Parent Newsletter - September, 2020

September 2020

From the President 

Philip G. Ryken President Wheaton College IL

Dear Parents,

Over 1,200 students filled McCully Stadium for All-School Communion outdoors the night before classes began COVID-Safe and Thunder Strong. Student chaplains and the Chapel Band, with interim Chaplain Dr. Greg Waybright, led in a dynamic time of worship, ending with a surprise fireworks display.

While the student gathering was getting underway, it was meaningful to connect with other parents over Zoom—over 360 parents registered to meet in small groups to pray as we launched the 2020-2021 academic year. Your prayers are being answered with what we believe is a very smooth start. We hope to pray again together as parents later this fall.

Thank you for your patience and adaptability in these unprecedented times. Thank you for sharing your frank concerns. Thank you as well for giving us an opportunity to respond and improve the service we offer our students and their families. Watch for an email invitation to a parent virtual town hall meeting on September 17 where we will give an update and receive your questions.

In Christ’s service,

Philip Ryken
Philip Ryken

Dual Modality and the In-Class Experience

Wheaton has adapted campus to be Covid-Safe, Thunder Strong, which means dual modality (online and in person learning) is a new experience for many students. Our Learning and Accessibility Services team put together a resource for helping students adapt to Dual Modality Learning. Each professor has outlined in their class syllabus the procedure for students to know which classes they attend remotely and which classes they attend in person. Students with questions should reach out to their professors directly for clarification on attendance schedules.

Who Do You Know?

Did you know that parents have the ability to influence the culture and community of Wheaton College? It happens every time you refer a potential student. If you know a high school student that you think would be a great fit at Wheaton, we strongly encourage you to refer him or her to our Admissions team. We value your opinion and take every referral seriously. Thanks for helping shape the Wheaton Community!

The Wheaton Fund: Excellence and Affordability

Every year, hundreds of parents help make the Wheaton experience possible for their students when they support the Wheaton Fund. Gifts to the Wheaton Fund represent an ongoing investment in the College’s highest priorities: continuing Wheaton’s tradition of excellence by investing in Christ-centered faculty and programming and keeping Wheaton affordable for every student.

Your support of the Wheaton Fund will help us provide a Covid-safe, Thunder-strong experience for first-time and returning students, particularly in these unprecedented times, by funding areas not supported by tuition alone, which reduces the overall cost of attending for every student.

Students from Phonathon will be calling parents soon to talk more about what the Wheaton Fund means to them. Give online today. Or give by phone when a student Phonathon caller reaches out to explain more about the Wheaton Fund's instrumental impact on his or her education.

A Word from the Chaplain's Office

The Chapel program at Wheaton seeks to nurture the spiritual life of students in an academic environment. While current restrictions on large gatherings prevent us from meeting in-person, our Monday, Wednesday, and Friday Chapel times can still provide significant opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, and administration to enter into “the power of story to heal and unite.”

On Monday: Members of our campus community are gathering remotely or in-person in Life Together Groups (LTG) of around 10 people to meet each Monday from 10:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. LTG members touch base, read a Psalm together, share the challenges and opportunities of the week, and pray for one another.

On Wednesday: The theme of stories is at the heart the weekly live-streamed Chapels from 10:40 a.m. – 11:20 a.m., CDT. Focused on the Gospel of Luke, the stories will highlight the entry of Jesus into the lives of broken people to powerfully bring about healing and unity.

On Friday: Live-streamed Chapel on Friday will be briefer (10:40 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.), focused upon a song, a Psalm, and a 5-7 minute story of God’s work in the life of one of our community members.

After a year-long search, we are thrilled to announce that Donté Ford has been appointed to the position of Associate Chaplain for Worship Arts and Assistant Professor of Music, serving both in the Chaplain’s office and the Conservatory of Music.

We are excited to see what the Lord has for us in this unexpected season!

Center for Vocation and Career

With the academic year underway, recruiting season has also begun! While students are navigating the new normal on campus, the Center for Vocation and Career is also adapting. With Virtual Drop-Ins, a wealth of online resources available on Handshake, and opportunities for students to engage with employers already on the calendar, our team is eager to engage with your students.

The current recruiting calendar features large companies with rotational programs and jobs and internships in finance, the organizations that typically recruit in the fall. We’re seeing an increased interest in hiring interns for next summer, so juniors in particular will want to be watching for opportunities that will be a good fit for them, in all industries.

Your student will receive regular communication from our team letting them know what’s happening and how they can participate. We can’t wait to meet them!

Free Graduate Psychology Webinar: The Global Pandemic of Mental Health

On Wednesday, September 30, Wheaton undergraduate students considering graduate study in the fields of counseling, psychology, or family therapy, are encouraged to join the graduate faculty of Wheaton College’s School of Psychology, Counseling, and Family Therapy for a free webinar and admissions information session.

In this online event, faculty experts will consider how the intersecting crises of racial trauma and COVID-19 are accelerating a global mental health pandemic; and how to address these issues with the integration of faith, justice, and the highest standards of professional practice.

Webinar registration includes a live Q&A session with our faculty speakers and graduate admissions counselors, plus free access to three on-demand video talks:

This event is ideal for Wheaton students seeking to discern whether to continue on to graduate study in our graduate school. Learn more and register here.

The Office of Christian Outreach:  Touching Student Lives

The OCO is excited to offer virtual volunteer opportunities to Wheaton students throughout the year, including the Christian Service Council's (CSC) Mastadon Meals, which serve students in quarantine. On-campus leadership and volunteer positions are still available — check out ways your student can get involved. As student leaders continue to develop programming throughout the year, we pray that God will continue to enable us to provide enriching opportunities for students. In support of OCO students, we ask parents to watch for ways to get involved and touch the lives of students in need in our community. Ideas are also welcome! Please email the Office of Christian Outreach at with questions or suggestions!

Order a De-Stress Basket for your student

The Office of Christian Outreach (OCO) and Student Health Services (SHS) are excited to partner together and create an opportunity for you to help your student beat the stress of mid-terms with an uplifting De-Stress Basket. On October 10th, the Saturday before midterms week, we will assemble and deliver baskets containing small gifts and treats as an encouraging reminder for our students that their parents are thinking of them during this busy time.

To order a “Midterms De-Stress Basket” for your son or daughter, please fill out this form and make a donation here. We do not require a specific amount but ask that you would prayerfully consider your monetary donation. Finally, we ask that you submit your order by October 1.

Please call (630.752.5076) or email us ( if you have any questions!

A Note from Parent Engagement

The academic year is off to a great start and you should be proud of your student(s)! Whether you still plan to watch Online Parent Orientation, or would like to watch it again, Online Parent Orientation sessions will be available throughout fall 2020. There is excellent content that will help you get better acquainted with Wheaton College and gain a greater understanding of what the fall semester is like for your student.

If you're wondering about life inside the Wheaton Bubble, tune in to the Parent Town Hall Meeting with President Ryken and members of Wheaton’s leadership. You’ll hear an update from the College and have an opportunity to ask questions.

Thursday, September 17, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. CDT

Watch live at this video link

Ask questions during the event on Slido, Event Code #37293

The session will be recorded and made available following the event.

Residence Life

The purpose of the Residence Life department at Wheaton College (think RAs, GRAs, ARDs, RDs and Dean) is to create physically and relationally supportive environments where students are challenged to live out the body of Christ and grow in His likeness. We are continuing that work with your student with masks on our faces and remaining socially distanced.

Having a roommate, floor mates, and a brother or sister floor can be one of the great joys of your student's college years. Friendships, adventures, late night talks, sharing joys and sorrows, and meeting people from all over the world are enormous opportunities that students can take advantage of. It can also be a point of conflict, misunderstanding, and distress. It is absolutely critical to understand that community, both intimate and extended, is the workshop of your student's relationship with God. It is not by chance that Jesus said, “If you love me, love your neighbor.”

And it is not by chance that Wheaton College has Campus Living as one of its four pillars of education (along with academic, co-curricular, and Chapel.) For eight months of the year, students are intentionally living with roommates and floor mates in all their glory and mess. There are challenges of communication, expectations, teamwork, reconciliation, conflict management, and the working out of 1 Corinthians 13 within a real life scenario. Those are all normal issues that students experience when they transition to college. Students are not only building mental muscles while they attend Wheaton, they are putting their faith into practice with real people in a real community. That is why we do not simply change up housing situations within the school year when things feel uncomfortable, challenging or overwhelming. The Residence Life staff walks alongside students, giving them both support and challenge, and helps walk them through the practices of the Christian life as it pertains to their living situation.

Student Development and Support: RAs and RDs

Wheaton College offers a number of resources to support students. Residence Directors (live-in professional staff) and Resident Assistants (student leader on each floor) are some of the first staff members students know. If your student mentions any concerns with roommates, academics, emotional care, or simply adjusting to living with a large group of new people, please don't hesitate to have them connect directly with their residence life staff member for encouragement and assistance. Students also have access to a self-referral system to request support from Student Care Services. This resource is found on the student section of the Wheaton Portal in the C.A.R.E.S area.

For a starting point to the full range of available resources, view Life at Wheaton.

Wheaton in Chicago

Did your student consider Wheaton College due to its proximity to Chicago? Encourage them to get to know Chicago better and apply for Wheaton in Chicago by Friday, October 16, for Spring 2021 (final deadline) or Fall 2021 (early action deadline). All majors welcome. Wheaton in Chicago students live together in Chicago, take classes on site with Wheaton faculty, and intern throughout the city. Learn more about Wheaton in Chicago. Just like our current semester, Wheaton in Chicago Spring 2021 will continue following Wheaton College and the City of Chicago’s COVID-19 protocols.

How can you pray for Wheaton this month?

We are grateful for our parent community and thankful for your involvement and prayers,

The Wheaton College Parent Engagement team

Blanchard Hall in the spring