May 30 2013

President Crutcher: A message to the community

I am writing to inform you that the 2013-2014 academic year will be my last as President of Wheaton College. After deep personal reflection on Wheaton’s achievements and the wonderful momentum that the college has generated, I informed the Board of Trustees during their annual meeting that I intended to step down from the presidency on June 30, 2014.

This summer will mark the start of my tenth year at Wheaton. During that time, the college community has achieved great things for students today and tomorrow, and it has confronted difficult issues arising from the economic downturn that began in 2008. Today, the college is thriving.

  • Our students achieve great things, as exemplified by the college’s eight consecutive years as one of the top ten liberal arts colleges in producing Fulbright Scholars.
  • The generosity of alumnae/i, parents and friends of Wheaton has propelled Go Beyond: Campaign for Wheaton to raise a record $121 million with a little more than a year to go before the effort reaches a conclusion.
  • The completion of the Mars Center for Science and Technology, a $46 million facility made possible through philanthropy.
  • The establishment of innovative interdisciplinary programs, including majors in business and management, and film and new media studies.
  • The deep engagement of alumnae and alumni in the life of the college—as volunteers, career mentors and supportive philanthropists.
  • A 6.5 percent increase in undergraduate student enrollment over the past decade, creating a more vibrant campus life.
  • An increasingly diverse group of students. Twenty percent of the entering Class of 2017 self-identify as students of color and 15 percent are international students.
  • The ongoing construction of the Diane C. Nordin ’80 Turf Field, which will open at the start of the new school year.

I sense a renewed spirit of innovation in our community and a broad foundation of support for sustaining the quality of the education for which Wheaton is known. I am excited and energized by the promise of the initiatives that we have begun, and I am confident that the strategic directions we have developed will strengthen the college for the future. However, as I reflected in recent weeks on all that has been accomplished, I concluded that this is an opportune moment to bring to a close what has been an inspiring, challenging, but rewarding tenure, leading this institution.

This success of Go Beyond: Campaign for Wheaton is especially gratifying, as it reflects the accomplishment of so many of the goals that we set as a community: building a first-class science center that puts science teaching and research at the center of our liberal arts curriculum; growing annual support for the college’s operations; increasing the resources for student and faculty scholarship, and improving campus facilities.

Of course, more remains to be done. In particular, our goal to increase the endowment for student scholarship support by $45 million has not yet been achieved. In this final year of the campaign and of my tenure, this will be our top priority. A robust endowment for student financial aid will continue to play a critical role in ensuring the strength of our academic programs and of the institution itself.

On a personal level, Betty and I have both immensely enjoyed the relationships that we have developed here at Wheaton among students (in particular, our mentees), faculty, staff, trustees, alumnae/i, parents, and friends of the college. We also have represented Wheaton with pride at the many state and national higher education organizations with which we are affiliated. The invitation to join the Wheaton community and serve as the college’s seventh president has been a great privilege and the highlight of my 37-year career in higher education.

I will spend my sabbatical during the 2014-2015 academic year engaged in those activities that have gone wanting during my presidency. Betty and I will move to our condominium in Boston, but we also plan to spend a good amount of time in Europe—in former “heimat” Germany and the United Kingdom, in particular. Performances for the Klemperer Trio in Europe and the United States have already been tentatively scheduled for that year. I also intend to do some writing on leadership, higher education, and the arts. Finally, I look forward to reading several of the many novels that I have accumulated over the years that have not yet made it to my summer reading list for Martha’s Vineyard.

In closing, please know that I greatly appreciate the efforts of the many people who have contributed to Wheaton’s considerable strength and quality. The vigor of the college’s community and its collaborative nature have always been among our most valuable assets. Thanks to all and best wishes as Wheaton continues on its mission to prepare students for abundant lives.