The Wheaton Female Seminary was founded in 1835 as Judge Laban Wheaton's memorial to his recently-deceased daughter. The mission was to provide New England women with another educational option in a region that was dense with men's seminaries but had little to offer ladies. Enrollment held steady until the 1890s, when Wheaton officials realized that the age of seminary education was over and that four-year colleges were the new model for higher education. Accordingly, Wheaton began to expand its facilities, curriculum, and enrollment in line with other four-year colleges until 1912, when it was official granted a college charter by the Massachusetts Legislature.
The college expanded in small increments, trying to stay true to its small-school roots while giving undergraduates more opportunities and resources. Following the trustees' decision to go co-ed, the first Wheaton men arrived on campus in September 1988. Since then, the institution has focused on strengthening its core mission while introducing a new liberal arts-based Wheaton Curriculum to give students a more diverse educational experience.
Wheaton's campus packs a number of academic and residential buildings into a small space while leaving plenty of green spots and grassy quads. The grounds were originally designed by Ralph Adams Cram, the architect who also laid out the Princeton and West Point campuses. Its red-brick-and-ivy academic facilities and make up the campus' core, with other administrative, residential, and athletic buildings nearby. Although the campus itself is self-contained, it is within walking distance from the town of Norton, as well as public transportation hubs.
Wheaton College is located in Norton, Massachusetts, approximately a half-hour south of Boston and 20 minutes north of Providence, Rhode Island. Thanks to its central location, students can either drive or take public transportation to get to either city quickly. Norton itself is a small town, with only a handful of pharmacies, shops, restaurants, and museums within walking distance. Town-gown relations are fairly quiet, although a growing number of students are electing to move off-campus into apartments or houses in Norton.
Wheaton's students take pride in observing a number of campus traditions and customs. For instance:
On their first night on campus, freshmen line up in a circle around Peacock Pond, each holding a lit candle. Four years later, on the night before they graduate, the now-seniors put their candles from freshman year into a tiny wooden boat and set it afloat on the pond.
Each of Wheaton's popular a capella groups perform at midnight under the Everett Residence Hall arch (a.k.a. "Slype") on the night when they choose new members.
Only seniors are permitted to sit on the library stairs. If an underclassman is caught perched there, the seniors have full authority to throw him or her into Peacock Pond.
Only seniors are allowed to walk through the Chapel's front doors (if any other student dares, rumor has it the bell will fall from above and knock them out).
By choice or chance, Wheaton students must jump into Peacock Pond before they graduate.
If a boy and girl walk around the pond three times without the boy kissing the girl, it is said that she has permission to push him into the pond.
One weekend every spring, the school hosts a boat race around the pond for students.
Jean Fritz (1937)
Catherine Keener (1983)
Lesley Stahl (1963)
Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck (attended)
Christine Todd Whitman (1968)
The Wheaton "Lyons" (named for the Wheaton Seminary's first principal, Mary Lyon) field 21 varsity teams in NCAA Division III play and the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference. Varsity teams include: men's baseball, women's softball, women's volleyball, women's synchronized swimming, and men's and women's squads in basketball, soccer, indoor track, outdoor track, tennis, cross country, and swimming. Students can also participate in one of Wheaton's intramural or club sport teams.
Wheaton College is one of only a few schools that applies its honor code to both academic and social situations.
Wheaton has been used as a stand-in for Harvard during the filming of several movies, including "Soul Man" and "Prozac Nation."
Wheaton's housing options consist of residence halls and student houses.
5/7 Pine Street
9 Taunton Avenue
11 Howard Street
22 Howard Street
44 Howard Street
26/28 Taunton Avenue