Former OMD director honored with award

By Carolina Lumetta, News Reporter

10.04.19

On Oct. 3, Rodney Sisco (‘84) was posthumously given the Distinguished Service to Alma Mater Award for 34 years of dedicated service to the Wheaton community as a friend, colleague and mentor. The inscription on the plaque commended Sisco for “a gentle, affirming presence” and “for consistency and artistry in nurturing diversity and unity among the body of Christ.”

Students, staff and alumni gathered in Coray Gymnasium to remember their friend and colleague and to celebrate his impact on their lives and the lives of countless others during his time at Wheaton.

After graduating, Sisco decided to return to his alma mater as an admissions counselor and then became the Director of the Office of Multicultural Development (OMD) four years later, in 1988. Sisco served students until his death on Dec. 30, 2018 following a battle with cancer.

Every year, the Alumni Association Board of Directors reviews alumni who have served Wheaton College for at least 15 years. Since its conception in 1953, the Alumni Association has never presented this award posthumously.

Executive Director of the Alumni Association Cindra Stackhouse Taetzsch (‘82) informed him and the family of the decision a few weeks before Sisco passed away. Sisco’s wife, Hasana (‘86) and son, Jabari, accepted the award on his behalf.

The event featured a gospel choir performance as well as numerous speakers, including Sisco’s family, colleagues and alumni who knew him during his time as a student and staff member. They honored Sisco with memories and stories, celebrating his life and impact on the Wheaton community.

Adonya Seldon Little (‘90) explained that she never would have considered attending Wheaton had she not met Sisco at a high school college fair.

“[Rodney] made me feel like I could be successful there as a black student because he was living proof of it,” Little said. “He created a safe place both at Wheaton College and at his home for students to decompress and recharge.”

Former Associate Director of the OMD Eva Ortiz spoke through tears at the ceremony, saying that Sisco “was a Kingdom advocator who saw all of God’s children as precious individuals, uniquely gifted and necessary to the beauty of God’s tapestry of diversity.”

“Rodney was the father of the place that I felt most at home on campus, the Office of Multicultural Development,” alumna Izzy Case (‘19) said. “He was a person who was safe, who you can trust and with whom you could feel loved.”

Alumni Association President Beverly Liefeld Hancock (‘84) reflected on Sisco’s impact on the culture of the Wheaton community through his work as a student and as director of the OMD.

“Rodney dedicated his career to create a more diverse campus that more fully reflects the body of Christ and committed to developing a place that students of all backgrounds could call home,” Hancock said. “Wheaton is a different place now than when we graduated 35 years ago, in large part due to Rodney.”

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