Wheaton’s Multicultural History and Leadership

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The history of minority student concerns at Wheaton has long been entwined with the history of the college itself.

Wheaton’s first president, Jonathan Blanchard, was committed to justice based on the truth of the Gospel. He served as president of Wheaton College from its founding in 1860 until 1882. He was a staunch abolitionist and crusader for social reform. His leadership established Wheaton’s identity as an institution serving equality and justice.

Wheaton has put forth consistent efforts to develop a Christ-centered heterogeneous academic community.

  • In the late 60s and early 70s, the college hired two part-time advisors for international and minority students. 
  • In 1977, the college created the Office of Multicultural Development and hired an Assistant to the Dean for Minority Affairs.
  • In 1980, Wheaton College changed the title to Director of Minority Affairs Office. The department continued to develop, with a strong emphasis on both recruitment and retention. 
  • In the mid-1980s, Wheaton also created a Multicultural Admissions Counselor position. The split between Admissions for recruitment and Multicultural Development for retention resulted in: 
  • a gradual increase in student enrollment 
  • a strengthening in student programs
  • a significant increase in the retention of students of color 
  • Over the years, the office had various name changes reflecting a balance of values, including community and accessibility of all students, with an emphasis on students of color. At the onset of the 2000-01 academic year, the name was changed to the Office of Multicultural Development. The change in name reflects accessibility and commitment to communal growth. 

The Office of Multicultural Development strives to provide a balance of services, including: 

  • student programming
  • counseling
  • administrative advising 
  • intervention
  • strategic planning 
  • evaluation

Currently, the office has two full-time and two part-time professionals, and many student workers.

The department has developed many areas in the past few years, including: 

  • periodic Multicultural conferences
  • peer mentoring programs
  • academic review of students
  • training campus faculty and staff on issues of cultural diversity
  • serving on various Presidential task groups related to diversity at Wheaton

The department’s history is diverse, reflecting the Lord’s blessing of the strengths of all those who have been affiliated with it. We continue to strive to develop a culturally diverse and inclusive community for Christ and his kingdom.

International Student Programs students and staff

Making Wheaton Feel Like Home

Wheaton commits to promoting the full flourishing of all our community members. We demonstrate our commitment by providing opportunities to engage with matters of diversity. 

To this end, Wheaton houses several offices, including:

Additionally, our Chief Intercultural Engagement Officer offers us leadership and guidance. Our goal is to make Wheaton feel like home to students of every ethnicity, gender, and cultural background.

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International Student Programs

It is the mission of International Student Programs to strive to understand and value the unique needs of international students, missionary kids, and third-culture students. 

Learn more about ISP

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Christian Outreach

The Office of Ministry and Evangelism is dedicated to offering the Wheaton College community opportunities to learn through service.

Learn more about the OME.

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Multicultural Development

The Office of Multicultural Development (OMD) provides programs and resources to the campus for students to be able to engage in conversations about diversity.

Learn more about OMD