April 24 Community Update from President Hanno

Dear Wheaton Community,

As our days of remote operations turn into weeks, I am truly heartened to hear about the many ways that Wheaton community members are making a difference through their leadership and action. In both big and small ways, members of our community are supporting each other and people in their home communities. And we truly need that, now more than ever.

As one small example of this, just this week recent graduate Mingshi Zhang sent me several hundred protective masks all the way from her home in China. They have already been distributed to our Public Safety officers and food service workers, who interact every day with the students still here on campus. What a wonderful and powerful gesture of support and solidarity! Thank you so much, Mingshi.

You will find many more inspiring stories about our community on the Wheaton website. Whether it’s about creatively carrying on within the wake of the coronavirus, alumni on the frontlines and preparing guidance, students and faculty volunteering their time to make masks for others, or our own staff providing virtual ways for alumni, parents and friends, prospective students, and our campus community to stay connected, these acts show how our commitment to each other and to the world is unwavering.

Conversations with a broad group of community members continued across the college this week as we explore what the future might look like. With times still so uncertain, we are looking at a wide spectrum of scenarios to prepare to bring students back to campus. These conversations include things like how and where students are housed, protocols for dining, social distancing rules in the classroom and in labs, and the implications for all programs and activities. A top priority for us is getting back to the residential-based, hands-on learning that is a hallmark of a Wheaton education, but the safety of each member of our community remains our #1 priority. I will be sure to update you in the days ahead as our plans continue to take shape.

While planning for the future, we also must continue to bring focus to our near-term activities. As summer classes have moved online and state guidelines for larger group activities continue to be in place, the suspension of all on-campus, in-person events has been extended through August 1. Event and program organizers should explore the use of remote technology to deliver programming virtually during this time. With each aspect of this short-, mid- and long-term planning, we will always follow and adhere to public health guidance provided by local, state and federal health professionals as well as our campus pandemic team.

As the semester winds down, it’s also time to celebrate the amazing accomplishments of our students. The 2020 Leadership Award winners were announced today on the Campus Life Instagram account (@wheaton.campuslife). Next Sunday, May 3, there will be a live show to launch a week of recognizing the accomplishments of our student-athletes. Academic awards are going to be announced on social media in the coming days, a virtual thesis parade is being planned and, of course, our big virtual graduation celebration for the Class of 2020 will take place on Saturday, May 16. As these and many other scheduled events illustrate, even in times like this, we have much to celebrate. And we will!

I hope your weekend provides you with the opportunity for some fun and meaningful connection. Stay safe, healthy and be well,

Dennis Hanno
Wheaton College