New provost

Wheaton College President Dennis M. Hanno announced that Renée T. White, a distinguished administrator as well as a scholar on race, gender and social inequality, has been appointed Provost following an intensive national search. She will officially take office on July 1, 2016.

“Renée’s strengths in working with others to develop innovative programs and advance academic excellence make her uniquely well suited to collaborate with our faculty and staff,” said President Hanno, in announcing White’s appointment. “Her open and creative approach to leadership as well as her deep appreciation for Wheaton’s liberal arts mission makes her a perfect fit for the Wheaton community.”

White currently serves as the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Simmons College in Boston. Since assuming the role in 2011, she has led the development of new programs, re-envisioned key aspects of the undergraduate curriculum, promoted interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and championed student and faculty scholarship.

As provost, White will serve as the college’s chief academic officer and be responsible for all matters relating to the faculty as well as the administrative units providing academic support services and infrastructure to students, faculty and staff. Current Wheaton Provost Linda Eisenmann announced in September 2015 that she planned to step down from her post at the end of the academic year, and following a sabbatical, will assume a faculty position at the start of the 2017-18 school year.

“The search committee is thrilled that “Renée will be the next provost,” said Nancy Kendrick, professor of philosophy and chair of the committee. “The committee spent six months recruiting potential candidates from colleges and universities throughout the US, and we spent a lot of time discussing the sort of skills, talents, and qualities that a new provost would have to bring to the position.

-Renée fit the bill on so many counts. Her experience with faculty and staff development; curriculum review; student recruitment, advising, and career development; global initiatives—all of these issues and many, many others—really impressed the committee. Also, she’s such a clear communicator and a warm, interesting, and engaging person. We’re all really excited about working with her.”

At Simmons, White led the creation of two new graduate programs—the Master in Public Health and the Master in Strategic Communication—to be launched online in 2017. She initiated a review of independent learning opportunities in all departmental majors, and she established a program that provides funding for students to conduct independent research. She also played a key role in developing the college’s new general education curriculum.

White took an active role in supporting faculty development at Simmons. She established a faculty scholarship task force that resulted in a series of faculty-led panel discussions and a pilot writing support group. She collaborated with the Center for Excellence in Teaching on Dreaming in Chocolate, the first of a series of workshops that target mid-career faculty. She also convened a multi-school task force that is dedicated to identifying interdisciplinary research, funding, and curricular opportunities in science, technology and mathematics.

Beyond the campus, White has developed successful new affiliations for Simmons, including co-founding the first Vision 2020 college chapter in the nation and initiating the college’s membership in the Clinton Global Initiative University Network, which supports, mentors, and provides seed funding to leading student innovators and social entrepreneurs.

Before Simmons, she served as a professor of sociology and black studies and as academic coordinator for diversity and global citizenship at Fairfield University. She started her academic career at Purdue University, where she held a joint appointment in the department of sociology and the African American Studies Research Center.

White is the editor of three books, including the acclaimed Spoils of War: Women of Color, Cultures, and Revolutions, and author of Putting Risk in Perspective: Black Teenage Lives in the Era of AIDS. She has served as editor of the Journal of HIV/AIDS Prevention in Children & Youth and the People of Color Caucus newsletter for the Society for Values in Higher Education. She also served as editorial advisor to the Journal of HIV/AIDS and Social Services.

White also was a WYE Faculty Fellow at the Aspen Institute and completed a National Endowment for the Humanities summer Fellowship in Black film studies. Her current research examines the impact of public discourse on social policy concerning reproductive rights. White holds an AB from Brown University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University.