New year, new faces, new opportunities

Another summer has flown by and our campus is a flurry of activity as summer programs wrap up and preparations for the new school year continue.

This is one of my favorite months of the year as we gear up to welcome our new and returning members of our community! We have many new faces on campus ready to greet, assist and be part of your students’ lives in a variety of ways. Programs, activities, trainings and lectures are planned for the coming weeks.

Each academic year brings new people together to share ideas and find opportunities to engage in open dialogue, creative problem solving and celebration of our community. This year, there will be more to celebrate. We will be welcoming the largest-ever student body to campus, which will heighten the energy and excitement at the college. We are excited about the Class of 2022, who will bring new talents, ideas, and perspectives from all around the world.

As you will see when you visit campus, construction is underway for our new residence hall at 5/7 Pine Street. Similarly designed as the residence halls on upper campus, this 45,000-square-foot building will house up to 178 students. With indoor and outdoor common spaces for collaborative work, engagement and fun, this facility will create a new quad-like experience on the lower campus when its doors open just one short year from now.

Whether your student is just starting at Wheaton or returning for their sophomore, junior or senior year, they will experience new programs and transitions. No single school year is like another. Those of us who work with students at Wheaton find the lives of students and the transformation that occurs truly rewarding and exciting. There may also be times when it is heartbreaking or infuriating to watch as your students navigate the developmental changes that occur during this pivotal time in their lives. The article Growth and Change Through the College Years gives a nice overview of one of the more prominent developmental theories on college students.

The skills students learn in and out of the classroom at Wheaton are transformational and beneficial to their long-term goals. They likely will encounter challenges that are new for them, meet and interact with people who are different than they are, and learn things about themselves and the world that are far beyond the topics they are learning about in the classroom. This is the beauty of a residential liberal arts experience. Students have the opportunity to create a holistic and seamless experience through their classes and co-curricular experiences, as well as through the choices they make about activities to participate in, the friendships they develop, and how they spend their free time.

The college years are an exciting time for you and your child. Enjoy them! Parents who watched their student walk across the stage last year commented consistently on how quickly the time passed. Relish with your student in this time of opportunity, growth and excitement of the new school year. Each school year brings its own thrills, opportunities and celebrations. Remember that the Wheaton staff are here, and we are ready should you or your student need assistance in any way. Here’s to a great start for a new academic year!

I hope to see you soon—and often—around campus!

—Kate McCaffrey, Ph.D.
Vice President, for Student Affairs and Dean of Students