Wheaton's Multicultural History

The history of minority student concerns at Wheaton College has its root in the very history of the institution.

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, and was known widely as a staunch abolitionist and crusader for social reform.Within the context of this history there have been many attempts to develop a Christ centered heterogeneous academic community. This process has included challenges as well as victories. After attempted admissions programs in the late 60s and early 70s the college hired two part time advisors for international and minority students. Between 1970 and 1977, 3 individuals held these part-time roles. In 1977 The Office of Multicultural Development was created with the hiring of an Assistant to the Dean for Minority Affairs.

In 1980 the title was changed to Director of Minority Affairs Office and the department continued to develop with a strong emphasis on both recruitment and retention. In the mid-1980s a Multicultural Admissions Counselor position was created in the Admissions Office and the split between Admissions for recruitment and Multicultural Development for retention resulted in a gradual increase in student enrollment, a strengthening in student programs, and a significant increase in retention of students of color. 

The office has progressed through various name changes over the years reflecting the balance of 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 formally changed to the Office of Multicultural Development. The change in name reflects intentionally of accessibility and commitment to communal growth. 

Currently staffed by two full-time professionals, two part-time professionals, and many student workers, the Office of Multicultural Development strives to provide a balance of student programming, counseling, administrative advising, intervention, strategic planning and evaluating. 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/staff/administrators in issues of cultural diversity, and 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.