Delivering the 2010 commencement address at Wheaton College, NBC Today Show anchor Ann Curry famously flubbed when she cited several distinguished alumni: evangelist Billy Graham, filmmaker Wes Craven and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. The problem, as she quickly learned, is that these notables graduated from the Wheaton College in Illinois, not the one located in Norton, Massachusetts, where Curry had been invited to speak. “I am mortified by my mistake,” she wrote, “and can only hope the purity of my motive, to find a way to connect with the graduates and encourage them to a life of service, will allow you to forgive me.”
Curry’s eloquent apology was accepted. In fact, her mistake is common. Both colleges frequently field inquiries meant for the other. Though both institutions were founded by families named “Wheaton” rooted in the East, there is no known connection between their bloodlines.
Founded in 1834, Wheaton Female Seminary was designed to accommodate young women of the middle classes seeking the same education as that provided by colleges for men. Wheaton was chartered as a four-year liberal arts college in 1932, and became co-educational in 1988.
Notable alumnae from Wheaton College of Norton, Massachusetts, includes 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl, former EPA Director Christie Todd Whitman and Oscar-nominated actress Catherine Keener.