Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Marking a milestone

Class of 2013    228 female graduates    138 male graduates

Class of 2013
228 female graduates
138 male graduates

One of the many virtues of working and living on a college campus comes from the regular contact with young women and men. It offers a perspective on the zeitgeist that would be difficult to gain any other way.

The Beloit College Mindset List (co-founded by Ronald Nief P’99) provides a small window into the experiences and thinking of incoming first-year students. The 2013 list included observations about this generation of entering students, such as, “With GPS, they have never needed directions to get someplace, just an address,” “They have known only two presidents,” and “Having a chat has seldom involved talking.”

To that list, I would add one more observation: They have always known Wheaton as a coeducational institution.

It’s a fact that I’ve had reason to contemplate lately. Twenty-five years ago, 324 young women and 74 young men began their studies as Wheaton’s first coeducational class. For those students, it was the beginning of a four-year adventure that prepared them for professional careers and adult life. I have also come to understand how acutely aware they were of their role as pioneers, too. And in that role, they would have a say about what coeducation would mean to the college and our community.

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Looking back, looking ahead

Wheaton teams are enjoying practicing and playing on the new Diane Nordin ’80 Athletic Field.

Wheaton teams are enjoying practicing and playing on the new Diane Nordin ’80 Athletic Field.

Like a lot of people, I take advantage of summer to catch up on some of the books and articles that slipped by during the year. Of course, my bookbag tends to be heavy with readings on the state of higher education. Which makes for some heavy beach fare. Even a cursory glance at the news media tells you that colleges and universities face some daunting challenges. But there is plenty of good news, particularly at Wheaton.

Our college achieved extraordinary results in 2012–2013, and as we embark on a new school year, it seems fitting to pause for a moment and reflect on what we have accomplished. A short list of highlights includes:   [Read more...]

The arts of the deal

Former orchestra conductor Itay Talgam’s TED talk

Former orchestra conductor Itay Talgam’s TED talk

In looking for leadership inspiration, Itay Talgam debunks what he terms the “myth of the maestro.” The former orchestra conductor has made a name for himself by looking at great orchestra leaders for ideas on how to create environments that value innovation and creativity and celebrate both individual and collective achievement.

In his much-watched TED talk, Talgam said, “[A conductor’s] happiness does not come from only his own story and his joy of the music. The joy is about enabling other people’s stories to be heard at the same time.”

His point speaks to the importance that lies in tapping the insights, knowledge and skills of an organization’s members; creating the space for each person to shine; and focusing individual efforts on an overall goal. Talgam’s observation resonates with me as both a chamber musician and an educator dedicated to the value of the liberal arts. [Read more...]

Global citizenship

One of the college’s administrative departments ended the fall semester with a holiday party for its student workers. Small presents were handed around and one by one the students opened their gifts, except for one young man, who began to look increasingly uncomfortable balancing a gift bag on his lap.

“In my country, it’s considered rude to open a present in front of the person who has given it to you,” he explained, clearly worried that the office staff would be offended.

The moment illustrates, in a small way, the challenges that people can encounter when living or working with individuals from other cultural traditions. Simple customs and behaviors that one person takes for granted may differ from ideas held by those with a different cultural background. And these differences often remain invisible until conflict emerges, leading to misunderstandings large and small.

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