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Wheaton College, Massachusetts

This article is about the college in Massachusetts. For the college of the same name in Illinois, see Wheaton College (Illinois).
Wheaton College
File:Wheaton College seal.png
Motto "That They May Have Life and Have it Abundantly"
Established 1834 as a female seminary, 1912 chartered as a four-year women's college
Type Private
Endowment $159.484 million (2012)[1]
President Ronald A. Crutcher
Academic staff 140
Undergraduates 1,600
Location Norton, Massachusetts, US
Campus Suburban, Residential
Athletics 21 sports teams
Nickname Lyons

Wheaton College is a four-year, private liberal arts college with an approximate student body of 1,600. Wheaton's residential campus is located in Norton, Massachusetts, between Boston, Massachusetts, and Providence, Rhode Island. Founded in 1834 as a female seminary, it was one of the oldest institutions of higher education for women in the United States. In 1912, the trustees officially changed the name of the institution to Wheaton College after receiving a college charter from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The school began admitting men in 1988, after more than 150 years as a female-only institution. Most classes are relatively small: the student-faculty ratio is 11:1 and the average class size is between 15 and 20.


In 1834, Eliza Wheaton Strong, the daughter of Judge Laban Wheaton, died at the age of thirty-nine. Eliza Baylies Chapin Wheaton, the judge's daughter-in-law, persuaded him to memorialize his daughter by founding a female seminary.[2]

The family called upon noted women's educator Mary Lyon for assistance in establishing the seminary.[3] Miss Lyon created the first curriculum with the goal that it be equal in quality to those of men's colleges. She also provided the first principal, Eunice Caldwell. Wheaton Female Seminary opened in Norton, Massachusetts on 22 April 1835, with 50 students and three teachers.

Mary Lyon and Eunice Caldwell left Wheaton to open Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in 1837 (now Mount Holyoke College).[4] Following their departure, Wheaton endured a period of fluctuating enrollment and frequent changes in leadership until 1850, when Caroline Cutler Metcalf was recruited as the new principal.[5] Mrs. Metcalf made the hiring of outstanding faculty her top priority, bringing in educators who encouraged students to discuss ideas rather than to memorize facts. The most notable additions to the faculty were Lucy Larcom, who introduced the study of English Literature and founded the student literary magazine The Rushlight;[6] and Mary Jane Cragin, who used innovative techniques to teach geometry and made mathematics the favorite study of many students.[7]

Mrs. Metcalf retired in 1876. A. Ellen Stanton, a teacher of French since 1871, served as principal from 1880 to 1897. She led the Seminary during a difficult time, when it faced competition from increasing numbers of public high schools and colleges granting bachelor's degrees to women.[8]

In 1897, at the suggestion of Eliza Baylies Wheaton, the Trustees hired the Reverend Samuel Valentine Cole as the Seminary's first male president. Preparing to seek a charter as a four-year college, Cole began a program of revitalization that included expanding and strengthening the curriculum, increasing the number and quality of the faculty, and adding six new buildings.[9]

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts granted Wheaton a college charter in 1912, and the trustees changed the name of the school to Wheaton College. The Student Government Association was organized to represent the "consensus of opinion of the whole student body", and to encourage individual responsibility, integrity, and self-government. Wheaton received authorization to establish a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in 1932, twenty years after achieving college status.

President Samuel Valentine Cole died suddenly, following a brief illness, in 1925. During his career as Wheaton President, Cole oversaw the expansion of the campus from three to twenty-seven buildings, the growth of enrollment from 50 to 414, and the establishment of an endowment. On the campus, Cole Memorial Chapel is named after him. Its approximate geographical coordinates are: 41° 58' 2.01" N, 71° 11' 3.51" W.

The Reverend John Edgar Park, who became president in 1926, continued Cole's building program, and saw the College through the Great Depression, the celebration of its centennial in 1935, and World War II.[10] He retired in 1944, and was succeeded by Dartmouth College Professor of History Alexander Howard Meneely. During his tenure, the Trustees voted to expand the size of the college from 525 to 800-1000 students, and construction of "new campus" began in 1957.[11]

President Meneely died in 1961, following a long illness, and was succeeded in 1962 by William C.H. Prentice, a psychology professor and administrator at Swarthmore College. In the early 1960s, Wheaton successfully completed its first endowment campaign. The development of new campus continued, and student enrollment grew to 1,200. Wheaton students and faculty joined in nationwide campus protests against United States actions in Indochina in 1970.[12]

In 1975, Wheaton inaugurated its first woman president, Alice Frey Emerson, Dean of Students at the University of Pennsylvania. During her tenure, Wheaton achieved national recognition as a pioneer in the development of a gender-balanced curriculum.[13] Emerson would go on to receive the Valeria Knapp Award from The College Club of Boston in 1987 for establishing the Global Awareness Program at Wheaton College.[14] Wheaton celebrated its Sesquicentennial in 1984/85 with a year-long series of symposia, concerts, dance performances, art and history exhibits, and an endowment and capital campaign. In 1987, the Trustees voted to admit men to Wheaton. The first coeducational class was enrolled in September 1988.

Dale Rogers Marshall, Academic Dean at Wellesley College, was inaugurated as Wheaton's sixth president in 1992. She led the college in "The Campaign for Wheaton", to build endowed and current funds for faculty development, student scholarships, and academic programs and facilities. Enrollment growth encouraged the construction of the first new residence halls since 1964 (Gebbie, Keefe and Beard residence halls), the improvement of classroom buildings and the renovation and expansion of the college's arts' facilities.[15]

Wheaton's Board of Trustees appointed Ronald A. Crutcher at the seventh president of Wheaton College on March 23, 2004. President Crutcher came to Wheaton from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where he served as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and professor of music.[16]


The following is a list of Wheaton College presidents with the years of their presidential tenures.

  • Rev. Dr. Samuel Valentine Cole (1912–1925)
  • George Thomas Smart, Acting President (1925–1926)
  • Rev. Dr. John Edgar Park (1926–1944)
  • A. Howard Meneely (1944–1961)
  • Elizabeth Stoffregen May, Acting President (1961–1962)
  • William Courtney Hamilton Prentice (1962–1975)
  • Alice Frey Emerson (1975–1991)
  • Hannah Goldberg, Acting President (1991–1992)
  • Dale Rogers Marshall (1992–2004)
  • Ronald Crutcher (2004–2014)


Wheaton offers a liberal arts education leading to a bachelor of arts degree in more than 36 majors and 50 minors. Students are permitted to work with faculty members to design self-declared majors, if they wish. Students choose from over 600 courses in subjects from optometry.

A unique part of the Wheaton curriculum [2]. For instance, the Connection entitled "Communication through Art and Mathematics" links Arts 298 (Graphic Design I) with Math 127 (Advertising Math). Although students may complete one of the numerous pre-designed connections, students are encouraged to consider finding and declaring their own.

elective courses are also central to the Wheaton Curriculum, which culminates in a senior capstone experience—a thesis, research project, seminar or creative project.

Honor code

Wheaton uses an honor code system originally instituted in 1921 and is one of a select number of schools to use it in both academic and social settings. Incoming freshmen learn about the code and discuss it during Orientation, before signing the matriculation book.

The current Wheaton Honor Code reads: As members of the Wheaton Community, we commit ourselves to act honestly, responsibly, and above all, with honor and integrity in all areas of campus life. We are accountable for all that we say and write. We are responsible for the academic integrity of our work. We pledge that we will not misrepresent our work nor give or receive unauthorized aid. We commit ourselves to behave in a manner which demonstrates concern for the personal dignity, rights and freedoms of all members of the community. We are respectful of college property and the property of others. We will not tolerate a lack of respect for these values.

As part of the honor code, most tests and exams are not proctored by professors and students are often allowed to leave the testing location to complete the exam elsewhere. In 2003, through student and faculty cooperation, it was decided that students would write I have abided by the Wheaton Honor Code in this work and sign their name on all work handed in.

Students in violation of the honor code are expected to report themselves to either a professor, the Dean of Students, or the Chair of the College Hearing Board. Students who witness and/or are aware of violations, are expected to confront the violator and encourage them to report themselves, before they report the violation.

The majority of minor violations are handled by the Residential Life Office, however certain, more serious and/or chronic violations are heard by the College Hearing Board, the judicial branch of the Student Government Association, which comprises four elected students and two appointed faculty members. Students found responsible face sanctions ranging from probation to expulsion.


The renovation and expansion of Wheaton's arts facilities (Watson and Mars Arts and Humanities) in 2000 set the stage for the Providence and elsewhere to explore the arts and cultural offerings of the region.

Wheaton was also home to several popular regional bands that made names for themselves in the college's music scene around Norton and in the Providence/Boston areas. Cavity Sam, Shag, Out of the Basement, Juiceman, 722, Suspect, the infamous Cartman's Pig (which later became Curious Electric), and the legendary Polar Java, all formed at Wheaton.


Wheaton fields 21 varsity intercollegiate teams, 9 for men and 12 for women, in addition to 14 club sports programs and a variety of intramural activities. Varsity programs include baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, field hockey, men's and women's lacrosse, men's and women's soccer, softball, men's and women's swimming and diving, synchronized swimming, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's indoor track and field, men's and women's outdoor track and field and women's volleyball. The school's teams play within the NCAA Division III and in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC). Men's Lacrosse competes in the Pilgrim League and Synchronized Swimming competes in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC). Wheaton's mascot is a Lyon, named after founding principal Mary Lyon.

Wheaton has found success in a number of its athletic programs, starting in 1983, when field hockey became the first Wheaton team to make an NCAA tournament. In 1986, women's lacrosse became the first Wheaton team to advance to an NCAA "final four." Eight years later, women's basketball made its first final four, followed by the 1997 softball team finishing 3rd at the national tournament in Eau Claire, Wisc. The following fall, men's soccer became the first men's team to make the NCAA tournament, followed by volleyball advancing to the NCAA "sweet sixteen."

Wheaton's greatest athletic success has been on the track, as the women's track and field program has claimed 8 NCAA Division III National Championships and finished in the top 3 at the NCAA championships 6 other times (twice in indoor and four times in outdoor). Starting in 1999, the women's indoor team won five consecutive titles, while the outdoor team won three straight times from 2001-2003. Men's track and field also has been successful, finishing in the top 10 of the NCAA indoor championship seven times, in addition to four top-10 outdoor championship finishes.

The last varsity team established at Wheaton in 1997, has also achieved great success. Baseball is the only team sport at Wheaton to advance to a national championship game, which it has done twice (2006 and 2012). Baseball has also won 11 of the 13 NEWMAC championships in conference history. Women's soccer has advanced to 12 consecutive NCAA tournaments (2000–present), which is the longest active streak in the New England region of Division III women's soccer. During that stretch, the women advanced to one national semifinal (2004) and 3 national quarterfinals (2002, 2003 and 2004). Softball has been to 3 NCAA championship rounds, finishing 3rd twice (1997, 2001) and 5th once (2004). Men's soccer has been to one national semifinal (2003) and two national quarterfinals (2001, 2003). In addition, men's and women's cross-country, women's lacrosse, men's and women's swimming and diving and women's tennis all have competed in the NCAA post-season. Overall, Wheaton has won 8 NCAA National Championships, 15 ECAC championships and 91 combined NEWMAC regular season and tournament titles.

Individually, Wheaton has over 375 all-American performances and 62 individual national championship accolades in school history. Highlighting that list is Amber James '04, who was pivotal during Wheaton's run of winning six consecutive NCAA indoor and outdoor national championships from 2001-03. James, a 17-time national champion and 24-time all-American, was recognized by the NCAA as the greatest female athlete in the 25-year history of the Division III indoor track & field championship in 2009. In addition, she was selected to the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division III Silver Anniversary Team, which commemorated the 25th anniversary of women competing in NCAA outdoor track & field championships. She served as the event representative for the 400-meter dash.

The first championship performance was Deborah Simourian, who won a share of the AIAW individual collegiate golf championship in 1975. Wheaton has also had two synchronized swimmers named collegiate swimmer of the year. Gina Lighthall '99 in 1999 and Christiana Butera '12 in 2012. Butera was also member of the U.S. National Synchronized Swimming Team during the summer of 2011.

Two alums have been drafted by professional sport leagues. Jim Maganello '99 was a second round pick of the NY/NJ Metrostars in the 1999 Major League Soccer draft, while Chris Denorfia '02 was a 19th round pick in the 2002 Major League Baseball amateur draft by the Cincinnati Reds. Denorfia is currently an outfielder with the San Diego Padres.


Wheaton College is consistently ranked amongst the top liberal arts colleges by various publications. For 2011, a national collective of guidance counselors ranked Wheaton among the top 50 liberal arts colleges in the country,[17] while U.S. News & World Report ranked it 59th in Best Liberal Arts Colleges.[18] The Princeton Review also recognizes Wheaton as a standout Northeastern college and as one of the 373 best colleges in the United States,[19] while College Prowler ranks Wheaton as one of the top 114 schools in academics.[20] Since 2000, over 130 prestigious scholarships have gone to Wheaton students, including 3 Rhodes Scholarships.[21] In 2011 Newsweek/The Daily Beast placed Wheaton at number 19 of 25 in their "Braniacs" schools ranking.[22]

Wheaton has an equally impressive reputation for athletics. It is ranked as one of the top 50 NCAA Division III institutions in the final United States Sports Academy (USSA) Directors' Cup standings. Of 420 schools competing in Division III, Wheaton ranks seventh in New England for an annual program that recognizes the best overall collegiate athletics programs in the country. Among 312 scoring institutions, the Wheaton Lyons tallied 338.5 points, placing them at 48th place nationally.

Publications and media

  • Wheaton Quarterly: College magazine [3];
  • The Wheaton Wire: Weekly student newspaper [4];
  • Nike: college yearbook;
  • Rushlight: Student arts & literary magazine;
  • Midnight Oil: Student literary magazine;
  • The Underwire: Alternative/underground newspaper; {2005-2006} [23]
  • WCCS: free-format student-run radio station [5]


The following films have been filmed, at least in part, on the Wheaton campus or feature Wheaton students.

Notable alumni


See also


External links

  • Wheaton College
  • Wheaton College Athletics
  • -logo.svg 

Coordinates: 41°58′06″N 71°11′04″W / 41.968313°N 71.184529°W / 41.968313; -71.184529

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