Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Office of the President

President’s Blog

  • Affirming freedom

    A statement on current issues in the news and misidentification of Wheaton College

    Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, is firmly committed to individual, academic and religious freedom as a cornerstone of its liberal arts mission. Some individuals have confused Wheaton in Massachusetts with an institution in Illinois that shares the same name, but is in no way affiliated with our college.

    Let me be clear: The Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., has not suspended a faculty member, a staff member or a student for expressing religious or personal beliefs. Our Wheaton affirms the freedom of faculty, staff and students to share their beliefs while respecting the human rights and dignity of others.

    In fact, 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. We believe that this commitment lies at the heart of our academic mission and is rooted in our founding in 1834 as an institution dedicated to providing opportunity to women.

    Today, as a college coeducational institution with students from 39 states and 72 countries, we carry forward this dedication to excellence and equality. Our unwavering focus on these ideals has resulted in more than 200 Wheaton students winning prestigious international scholarships, such as the Rhodes, Marshall and Fulbright awards, since 2000. For 10 consecutive years, the college has ranked among the top 10 liberal arts colleges in the nation, when it comes to preparing students to win Fulbright Scholarships for advanced study and work abroad.

  • Affirming our values

    A statement on current issues in the news and misidentification of Wheaton College

    Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, is firmly committed to individual, academic and religious freedom as a cornerstone of its liberal arts mission. Some individuals have confused Wheaton in Massachusetts with an institution in Illinois that shares the same name, but is in no way affiliated with our college.

    Let me be clear: The Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., has not suspended a faculty member, a staff member or a student for expressing religious or personal beliefs. Our Wheaton affirms the freedom of faculty, staff and students to share their beliefs while respecting the human rights and dignity of others.

    In fact, 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. We believe that this commitment lies at the heart of our academic mission and is rooted in our founding in 1834 as an institution dedicated to providing opportunity to women.

    Today, as a college coeducational institution with students from 39 states and 72 countries, we carry forward this dedication to excellence and equality. Our unwavering focus on these ideals has resulted in more than 200 Wheaton students winning prestigious international scholarships, such as the Rhodes, Marshall and Fulbright awards, since 2000. For 10 consecutive years, the college has ranked among the top 10 liberal arts colleges in the nation, when it comes to preparing students to win Fulbright Scholarships for advanced study and work abroad.

  • We have much more to do

    I want to challenge us all to continue to be engaged and to work together to strive for a better Wheaton.

    To the campus community,

    It seems that almost daily we are confronted with news about how issues related to inclusion and diversity are affecting the world, and much more specifically college campuses. On our own campus, we have been challenged with reminders that we are far from perfect. The flyers that appeared in the Meadows residential complex early in the semester provided a clear demonstration that not everyone is prepared to respect others. That incident and subsequent conversations and events have highlighted the overall campus climate issues that challenge us to truly be an inclusive community. It is clear that we have a lot of work to do, and I am committed to the idea that we can do much better. We have to and we will.

    While many people have already dedicated much time to these important issues, I wanted to challenge us all to continue to be engaged and to work together to strive for a better Wheaton. We need more opportunities to take constructive action, such as the event that occurred last Thursday night organized by student leaders from a broad cross-section of campus organizations. The event brought more than 100 students together to discuss the national issues related to race on college campuses and to explore these same issues here at Wheaton. We have had several programs and activities during November related to Native Peoples Heritage Month. The Filene Center is offering a session this week in which alums will share their experiences related to diversity and multiculturalism. There are events and dialogues happening this week related to International Education Week. This is only part of a long list of activities that have occurred this semester, and perhaps the most important message from all of these is the need for even more engagement and action.

    The Council on Inclusion and Diversity (CID) continues to lead the way by developing and promoting activities related to Building Community Together, our year-long effort to create an environment of openness and mutual respect and appreciation. CID organized two days of intensive workshops that engaged more than 400 people from across campus, and has promoted many other events that focus on appreciating difference. In the spring, we are working with the Black Student Association to create a series of events honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. The keynote speaker, scheduled for February 25, will be Clint Smith (www.clintsmithiii.com), whose TED Talks on The Danger of Silence and How to Raise a Son in Black America have been viewed more than four million times. In March, we will host the Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington (www.washingtonconsultinggroup.net/jamie-washington/), noted consultant on creating positive change around issues of diversity on college campuses. He will work across campus to engage all of us in the difficult conversations we must have if we are to build a stronger and more inclusive community.

    To create a more welcoming and inclusive environment, we must also focus on creating more diversity in our faculty and staff. Provost Linda Eisenmann has been working with faculty search committees to stress the importance of this in the searches we are currently conducting. To further this goal at the highest levels of administration, I have asked two members of the Council on Inclusion and Diversity to join the search committee for the next provost and represent our collective efforts at building a stronger and more inclusive community. I am pleased that Professor Peony Fhagen and Janet Ray, Associate Director of the Center for Global Education, both members of CID, have accepted the opportunity to serve in this capacity.

    Beginning this week, I will hold regular conversations specifically dedicated to collecting direct feedback and input on campus climate issues. I will schedule these conversations throughout the remainder of this semester and next semester at different times and with different groups to provide an opportunity for all to engage directly with me. I would like to invite any student interested in discussing these issues to a conversation this Friday afternoon (November 20) from 3:30 to 5:00 PM. I will be joined by Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Kate Kenny. We’ll host this meeting in the Faculty Dining Room in Emerson. Snacks and beverages will be served. Please join us to help us all develop ways to take strong action.

    I know that there is not one right way to address these complex issues. However, one thing is essential: your participation and your willingness to engage in conversations that are uncomfortable. That is a challenge for us all, myself included, but there is no place more fitting to confront issues of race and ethnicity, gender identity and sexual orientation, than on our college campus. It is part of the college’s educational mission to grapple with difficult topics, to stretch our horizons and to do so with respect and civility for each other.

    While much has been done this semester, so much more remains to be done. We continue to be open to other ideas on how best to engage the community and improve campus culture. If you have a proposal, please contact me or any member of the Council on Inclusion in Diversity (http://wheatoncollege.edu/president/council-on-inclusion-and-diversity/) to share your thoughts. Thank you for engaging in this work that is so important for all of us.

    D. Hanno

    Dennis Hanno
    President
    Wheaton College

  • Update: Tragedy in Paris

    I am personally saddened by the heinous and senseless attacks that have taken place in Paris, as is our entire community.

    This message was distributed by email to students, faculty and staff on the morning of Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015.

    (more…)

  • Staff forums scheduled

    The Office of Human Resources in partnership with the Council on Inclusion and Diversity (CID) is sponsoring a series of professional development workshops, or staff forums, designed to provide Wheaton staff members with information, tools and resources to better support students and help foster a welcoming and inclusive community at Wheaton. The staff forums will be facilitated discussions led […]

    The Office of Human Resources in partnership with the Council on Inclusion and Diversity (CID) is sponsoring a series of professional development workshops, or staff forums, designed to provide Wheaton staff members with information, tools and resources to better support students and help foster a welcoming and inclusive community at Wheaton.

    The staff forums will be facilitated discussions led by Wheaton staff who have knowledge and an expertise in several complex subject areas. The workshops will provide an opportunity for staff to ask questions, share their experiences and learn effective strategies for how to better address the challenges faced by staff.

    The following staff forums have been scheduled for this academic year:

    Supporting Students with Mental Health Issues. Friday, November 6, 2015, 12:30–2 p.m. Mary Lyon Hall, Woolly Room. Associate Dean and Director of Health and Counseling Jeff Klug will lead a discussion on ways colleagues can help students for whom there is concern.  Accessing services, how to respond to students in distress as well as an overview of mental health resources on and off campus will be discussed.

    Supporting Multicultural and Diverse Students. Friday, January 29, 2016, 12:30–2 p.m. Mary Lyon Hall, Woolly Room. Facilitated by Raquel Ramos, associate dean of academic and campus life and director of the Multicultural Center for Intercultural Learning.

    Supporting International Students. Friday, February 26, 2016, 12:30–2 p..m. Mary Lyon Hall, Woolly Room. Facilitated by Dean of the Center for Global Education Gretchen Young.

    Supporting Students with Learning Differences. Friday, April 29, 2016, 12:30–2 p.m. Mary Lyon Hall, Woolly Room. Facilitated by Dean of Advising and Academic Success Steve Viveiros and Associate Dean of Disability Services Sally Riconscente.

    Staff members may email hr@wheatoncollege.edu to register for one or more of these forums. Lunch will be provided.

  • Queer history

    A lecture on activist teaching and shaping history

    Please note: This event has been cancelled.

    The effort to integrate lesbian, gay and bisexual perspectives into public narratives of American history will be explored in a talk held by scholar and professor Kelly Ball on Monday, November 2.

    The lecture, titled “Registering the Queer Past: Activist Pedagogy and Public History”, will begin at 5 p.m. in the Ellison Lecture room of the Watson Fine Arts building.

    Professor Ball will talk about the federal government's efforts to enlist contributions from the public in adding sites of historic LGBT significance to the National Register of Historic Places, and the way in which she has involved undergraduates in this work.

    Professor Ball is the co-director of women's studies and a visiting assistant professor of Agnes Scott College, where she teaches courses on queer studies, feminist theory and interdisciplinary research

    Her research focuses the overlapping histories of childhood, sexuality, gender identity, and psychology through various research methods and analysis.  She is currently completing a paper called “Black Girlhood and the History of Pedophilia.” Her previous written works include her award winning essay, “‘More or Less Raped’: Foucault, Causality, and Feminist Critiques of Sexual Violence”.

    The lecture is sponsored by the Wheaton Institute for Interdisciplinary Humanities with support from the SGA Speakers Fund and the Evelyn Danzig Haas '39 Visiting Artists Program. It is free and open to the public.

    — By Alexandra Dardati '18

  • Webcast: Starting with the seminar

    Learn more about the current First Year Seminars from a panel of faculty members who are teaching this year’s courses.

    Join President Dennis M. Hanno to learn more about the current First Year Seminars from a panel of faculty members who are teaching this year’s courses.

    The webcast will take place on Friday, November 6 at 12:30 p.m. EST (-5 UTC).

    The First-Year Seminar program is designed to help new students get oriented to the demands of the college’s rigorous and interdisciplinary curriculum by offering specially designed courses and a unique advising system. The panel will talk the courses themselves, how they relate to their scholarship and what students get from the experience.

    Feel free to pose a question about the First Year Seminars and the ways in which Wheaton helps first-year students make the transition to college academics by addressing email to lyonslunch@wheatoncollege.edu.

  • Outreach teaching

    The role of academia in promoting social justice by connecting to the communities of which it is a part will be the subject of a lecture scheduled for Monday, October 26. Craig Werner, an award-winng teacher and scholar of literature, music and cultural history, will deliver the talk “Outreach Teaching” in the Holman Room, Mary Lyon […]

    The role of academia in promoting social justice by connecting to the communities of which it is a part will be the subject of a lecture scheduled for Monday, October 26.

    Craig Werner, an award-winng teacher and scholar of literature, music and cultural history, will deliver the talk "Outreach Teaching" in the Holman Room, Mary Lyon Hall at 5 p.m. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Wheaton Institute for Interdisciplinary Humanities.

    A professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Werner participates in the UW Odyssey Project, an outreach effort to offer UW humanities classes for adult students facing economic barriers to college. The Odyssey Project serves a diverse population, and most of the students are overcoming the obstacles of single parenthood, homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, incarceration, depression,  domestic abuse, or other obstacles to accessing education. Odyssey has been the catalyst that enables many adults to transform their lives and find a career direction.

    Werner’s talk, and the ensuing discussion, on how to do outreach teaching, will contain practical advice that will be useful to students, faculty, and student-support staff.

    A former chair of the university's Departments of Integrated Liberal Studies and Afro-American Studies, Werner has won numerous teaching awards including the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching; the English Graduate Student Association's Teaching Excellence Award; Best Summer School Course from the National Association of Summer School Sessions as part of the teaching team for "Sites and Sounds of the Freedom Struggle."

    Werner has published numerous books and articles in his field of study, including "A Change is Gonna Come: Music, Race, and the Soul of America,"  "Playing the Changes: From Afro-Modernism to the Jazz Impulse," and most recently "We Gotta Get Out of this Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War."

    He is also a member of the nominating committee for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a contributor to National Public Radio.

     

     

  • Maura Cullen to visit campus

    An expert on diversity and leadership, Maura Cullen will engage the campus in a series of workshops and conversations aimed at building a more inclusive community.

    Maura Cullen, an expert on diversity and leadership, will be at Wheaton on Monday, October 19 and Tuesday, October 20 to engage the campus in a series of workshops and conversations aimed at building a more inclusive community. The visit is being sponsored by Wheaton’s Council on Inclusion and Diversity, a campus-wide leadership team composed of students, faculty and staff.

    Cullen has worked with more than 500 organizations throughout the United States as well as in Canada and Australia. She is the author of the book, “35 Dumb Things Well-Intended People Say: Surprising Things We Say That Widen the Diversity Gap” and holds a doctorate in social justice and diversity education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

    “Dr. Cullen's visit provides us with an incredible opportunity to come together for important conversations that can shape our community today and far into the future,” President Dennis Hanno said in an email encouraging students, faculty and staff to attend the workshops.

    The two-day program will involve all members of the campus community.

    On Monday, October 19, Dr. Cullen will give an evening talk for all Wheaton students in Hindle Auditorium from 7:00–8:30 p.m. Students are invited to come to the Diana Davis Spencer Café for pizza and follow-up conversations immediately after the talk.

    Invited student leaders will attend a breakfast workshop on Tuesday, October 20 from 8:30–10 a.m. in the Chase Small conference room.

    Wheaton staff members are encouraged to attend a coffee break session on Tuesday, October 20 from 10:30 a.m. to noon in Weber Auditorium.

    A lunch session will be held for all faculty on Tuesday, October 20 from 12:30–2:00 p.m. in the Faculty Dining Room at Emerson Dining Hall.

    And, finally, the Council on Inclusion and Diversity will attend a wrap-up session on Tuesday, October 20 from 2:00–3:00 p.m.in the President's Dining Room at Emerson.

  • Building community

    President Hanno announces the launch of Building Community Together, a year-long initiative for students, faculty and staff.

    To the campus community,

    Members of the Class of 2019 represent 40 different countries and 27 states. Overall, students come to campus from more than 70 nations and nearly 40 states. Approximately 21 percent of enrolled students identify a diverse racial or ethnic background. The variety of experiences and backgrounds that we possess as a community is a wonderful educational asset, if we use it to listen closely, respect viewpoints different from our own and learn from each other.

    Wheaton should be leading the way in building an inclusive and welcoming community for all. Today, I am calling on the entire campus to dedicate ourselves to appreciating and learning from our diversity. Building Community Together is what we are calling this year-long initiative, and it expresses our goal: to create an environment of openness and mutual respect and appreciation.

    This initiative will kick off with a full-day of activities in October. The day will include a keynote address for the whole campus as well as opportunities for members of the community to explore issues and concerns related to achieving inclusion and the barriers to reaching our goals in small group settings. Planning for this day is being led by the Council on Inclusion and Diversity (CID) and details will be announced soon.

    In addition to the launch, the CID will be coordinating events, workshops and activities throughout the entire year that encourage us to listen to each other, consider perspectives beyond our own and learn from those experiences. A number of programs are already planned for this semester, and we will be adding more. I encourage other groups and organizations on campus to also create activities and programs that focus on this important goal. (Learn more about what’s already planned and how you can get involved.) I urge every member of the community to participate in as many of these activities as possible. We cannot be passive bystanders; we must all be involved in building a stronger community.

    This would be an important effort under any circumstances. Considering the flyers that were posted in Meadows West at the start of the semester, it seems all the more necessary. The ignorance, bias and hate that they express are a direct challenge to the college’s mission and values. Those posters express an active resistance to learning from others as well as a lack of respect that runs counter to the college’s Honor Code.

    The Department of Public Safety has investigated that incident vigorously, cross-checking building access records and interviewing a number of Wheaton students. While we have not identified the person or persons who are responsible for this reprehensible act, the investigation remains open and we continue to work on developing new leads.We have found no evidence suggesting that the people who did this are not members of our community. In fact, I am certain that there are those who know more about this incident than they have shared, and I urge them to come forward. Report what you know to Public Safety, report it anonymously or contact me.

    Regardless of the investigation’s outcome, we should focus on how to create an environment in which every individual feels safe and respected, a place in which we learn from each other, in and out of the classroom. To be successful, we need to be sure this goal is present in what we do in the classroom, what we do with our co-curricular activities, and what we do in the way we live and work together. It can't be an afterthought or even a temporary focus; it has to be integral to everything we do. But to get there, we do need to make it a special and explicit focus. This initiative makes it that.

    You have to be the driver for Building Community Together. Come to me with ideas and with your passion. If you are interested in a particular topic or type of program, you can make it happen. CID is offering funding to support faculty, staff and student collaboration on initiatives that promote inclusion and diversity on campus. You can find information about this funding on the CID website (http://wheatoncollege.edu/president/council-on-inclusion-and-diversity/). While there is a deadline of October 15 for the current round of funding, if you have a good idea in need of funding at any time, let me know. Together we can make a difference.

    Together we can build a better Wheaton. Join me in Building Community Together.

    Thanks,

    Dennis Hanno
    President