March 16 Message from President Hanno to the Wheaton Community

Dear Wheaton Community,

Normally, today would be one of the most festive days on the Wheaton campus – or any other campus, for that matter. Today was scheduled to be the day that everyone would be returning from spring break, rested and full of anticipation for all of the exciting things that would be happening over the final weeks of the semester. However, in recent days our lives have been suddenly and dramatically changed. When we parted ways for spring break, no one could have even imagined what would transpire in the following days and the way that it would so rapidly impact all of us.

You have been receiving frequent emails from the college about the steps we are taking to deal with the challenge of containing the spread of COVID-19 and you will be hearing much more about these measures from me and others in the coming days and weeks. I am confident that we can adjust and that we can all accept that this is the right thing to do, but I also think that it is important to acknowledge the deep sense of loss felt by all members of our community, but particularly by the seniors.

So many plans and hopes have been drastically affected, and these weeks we would have had together on campus for the remainder of the semester can never be recovered. No matter how much we know that we are doing the right thing, it hurts. It hurts for all of us – students, faculty and staff. We all have come to treasure what we have when we are together here at Wheaton and it is going to be very different for awhile.

We certainly know that we are not alone in facing the current and coming challenges. Lives are being upended across the country and around the world. We have to stay strong as a community and support each other as we adjust to this new reality. I know that we are up for this challenge and that we will continue to support each other in any way that we can. After all, we are Wheaton and our 186-year history has shown us that we are up for any challenge. I’m confident that we will emerge from this one even stronger than before, even as we struggle with the real sense of loss and disappointment that we are all feeling.

To the seniors, you have my full commitment that you will be back together here on campus later this year. You have given so much to this college and you have grown so much in your time here, it demands a celebration. It may not be on May 16 and it may be a different kind of event, but you have my word that we will celebrate you here on campus as soon as possible. I can’t wait!

To all members of the community, I am deeply sorry that this is happening. I hope you will take a few minutes to acknowledge this sense of loss we are all feeling, but also to resolve to support each other and to make the best of this new reality. I’m incredibly proud to be a part of this community and I know that the next few weeks will give me and all of us even more reason to be proud of the amazing community we have built together.

Dennis Hanno
Wheaton College