Let me just get this out of the way: this is the year’s last issue of The Wheaton Wire. Consequently, it is also my last issue of the Wire and also my last letter from the editor. It has been a thrilling year for me as the Wire Editor-in-Chief, and though I am sorry to say good-bye, I am incredibly proud of the work we’ve done this year and all of the positive feedback we’ve received.
It strikes me that, come May 16th, I will no longer have any clout to “bother” administrators like I do now. As a student I have a voice — but I’m prepared to lose much of it in my transition to alumni-ship, because I’m a firm believer that to have a say in Wheaton’s goings-on you need firsthand experience in what we actually do here. And so what follows are results of this experience — a few of my reflections on what Wheaton does best and how it can weather the widely documented “crisis” in higher education.
Thankfully, we have the liberal arts on our side — our two-pronged focus on a broad-based education and opportunities for undergraduates is what sets us apart. With dining renovations now underway, Wheaton should turn its attention to the next big student life hurdle: the dearth of student-accessible spaces on campus. It seems we don’t really have a student center, a sentiment that is readily apparent in the fact that students don’t spend free time in Balfour (it’s empty on weekends, for instance). We need a true student center, and that will do wonders for furthering the “Wheaton Community” we’re so fond of talking about.
Faculty have been a cornerstone of my Wheaton experience. We need to renew our focus on hiring world-class professors and ensure that they have the incentives to come and stay. Additionally, given our history as a women’s institution, our Women’s and Gender Studies Program — heroically led by Kim Miller all these years — must be transformed into a fully fledged department with a full cadre of teaching professors.
Finally, we need to promote the programs we have and open them up to the outside world. Schools like American University have increased their profile by offering programs for students beyond their campuses. If President Hanno leads a trip to Rwanda, we should open up slots up for students from other schools in the area. We should continue to beef up programs like Summer Session and Discover@Wheaton. If we promote these programs, our flagship degree offerings become more attractive in the process as our name recognition increases.
A key thing to remember is that Wheaton isn’t anywhere near broken, and complaints to that effect are overblown. Wheaton, and every institution like it, faces immense challenges. And yet, I have faith: Wheaton is optimally placed to pave the way forward, and has an energetic leadership team with the ambition to make that happen.
It’s been a great year, folks, and a pleasure to head up the Wire. It’s been one of my most gratifying experiences this year, putting the paper out each week, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it even half as much as I have — because then we will have achieved our goal.
Categories: From the Editor