May 5 Community Update from President Hanno

Dear Wheaton Community,

With the last week of the semester underway and everyone focused on the work that needs to be done over the next few days, I wish you success in finishing all that you have in front of you. This week is hard enough for everyone during normal times, but I know it is even more challenging now given current conditions. Please continue to support each other and know that our many offices and support services are here for you even when you aren’t on campus.

There are so many inspiring examples of how members of the Wheaton community have supported those around them or even those on the other side of the world in recent weeks. Whether it is a recent alum working as a contact tracer to help flatten the curve locally, current sophomore Emily Hickey ‘22 helping hard of hearing patients communicate during this outbreak, or community members creating masks and sending personal protective equipment (PPE) from around the world to local members of our community, the spirit of connection that defines Wheaton has never been more evident.

And as the semester begins to formally wind down from remote learning, it’s also great to recognize how our faculty and staff have supported our students and brought creativity to the remote learning environment. For example, how exciting to have both candidates for the U.S. senate seat from Massachusetts visit one of our classes, or to have world-renowned avant-garde jazz musicians pop into a Zoom session!

Our new-found reliance on technology is also making it possible to share the amazing talents of our students more easily with everyone in our community. For example, I invite you to stop by on Wednesday, May 6, from 6 to 8 PM for the virtual exhibit of our talented senior visual arts majors. Or, take a minute to enjoy this performance from our Contemporary Latin America Poetry class, or log into Facebook and enjoy this inspiring and moving song from our Ensemble Experiments class. These are just some of the many examples of how we’ve been able to share the talent and creativity of our students in recent days.

If you haven’t already marked your calendar, be sure to do so for our Virtual Commencement on Saturday, May 16, at 10 AM. The details for the ceremony are already posted on the Commencement Livestream site. You do not want to miss this special celebration of all that the Class of 2020 has achieved!

Even as this semester ends and we continue our planning for the summer and fall, we also continue to focus on supporting students in a variety of powerful ways. As I referenced in an email last week, the college has created a Student Relief Fund of up to $1 million to help offset some of the costs that students incurred when we shifted to remote learning. Wheaton has added institutional support to the funds provided by the federal government to increase the level of available funding. Students, be sure to check your email as guidelines for applying for these funds were sent to you today from Dean of Students Zack Irish and Director of Student Financial Services Susan Beard.

May this final week of the semester be a productive and rewarding one for you. Be sure to take care of yourself and continue to support those around you.

Dennis Hanno
Wheaton College