Posted May 1, 2023 by Office of Intercultural Engagement
Tags: Engage Newsletter
Spring Semester, 2023, Issue #2
Wheaton College announces the appointment of Dr. Shawn Okpebholo to the Blanchard Chair of Music (Composition, Music Theory)
A Word from Our President
One of my goals every summer is to see more beauty. As an amateur ornithologist, I will catch some of that splendor in glimpses of bright feathers. There is an amazing variety of birdlife all around us—on lakes and ponds, in urban greenspaces, and even on Wheaton’s campus. But the Bible testifies that we see the world’s greatest beauty in the people around us—in every man, woman, and child who is made in the image and likeness of God. Praise God: wherever we go this summer, we will have a chance to see that beauty in all its splendid variety.
President Philip Ryken
ENGAGE posed a few questions about the forthcoming Wheaton College Historical Review to Provost Dr. Karen Lee
1.) What is the purpose of the historical review? It is vital for Christian institutions of higher learning to exercise responsible scholarship by telling the truth about their own histories. In a Wheaton context, a review on our race relations strengthens our capacity "to build the church and benefit society" in alignment with our mission as a Christian liberal arts college.
2.) Why is it important for academic institutions to do historical reviews? It is a key step towards collective, evaluative reflection and critical self-examination towards a spirit of repentance that leads to Christ's restorative justice.
3.) How can the historical review advance Christ and His Kingdom here at Wheaton College? As stated in "The Charge" from the Board of Trustees, the historical review was launched "from the vantage point of the gospel of Jesus Christ, interpreted in the context of the times and focusing on institutional policies, practices, and programs, as well as the people responsible for them, understood through reviewing published and archival sources." More specifically, the historical review will help us determine, in the context of Jesus Christ, "what aspects of this history need to be celebrated more intentionally, lamented more deeply, or repented...."
Senior Administrative Cabinet & Student Leaders Dinner & Dialogue
by Naomi Bunker
I had the opportunity to participate in the Senior Administrative Cabinet dialogue alongside a group of student leaders representing the Office of Multicultural Development, International Student Programs, and Student Government.
We collectively prepared questions that we later presented to Senior Administrative Cabinet members in the dialogue. Additionally, we shared meals in small groups with a Senior Administrative Cabinet member which encouraged new relationships, built trust, and placed a better foundation for administrative and student leadership going forward.
Hispanic Heritage Month: Sept 15 - Oct 15
Hispanic Pastors gathered for a reception hosted by Silvio Vazquez, Director of Enrollment and Professor Danny Carrol with special guest Theologian, Dr. Justo González.
The Office of Intercultural Engagement plans to host a consultation with several African American alumni to pose the question, Biblical Diversity at Wheaton College, Where Do We Go From Here? This consultation will serve as a model for future consultations with Latino(a), Asian/Asian American, Native American, and International alumni. The goal is to strengthen ties and invite more input from Alumni of underrepresented ethnicities. Although Wheaton recognizes struggles of the past, the College is poised to significantly move forward to embrace a brighter future that is more inclusive and affirming of people of all races, ethnicities, abilities and of women.
Dr. Ruth Bentley ’55, M.A. ’58 Honored as Alumna of the Year
In honor of her service on the Board of Trustees, with faithful efforts to establish a hospitable place for minority students on campus, Dr. Ruth Lewis Bentley ’55, M.A. ’58 is the 2022 Alumna of the Year for Distinguished Service to Alma Mater. Read more about her life and work in Wheaton Magazine >
Grad Students Go on Civil Rights Tour
Wheaton College sponsors an annual Civil Rights Tour of the southern states including Memphis, Alabama, Ebenezer Church where Dr. Martin Luther King served as Pastor. Students from all racial backgrounds take part in the Tour.
Spotlight On Wheaton College Staff . . .
. . . who are involved in work and/or ministry that involves Intercultural Engagement. And Wheaton College Faculty involved in research & teaching that advance our knowledge and understanding of Intercultural Engagement.
We salute these outstanding men and women of the Wheaton College Community whose lives and work exemplify Kingdom Diversity!
Tell us about your family. I am married with two girls, Kaitlyn and Kinsley
Where did you go to college? How many degrees? Iowa State University – Bachelor’s and Master of Public Administration (MPA) and Fuller Theological Seminary (MDiv in progress)
We have heard that you are involved in outreach to homeless persons in the community- can you tell us about that? Inspired by our Girls’ hearts for the homeless, we organized an outreach to Tent City in Chicago for Christmas in 2018. As a result of the efforts and generosity of our community we were able to provide hats, gloves, thermo-underwear, and propane to the citizens of Tent City. With over $3K in goods received we were able to extend our outreach to additionally provide support to two homeless shelters. This effort gave birth to Warmth and Cheer which is now the Missions outreach branch of our ministry today. Warmth and Cheer continues to do quarterly outreach to underserved communities throughout the year.
Any other involvements in ministry? A year after our initial Warmth and Cheer to Tent City, my wife Keisha and I were led to start The Light Church where our mission is to carry the light of Christ to our communities and world. The Light Church is a fully incorporated 501c3 organization. We currently host worship gatherings on first and third Saturdays in Oak Park, IL.
2023 Recipient of Rodney Sisco Honorable Mention Award for Diversity
Where did you go to college and what years?
Taylor University, 2000
MA in General Theology from Wheaton, 2007
PhD from Indiana State University, 2017
Your dissertation topic? “What role, if any, does spiritually play in influencing the social construction of masculinity in the lived experiences in college men?” or simply “The intersection of spirituality and masculinity.”
What do you like most about your job? I get a front row seat to seeing students grow.
What do you like to do in your free time? Woodworking with my wife, taking on new physical challenges.
2023 Recipient of the Wheaton College Rodney Sisco Honorable Mention Staff Award for Diversity
Where did you go to college? Year of graduations? Wheaton College B.A. 2013, Christian Education Wheaton College M.A. 2017, Christian Formation and Ministry
Your thesis or dissertation topic? (Thesis) Resident Assistants and Rest: The Role of Sabbath Rest
What do you like most about your job? Getting to know, walk alongside, and advocate for students from all different walks of life.
2023 Recipient of the Wheaton College Rodney Sisco Honorable Mention Staff Award for Diversity
What is her educational background?
B.A., Wheaton College, 2008,
M.B.A., Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, 2013,
Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education (Ph.D.), Azusa Pacific University, Expected Spring 2024
When Crystal described her dissertation: Although numerous research studies have focused on compositional diversity or the challenges Black students face at Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs), gaps in scholarship reveal the lack of specific research focused on the intersectional experiences of Black undergraduate women. Black students are not a monolith; Black students face similar and distinct challenges related to gender and so forth. However, only limited research to date has examined Black student experiences at Christian-affiliated institutions.
What are some of her major work responsibilities? As the Director of the Student Involvement Office, Crystal is passionate about opportunities to meet, interact with, learn about, and invest in student leaders. In her role, Crystal leads the Student Involvement team in their mission to provide unique co-curricular opportunities for all students to cultivate leadership development, strengthen relationships, foster personal growth, and deepen their understanding of diverse cultural contexts. The Student Involvement Office provides various educational and fun student experiences contributing to a Christ-centered community and student development. As the Director of Student Involvement, Crystal is the Chief Advisor to Student Government, the Solidarity Cabinet, the Sisterhood Organization, and Student-Led Clubs. Crystal desires the Student Involvement Office to fulfill its mission daily by providing a space where all students feel welcome and free to grow and learn. In addition to Crystal's position as Director of Student Involvement, she also serves as the Chair for The Racial & Cultural Minority Senior Recognition Ceremony held during Commencement Weekend and the Co-Chair for the Africana Advisory Group for staff and faculty from the African Diaspora.
When asked of her research interests and where she is in her Ph.D. Program… Currently in the dissertation phase of her doctoral journey, Crystal's research topic examines the lived experiences of Black undergraduate women at predominantly White Protestant colleges and universities. Crystal is a qualitative researcher and employs narrative inquiry and intersectionality as her research methodology. As a Black woman who attended three predominantly White institutions, her embodied academic experiences influenced Crystal's passion and commitment to her research topic. Furthermore, as the advisor and founder of Wheaton College's Sisterhood Organization, a mentoring support group for undergraduate women from the Black Diaspora, Crystal considers it her responsibility and privilege to center the voices and intersectional experiences of Black women in White majority spaces. Crystal states, "Sisterhood is the inspiration for my dissertation. To learn more about the Sisterhood Organization, check them out on Instagram @Sisterhoodgroup and YouTube Crystal firmly believes in the Imago Dei of all of God's children and that to acknowledge the equality yet differences of all of God's children is to fully see the majesty of God the Father and creator.
The scholarship on the specific experiences of Black female students at Predominantly White Protestant colleges and universities is almost nonexistent." Crystal believes the lack of scholarship on Black undergraduate women's experiences does not delegitimize this issue. On the contrary, she says, "the scholastic silence speaks volumes, and as a scholar, it allows me to address this knowledge gap. I am excited for my research to fill a knowledge gap and highlight ways for Christian institutions to play a more significant role in embodying Kingdom diversity and creating belonging for all of God's children."
About her creative work…A fun fact about Crystal is her deep passion for Interior design. You can see her design style in the Student Involvement Office (lower Beamer Center) and via her interior design Instagram page @CuratedByCrystalC (https://www.instagram.com/curatedbycrystalc/). Crystal's design motto, "Live in Beauty," is inspired by the Psychology of Space's emphasis on the impact of interiors on human behavior, productivity, collaboration, and holistic health. "The spaces I curate are not museums; they are personal sanctuaries. From the color schemes to the fabrics and textures, I believe every space should reflect the identity of its inhabitant. Living in beauty requires the coupling of sophistication and practicality. The areas I curate are simultaneously magazine-worthy and welcoming, and relaxing. Curated environments are more than spaces; they are an extension of the lifestyle of your dreams; they tell your story."
Spotlight On Wheaton College Faculty . . .
. . . doing multicultural research. Recently, we caught up with three distinguished members of the Wheaton College Faculty who are all doing important research that intersects with diversity and multicultural topics. We applaud their commitment to Christ and efforts to expand the vision of Christ’s Kingdom as inclusive of all people and ethnicities. We posed the following questions to each of the Professors:
What classes are you teaching these days?
What are your major research interests? Latest publications, lectures, podcasts etc.…
What do you think are the most important current news items...National news? Regional news? Local news?
What is your word to Wheaton College in the effort to become a more diverse and welcoming community?
Professor, Department of History; 2023 Faculty Honoree of the Rodney Sisco Diversity Awards
This year I have taught students in a range of courses including a first year seminar, an advanced integrative seminar (CORE 312 Native Chicago), an introductory history course (HIST 103 Making of America), and two upper-level seminars—HIST 377 British History to 1660 and HIST 391 Medieval Saints and Sinners. I love teaching such a diverse group of students who come from different backgrounds and demonstrate such thoughtfulness in their studies and care for one another.
My current research examines Cherokee culture and native men and women’s responses to Christianity in early nineteenth century America. I study a range of primary sources including Cherokee correspondence, missionary records, and hymns in the Cherokee language. For this work, I am indebted to Cherokee elders and scholars who have taught me about Cherokee language and culture. One of my main texts is the Cherokee Hymnbook: A New Edition for Everyone, which resulted from the collaboration of members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Cherokee Nation Oklahoma. You can read more about this text at https://museumstore.mci.org/products/cherokee-hymnbook. Most recently, I have written a chapter on teaching about Native American spirituality for a text entitled Understanding and Teaching Religion in American History. It is edited by Karen Johnson and Jonathan Yeager and will be published by University of Wisconsin. Later this summer, I will also be presenting a paper on the history of Cherokee Hymn Singing for a research conference in Ethnomusicology in Canada…… I am grateful to work and learn alongside colleagues and students who care deeply for one another. My hope for our community would be we would remain rooted in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, grow together in wisdom and love for God and others, and pursue reconciliation and the flourishing of every member of our community.
Professor, Department of Theology; Director, Center for Applied Christian Ethics
This semester I am teaching Christian Thought and Theologies of Transformation, and I will teach Christian Thought at Honey Rock in May.
My current research interests are eschatology and ethics, as well as questions of faith and public life. I am also always trying to keep an eye on cultural trends.
Wheaton can increase its efforts at becoming a more diverse and welcoming community by a steady commitment to growth in cultural competency, along with helping the community grow in understanding how our desire to be “For Christ and His Kingdom” includes a perpetual invitation to become people who get better at living well with people from every tribe, tongue and nation.
In the effort to become a more diverse and welcoming community…One way we can help our students confront real world issues is by routinely discussing such matters in the classroom along with providing venues for learning about “the real world” (public lectures, “real world” experiences, regularly scheduled discussions on topics, etc.).
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
This semester I’m teaching two sections of Race & Justice and a course on James Baldwin. Next year I’ll teach three new course: Philosophy of Law, Political Philosophy, and Global Justice.
I’m working on three projects: Essays-to-turn-book on James Baldwin’s rhetoric and philosophy (Dr. Theon Hill and I are collaborating here); an essay developing a Puerto Rican contextual theology (this is my Faith & Learning Paper); and an essay on decolonial pedagogies (co-authored with Stephen Stapleton).
I gave a lecture (on Derrick Bell, a groundbreaking legal scholar and law professor), at Trinity Christian College during Black History Month. And I recently published an essay about developing a liberatory library with Comment Magazine.
In the effort to become a more diverse and welcoming community…Let us petition God for grace to keep us from being callous toward anyone’s suffering or pain. And let us petition God for the grace of repentance when we are.
Nominated for a Grammy® for his album, "Lord, How Come Me Here" Learn more >
Appointed to the Blanchard Chair of Music, an endowed position.
Dr. Shawn Okpebholo is “one of the most gifted musical leaders of our time. His work is described as “lyrical, complex and singular” (The Guardian). On March 9, 2023, the College announced “the appointment of Dr. Shawn Okpebholo to the Blanchard Chair of Music. Dr. Quainoo joins with many colleagues across the campus to congratulate Dr. Okpebholo. She states, For Dr. Okpebholo, it has been an amazing journey and with such a promising future, we can expect even greater accomplishments. ENGAGE salutes Dr. Okpebholo and the extraordinary work that he is doing.
Sponsored by the Provost’s Office, The Blanchard Chair is an endowed position that will provide the appointee with greater capacity to do individual research and scholarly creative work. “In addition to his teaching at Wheaton College, Dr. Okpebholo is a critically acclaimed and award-winning composer whose music has been featured in nearly every state and across the world…”
We Salute the Gospel Choir
“Understanding of the Lord’s love for all people of all races and all nations is at the center of Wheaton’s commitment today, to Biblical, Kingdom Diversity.”
Christ-Centered Diversity Commitment
Wheaton College is a Christian liberal arts institution committed to treating all individuals as equal image-bearers of Jesus Christ. As followers of Christ, we seek to reflect, value, and promote a great multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language. We affirm ethnic diversity as part of God’s original and eternal design for humanity and see its importance for knowing and worshipping God and serving his purposes in the world today. Consistent with the Scriptures, as well as Wheaton’s Community Covenant, Statement of Faith, and other policies, we believe that making a commitment to diversity, inclusion, justice, and unity is central to fulfilling the Great Commission, the Greatest Commandments, and our College Mission. We strive to cultivate a grace-filled, Christ-Centered academic community where all members are recognized, loved, and respected [Matthew 22:37-40 and 28:19-20; Revelation 7:9-10].
We acknowledge that our priorities have not always demonstrated our individual and collective dedication to affirm diversity, practice inclusion, seek justice, and pursue unity. Wheaton College was founded in part on its abolitionist vision. However, our institutional opposition to discrimination against people of color and women has not been consistently sustained in policy and practice.
Because of Christ’s reconciling death on the cross, we repent of racism, sexism, and other divisive sins and rededicate our energy and resources to creating an environment where all people know we are Christ-followers by the way we love one another [Mark 3:24-26; John 13-34-35; Ephesians 2:12-16; 1 John 1:7-8]….
ENGAGE is the official publication of the Office of Intercultural Engagement at Wheaton College. While the views expressed may represent a variety of opinions, this publication upholds the Covenant Commitment of Wheaton College. Intercultural Engagement is the praxis of Biblical Diversity with respect for all racial/ethnic groups. Copyright pending @ Wheaton College, 2022. All Rights Reserved.