May 8 Community Update from President Hanno

Dear Wheaton Community,

The Spring Semester of 2020 is coming to an end – finally. Students are finishing up classes and finals this week and faculty are hard at work finishing up all they have to do at this time of year. This semester is sure to be recorded in the Wheaton history books as one of the most unusual ever in the history of the college. While there has been more than enough challenges to go around over the last two months, it has been incredible to see how we have remained singularly focused on delivering the unique Wheaton experience to students in a virtual environment. It’s even more incredible to witness the way that the community has remained connected and vibrant throughout.

Our 186-year history as an institution is one full of strength, resilience, innovation and excellence. One visible manifestation of the vibrancy of a community like Wheaton is its traditions. Our values are embedded in our traditions and our traditions bring us together and move us forward, even in challenging times. While we haven’t yet figured out a way to do a virtual hoop roll on The Dimple, next week we’ll still be celebrating our 22-year tradition of a parade for students who complete an honors thesis – virtually. Alumni will take part in Reunion activities next week and I invite the entire community to honor the Class of 2020 by taking part in our 185th commencement on Saturday, May 16 – virtually. I know that these celebrations of our most sacred traditions will continue to be memorable.

We’ve seen some amazing examples of our students, faculty and staff continuing Wheaton traditions in very creative ways in this different environment. Our Senior Visual Arts majors and faculty held a virtual gallery opening earlier this week that showcases their incredible work in a virtual gallery. In Tuesday’s community update, I shared some of the many other ways that students have been sharing their talents with the entire campus community.

One favorite on-campus tradition that many are probably missing this year is the end of the year jams for our wonderful acapella groups. However, not to be deterred, the college’s oldest student-run vocal group, the Wheatones, put their hearts and minds to work to create something to share with all of us. They have been working on a virtual jam over the last several weeks to help us continue the tradition of year-end jams – virtually. The video was produced by talented Wheaton student Sophie Waters ‘23. Watch their virtual performance! It’s amazing – I’ve already cried three times listening to it. I’m sure that it will move you and bring you joy, too.

We’ve also created plenty of tools for you to show your Wheaton pride online while celebrating our graduates with digital and social media signage. I’m already seeing these being used all over social media and it looks amazing. Be sure to download them and show your support, too!

As the academic semester comes to a close, I will be shifting to less frequent updates. My expectation is that you will hear from me weekly for a while so I can keep you apprised of what’s happening at Wheaton and how we are preparing for our eventual return to campus. It has been so heartening to hear from so many of you in response to these emails. I know we are all being inundated with too many emails but the fact that so many in our community regularly respond to these emails from me reinforces what a strong community we have here at Wheaton.

Thank you all for your incredible patience over the last several weeks, for your amazing support for each other and for Wheaton, and for your resilience and strength as we have confronted this situation together. I feel truly blessed to be a part of this community.

Stay safe, stay well and stay connected,

Dennis Hanno
Wheaton College