A midsummer’s update from campus

The campus is quiet and verdant mid-July.  I hope that you are enjoying the summer.  I am writing to share some recent news about the progress that has been made on new and existing activities and to give an update on the next phase of the college’s ongoing strategic discussions. First, I want to express my gratitude to the Wheaton community for another year of extraordinary generosity. 

The college just closed the books on the fiscal year, which included an outpouring of philanthropy from alumni, parents, families and friends for which I am extremely grateful.  We have surpassed our fundraising goal of $13.1 million, reaching $13.5 million to support student learning and strengthen the college for the future. That total included more than $4 million contributed by 3,100 donors to the Wheaton Fund. 

The college received 3 seven-figure commitments last year: A bequest from the estate of Professor Emerita Frances Shirley for endowed faculty support; a new gift to increase the value of the Weezie Flaccus Reese ’66 Endowed Scholarship Fund; and the new Marjorie Judith McNamara Bland ’62 Emergency Discretionary Endowed Fund, established by her family and friends to support students facing unexpected financial challenges. In addition, 18 individuals joined the Founders Society by making a planned gift to the college or by including Wheaton in their testamentary plans. 

The Catalyst Fund for Wheaton Athletics, which was launched in October 2021, has received leadership commitments totaling $4.1 million toward a goal of $6 million. Renovations to the Haas Athletic Center are underway now, and the Janyce Vaughan ’53 Endowed Coaching Fund for Artistic Swimming—Wheaton’s first endowed coaching position—has been established.

Coming at a time of global economic uncertainty, the philanthropic support that Wheaton continues to enjoy is all the more precious. On behalf of our faculty, staff and students, I want to express our deep thanks to every person who contributed to this outcome.  

At the same time, I’m happy to report that the college’s efforts to enhance its foundation for long-term stability are showing great promise. Wheaton’s newly launched programs in criminal justice, design and nursing, which were approved and made public during the spring semester, are already drawing great interest from current and future students. We’re also planning to enrich the global options we offer incoming students with a new, first-semester study abroad program called WheaGo. Right now, we are finalizing details with our partner institutions—Blanquerna University in Barcelona, Paris College of Art, the International College of Management Sydney, and Franklin College in Lugano, Switzerland—to begin these programs in Fall 2023.  Collectively, these exciting new opportunities will resonate with prospective students, giving another boost to our enrollment efforts. 

As we look ahead, two task forces that began work in the spring—one investigating how best to provide campus health and wellness services for today’s students; the other, exploring enhancements to Wheaton’s experiential learning and career service offerings—will be delivering their findings soon. In addition, a search committee chaired by Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs Darnell Parker and including faculty, staff, students and an alumnus and college trustee, has begun a national search for a new Associate Vice President of Institutional Equity and Belonging 

At the end of this month, the Board of Trustees will be convening for a daylong retreat to advance the strategic conversations in which faculty, staff and alums participated during the spring semester. I look forward in the fall to discussing how we will grow and invest in people and strengthen Wheaton for the future.