May 1 Community Update from President Hanno

Dear Wheaton Community,

As the calendar turns to May and our time apart grows longer, it’s hard not to think about the things that would be happening if we could be together here on campus. Today, May 1, would normally be our last day of classes. While we won’t be celebrating this day with ice cream on The Dimple, I’m still excited about the opportunities we will have over the next few weeks to come together virtually.

Many of these opportunities will occur as even now we continue to honor our traditions and our students as we would at the end of any academic year. While the platforms and backgrounds may be different, the celebrations continue. Just this past week, we held the 2020 Leadership Awards Ceremony to recognize the many student leaders who shape our community, both on-campus and off. On Sunday, May 3, I hope you will join me and Director of Athletics and Recreation Gavin Viano as we co-host the Wheaton Athletics End of Year Awards to celebrate our student-athletes, coaches and community. Additionally, a virtual experience for the 22nd Annual Honors Thesis Parade will be held on May 11 to honor those students who have completed their theses. And last but certainly not least, the planning for Virtual Commencement and Virtual Reunion continues to move further along and I look forward to seeing all of you at one or both of these major events. You won’t want to miss them!

As you know, we announced our intentions for the fall semester on Tuesday. We have immediately shifted into planning mode for both the online summer sessions and for the fall semester. In doing so, we made the decision to continue our remote operations for employees through May 31. While Massachusetts has extended its stay-at-home advisory through May 18, COVID-19 cases in the state continue to be at their peak and have yet to decrease. There are 86 confirmed cases in Norton and more than 60,000 in Massachusetts alone. We are looking to begin a slow, gradual and phased approach to bringing staff back to campus in early June, continuing throughout the summer. While these plans are contingent upon state advisories and public health guidance, we are hopeful our precautionary measures will continue to contribute positively to flattening the curve.

Even though our many virtual events have provided us with a way to stay connected in these challenging times, for me they will never equal what happens when we connect in person. I know that I am not alone in that feeling. Recently, I worked with our staff in Marketing & Communications to try to somehow capture what we are all missing by being away from Wheaton and from each other. I hope you will take a minute to watch this new video to remember what it is that is so special about Wheaton. Yes, Wheaton is a beautiful place, but what makes it a true community, what really gives it power and energy, is you – the people who make up this community. And that’s what I miss the most – you.

This video also reminds me, and hopefully you, that we will be back together again. Most importantly, I hope it reminds you that we are all part of an absolutely amazing community – strong, vibrant and thriving even now. I can’t wait to see you back home here at Wheaton, hopefully very soon.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend,

Dennis Hanno
Wheaton College