Looking forward to Commencement

To members of the Wheaton community,

We look forward to celebrating Wheaton’s 189th Commencement on Saturday, May 18, outside in the Dimple. Commencement is an important academic ritual in which family, friends, and alums join us to honor the achievements of the Class of 2024.  

Our graduating seniors have much to celebrate as accomplished scholars, artists, scientists, musicians, athletes, leaders, and importantly, as people who have discovered themselves, overcome challenges, honed skills and abilities, developed empathy, and found purpose. Some have job offers and new prospects; some are heading to graduate and professional schools; and some have won national fellowships and scholarships.

In addition to these many accomplishments, this class has worked hard to rebuild community among Wheaton students in the midst and aftermath of the global pandemic. This ceremony will be all the more special since many members of the senior class and their families were unable to attend an in-person high school graduation.

We will be proud to see our graduates embark on the next stage in their life journeys, carrying forward Wheaton’s mission of transformation, collaboration, and community in the service of an equitable and just world.

We have learned together through education and life experience; we have challenged each other through diverse viewpoints; we have disagreed, participated in courageous conversations, and at the end of the day, we are united, so often calling Wheaton home.

We recognize the sense of home has been a privilege in a world that has felt tumultuous, divided, and in conflict. In addition, we recognize that recent demonstrations at colleges and universities across the nation may have created unease and concern for members of the Wheaton community.

We want to remind everyone that the college’s first priority is always the safety and well-being of our campus community. This extends to the more than one thousand guests anticipated to attend commencement. As usual: we will have many staff and student volunteers to guide visitors; local police will ensure pedestrian safety at crosswalks on Main Street and Howard Street; and Campus Safety will also assist students and their guests and summon help from local first responders in the event of an emergency.

We also want to remind everyone of the college’s free expression policy, which safeguards individuals’ right to free expression so long as it does not disrupt college activities, create a clear and present danger, subject others to bias or discrimination, or infringe upon the rights of others.

This policy applies to all community members and provides considerable latitude for individuals to express themselves. At commencement, we often see student expression through individually-designed caps and gowns or signs. We welcome such expressions, and we also ask individuals to avoid disrupting the commencement ceremony and consider how their actions and speech may impact peers and campus guests. We invite students who are considering expression beyond what is listed above to speak with the Vice President of Student Affairs.

Wheaton is composed of individuals with diverse perspectives and backgrounds who live in community together with shared values of respect for difference informed by empathy.  I call upon our community to demonstrate our values in practice at this commencement.

To our graduating seniors: we can’t wait to applaud you. To our extended community: let us make this a true celebration for all.


Michaele Whelan