Through the Student Lens — Thank you, President Hanno!

We celebrate President Hanno’s leadership over the last few years and recognize the broadscale impact it will continue to have on the college in the decades to come. But, his impact goes far deeper. What do current students, current and former parents, and young alumni who attended Wheaton under his leadership have to say? What are their favorite memories of President Hanno and how did he affect their Wheaton experience at the college and beyond? Take a look “Through the Student Lens.”

Eva Danielson ’22
“When we were at the Resident Advisor dinner in The Presidents’ Garden after Resident Advisor training, we were all chatting and President Hanno mentioned Eliza Wheaton’s newly restored carriage. As soon as someone expressed the tiniest bit of interest, he was like, “Let’s go look!” And made Dr. Parker (somewhat begrudgingly) pull it out of the garage. We all pretended to ride it and took pictures, it was really funny and nice.”

Julianne Morse ’24
“President Hanno’s leadership has made Wheaton what it is today! While change and growth are always needed, President Hanno has helped Wheaton get on the map in so many ways. Additionally, President Hanno’s leadership style, of getting to know the community and having a personal relationship and connection with students, has allowed many students like myself to grow in their own leadership. I am thankful for the way President Hanno has built up Wheaton and built up each student that attends Wheaton.”

Leila Barackman ’22
“You have made Wheaton a home. This campus will not be the same without your bright smile and infectious energy. You will be so greatly missed.”

Current and Former Parents:
Marian Ide P’22
“When we arrived for first-year drop off we stayed for the introduction ceremony and a man walked up to us, we recognized him from his photo as he introduced himself. He stopped to say hello and meet the new students and he went on to tell us that the seats we chose would be exposed to the sun during the ceremony and we might want to switch seats. Lucy, Andreas, and I were filled with hope for her four years at Wheaton with a leader that would take the time to make us more comfortable. Lucy was invited to the President’s House for dinner as were all the other first-years. When she went to leave she was addressed by her first name by President Hanno. That made her feel special and that she was recognized in this community. President Hanno has made us feel welcome and a part of the Wheaton community for Lucy’s entire college career. The feeling of community and inclusion starts at the top.”

Michael j Kaplan P’20
“Four of my five children have gone to various well-regarded colleges. Dennis Hanno distinguished himself as the most impressive leader of all those I have witnessed. He has the rare gift of competence, dedication, and kindness. Wheaton was a wonderful experience for my daughter and we are grateful for the leadership its president offered.”

Mary Jo Harmon P’22
“President Hanno from day one has been nothing but sincere. At our daughter’s meet and greet gathering in Maine that he had for all new incoming students, he made everyone feel welcome and comfortable. He was very easy to talk to and my daughter left that gathering feeling that she definitely made the right choice. Anytime we visited the school, we usually saw President Hanno whether he was supporting the student-athletes by attending their games or walking around campus talking to students. I cannot thank him enough for all he has done to make Wheaton College a positive experience that my daughter will always be grateful for. Thank you, President Hanno, you are the best!”

Lisa Sajedi P’21
“My daughter Francesca was always a straight-A student. But, the Wheaton experience, for her, made her independent, goal-driven, and she flourished at Wheaton. More importantly, when she graduated from Wheaton, she was not only competent but confident. When she got injured while at school, she had an early follow-up doctor’s appointment that I was going to have trouble getting her to, being so far away from Wheaton. Mrs. Hanno drove her to that appointment! When the Hannos say, “Can I do anything to help?” they really mean that. I was told that apparently, my daughter was not alone in this and that Mrs. Hanno has lent a hand to other students in a similar fashion on more than one occasion. President Hanno is probably one of the reasons why Francesca chose Wheaton. That’s just the person that he is. He’s real and authentic.”

Young Alumni:
Steven Flowers ’20
“President Hanno had a very open communication style that you will not get from most senior leadership anywhere in life. It may not always be what is most desirable to hear at the time or easy to digest, however, it was always honest and I’ll cherish that over anything else. I worked my 21st birthday at his house for the annual accepted students Open House, and President Hanno chose to embarrass me by having the entire Open House sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me. It made me feel special and seen. I thank him in my heart a lot for those little moments throughout college.”

Xinyi Liu ’19
“I was a club leader of the Asian Student Association, and President Hanno actively participated in many events that we held. He valued cultural diversity and supported students’ events in every way. I remembered the first time that I held the Chinese New Year Festival as the co-president of the club, President Hanno was there and he gave us a super warm speech and helped us greet the visitors from off campus. At that time, I felt really supported and included.”

Pagna Donlevy ’13
“President Hanno positively impacted me personally. He writes books for younger generations like me, especially those who learn English as a second language. His books help students who are builders, entrepreneurs, and innovators, and emphasize that you can be what you want to be if you put your IDEAS into ACTIONS. In 2016, I attended the intensive summer program at MIT, and my team won first place because of President Hanno’s instruction. When I wanted to get married at Wheaton College in 2018, President Hanno made my dreams come true. My wedding at Wheaton was the most precious moment in my life because my adopted American parents, Bill and Patti Donlevy, were able to celebrate my special day with my friends, my teachers, my professors, and my loved ones. Thank you so much, President Hanno, Mrs. Hanno, and the Wheaton team for giving me the most beautiful wedding in the United States. I am sure that President Hanno and I will continue to keep in touch, and one day I will also join his trips to Africa to support IDEA4Africa.”

Xinru Liu ’19
“President Hanno invited international students to his house for every Thanksgiving dinner, which made us feel like we were home. He created a very welcoming community for students from diverse backgrounds and helped us through the difficulties of coming to a foreign country, which I appreciate very much–even now.”

Jessica Chaikof ’19
“I have so many memories of President Hanno. However, my favorite would be from my senior thesis. I remembered Mrs. Hanno saying that she would like to come to my senior thesis presentation and to email her. I did email Mrs. Hanno, but on the day of the presentation, she was not the only one in the audience. President Hanno was there as well. I cannot think of a single college with a president that is so invested in students, especially in celebrating their accomplishments.”