Wheaton appoints new provost

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 officially began at Wheaton 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 Dennis M. 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 make her a perfect fit for the Wheaton community.”

White previously was the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Simmons College in Boston. After assuming the role in 2011, she 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 Wheaton’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.

Former Wheaton Provost Linda Eisenmann announced in September 2015 that she planned to step down from her post at the end of the academic year. Following a sabbatical, she 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 U.S., 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. 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.

She 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 was a WYE Faculty Fellow at the Aspen Institute and completed a National Endowment for the Humanities summer fellowship in black film studies. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Yale University. Her current research examines the impact of public discourse on social policy concerning reproductive rights.