Commencement is always inspiring; this year was particularly exciting. Our three honorary degree recipients, Senator George Mitchell, Callie Crossley, and Rose Ella Weaver ’73, graduates of Bowdoin, Wellesley, and Wheaton, respectively, exemplify the power of the liberal arts. The breadth of their achievements is proof of the enduring value of an education that prepared them to put their ideas into action.
Wheaton’s graduates are impressive, too. Admittedly, the Class of 2018—and their parents—hold a special place in my heart. We were “first-years” together at Wheaton. I enjoyed greatly getting to know them, work with them and learn from them these past four years. As they take on new challenges in the world beyond campus, I am prepared to be amazed by their future accomplishments and triumphs. But I will not be surprised by their successes.
The college’s newest graduates are now part of an alumni community that is 19,000 strong. No matter where they are in the world, they are always connected to a network of Wheaton alumni and friends. Their liberal arts education has equipped them, in countless ways, for personal fulfillment and professional success.
Wheaton has a tradition of blending liberal arts and sciences with innovative experiential learning opportunities. We are a classic undergraduate liberal arts college with a national reputation for exceptional teaching. In short, we create opportunities for students to learn, lead, and achieve.
Within six months of graduation, 98 percent of our graduates over the past four years found their first job, enrolled in grad school, participated in a service initiative, or won a fellowship. Wheaton’s success rate testifies to the diversity of our programs as well as the potential of our amazing students.
The incoming Class of 2022 will soon discover this for themselves. They will study with faculty members who are experts in their fields, dedicated to teaching and collaborating with students on cutting-edge research. They will live and learn with fellow students representing 40 U.S. states and 71 foreign countries. They will benefit greatly from small classes (on average, 15 to 20 students). They will find that Wheaton offers more than a hundred student clubs and organizations. And they will be guaranteed funding for an internship, research position, or experiential learning opportunity before they graduate.
Wheaton is not content to rest on its laurels, however. We are continually working on improving and expanding the programs, resources and opportunities that are available for our students. In the next year, the college will be taking some major steps to enhance to improve facilities that will have a major impact on campus life and the academic experience.
On campus, we broke ground on a new residence hall, set to open for occupancy in the fall of 2019. This investment in campus living spaces is a crucial element of our strategic plan. The new residence hall will accommodate up to 178 students and will create a new quad in our lower campus with neighboring Young Hall, McIntyre Hall, Clark Hall, and the Meadows complex.
We are also finalizing plans to renovate the old science building to create a new home for the departments of business & management and psychology, concentrations that account for 30 percent of Wheaton majors. The new space will enhance access to Lab 213, the largest of our three makerspaces, and it will serve to strengthen the connection between our coursework and co-curricular programming that comprise our social entrepreneurship initiative.
As the students and even the buildings on campus change, we continue to offer a transformative educational experience. Wheaton College is truly a place where the community inspires and potential thrives.
Dennis M. Hanno