President Hanno Message to Wheaton Alumni on the Impact of COVID-19

Dear Wheaton Alumni and Friends,

Recent events stemming from the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 have dramatically impacted all of our normal routines—personally, professionally and, of course, on campus. I wanted to take a moment to make you aware of the latest developments around this situation in relation to Wheaton College.

Officials across the college have been closely monitoring the ongoing developments since January. We have been prepared to take action based on guidance and recommendations from city, state and federal officials, and as that guidance has evolved rapidly, so have our plans.

As you likely are aware by now, we took measures last week to alter our operations and move to remote course instruction and student engagement for the remainder of the spring semester. Our COVID-19 website has been a hub for communication with our constituencies, and I encourage you to continue to visit the page for ongoing updates from the college.

As the health and safety of all members of our community are of paramount importance, we had to take these difficult measures. We know these decisions pose real and significant challenges for all of us: our faculty, our staff, our students, our parents, our alumni and all of our extended Wheaton community. It has been extremely difficult to make these decisions, given our commitment to personal connection, small classes and hands-on learning, among others. However, it has been inspiring to see our community come together and continue Wheaton traditions of creativity, innovation, resilience and excellence.

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.

I sincerely thank each and every one of you who has reached out directly to me or other members of the Wheaton community expressing your willingness to help and asking how you can be there for our students. Know that those students who could not go home for various reasons have been allowed to stay on campus and will be supported throughout. Our Alumni Association Board of Directors and our Alumni Relations staff have been hard at work partnering on myriad ways for you to engage with the college. More to come on that soon.

Additionally, many have inquired about when a decision would be made regarding Reunion Weekend scheduled for May 15 through 17. It seems increasingly unlikely that we will be holding our celebration then, but a final decision will not be made until early April. No matter what, we are committed to holding a celebration some time this year to honor alumni reunion classes and to continue celebrating the 150th anniversary of the alumni association. Stay tuned for more information in the weeks ahead, but I look forward to seeing our community come together for that valued tradition.

Thank you for your understanding, your partnership, your continued support and your deep compassion for this institution and its community. I could not imagine being even more proud of this college and its alumni, but this past week has shown how we become even stronger through meeting unprecedented challenges, as we truly live life and care for each other, abundantly.

Wishing safety and good health to you and your families,

Dennis Hanno