The Wheaton College Alumni Association has awarded this year’s Alumna of the Year award to Marjorie Lamp Mead (‘74), who serves as the Associate Director of the Marion E. Wade Center. Mead has worked at the Wade Center since 1977, when then-faculty member Dr. Clyde Kilby invited her to join its full-time staff. Back then, the center was called the Wade Collection. It was staffed by Kilby and just two employees.
Since then, the center has grown in size to accommodate its growing collection, which it shares throughout the world. Mead has watched the center grow from a small collection of letters and volumes to a more accomodating facility with an ever-increasing amount of programming. Mead has been a key instrument in this process and has been touched by her 41-year tenure as a Wade Center employee.
“I’m thankful for the books, … ideas and conversations … the friendships,” she said. Cindra Stackhouse Taetzsch (’82), the Senior Director for Vocation and Alumni Engagement at Wheaton College and Executive Director of the Wheaton College Alumni Association, said that Mead “is an excellent example of the many alumni who quietly and faithfully work at Wheaton because they love the Lord and they are committed to the work of their alma mater.”
Every year, the Alumni Association Board of Directors’ “Distinguished Service” committee chooses an Alumna of the Year by reviewing alumni who have worked at the college for at least 15 years, according to Taetzsch. Their recommendation is then passed on to a full board of 18 people to make the final decision. Taetzsch said that the committee looks for “alumni who demonstrate excellence through service to campus life, to students and to the college as a whole.”
Mead was introduced to C.S. Lewis by her mother in high school — back then, she had no idea that her fascination and love for his writings would lead to a long, fulfilling career at Wheaton. While earning her B.A. in English Literature at the college, Mead took a Modern Mythology class which increased her interest in Lewis’s writings. Mead loves how Lewis “doesn’t narrow you down, he opens you up,” from nonfiction to fantasy stories.
Often working with previous Wade Center directors, Mead has published a plethora of volumes, essays and encyclopedia articles since beginning her work in the collection. Her proudest accomplishment in her time at Wheaton came just last year, when the Wade Center established the Muriel Fuller Endowment for Imagination and the Arts, significantly expanding the Center’s work and mission. “The arts are really what makes these authors so unique,” Mead said.
The new endowment aims to highlight artists who have been inspired by the seven Wade authors by hosting a variety of events, talks and showcases, according to Wheaton’s website.
As a Wheaton alumna, Mead has watched the school change and grow over the years. She remembers a time before technology was as present as it now is on campus. From her perspective, increased technology has “[enriched] our lives but [it] also [means] that we have to make a lot of choices.”
The Wade Center in particular has benefited from using social media to connect with students who may not have the time to attend events and explore the collection. The Wade Center now maintains Facebook and Instagram pages as well as posting media content about its authors to YouTube and the Wheaton website.
On Thursday, Oct. 4, Mead will be honored at a guest reception and program in Coray Alumni Gymnasium, according to Taetzsch. She will also be recognized at Friday’s chapel service and the Homecoming football game this Saturday. Mead said that she is beyond honored to be Wheaton’s Alumna of the Year and is thankful for the many opportunities the college has provided her. “When you look at the names of the people who have received this award, it’s an honor, and I’m grateful for it,” she said.