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New president presides over Alumni Council Weekend

Greater awareness and productivity among council goals

A record 80 percent of the Alumni Council—115 alumni—returned to campus on a mild November weekend to welcome new members, discuss council business, and hear presentations on various Academy initiatives.

Early arriving guests were treated to a presentation by Judith Dolkart, the Mary Stripp and R. Crosby Kemper Director of the Addison Gallery of American Art, who spoke about the many ways the Addison collection is used to augment Academy courses. She also described ongoing efforts to expand the permanent collection. The Addison program was followed by a “get acquainted reception” in the Underwood Room.

Ryan Wheeler, director of the Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology, hosted a tour of the museum. At the same time, 41 of the Alumni Council’s 42 new members introduced themselves at a lively orientation conducted by incoming president Misty Muscatel ’01 and other council leaders.

The council then assembled for a presentation about attracting and sustaining a first-rate faculty, hosted by Dean of Faculty Patrick Farrell. Eight faculty members joined Farrell in describing their varied journeys to Andover and reasons for staying. A common theme was a desire to teach students who are “eager to learn, not just in the classroom but also through conversations in dorms, athletics, and other activities.” Several faculty members also mentioned the attraction of contributing to an intentionally diverse community and Andover’s openness to creativity and individual teaching styles.

The council then gathered with members of the Board of Trustees and the Andover Development Board for a luncheon presentation on Learning in the World, a Tang Institute program that provides students with experiential learning opportunities in nearly 20 domestic and international locations. Students discussed the impact of their experiences in places such as Germany, Brazil, India, Peru, France, and South Africa and the lessons they continue to process months—and even years—after returning to Andover.

Following lunch, the council heard from Trustee President Peter Currie ’74 and Head of School John Palfrey, who touched briefly on the following topics:

  • The challenge of “keeping school well,” including issues of admitting excellent students, assuring high-quality pedagogy, and supporting an outstanding faculty
  • An increased emphasis on student health and well-being, a focus of the Rebecca M. Sykes Wellness Center, which opened December 3
  • Moving forward with the Athletics Master Plan to overhaul facilities largely constructed in the 1950s for a school of 700 boys
  • Continued support for connected learning initiatives of the Tang Institute
  • The development of a Campus Master Plan, which will recognize community input as well as pedagogical, geographic, physical, and financial constraints

During the afternoon session, Muscatel introduced the council’s three vice presidents: David Brown ’95, who will chair the nominating committee; Stacy Metcalf ’90, who will lead efforts to keep committee activities focused on the council’s strategic plan; and Steve Matloff ’91, who will chair the Governance Committee. She also outlined five goals for her three-year term:

  1. Broaden awareness of the Alumni Council “brand” among the alumni body.
  2. Increase the activity and productivity of committees between council meetings.
  3. Encourage programs that engage an increasing number of alumni.
  4. Maintain attendance levels of at least 75 percent at all council meetings.
  5. Attain 100 percent member participation in the Andover Fund.

Following Muscatel’s remarks, Alumni Communications Committee Cochair Mark Jaklovsky ’93 provided a brief tutorial on the use of Teamwork, the council’s new platform for committee use and internal communication.

Committee meetings focused on welcoming new members, redrafting mission statements, and reviewing recent projects. When the full council reconvened, members heard brief reports from the Annual Giving Board and the council’s three ad hoc committees: the Abbot Academy Engagement Initiative, Andover and the Military Committee, and Andover Alumni Award of Distinction Committee.

The afternoon concluded with a presentation by Michael Barker, director of Academy research, information, and library services. Barker described the genesis and implementation of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library’s new Makerspace, which is devoted to student creativity, fabrication of potential products, and entrepreneurship. Since last spring, some 150 students have used the space, which they have named “The Nest.” It is equipped with 3-D printers, vinyl cutters, computers, and other equipment and materials for their use. Barker then led a brief tour of the Makerspace, located on the first level of the OWHL.

A dinner in the Smith Center included more than 250 faculty, alumni, and administrators and recognized the service of retiring charter trustee Daniel Cunningham ’67. In addition, four faculty members were awarded instructorships for excellence in teaching.

Saturday morning’s program included committee meetings, resulting in brief reports at the subsequent full council meeting. Secretary of the Academy Thom Lockerby spoke about the role of the Office of Academy Resources, describing the need to balance the nostalgia alumni may feel for the school with the need to look to the future. He urged members to provide feedback that could be used to help develop new, more effective ways to garner alumni support for the Academy.

At the conclusion of Alumni Council meetings, members enjoyed a luncheon at Paresky Commons headlined by Assistant Head of School for Equity and Inclusion Linda Carter Griffith, who spoke about her new role, explained how equity and inclusion are different from diversity, and described the challenges of supporting an increasingly diverse student body, of which 46 percent are students of color.

During its regular school year, PA serves approximately 1,120 students from 49 states and 39 countries.

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