Chard, who is gay, will be the college’s 14th president.
Founded in 1888, Wheelock College focuses on preparing students for careers in education, social work and child life.
“Chard stood out not only for his outstanding leadership at Southern Methodist University, but for his innovative thinking, focus on diversity and inclusion, and lifelong commitment to education,” said Kate Taylor, chair of the Wheelock College Board of Trustees.
SMU President Gerald Turner praised Chard’s work elevating the Simmons to national prominence.
“David Chard has been the ideal dean to build the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development as a national resource with a particular impact on our community,” Turner said in a statement. “He has led programs and attracted research funding that will strengthen the quality of education through evidence-based practices. He has made the Simmons school a strategic partner with the community in improving education opportunities for under-served young people. He is a national leader in education. We wish him the best of success at Wheelock.”
One of those strategic partnerships includes the SMU Center for Family Counseling at Resource Center. The partnership, which has been operating since 2008, allows graduate counseling students to provide counseling services under the supervision of doctoral licensed university faculty and staff at Resource Center.
“David is a very, very, very good friend,” Resource Center CEO Cece Cox said. “I was introduced to him early on when I was at Resource Center and he was at SMU. We’ve worked closely together and also developed a business relationship.”
Cox, who also serves on the Simmons School’s executive committee, said Chard’s being openly gay was a positive step for the university.
“His being openly gay was instrumental in raising awareness of and influencing positive efforts regarding the LGBT community,” Cox added. “When you have a seat at the table, you have a say.”
Chard will also be one of the few out leaders of a private, four-year college or university in the country. Others include Sterling College’s Matthew Derr, president of the rural environmental liberal arts college in Vermont and Nancy Roseman, president of Dickinson College, a Pennsylvania liberal arts college.
Chard was appointed by President Barack Obama to the Board of Directors of the National Board for Education in 2012 and elected chair. The board oversees and directs the work of the Institute of Education Sciences, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education.
Steven Currall, SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs, will be appointing an interim dean prior to Dean Chard’s departure from SMU. A search committee will look for Chard’s replacement through the 2016-17 school year.