Wheaton College President, Dennis Hanno, stepping down in Late 2021

Wheaton College President Dennis Hanno will step down late in the calendar year of 2021.

Wheaton College President Dennis Hanno will step down late in the calendar year of 2021.

Hanno, the eighth president of Wheaton College was appointed to the post in February of 2014. President Hanno was previously at Babson, where he served as provost, senior vice president and President’s Endowed Professor of Accounting. He previously worked for the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Boston College. 

In an email to the college, Hanno announced: 

“It is with mixed emotion that I share with you that I have informed the Board of Trustees I will be stepping down as president of Wheaton College late in 2021, or earlier if a successor is named and a transition that works for the college can occur.” 

Hanno’s email suggested that he would be spending more time with his family, but restated his commitment and desire to continue pursuing his passion for the “transformative power of education, especially for those who have traditionally been underserved.”

Hanno also said that he would be working with the Board of Trustees to ensure a smooth transition, and the email also included a statement from Janet Lebovitz ’72, the Board of Trustees Chair, who spoke of Hanno’s, “leadership, vision, transparency and relationship-building,” as well as pointed to his accomplishments, speaking of unprecedented enrollment growth, new residential and dining experiences, surpassing important fundraising goals and establishing new institutional structures on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Hanno’s email included the words, “My years at Wheaton have been the highlight of my career, primarily because of the strong connections I have formed within this amazing community. We have achieved much together and overcome many challenges to help create a stronger Wheaton College. What I have experienced here truly defines for me what it means to be a part of a vibrant community. I know the many friendships and connections I have formed—with students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and friends—will last long after I leave Wheaton.” 

Response on social media was suggestive of the same sense of community. 

In response to a tweet from the college with the information, Professor Josh Stenger, Professor and Chair of Film and New Media, responded, “Thank you @dhanno for your years of enthusiastic, indefatigable service to, engagement with, and advocacy for Wheaton and twenty-first-century liberal arts education. It has been a pleasure to work with and learn from you.” 

Professor C.C. Chapman, Instructor of Business and Management, responded in kind, “Thank you, @dhanno, for all your years of service and hard work. Whoever is our next President has some big shoes to fill.” 

Two students, Adam Bass ’21 and Connor Mathis ’18 also responded to the tweet. Bass said, “I remember back in 2017-2018 when I became General Manager of @WCCSRADIO, one of the things I wanted to do was talk to President Hanno about how we can expand outreach. That meeting was one of my first professional times of outreach and it helped so much.  Thank you @dhanno,” while Mathis said, “My family still talks about when @dhanno gave me a shout out at my commencement in 2018. Saddened to hear this.”

In response to the Facebook post stating the same, Laurie Easton Parker ’82 commented, “I’m sorry to hear that. Mr. Hanno has been an excellent president. I wish him well in all future endeavors.” 

“He has to swim across peacock pond or I’m not graduating,” joked Payce Shepard ’22.

Hanno’s statement concluded, “I have been truly honored to lead this special place for the past several years, but I am even more grateful for the many friendships and connections I have formed here. I hope that I will be able to connect with you personally in the coming weeks and months to express my sincere thanks to you. You are what makes Wheaton such a special community and what has made my time at Wheaton so memorable.”

“It’s rare to have a college president who cares as much as you do, Dennis,” said Gina Napolitano ’20.