by Dr. Darnell T. Parker, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Greetings! It is a great honor to serve this great community as the vice president for student affairs and dean of students. When I was introduced to Wheaton College, the first thing I reviewed was the institution’s core values: distinctive community, high standards, and innovative spirit. In reading the core values and what each means to the institution, it confirmed for me the commitment that our students, faculty, and staff have to the campus and larger community. As a division of student affairs, we will continue to incorporate these core values in the work we do in supporting our students.
Liberal arts colleges play an influential role in shaping higher education, and the work we do with students. The beauty of Wheaton College is that it is a small residential liberal arts college that encourages students to think critically and embrace diversity in all its forms. Our residence halls are not just a place for our students to sleep at night, but to build strong relationships with their peers and build a sense of community. Our residence life staff will develop vibrant and inclusive programming around leadership, health and wellness, and academic support within the residence halls. They will work collaboratively with campus departments in ensuring that we are exposing students to all the resources available to them.
During Convocation, I shared with the students the importance of emotional intelligence in leadership. Understanding and being aware of our emotions is a critical part of being a successful leader and global citizen. The division of student affairs will work with students to practice and become aware of the emotional capacity and how it impacts their leadership. Through the work of our Health and Counseling Services, we will continue to support students in ways to encourage them to recognize their limits and to ask for help. In addition, encourage students to help others who are in need. Our Office of Student Activities, Involvement, and Leadership (SAIL) and Center for Social Justice and Community Impact will work with campus partners to develop programs to engage students in the work of becoming effective leaders.
Observing our Wheaton students create new knowledge through their work in the classroom and outside the classroom is the reason why I love working in higher education. Helping our students become change agents and develop innovative ways of dissecting societal problems is at the heart of the liberal arts. Working with our students to be open to different views and to be challenged in thinking beyond what is in front of them is essential to helping them grow.
I look forward to seeing you the weekend of September 24, 2021, for our Family and Friends Weekend programs. I look forward to working with you and your students as we assist them with their academic journey. You are always welcome to reach out to the Dean of Students’ office with questions or concerns.