Wheaton selects Dennis Hanno as eighth president

President-elect Dennis Hanno met with members of the Wheaton Student Government Association in March.
President-elect Dennis Hanno met with members of the Wheaton Student Government Association in March.

The Wheaton Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Saturday, February 22, to appoint Dennis Hanno as the college’s new president.

Hanno, currently provost and senior vice president at Babson College, will be the eighth president in Wheaton’s 180-year history. He will take office on July 15, replacing Ronald A. Crutcher, who is stepping down at the end of this academic year after a decade of service.

“There were many impressive and qualified candidates to lead Wheaton College. During our selection process, we listened carefully to the greater Wheaton community and concluded that without a doubt Dennis has what it takes to move this school forward,” said Thomas Hollister, chair of the Wheaton Board of Trustees. “Wheaton has historic commitments to gender equality and diversity, as well as to the power of a rigorous liberal arts education. Dennis is not only equipped to ensure a successful future for Wheaton, he embodies the values on which this school was built.”

Hanno has held several senior leadership positions at Babson College since 2006. Among his many accomplishments at Babson, he is responsible for increasing the emphasis on liberal arts throughout the school’s curriculum. He also led the effort to integrate entrepreneurial thought and principles of socially responsible management throughout the curriculum. Beyond the classroom, Hanno has championed initiatives to enrich students’ residential and co-curricular experiences, focusing on the campus as a seven-day-a-week, 24-hour-a-day living and learning laboratory.

“Throughout my career, I have focused on the importance of diversity, a student-centered approach, and broadening the scope of what students study—from the arts and humanities to the social sciences and the sciences,” said Hanno, 58. “Wheaton College is grounded in values that have inspired my life’s work, and I see tremendous possibilities ahead for this vibrant seat of higher learning. I am extremely honored to have the opportunity to build on Wheaton’s past, and to contribute to its future.”

In addition to his campus-based work, Hanno has founded and led a number of programs dedicated to education and development in Africa during the past decade, working in Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana and Tanzania. He is the founder of the Babson-Rwanda Entrepreneurship Center located in Kigali, Rwanda, which is dedicated to economic and entrepreneurial development within the country. He also created and directed the Babson Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy, which operates in multiple African countries.

Hanno has a deep commitment and belief in the power and value of diversity, and it is one of the many reasons he said he feels akin to Wheaton.

“For well over a century Wheaton focused on creating opportunity for young women, even when those opportunities were rare,” said Hanno. “These roots are clearly evident in its focus today on creating a diverse community that provides opportunity for all.”

Leonard Schlesinger, former president of Babson College, enthusiastically endorses his former colleague, saying: “I have had the benefit and privilege of working with Dennis throughout my tenure as president of Babson College. He is simply one of the most genuinely engaged academic leaders I have ever known. He knows everybody around the college and everything that is going on and is equally comfortable at a faculty curriculum meeting, a student athletic or social event, a budgeting session or with community leaders on one of his regular Africa trips with students, staff and alumni. The Wheaton College community has made an inspired choice…. Working along with Dennis, the college will reach heights and aspirations it has yet to imagine.”