1926 - 1944

John Edgar Park

The Reverend John Edgar Park, who became president in 1926, was educated at Queens College, Belfast, Royal University, Dublin, New College, Edinburgh, Leipzig and Oxford Universities and Princeton. For nineteen years, he was the minister of the Second Church, West Newton. While there, he published such books as The Man Who Missed Christmas, Bad Results of Good Habits, and The Disadvantages of Being Good. Park was a professor of the theory of worship at Boston University’s School of Theology in the 1920s, the chairman of the board of trustees at Andover-Newton Theological Seminary and, for the year of 1936, the Lyman Beecher lecturer at Yale.

Wheaton’s growth and vitality during Park’s presidency is particularly noteworthy. Despite the Great Depression and World War II, student enrollment and the number of faculty increased steadily, and the building program begun by President Cole continued. Ten structures were built and nine houses acquired during Park’s tenure, including the Nursery School, Kilham and Metcalf Halls, the Administration Building, which was named for Park in 1954, the Student Alumnae Building and additions to the library and science buildings.

Park began his tenure at Wheaton by modernizing the curriculum, introducing departmental honors and senior seminars, and instituting academic majors and minors. Wheaton’s scholastic standing was recognized by the installation of the the Kappa chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in 1932.

A member of the board of preachers at Harvard, Park was one of the most popular preachers in New England. He was known on campus for his witty “Chapel Talks,” some of which were published in New Horizons. Dr. Park received honorary degrees from Tufts, Middlebury, Wesleyan and, of course, from Wheaton.

J. Edgar Park retired in 1944 at the age of 65 over the protests of the trustees.