Wheaton College appoints Whelan next president

NORTON – A high-ranking academic administrator from Emerson College in Boston will move south to Bristol County, Mass., to lead Wheaton College.

The private college announced Thursday that Michaele Whelan, who is Emerson College’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, has been named Wheaton’s ninth president in the college’s history.

Whelan will be the third woman to serve as a full-time president in Wheaton’s history. Alice Frey Emerson served as Wheaton’s president from 1975 through 1991 and the late Dale Rogers Marshall led the college from 1992 through 2004. Hannah Goldberg served as the college’s acting president from 1991 to 1992.

Whelan will begin her tenure as president on Jan. 1, 2022. She will succeed Dennis M. Hanno, who announced in December 2020 his plans to step down as president.

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According to Wheaton, Whelan has championed increasing academic and inclusive excellence and equity at Emerson since she began serving as provost there in 2013. The college said that Whelan is credited for encouraging a culture at Emerson of collaborative pedagogy, fostering innovation in teaching, supporting research and creative work, deepening connections of the liberal arts with professions and increasing global capacity.

Whelan’s experience in higher education also includes time as an active teacher at Harvard University, Tufts University, Brandeis University and Pennsylvania State University, Wheaton said.

The college said Whelan’s appointment followed an eight-month national search. In a statement, Wheaton College board of trustees Chair Lindholm Lebovitz – who chaired the presidential search committee – said Whelan is a proven leader with an outstanding track record of innovation and collaboration.

“Wheaton’s hallmark is its liberal arts education that combines rigorous academics with experiential learning, student-centered programs, and innovative pedagogy within a highly collaborative community,” Lebovitz said. “Michaele is uniquely well equipped to lead the college in building on those strengths.”

Whelan said that Wheaton’s combination of liberal arts and experiential learning in an innovative, student-centered environment is “inspiring.”

“Wheaton is renowned for its high-quality academics and immersive education, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to build on its past successes and contribute to its bright future,” Whelan said.

(CORRECTION: Michaele Whelan is the third woman president in Wheaton College’s history. Dale Rogers Marshall led the college from 1992 through 2004.)

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

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