Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Reflection

Gone and back

The year 1988 was an interesting time to be a woman and a Wheaton alumna. As a proud graduate of the Class of 1974, I cherished my diploma from a highly selective and prestigious women’s college. My class was the largest of a generation.

Turning the corner into the 1980s, Wheaton Sesquicentennial was an integral part of the college calendar, commemorating the importance of women’s education, and celebrating an impressive 150 years of history. And then the other shoe dropped. Men were coming to Wheaton, permanently, and not just as 12 college exchange students.

I spent a few years following that fateful announcement simmering and stewing, alternately angry and sad. I missed being part of the Wheaton community. Then, in 1992, my good friend and former executive director of alumnae/i relations and annual giving Sharon Howard ’87 called me. Sharon asked me to re-establish my relationship with my alma mater.

All it took was that one personal phone call. And I never looked back. From 1993 forward, I held a variety of volunteer posts, which ranged from director at large on the Alumnae/i Board of Directors, LGBTA chair, and national Reunion chair. About the time I took on my Reunion volunteer role, my stepson, Andrew Malone ’11, was college hunting. I had an event to attend on campus, and I invited Andrew to join me. No pressure. If he liked Wheaton, great; if he didn’t, that was fine, too.

Andrew loved Wheaton. In 2006, he applied on the early-decision plan and was accepted. I spent his four years viewing Wheaton through a male student’s eyes. And it was really no different than my view. We both loved sports, the a cappella groups, and Wheaton’s many traditions. We still do, but now as fellow alums.

During Andrew’s first Reunion in 2013, I was thrilled to walk with the trustees in the academic procession at Commencement, and I saw and heard Andrew cheering for me in the crowd.

As president of the Alumnae/i Association, I have a constituency of over 15,000 alumnae and alumni. The college that gave me my degree is the same, only stronger, more vibrant, more diverse. Its traditions remain, but its eyes are firmly focused on a very bright and exciting future. And I am proud to be part of it.

—Jane Martin ’74 

Building upon traditions

I grew up in Maine just a few miles from Bowdoin College, where I had often been on the campus for a variety of different events and classes. It would have been a convenient choice for me. However, when I first saw Wheaton, instantly I knew this was the place I wanted to be.

As I walked around Peacock Pond, explored the library and sat in Cole Memorial Chapel, that voice in my head got louder and louder, encouraging me to apply.

I was impressed with the beauty of the campus, the faculty, staff, traditions and location. I had met so many great people as I researched the school—including admission staff members, professors and alums—that I was determined to be in the Class of 1992 and was thrilled when I was accepted. The fact that I would be in the first coed class wasn’t even a factor in my decision-making.

In my first year at Wheaton, I met many students and alums who were, rightfully, hurt by the college’s decision to go coed. Although I couldn’t share in their unhappiness, I completely understood and sympathized with it.

Making this change just months after celebrating 150 years as a women’s-only college struck deep into the hearts of so many. It especially hit those who were seniors and juniors when I started in September 1988. They had applied to the school because it was a single-sex college. That can’t ever be ignored.

However, one of the great things about Wheaton is the strength of tradition, even when some of it changes. I can remember when I had that first tour of the college; I wasn’t allowed to walk through the front doors of the chapel—that’s only for seniors, as is sitting on the steps of the library. And the midnight candle service, Vespers and the Honor Code are all great traditions.

None of that changed with the change to coeducation. We, instead, got a chance to build upon existing traditions, like the Whims and Wheatones, and start new ones, like the Gentlemen Callers.

I loved the sense of community I had at Wheaton, and the ease in having access to faculty in the classroom and beyond. I loved working as a student in the Loft, the Admission Office, Mary Lyon and WCCS, the student radio station. I loved the friendships I developed with classmates and alums alike.

Wheaton continues to be the special place that evokes in each of us our individual special memories, and has connected each of us to special friends and faculty. I truly feel blessed to have spent four years there growing and shaping my future.

—Jason Petty ’92

 

Championing the liberal arts

Ronald A. Crutcher reflects on 10-year presidency

At the end of this academic year, President Crutcher will leave Wheaton. Here, the Quarterly notes his contributions to the college and the world of higher education, through images, comments from the Wheaton community, and a recent interview in which he discusses the enduring value of the liberal arts. 
2005: Wheaton Trustee Emerita Patricia King ’63 places medallion on the president at his inauguration. (Michael Dwyer photo)

2005: Wheaton Trustee Emerita Patricia King ’63 places medallion on the president at his inauguration. (Michael Dwyer photo)

“Mentoring is important to me and to Betty,” the president says, leaning forward over the table in his Park Hall office.

“It’s important to me because I wouldn’t be the person that I am today were it not for Elizabeth Potteiger, my cello teacher, who was one of the first persons outside of my parents to be a mentor to me,” he says. “As a result of getting to know her and studying the cello with her, I made a pledge to myself that I wanted to do for others what she had done for me.”

2011: President Crutcher and Betty Neal Crutcher host a holiday gathering with the students they mentor. (Nicki Pardo photo)

2011: President Crutcher and Betty Neal Crutcher host a holiday gathering with the students they mentor. (Nicki Pardo photo)

The president has told the story before in explaining his motivation for organizing a mentoring group each year, scheduling individual meetings and regular group sessions with as many as 40 students. His wife, Betty Neal Crutcher, who earned her Ph.D. studying models for cross-cultural mentoring, also has led her own mentoring group.

“For me, it’s a great opportunity,” he says. “It’s my way of staying connected to students and their concerns.”

2007: President Crutcher rehearses with Boston Symphony Orchestra cellist Owen Young in Cole chapel.

2007: President Crutcher rehearses with Boston Symphony Orchestra cellist Owen Young in Cole chapel. (Nicki Pardo photo)

The mentoring group reflects an essential belief that has been evident throughout his tenure at Wheaton as well as throughout his career: a liberal arts education that is personal and rigorous transforms lives.

His conviction about the worth of the liberal arts drove President Crutcher to lead a campus-wide strategic planning process that developed a holistic vision for building on the college’s distinctive Connections curriculum. The plan, Wheaton 2014: Transforming Lives to Change the World, has served as a blueprint for his presidency. It included major projects, such as Go Beyond: Campaign for Wheaton, the fundraising effort now in its final year, and construction of the Mars Center for Science and Technology, the largest building project in Wheaton history.

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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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