Sunday, May 31, 2015
J. Dennis Hastert Center Is No More At Wheaton College
Officials at Wheaton College wasted no time in scrubbing the name of one of its most famous alumni, former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, following his federal indictment last week for illegal cash withdrawals he made to make hush payments to a man who claimed to be a victim of sex abuse during the time Hastert was a wrestling coach and teacher at Yorkville High School. The school's Center for Economic, Government and Public Policy had been named after Hastert, who graduated from Wheaton College in 1964 with a B.A. in Economics. Hastert also resigned from the Center's board of advisers. Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan also shelved a plan to spend $500,000 to erect a statue in Hastert's honor in the State Capitol in Springfield.
Wheaton College named the Center after Hastert more than seven years ago. Hastert donated to the school many of his papers from the eight years he served as Speaker of the House and helped secure the $10 million in donations and grants required to establish it. Wheaton College, a Christian liberal arts college, counts the Rev. Billy Graham and Sen. Dan Coats among its alumni. College officials would have done well to heed the Herman B. Wells Rule. Wells, a former long-time chancellor of Indiana University, would not allow anything related to the university to be named in honor of a person until they had been dead for at least five years. That thought came to my mind when the university allowed its two law schools at Bloomington and Indianapolis to be named after two living men.