Faculty and friendships. When alumni reminisce about their time as students, faculty and friendships are usually the two things they recall most fondly. As a parent of three Wheaties, my appreciation for our faculty has grown immensely.
Every December, I review 70-75 applications from juniors for the Alumni Association’s student scholarship awards. Each student must submit a reference, and most students ask a professor to write on their behalf.
Imagine the time it takes, outside of required teaching and research/writing, for these women and men to write long, carefully crafted letters of reference. I am impressed every year.
Wheaton has a program called “Dine with a Mind” through which students are encouraged to use pre-paid coupons provided by the College to host a professor for lunch. I often see faculty eating with students, wrestling with substantial questions or bowing their heads in prayer. If students show an eagerness for a particular subject, faculty dive right in and give students as much time as they need. My daughter Sarah ’20 recently scheduled an appointment with her Old Testament professor to get more clarity on an upcoming paper. Sarah and Dr. Aubrey Senyard Buster ’09 talked about the paper for five minutes, then continued to discuss the Old Testament for a full hour.
Many faculty are transparent about their personal journeys and struggles when they teach in the classroom. Young adulthood can be a tough time, and the fact that professors share their stories is profoundly encouraging to students who look to them for guidance and motivation.
Our website says that “Wheaton offers the men and women of its student body quality instruction and attention from a Christian perspective in an environment of academic excellence.” This is true whether you graduated in 1950 or plan to graduate in 2020. But beyond “instruction and attention,” Wheaton faculty spend countless hours pouring into their students’ lives—challenging them to think deeper and more carefully, encouraging them to write more clearly, and caring for them beyond the rigors of the classroom.
Is there a faculty member you would like to thank?
If so, I invite you to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I would be happy to pass along your note. If your favorite faculty member is no longer living, your memories will still encourage the Alumni staff and Board of Directors, so please pass them along.