President Hanno March 27 Message to Wheaton Alumni

Dear Wheaton Alumni and Friends,

Greetings from a very quiet Wheaton campus. Today marks the end of our first week of remote operations and learning, a new and unexpected chapter in our institution’s rich history. I am so proud of our faculty, staff and students, who have faced this unforeseen challenge with grace. This transition has confirmed that our liberal arts mission is resilient and that our community remains strong and supportive of one another, even in the most challenging of times.

While we are going about our normal work as best we can, each department on campus is supporting students in this whole new world of remote operations, requiring significant adjustments to business as usual. In particular, the Center for Collaborative Teaching and Learning, the Wallace Library, the Office of the Provost and each and every college office worked tirelessly preparing faculty and staff for our move to remote learning.

I would like to thank the many alumni who have stepped up in a variety of ways to help our students, faculty, and staff. Wheaton’s Board of Trustees and our Alumni Board of Directors have been an invaluable resource to my office and to virtually every department across campus. They have provided advice to guide our thinking and decision-making and their leadership is truly a credit to all Wheaton alumni, parents and friends.

Although campus and regional alumni events were cancelled until further notice, no scheduling decisions have been made yet regarding Commencement and Reunion activities, but we will make a decision in early April. No matter the decision, I continue to pledge my commitment to the seniors and our reunion classes that we will celebrate with you on campus sometime this year.

We all need to make extra efforts to keep our community engaged—with each other and with the institution—as we make our way through these uncertain times. On our Alumni website, we have curated ways you can help our current students through connection, support and encouragement. You can also become a member of the Wheaton on-line networking community, or you can reconnect with a classmate through your favorite social media channel. 

The Wheaton Fund will soon resume its outreach and you will be receiving messages from members of our community who will share a few words about their Wheaton experience. Our participation rates in the Wheaton Fund have been steadily increasing in recent years. Last year, over 4,000 alumni, parents, and friends from our community contributed $5 million—that was a record-breaking level of giving for our Wheaton Fund. The case to support Wheaton now has never been stronger.

The response to our Emergency Student Relief Fund has been extremely encouraging. We would like to set a short-term goal of $200,000 for this critical funding. This support will help to underwrite unexpected student travel costs and provide tech support for students to meet the new demands of remote learning. If you are in a position to make a Wheaton Fund contribution to this initiative at this time, your gift—no matter the size—will be greatly appreciated. Our students could use this support more than ever right now.

Wherever we are in the world, the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting all of us. I hope you will share in the strength of our community and that you will take inspiration from the efforts of Wheaton students, faculty and staff. 

I am extremely grateful for the care and support the entire Wheaton community is providing to each other. This has always been a hallmark of Wheaton, but it has never been more important than now.

I wish you and your loved ones safety and health,

Dennis Hanno
Wheaton College