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John Palfrey begins tenure as head of school

Andover’s 15th head of school officially picks up the reins from Barbara Chase

July 02, 2012 —After more than a decade serving Harvard University in a variety of academic capacities, John G. Palfrey Jr. reported to work for the first time today at Phillips Academy in his new role as head of school.

The 39-year-old author, law professor, and scholar succeeds Barbara Landis Chase, who retired after serving in the role for 18 years. Palfrey is just the 15th person to hold the head of school position in the Academy’s 234-year history. His formal investiture is planned for Sunday, Sept. 23 on campus.

Prior to Andover, Palfrey was the Henry N. Ess III Professor of Law and Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources at Harvard Law School. A recognized thought leader in the field of internet law, intellectual property, and on the impact of digital technologies on societies and education, Palfrey served as the executive director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard from 2002 to 2008, where he secured millions of dollars in funding for and oversaw programs to examine the far-reaching effects of the internet and digitized information on commerce, governance, and education.

Palfrey is the author or co-author of several books, his most recent released just last month titled “Interop: The Promise and Perils of Highly Interconnected Systems.” Previous works include “Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives” and “Access Denied: The Practice and Politics of Global Internet Filtering.”

Anticipating the start of his tenure, Palfrey said he is looking forward to “joining a spirited, dedicated, and inquisitive community whose long-held values are lived each day.

“Core values—non sibi, goodness and knowledge, youth from every quarter—form the bedrock of Andover. How can we build upon these precepts to prepare students for a world marked by globalization and innovation? Andover is the kind of place that can ask and answer these questions, and it is exciting to think where those conversations may lead.”

Palfrey began his teaching career as teaching fellow at Harvard University, where he taught internet law courses from 2000-2001. He returned to teaching at Harvard Law School in 2002 after spending a year with the Boston law firm Ropes & Gray LLP. During the 2007-2008 academic year, he was a visiting professor of Information Law and Policy at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. He also served as a special assistant at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during the Clinton administration.

Those interested in connecting with Palfrey via social media are invited to subscribe to his Facebook page (you must first be logged in to Facebook), follow him on Twitter, and/or visit his blog. Palfrey is married to Catherine Carter, and they are the parents of two children, Jack, 9, and Emeline, 6.


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