, with its focus on meaningful internships; and through the Alumnae/i Relations Office, which maintains connections with our graduates. But Wheaton's links off campus extend beyond the work of those offices.

    "I would like to compile a huge inventory of all the ways Wheaton works in its various communities (because we're not just part of one community) so we can see what we're already doing, as well as what we might like to be doing. When people think of Wheaton, I want them to think not only of the quality education that happens here, but also of all the ways we contribute to the wellbeing of the world beyond our walls."



  • Delvyn Case earns service award

    Assistant Professor of Music Delvyn Case has been awarded a South Shore Stars 40 under 40 award for his leadership and community involvement.

    Assistant Professor of Music Delvyn Case, who is also a conductor and composer, has a long list of community outreach projects and educational initiatives in which he is involved, including founding and directing the Quincy Summer Singers and the Quincy Bay Chamber Orchestra.

    He often makes presentations on classical music styles and trends to children at local public libraries, and he is the mastermind of The Prioress’s Tale, a 75-minute chamber opera inspired by Chaucer. The production, which deals with issues of inter-religious dialogue and anti-Semitism, tours throughout New England each winter, supported by institutions wishing to explore issues of interfaith dialogue and peacemaking in a unique way.

    Those efforts and many others have earned him a South Shore Stars 40 under 40 award for leadership and community involvement. Winners, as determined by five judges, are leaders younger than 40 who demonstrate excellence in their business and community involvement. The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, Mass.) wrote an article about the award and listed the winners.

    On Case's website, he lists the four elements that inform his outreach activities:

    • Everyone can perform, create, and enjoy music—no matter their background or degree of experience.
    • Music has the extraordinary ability to create community by fostering cooperation and mutual respect among all kinds of people.
    • Our musical lives are fundamentally multicultural. Thus, when we perform or listen, we experience first-hand the incredible richness and variety of American—and human—culture.
    • Music and the arts in general play a central role in the development of a healthy community, especially when they are approached in a manner that recognizes this power and responsibility.

    Read more about him here.

  • Watch out for Ted Nesi '07

    Politico.com includes Ted Nesi ’07 as one of “50 politicos to watch: Bloggers.”

    Whether he is writing a freelance story for the Wheaton Quarterly, returning to campus to offer advice to aspiring journalists at workshop, or turning up the heat on local politicians in his news blog Nesi's Notes, Class of 2007 alum Ted Nesi’s enthusiasm for his work is inspiring. That enthusiasm, as well as talent and expertise, has put him on the fast-track in his journalism career. In just a few years he has quickly moved from working at a local newspaper to designing his own multi-media job at a CBS affiliate in Providence, R.I. The award-winning journalist is a digital reporter for WPRI-TV and FOX Providence at LIN Media. In addition to writing a news blog, he also reports on-air.

    He is gaining national attention. Politico.com this week included him as one of “50 politicos to watch: Bloggers.” Politico.com covers political news with a focus on national politics, Congress, Capitol Hill, lobbying, media and the Presidency.

    Politico calls his blog “highly readable” and notes, “He’s not a traditional television reporter—he was hired primarily to cover Rhode Island politics, policy and the economy online in his first-person voice. But his mix of breaking news blurbs and investigative pieces makes it an increasingly relevant click, even if the Ocean State isn’t considered a pivotal battleground.”

    Read what Politico.com has to say about Nesi, a political science major, here. Follow him on Twitter @tednesi.


  • Coaching recognition

    New men’s lax coach plans to win attention for Wheaton

    Jamie Lockhard knew just enough about Wheaton to be intersted when he saw that the college was looking to hire a new men’s lacrosse coach.

    When he started to learn more about Wheaton, from the college’s web site and from field hockey coach and women’s sports administrator Rebecca Begley, he became very interested.

    The feeling proved to be mutual. Lockhard, the former head coach of Widener University, took over the top spot in Wheaton’s men’s lacrosse program and talked about his excitement to join the college with Lacrosse Magazine, a publication of the sport’s national governing association.

    During the interview, he talked about the confusion that sometimes ensues between our Wheaton and the college that shares our name in Illinois.

    "I had heard of it and I had heard it always got confused with the Wheaton out in Illinois," said Lockard on Tuesday. "People always ask me if it is a Christian school or not, and I'm sure I'll still get those questions."

    The Wheaton program Lockard is taking over is located in Norton, Mass. – roughly between Boston and Providence, R.I. – and plays in the Pilgrim League with the likes of Springfield and Babson. It is not the Christian institution located in the 'burbs east of Chicago (which, not for nothing, is rumored to be close to adding varsity lacrosse).

    The magazine concluded: "If he can replicate what he was able to do at his alma mater, he should quickly establish that when it comes to NCAA men's lacrosse, there's only one Wheaton."

  • Appreciating Potter

    One the eve of the final film

    It's nearly here!

    The final installment of the massive Harry Potter movie franchise opens at midnight on Friday, July 15. The excitement has been building for weeks and the queues will be forming soon.

    The newspaper chain Metro, which publishes in major cities around the U.S. as well as abroad, took a moment to reassess the frenzy with Wheaton English Professor Michael Drout, a scholar of Anglo-Saxon and Medieval literature as well as an expert on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and other fantasy writers.

    "What makes people go ga-ga over Harry Potter?" the newspaper asked, perhaps expecting Professor Drout to talk about author J.K. Rowling's marketing juggernaut. Instead, he praised the books' author.

    "Rowling doesn’t get enough credit for being a decent writer," the professor and chair of the English Department told the newspaper.

    Drout's appreciation for Rowling's fictional wizarding world is not so surprising, given that he has regularly taught classes on fantasy literature.

    For many of my students, Harry Potter has been their reading childhood. Things like that happened with the "Star Wars" movies, but it has never happened with books. And despite the crassly commercial marketing, Harry Potter has been a force for good. He has gotten young people reading and thinking about good and evil.

    And he knows his audience. This year's college seniors would have been eight or nine years old when the first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, was published in the U.S.

    Read the whole story in New York Metro. »

  • Learning to lead

    What can a Wheaton professor learn from a public university?

    Professor of English Paula M. Krebs has learned a lot about higher education leadership in the past year, by “following the triumphs and setbacks” of an institution that differs markedly from Wheaton—the University of Massachusetts.

    Professor Paula KrebsIn an essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Krebs reflects on the knowledge and experience she gained as an American Council on Education (ACE) fellow at UMass, and how she hopes to bring her new understanding back to Wheaton this fall.

    ACE fellowships are intended to help prepare faculty members and administrators for positions of significant responsibility in higher ed. Fellows spend an academic year observing how decision making and leadership work at other institutions. Krebs chose the five-campus UMass system as the site for her ACE fellowship in 2010-2011.

    In her essay, “Back to the Private Realm,” Krebs writes: “I wanted to learn about the public system, about the ways that states do and don’t see their obligations to higher education…. State universities are expected to be engines of economic development, work-force training, and research that can go into patents and revenue. That's very different from the small liberal-arts college's obligations, which run to the individual rather than the civic.”

    Now Krebs is asking herself, “What useful stuff can I take back to my college from a year out in the larger world of higher education?” She learned, among other things, that strong leaders learn from their mistakes, and that less effective leaders tend to shy away from taking responsibility when things don’t go well. She also had opportunities to observe how politics—institutional, statewide and national—play out at a large public university.

    “I'm coming back a different citizen of my small campus,” she writes. “I'll never be able to see it again as self-contained. I'll always be looking outside for new ideas, investigating what other folks have tried....

    “And, because I've been in a public system, I'll never again be able to see my own college separately from its location, whether that be town, state, or region. I’m coming back with a new interest in the ways we interact with and give to our community and a new desire to build on that.”


  • Project ace

    Professor Krebs offers a new approach to an old problem

    College ranking systems, guidebooks and the federal government pay close attention to the college and university graduation rates when assessing the quality of an institution. The theory is that the higher the graduation rate, the better the institution is performing.

    The problem with that theory is that graduation rates ignore the differences among institutions. For example, says Wheaton Professor Paula Krebs, "a student who transfers from a community college to a four-year institution and completes a bachelor's degree counts as a failure, in graduation-rate terms, for both the community college and the four-year institution."

    Krebs has spent the past year as an ACE Fellow working on a project to offer an alternative approach, which she wrote about with colleague Donna Ekal (associate provost for undergraduate studies at the University of Texas at El Paso) for the most recent issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education.

    The explanation of reverse-transfer programs is receiving a lot of attention in the higher education world. The article has been the Chronicle's most emailed article since it was published on Monday. In addition, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) shared the article with the chief academic officers of its member institutions.

    I've been very excited about the attention it has received," Krebs says. "I hope it will result in closer partnerships between many community colleges and four-year colleges, and I look forward to applying what I've learned this last year now that I'm back at Wheaton.