April 10 Community Update from President Hanno

Greetings, again, from Wheaton College. I have not mentioned in my previous communication with you that I continue to be right here on campus, working from the Presidents’ House and keeping a close eye on campus. As I was walking on campus today, I did have the chance to chat briefly, from a safe distance, with some students and essential staff who are also here. It certainly seems very strange to see things as quiet as they are on campus but everyone here is safe and secure. Even with so few on campus, we are still prioritizing safety, wellness, and physical distancing. I hope you continue to do the same wherever you are since doing so will hopefully help us to emerge from this current situation as quickly as possible.

Obviously, no one can predict exactly when the various restrictions we are under will be lifted or what else might come our way in the coming weeks and months. However, we continue to move forward, hoping for the best, with planning for some of the major events that we hope will take place later this year. I had shared with you last week that we would not have a face-to-face Commencement on the originally scheduled date (Saturday, May 16). After continued discussions with leaders of the senior class and based on a poll they conducted with their classmates, we have decided to schedule an in-person Commencement celebration on Saturday, August 15. We have certainly seen how dramatically and how quickly plans can be affected by this pandemic and we have set June 1 as the final date to evaluate if we can go forward with these plans. For now, we hope you can save the date and you will hear much more about the plans for August Commencement and related activities very soon.

The official graduation date for seniors (the date on your diploma and on your transcript), as set by academic policy and the calendar, remains Saturday, May 16. Thus, we will conduct a virtual commencement ceremony at 10 AM on that day to mark this important occasion. More details on the online platform and timing will be posted soon on the Commencement website and we hope you will be able to attend this event, too. It is certainly a first in the long history of Wheaton College and we promise that it will be special!

Meanwhile, our alumni office and volunteers are working diligently on plans for Reunion celebrations, both virtually and in person. On Saturday, May 16, Reunion classes will be able to hold virtual Parlor Parties, attend webinars with faculty and staff, and watch a State of the College video address from President Hanno. In October, a few reunion classes will gather in person to celebrate their Reunion over Fall Fest weekend as part of the Alumni Association’s 150th Anniversary. Please be on the lookout for more information from representatives of the Alumni Board of Directors next week.

Note that, not surprisingly, we have made the decision that all on-campus, in-person events have been suspended through May 31. As I indicated in an earlier email, this includes our summer session courses, which will now be offered remotely. Event and program organizers should continue to explore the use of remote technology to deliver programming virtually throughout May and even explore online possibilities for the remaining summer months. We are seeing great attendance at many of our virtual events. Don’t forget the major virtual celebration of the 19th Amendment and Women’s Suffrage that will be taking place next Thursday evening, April 16, at 7 PM. More information about the event and a link to register to attend can be found online.

I know how difficult the transition to remote learning and operations has been for every member of the Wheaton community. I know how challenging it is to live with the current restrictions that we are all dealing with. But even being able to share details with you about specific campus events and about continuing timeless traditions such as Commencement and Reunion offers me hope and encouragement. These events give us the opportunity to connect with each other and to reinforce for each other what Wheaton is truly all about – the people who make up this amazing community. I hope you can turn out – now virtually or eventually in-person – to join with others in the community to learn and to celebrate. I truly can’t wait to see you!

I wish safety and health for you and your loved ones,

Dennis Hanno
Wheaton College