This is a final draft of my letter to the Editor for the Wheaton Record, the college paper at my alma mater. I’ve got to submit it today to get in the paper by Friday so I’m looking for any last minute feedback. Had to keep it to 300 words so I cut a fair bit out from last week. If you have any thoughts I’d love to hear them. This letter is mostly to spark interest in a larger collaborative open letter to the search committee, which will come later. Thanks, in advance, for the feedback.
Letter to the Editor
As an academic institution and as a Christian community, Wheaton recognizes the importance of diversity and acts successfully on it. This fact is quite apparent when you look at the nearly 50/50 female-to-male ratio of each incoming freshman class. For the benefit of both sexes and the community, Wheaton intentionally maintains this 1:1 ratio. Why? Because Wheaton recognizes there is value in having a diverse student body.
The selection committee, chosen to help select the next Wheaton president, also recognizes the importance of diversity and includes this as part of its “Commitment” section in the concise “qualifications desired”:
To champion ethnic, economic, and gender diversity
Despite this commitment to diversity, the selection committee itself contains only two women and one African American out of ten positions. It seems the importance of a gender balance in the student body does not carryover into areas such as selection committees. Even President Litfin, who has served the college well, makes no mention of the topic of ethnic or gender diversity in his formidable book regarding Christian Colleges.
Wheaton College has had seven presidents in it’s 150 year history, Litfin’s tenure beginning in 1993. All seven of the past presidents have been white males and, if we are honest, we should acknowledge that our historical prejudices would not have allowed it otherwise. Compared to other academic institutions, Christian college presidents (in the CCCU) are far whiter and more male then their secular counterparts (no minority CCCU presidents and only 2% female, compared to 12.8% and 21.1% respectively in all national institutions).
If Wheaton College is as committed to diversity as we say we are, as the presidential qualifications acknowledge, and as our admission consideration indicate, then it behooves us to make diversity of primary importance in considering the next leader of this great academic institution.