At Wheaton we believe that honoring God in everything we do includes honoring him in relationships that bring together people from different ethnic backgrounds. That's why we're committed to cultivating a diverse community of students, faculty and staff who reflect the wide spectrum of God's Kingdom.
As a community of believers learning to be guided by God’s Spirit in all areas of life, we recognize that seeking godly justice and unity in the Wheaton College community is an ongoing journey where understanding and harmony are sometimes marred by misunderstanding and discord. Yet we seek to honor Christ by diligently pursuing reconciliation and celebrating our oneness in him.
In this Spring 2012 interview with UrbanFaith magazine, Dr. Ryken discusses the challenges Wheaton faces in making racial reconciliation a priority. "There’s no doubt that we have a lot of ongoing progress to make, particularly in the openness of our student body as a whole to experiencing other cultures and also making space for the right kinds of open dialogues about race that really lead to deeper understanding."
In The President’s Green Paper on the Mission, Context, and Direction of Wheaton College, Dr. Ryken discusses the ongoing need to grow a diverse student body that more accurately reflects the ethnic and socio-economic diversity of the United States and the worldwide body of Christ. "Far from being satisfied with how far we have come, we need to renew our long-term effort to increase the ethnic and cultural diversity of Wheaton College. The reason for this is not political, but biblical: insofar as possible, we seek to reflect the full diversity of the people of God as a visible expression of our unity in Christ and an effective means of preparation to advance the gospel worldwide."
Following the Green Paper Task Force Process, Wheaton’s Board of Trustees approved Deepening Ethnic Diversity as a strategic priority. Monthly updates on this and other strategic priorities are available for further reading.
Over the last year, Wheaton has taken the following steps toward deepening ethnic diversity on campus.
In the Spring 2014 issue, Wheaton Magazine celebrates diversity and how the past few years have seen more tangible engagement from the entire community. Articles mention the student-created petition titled The Diversity Initiative: A Petition for Institutional Change and the Shalom Community (a new housing option) among many other additions to campus.
In the Winter 2014 issue of Wheaton Magazine, Dr. Ryken writes about efforts on campus to pursue unity and embrace ethnic diversity, including five new full-tuition scholarships and an addition to the Community Covenant so that it more clearly expresses our commitment to Christ-centered diversity.
- In response to a request from students, Wheaton moved the Office of Multicultural Development from the Student Services Building to the Lower Beamer Center, where it now receives much higher traffic.
- Fall 2013 marked the opening of Shalom Community, a residence program for students from diverse ethnic backgrounds to live together and serve as a campus resource for racial understanding.
- Wheaton launched the Nieves Scholarship program, providing full tuition for Latino students.
- The College also committed to provide a full-tuition scholarship to a graduate of the By the Hand Club, a dynamic after-school outreach to students in Chicago’s highest risk neighborhoods.
- In the fall of 2015, Shalom Community students will attend the Student Diversity Leadership Conference at Northpark University.
- In the spring of 2015, a coalition of student leaders launched the week-long MADE to celebrate ethnic and other influences that have gone into making them who they are as persons. This event helped students explore different cultures through art, dance, music, fashion and food, celebrating the rich diversity created by God.
- In October 2013, more than 300 Wheaton students participated in Inhabit: Building Christian Unity, a conference including keynotes and workshops by distinguished Christian leaders to facilitate conversation and learning.
Faculty and Staff Developments
- The Admissions Office has a Mandarin-speaking admissions counselor and four Spanish-speaking admissions counselors, and has also developed welcome pages for wheaton.edu in Spanish.
- For the 2014-2015 year, five of eight newly tenured faculty were colleagues of color.
- The Board of Trustees hosted Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, for a session on the Hispanic evangelical church and its connection to Christian higher education.
- In response to a concern about faculty competence in addressing cross-cultural issues, Wheaton’s Faculty Council hosted a development day in February 2013.
The Office of Multicultural Development provides programs and resources to the campus for students to be able to engage in conversations about diversity.