February 15, 2018

Trustee Weekend highlights

Conversations continue around equity and inclusion, fundraising priorities, and need-blind admission
by Tracy Sweet

Furthering its commitment to equity and inclusion (E&I) as a strategic pillar and lived community value, the Board of Trustees took part in a workshop facilitated by Robert Greene with members of the Senior Administrative Council. Exploring topics around unconscious bias, Greene encouraged individuals to identify moments of personal bias and to work toward greater awareness, resistance, and resilience.

Woven throughout the conversation was the student experience and the crucial nature of E&I as it affects personal growth and academic development. “It’s up to us to create the right conditions for that growth,” said one trustee.

The workshop was introduced by Trustee Gary Lee ’74, chair of the Equity and Inclusion Committee, and organized by Head of School John Palfrey, P’21, and Linda Carter Griffith, assistant head of school for equity, inclusion, and wellness.

Friday’s session advanced concepts introduced during a previous trustee workshop two years ago. Each session is designed to further develop trustees’ awareness around topics that include cultural competency, diversity, and inclusive leadership.

Music Building Concept

Architects from Architectural Resources Cambridge (ARC) presented renderings and a virtual tour of a proposed facility dedicated to music instruction and performance. The two-story, 30,000-square-foot facility (twice the size of Graves Hall) was shown with practice rooms and ensemble spaces, a recording studio, technology lab, music library, classrooms, and welcoming common areas. The design emphasizes flexible, multipurpose spaces that would accommodate soloists, orchestras, planned practices, and impromptu jam sessions. Trustees were pleased with the concept, which will now advance the project into fundraising within the framework of Knowledge & Goodness: The Andover Campaign.

Campaign Update

Thom Lockerby, secretary of the Academy, reported that Andover’s historic fundraising initiative is tracking very well as it approaches five months since launch. As of January 31, the campaign stood at $156.4 million in gifts and pledges. With $15 million raised toward the $20 million needed for renovation of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library, he cited that project as a top priority. He also said there is a place for all community members within the larger philanthropic effort: Only with continued support for the Andover Fund, the school’s annual foundation of current-use dollars, will the campaign succeed. On that note, he asked trustees to mark their calendars for PA Giving Day on May 9.

All-Gender Housing

An update on the school’s all-gender dorm pilot was given by Dean of Students Jenny Elliott ’94 and Emma Staffaroni, lead house counselor. As this year’s residential program emerged in response to student needs, Elliott said they have been impressed by the students who have demonstrated initiative and empathy in shaping an intentional community. With the board’s support, the program will continue, based on need, year to year. Students who seek this type of housing will continue to follow an application process that includes parent involvement, a personal written statement, and an adult reference, followed by a committee-based selection.

Staffaroni and Elliott emphasized how efforts to create a respectful and inclusive living environment in the all-gender dorm mirror a schoolwide effort to make the residential experience more inclusive for every student in every dorm.

Sustaining Need-Blind Admission

A presentation by Jim Ventre ’79, dean of admission and financial aid, and Ferd Alonso, dean of administration and finance, gave trustees a comprehensive look at how Andover operates need-blind admission. Management of the program is vitally important to the board, as demand for an Andover education continues to increase. Ventre explained new strategies aimed at reducing the potential for over-enrollment. Working with members of the campus Strategic Enrollment Group, he has identified key approaches that will allow Andover to better manage its applicant pool while still meeting the full demonstrated financial need of every student.

Finance Topics

Midway through the fiscal year, Chief Financial Officer Andrea Nix gave an update on Academy budgets. Among other highlights, she noted that managers have remained fiscally prudent and that Summer Session revenues came in higher than expected. The cost of health insurance remains a challenge, but she is cautiously optimistic that the Academy’s new approach to funding this benefit will have positive financial effects.

Trustees approved the foundational elements of the FY 2019 budget, which begins July 1, 2018. The board preserved need-blind admission for the 12th year in a row, as well as salary pools that maintain leadership in faculty compensation and market equity for staff and administrators. The board also set tuition for the 2018–2019 academic year and will release those figures in March. Final approval of the budget occurs during the board’s May meeting.

College Landscape

Dean of College Counseling Sean Logan and Director Kassy Fritz offered a view into the expanded role of their team. With a curriculum that begins in lower year and CCO staff who serve in multiple roles across the Academy, students and counselors have more opportunities to work together. College counseling focuses on developing life skills, self-reflection, and “doing Andover well.” With college decisions on the horizon, they discussed how the CCO worked with seniors to help them sort through challenging domestic and international situations over the past 10 months while preparing them to submit their applications. They also spoke about special support for those students who were particularly affected by the loss of their classmate Dan Nakajima. They also described expanded communication efforts with families and the evolving ways the CCO team is helping them navigate a complex process with the best interest of their child always in mind.

Categories: Leadership

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