The Wheaton College Alumni Association presented Wake Forest University President Nathan O. Hatch with its 2017 Alumnus of the Year Award for Distinguished Service to Society at a ceremony on May 4.
Wheaton recognized Hatch for his influential work as a scholar of American religious history and for providing innovative servant leadership in the world of higher education.
“We have many reasons to be grateful to God for the life and work of Nathan Hatch,” Wheaton College President Philip Ryken said. “We are very grateful and encouraged to see Christians flourishing across the academy, not only in systemically Christian institutions like Wheaton, but also in many other colleges and universities.”
Hatch has served as Wake Forest’s president since 2005 and is a leading historian of religion in the early American republic. His book The Democratization of American Christianity is widely considered to be one of the most significant works in the field of American religious history.
Hatch cofounded Wheaton’s Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals along with Wheaton classmate Mark Noll in 1982. For more than 25 years, the Institute produced leading books and research that transformed and cemented evangelicalism’s place in historical studies.
“Nathan is a terrific administrator,” Noll said. “He knows how to recruit, support, train, encourage, and empower people at all levels, including undergraduate students, graduate students, colleagues, academic associates, and members of a wide number of other organizations. At Notre Dame and Wake Forest, he has done this with exemplary character.”
After joining the history department at the University of Notre Dame in 1975, Hatch expanded his career to include higher education administration. In 1996, Hatch became the first Protestant to become the provost at the renowned Catholic university.
As President of Wake Forest, Hatch has made significant realignments in the areas of business and medicine, launched the largest fundraising effort in the University’s history, implemented a test-optional admissions policy, prioritized personal and career development and enhanced the student residential experience. Read more about Dr. Hatch.
Hatch’s service at Wake Forest and Notre Dame is marked by his belief that the mission of colleges and universities is to train the next generation of leaders.
“If there is anything missing in society, it is great leadership. So, to the extent that you can, you educate the whole person and build leadership capacity in all the variety of professions they will take on, whether Wall Street or the ministry. That is the best service you can offer to society,” Hatch said.
Wheaton has presented its Distinguished Service to Society each year since 1953 to alumni who exemplify the mission of the College through excellence in their field of service. A list of previous awardees is available here.
Wheaton College (Wheaton, Ill.) is a coeducational Christian liberal arts college noted for its rigorous academics, integration of faith and learning, and consistent ranking among the top liberal arts colleges in the country.