Our campus home

Generous supporters help us maintain and improve our beautiful campus spaces for the best student experience. Recent improvements include the renamed Balfour-Hood atrium area, Frances A. Shirley Commons. (Photo by Keith Nordstrom)

It just feels like home. That’s a phrase I’ve heard many times from students and alums in describing how they feel about the Wheaton community and our campus. I feel it, too. We have a rich variety of spaces to nurture community. Classic brick mingles with modern and postmodern glass and steel facades; courtyards and quadrangles invite gatherings; arboretum-quality plantings, public art and natural woodlands encourage reflection. There is poetry to the place—as anyone standing on the bridge over Peacock Pond at sunset can attest. And the many photos of the Dimple in all seasons capture the changing beauty of the campus heart.

The responsibility of managing this ecosystem, however, is substantial, as I have found. The Wheaton campus comprises 400 acres and 80 buildings, and there are always compelling needs, some anticipated and others unexpected. Preserving and sustaining aging buildings and trees requires careful attention and a steady investment to maintain the campus for future generations of students.

Stanton Hall renovations (Photo by Keith Nordstrom)

This summer, for example, we completed more than $3.5 million in strategic improvements to Meadows, Beard and Stanton residence halls, theme houses and other spaces. Some improvements, to roofs and building utilities, are critical but largely invisible. Other enhancements—repainting rooms and hallways, replacing floors and furniture—immediately change the way our students see and experience these spaces. In Stanton, we uncovered beautiful wood floors that restore warmth and history. And our planning for more renovation and renewal projects in summer 2024 is well underway.

These investments are essential for the college’s future. The beauty of Wheaton’s campus is central to our institutional identity; it draws students to our campus, and it reflects generations of investment by alums, parents and friends. The named buildings and spaces across campus testify to that generosity. In fact, the progress being made in refreshing campus spaces would not be possible without the active care and participation of the Wheaton community. For example, Louise “Weezie” Flaccus Reese ’66 provided support for the renovation in Meadows.

The atrium of the Balfour-Hood Campus Center was transformed with new furniture to facilitate student gatherings with support from the estate of the late Professor Emerita of English Frances Shirley. In recognition of her extraordinary generosity and contributions to Wheaton, we renamed the space the Frances A. Shirley Commons.

New furniture for the Base in Cole Memorial Chapel. (Photo by Keith Nordstrom)

The lower level of Cole Memorial Chapel, known as the Base, and the home of the centers for Social Justice and Community Impact and for Religious and Spiritual Life, was transformed with support from Trustee Emeritus Brian Smiley P’17 and former trustees Matthew Gold P’20 and Dellie Smith Woodring ’62.

Enhancing and preserving Wheaton’s historic campus will always be a top priority for the college. Vibrant and flexible indoor and outdoor spaces help to create collaborative environments for learning and living. Every investment improves our academic community and nurtures our collective home where lasting friendships and abundant connections are made for life.