Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

A view to a thrill

Elliott Mazzola ’09 thrives on adventure

Skydiving over Lodi, Calif., on his 96th jump

Elliott Mazzola ’09 skydiving over Lodi, Calif., on his 96th jump, and above, on Mont Blanc in Chamonix, France.

Even in the death-defying world of extreme sports, there are few wake-up calls like nearly being swallowed by a glacier.

For Elliott Mazzola ’09, it happened in August 2012, when he and a climbing partner were traversing the more than 100-mile Haute Route, an alpine trail whose 23 ice sheets stretch between Chamonix, France, and Zermatt, Switzerland.

The pair were hiking “off rope,” confident they were safe from the glacier’s hundreds of crevasses—perilous cracks, sometimes hidden by fresh snow, that can plunge unwitting climbers more than a hundred feet into nothingness.

That’s when the ground gave way under Mazzola.

“My foot went all the way through and all I saw was this void beneath me. It was a really dumb mistake on our part, and luckily nothing came of it,” he recalls, noting that alpinists are supposed to scan the terrain hundreds of feet around them for gaps not covered by snow, evidence that a crevasse is near. “You kind of laugh it off, but it could have been the end.”

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“Grace, integrity and devotion”

Wheaton community pays tribute

Dale Marshal-8“One of the reasons I’ve enjoyed retirement so much is that I knew Wheaton was in wonderful hands. Ron Crutcher is a fine human being and a savvy academic and artist. Don and I look forward to continued friendship with Ron, Betty and Sara.”

—Dale Rogers Marshall, former Wheaton College president


Championing the liberals arts: Ronald A. Crutcher reflects on 10-year presidency

Homecoming camapign meeting“President Crutcher has led our college with great success, grace, integrity and devotion. The trustees are most grateful for his leadership and thankful for his contributions. The goals that we set for his presidency—in consultation with the college community in 2003–2004—centered on our shared desire to strengthen Wheaton by building on its distinctive liberal arts curriculum, enhancing its academic reputation in the wider world and fully enlisting the active support of our extended community. Wheaton has made enormous strides forward in those areas, thanks to President Crutcher’s dedication to advancing the college. So much has been accomplished under his tenure.”

—Thomas Hollister, chair, Wheaton Board of Trustees


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Making matters

Labs engage campus in creative hands-on learning, collaboration

WHALE LabLast semester, when William Cohen ’13 needed to tackle a term paper for his “Philosophy and Literature” course, he found help in an unexpected place—a box of Legos in the Wheaton Autonomous Learning Laboratory (WHALE Lab), courtesy of founder Professor Tom Armstrong.

“I spent a lot of time building things with Tom’s Legos,” says Cohen, who majored in English with a minor in studio art and computer science. “I find that focusing on some sort of immediate, often mechanical or tactile problem (such as building something with Legos), lets me work through larger, abstract problems. Some sort of organic problem solving happens when I’m otherwise occupied.”

Scattered about the WHALE research lab and FiberSpace, those Legos may seem like toys—well, they are—but they also are important brainteasers, notes Armstrong, assistant professor of computer science. “The goal is to create an environment of play and experimentation, to remind students, staff members and faculty that whimsy is important in fostering the joy of learning, and to encourage everyone to think differently about what ‘college’ is,” says Armstrong, who also founded FiberSpace. [Read more...]

Women in technology

Alums shine in industry that needs diversity

When is a chair not just a chair? When it’s used for taking a stand. That’s what members of the Wheaton community discovered during the winter semester when the Sit With Me project was brought to campus by Colleen Wheeler, assistant director of Wheaton’s Web Strategy Team and one of the founders, with Professor Tom Armstrong, of the Wheaton Autonomous Learning Laboratory (WHALE Lab).

Sit With Me is a national advocacy campaign designed to encourage women to pursue computing careers. Sitting in a red chair, participants have an opportunity to show their support and share stories about women in technology. The project perfectly corresponds with one of the goals of the WHALE Lab—to broaden the interest in computer science beyond those who major in it.

Information technology is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the U.S. economy, with 1.4 million job openings expected by 2020. Although women make up more than half of the American workforce, they hold only 25 percent of technology and computing jobs, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, the creator of Sit With Me.

In the spirit of the project, the Quarterly is showcasing several alumnae working in the industry. Coming from backgrounds that include a variety of majors and working in a wide range of jobs, from designing Navy destroyers to creating educational software, they illustrate the many opportunities available and the many paths into the field that a liberal arts education offers. Click on their names for short biography.