Quotes: the 2016-17 school year in review

The 2016-17 school year has seen its share of both change and tradition. A new academic curriculum was introduced, chapel format was overhauled, and yet many enduring aspects of life on campus have remained the same. Below, campus leaders reflect on 2016-17 in the life of the college.
 
Margaret Diddams, Provost:
How would you characterize academic life at Wheaton? How have you seen that this year, and how do you hope to see it change (or remain the same) for 2017-18?
I appreciate the fact that the academic or student intellectual life at Wheaton is not separated from the other facets of life here on campus. There is an integrative purposefulness here. As enriching as life on campus can be, I would like to see more students consider including a semester or summer study away into their coursework. …Studying off campus is almost always a life transforming learning endeavor and enriches the rest of one’s undergraduate studies.
What are your thoughts on the first year of the Christ at the Core curriculum?
I wish that I could have been enrolled in a First Year Seminar.  I read the common readings with the students in the fall. I so appreciate that students are able to engage with multiple facets of the liberal arts grounded in their Christian faith. It’s a great launching point for what we hope students will experience throughout their coursework.
What new observations have you made about Wheaton (its community, its students, its mission, etc.) this school year?
I love the balance of academic rigor, creativity, worship, athleticism and mirth. I love the hospitality that students show each other and the guests that we have on campus.  I am grateful for the seriousness that students place on their studies and that they understand that intellectual engagement is a form of worship both here on campus and in preparation for the lives that they will lead after Wheaton.
 
Kat Haase, RD of Smaber:
“One of most impactful parts of my job every year is walking alongside students as we journey together through the ups and downs of life, the moments of despairing doubts and soaring faith, of afternoon doldrums and late-night stifled laughter. In all of the life together that living in a dorm brings, I get a close-up living biography of amazing people and stories. I could tell you names of students through the years who have taught me what those Sunday school words really mean; words such as faithfulness, kindness, compassion, endurance… Faithful Amy, Joyful Fany, Compassion Katie, Enduring Nate, Steady Molly.  This year has, once again, been a year of unwrapping the gifts of companionship that the Lord has given to me along the journey, and I am very grateful.”
 
Dr. Amy Peeler:
“In my opinion, the rollout of Christ at the Core has been very successful. After years of planning, intense training of faculty, and widespread campus support, it is not surprising that it invigorated liberal arts learning on our campus, but we were certainly thankful.
One clear example of the impact of the curriculum is the way in which conversations about Silence — its theology, its history, its art — permeated our campus and provided starting points for common conversation.
I am very grateful I had the chance to lead a first year seminar this year, and look forward with expectation to seeing how these students will grow and develop at Wheaton.”
 
Josh Rowley, Student Body President:
What has your experience as student body president been like this year? What have been some of the greatest challenges and greatest moments of pride? 
“This year has it has been a joy to work closely with Student Body Vice President Elizabeth Tilley and our 17 board members. I am amazed at their passion for helping Wheaton continue to grow and am thankful for how they’ve advocated for us as student this year by pushing for a Chief Diversity Officer, hosting events on sexual assault awareness, and countless other ways.”
How (if at all) has the 2016-17 school year impacted the impressions you will take away from Wheaton as you graduate this spring?
“I will miss Wheaton dearly. I will remember Wheaton as a community that has served as a great blessing to many and is striving to grow as it seeks to welcome all students.”
Have you experienced Wheaton’s community in any unique ways this year?
“Wheaton’s community has impacted me in deep and profound ways that I will remember for years to come, but I will never forget the pure elation on campus the moment the Cubs won the World Series.”
What are you most proud of about Wheaton College? What do you hope to see change (or remain the same) in the future?
“I am so thankful for the care that members of the Wheaton community show for each other. With that, I truly hope we, as the Wheaton student body, will continue to press into hard conversations about how to best support and encourage one another in light of the unique set of experiences through which we each see the world.”
 
Tramaine Kaleebu, chair of Solidarity Cabinet:
“Solidarity Cabinet has had a full year that started in Los Angeles and ends today in the Student Activities Office. We appreciated the increased engagement of majority white students and would have liked the student body to actively press into the silence surrounding the marginalized. In the future, we would like to see students take the next step of embodied solidarity and racial conciliation through activism.”
 
Natia Weathers, administrator for Solidarity Cabinet:
“This year has been wonderful and encouraging for Solidarity Cabinet in terms of the turnout we received at our events. The number of students that showed interest in events such as “Exploring Whiteness” and “Is That Okay: Cultural Appropriation” definitely makes it clear that the community is willing to learn about issues of race in America. However, despite this encouraging willingness to learn, the Solidarity Cabinet has observed that a willingness to learn does not guarantee unity on a topic, nor does it ensure a change of heart. Racial inequality is still a fragile topic at Wheaton that students often tiptoe around, talking about it, but rarely going beyond this. The Solidarity Cabinet definitely hopes that this will change, and we try to structure our events in a way that will encourage students to move past complacency, but genuine change will only come with individual reflection, as well as structural reform in other areas of the college. We hope to see Wheaton take the topics our Cabinet discusses seriously, and to begin embedding racial justice into the foundation of this institution.”
 
Dr. Philip Ryken, President:
This year’s chapel changes: how has chapel impacted Wheaton as a spiritual community? What do you hope to see in chapel next year?
Reading and studying the Gospel of John together was a highlight for me—being reminded again and again that these things were written so that we would believe in Jesus Christ.  
Christ at the Core Curriculum: what was the vision for the new curriculum and what is the vision moving forward?
Simply put, the vision for the new curriculum was to make an even deeper commitment to liberal arts learning, with Jesus at the center. I see the First Year Seminars as a big success for both our faculty and our students.  The texts that freshmen have read together will serve as a reference point throughout the rest of their Wheaton experience.  Part of the vision moving forward is to review and improve the curriculum every year.
Wheaton Community: how have you felt or experienced Wheaton’s community in unique ways this year?
What stands out for me right now is that Wheaton is a community that cares when people are hurting. I have been blessed by the many ways I have seen students, faculty, and staff support one another in grieving the death of Ethan Roser.
What has made you most proud about Wheaton this year?
This is a small thing, but over spring break I watched Jeremiah Yi fight his way to victory in a fierce tennis battle.  He showed the kind of spirit I like to see in all our students.
How have you seen Wheaton change this year?
Most of the changes in our community occur little by little, year by year.  But Christ at the Core is a big change that will impact the next generation of Wheaton students.  And the opening of the Armerding Center next fall will be a game-changer for music and the arts.

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