The gift from alumna ('60) and trustee emerita Diana David Spencer includes $1 million to establish an endowed professorship in social entrepreneurship, enabling the school to more formally integrate social innovation education into its offerings and provide expertise and guidance for students who are seeking to launch an organization or enterprise. The commitment also includes a $5 million matching grant to launch a fundraising campaign for the renovation of the current Science Center as a dedicated space to house Wheaton's social innovation programs as well as its main makerspace lab, business and management program, and psychology department.
Wheaton launched its social innovation programming in 2015 with the help of the foundation, and the school's current innovation offerings include the Wheaton Institute for Social Entrepreneurship, a semester-long program that begins and ends with an intensive boot camp run in partnership with the Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship Network (GCSEN); summer internships at startup incubator MassChallenge in Boston; and an annual entrepreneurship pitch competition and award program. Previous gifts from the Spencer family and foundation have supported the Center for Global Education, international relations and Russian studies programs, and undergraduate scholarships.
"The Diana Davis Spencer Foundation is excited that Wheaton is leading the way in innovation and social entrepreneurship," said Spencer.
"The liberal arts offers a uniquely powerful set of skills and the broad perspective for generating innovative solutions to the challenges that we face," said Wheaton College president Dennis M. Hanno. "Over the years, Wheaton alumni have launched many incredible organizations that are improving the world. Our goal as an institution is to build on our history of making a positive impact by focusing more intentionally on helping students acquire the entrepreneurial skills that make that possible."