Dennis Hanno: ND Roots, Wheaton Vision

By Christine Cox | Spring 2015

At Notre Dame, Dennis Hanno (ACCT ’77) found his eyes opened to new perspectives, limitless opportunity and the idea that business should make a difference in the world. Profoundly inspired, he decided to pursue a career in higher education.

With the lessons of Notre Dame in his heart, Hanno leads Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, as its eighth president. He was appointed in February 2014 and inaugurated on October 17. U.S. Sen Joe Donnelly (LAW ’81, ’77) Hanno’s roommate at Notre Dame, spoke at the inauguration.

“My vision for Wheaton College is deeply rooted in my Notre Dame experience,” Hanno says. “Notre Dame gave me a broad-based education and taught me how to use knowledge to take action. I want students at Wheaton to have these same opportunities. Wheaton students want to make a difference, and I want Wheaton to be known as the place where social innovation occurs every day and in everything we do.”

Before joining Wheaton, a private liberal arts college with a student body of 1,600, Hanno served as provost and senior vice president at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. At Babson, he led the effort to integrate entrepreneurial thought and principles of socially responsible management throughout the curriculum.

“I don’t think of entrepreneurship as simply creating business opportunities, but rather about using passion, knowledge and skills to solve problems or meet needs,” he says. “To me, the true value of education can only be measured when you use it to impact others, and entrepreneurship teaches us to do exactly that.”

In addition to his campus-based work, Hanno founded and led a number of programs dedicated to education and development in Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana and Tanzania. He is the founder of the Babson-Rwanda Entrepreneurship Center in Kigali. He also created and directed the Babson Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy, which operates in multiple African countries.

Hanno began his career in higher education as an accounting professor at Boston College and then at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.