Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Meredith Hanson ’11

Meredith Hanson 2011As a child, Meredith Hanson visited Wheaton many times, beginning when she was 5 years old. Her mother, Janet Tiebout Hanson ’74, often brought her along when she came to campus for reunions and meetings of the Board of Trustees, on which she served. Meredith, a studio art major in the Class of 2011, followed a family tradition set by both her mother and her grandmother, Patricia Peck Tiebout ’46.

Why Wheaton? I thought Wheaton’s campus was one of the most beautiful I had ever seen, and I fell in love with the school from a very early age. While researching colleges during my senior year in high school, I felt in my heart that there was only one college I truly wanted to go to. I had heard only amazing things about the art department and the professors, and I knew this was the place I wanted to be. My mom had so many incredible experiences here, and I liked that Wheaton was a smaller school, much like the middle school and high school that I had attended.

Friends, professors, mentors. I have made the best of friends at Wheaton, and have formed great relationships with my professors. I knew I wanted to be a studio art major, but I also found another great love, art history. Art history professors Evelyn Staudinger and Touba Ghadessi Fleming have made my experience a memorable one. Both of them have shown me endless support. I have taken classes with almost all of the studio art professors, and they have been great mentors. I have learned so much from these outstanding individuals and hope to continue doing so after graduation.

Peak experience. During the summer of 2009 I traveled to Ireland for a three-week intensive art program with 16 classmates and professors Andy Howard and Tim Cunard. It was one of the greatest experiences I have had, not only at Wheaton, but in my entire life. We art students grew very close to one another as we experienced the beauty of another country together and expressed our inspiration through our artwork.

What’s next? After graduation, my roommate Lauren Grillo and I plan to move to Boston. I want to continue developing my skills, techniques and style as an artist so I can expand my portfolio, travel and teach. My dream would be to open my own studio space, allowing artists and people interested in taking classes to come and find their “inner artist,” as the studio might one day be named.

Creating a strong connection between technology and education

Cheryl Vedoe 1974From electric cars to iPads, technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, deepening its inroads into every part of modern American life.

Well, not every part. Young people may spend much of their free time with video games and Facebook, but the schools that teach them have remained firmly in the 20th century.

Cheryl Vedoe ’74 is working to change that.

“When you look at education—and K–12 education in particular—largely what goes on in the classroom is no different than when I was in elementary school, middle school or high school,” she said. “So the reality is that technology has not had much impact on the way teaching and learning occur.”

Since 2002, Vedoe has been CEO of Apex Learning, a Seattle company that offers computer-based courses for high school students. More than 1 million students have taken one of Apex’s classes, which were first developed for distance learning, but are now used in traditional classrooms, too. [Read more...]

New horizons

Wheaton receives $700,000 grant

A new $700,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will allow Wheaton to hire four new and gifted post-doctoral teaching fellows working in emerging areas of humanities scholarship to enrich the college curriculum.

The grant will promote the development of outstanding undergraduate teaching faculty. In addition, it will assist Wheaton in long-term curricular planning, according to Provost Linda Eisenmann.

Wheaton will recruit new post-doctoral fellows in humanities disciplines where a senior faculty member is entering the college’s two- to three-year retirement program. The grant will not only fund the post-doctoral fellows, but it also will provide support for critical long-term curricular planning. This gives the college time and resources to plan for the future, while ensuring a smooth transition in offering essential courses.

“As the senior faculty members anticipate retirement, the departments need ways to think about what replacing them means,” Eisenmann said. “The grant will support both senior members as they make retirement decisions and recent graduates as they try to establish their academic careers.”

The award builds on the college’s recent experiences in recruiting up-and-coming scholars to introduce new academic perspectives. In recent years, the college has partnered with the Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning at Brown University, and employed an earlier grant from the Mellon Foundation, to bring post-doctoral fellows to campus, in programs designed to develop promising faculty dedicated to undergraduate teaching as well as research.

For example, Jessica Hayes-Conroy, a post-doctoral fellow in environmental studies and women’s studies, is currently bringing her scholarship on agriculture and food activism to a course that considers feminist perspectives on food. Post-doctoral fellow in environmental studies Ninian Stein applies her research on the interplay of human culture and the environment to a course that examines historical and contemporary conflicts over natural resources. The foundation’s current support will allow Wheaton to recruit two Islamic studies scholars for the next two academic years.


Participation challenge

Nothing motivates like a little friendly competition.

That adage inspired a group of generous donors to challenge fellow alumnae/i to join them in giving to the college through the Wheaton Fund. The group has pledged $200,000 to the college if 4,400 fellow alums join them in supporting the Wheaton experience for current students.

Last year, 3,900 Wheaton alums made gifts to the fund. To meet the challenge, Wheaton needs contributions from 4,400 graduates by June 30, 2011, the final day of the college’s fiscal year.

The challenge has already inspired a little friendly competition among members of the Class of 2007. Facebook posts between class co-president Melissa Grove ’07 and Nicholas Costa ’07 spurred Grove and Wheaton Fund chair Elena Wong ’07 to start a class-based challenge. The two plan to recruit friends and classmates to join them in giving to the fund. Whoever recruits more people will be declared the winner; the loser pledges to submit to some small humiliation yet to be determined.

To learn more about how you can participate, or to check on the participation challenge’s progress, visit wheatoncollege.edu/go/challenge.