Reachable: The New Welcome Center
Wheaton's new Welcome Center
Shawn Leftwich Wynne, director of undergraduate admissions, already knew that her department’s current facilities in the Student Services Building—even after a generous upgrade—were not up to snuff. While the location near the bookstore and dining areas was ideal, visitors couldn’t find it.
Shawn had overheard some visitors unfavorably compare their initial experience at Wheaton with what they had encountered on other campuses. But she was taken aback by the unvarnished assessment of an outside consultant.
“He said that we were giving the impression that visitors weren’t welcome and weren’t anticipated,” Shawn says. “The consultant correlated our building with a feeling that we didn’t care about visitors.”
Visitors, especially prospective students and their families, often experience stress while navigating the campus for the first time. They may be nervous and rushing for an appointment. The last thing they need is to feel lost or unwelcome.
So Shawn is excited about the planned Welcome Center, which will be located on the northeast corner of College Avenue and Chase Street. The structure, unlike Admissions’ current location, will serve as the College’s “front door.” It will be spacious, highly visible, and up-to-date. In addition to providing expanded office and meeting spaces, the Welcome Center will present exhibits with a consistent message about the College’s past, present, and future.
“It will change the way visitors feel about our campus,” she says. “We’re trying to showcase our heritage and legacy in a contemporary fashion. This Welcome Center is coming at an important time to show who we are.”
Above all, with a Great Hall, a fireplace, and a comfortable seating area, the Welcome Center is expected to live up to the expectations and needs of all who visit campus—young and old. Shawn notes that multigenerational families often visit Wheaton and require a comfortable way station.
Shawn believes the center will do more than assure visitors that they are welcome, as important as that is.
“We want them to really be able to see themselves here as part of the Wheaton community,” she says.