April 01, 2019

Remembering Trustee Emeritus Dan Cunningham ’67

A legend in the boardroom, he served with wisdom and compassion for 19 years

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An extraordinary volunteer who served nearly two decades as a Phillips Academy trustee, Dan Cunningham ’67 passed away on March 31. He leaves his wife, Alice, and sons Stephen and Philip.

Cunningham was devoted to causes that kept Andover accessible to youth from every quarter and connected to communities beyond campus. He balanced a life of service with a high profile career as an internationally renowned attorney.

Andover’s core values inspired and motivated Cunningham’s leadership. He held more than a dozen volunteer roles, including Alumni Council president and 19 years as a trustee. He gave generously of his wisdom and resources, always ensuring that Andover embraced its ideal as a private school with a public purpose.

Dan was one of the most persuasive voices in the room when the Board of Trustees endorsed a need-blind admission policy in 2007.

Peter Currie ’74, P’03 Board President

Cunningham’s presence in the boardroom “featured astute insights delivered with signature dry wit,” said Board President Peter Currie ’74, P’03. He also lent his expertise on a number of trustee committees and served on important task forces, including Strategic Planning (2003-2004) and Financial Aid (2008-2012).

He chaired the 2007 Task Force on Outreach and Institutional Identity, which reaffirmed Andover’s investment in programs that benefit students in the Merrimack Valley and far beyond: (MS)2, Andover Bread Loaf, PALS, and the Institute for Recruitment of Teachers. The task force helped to strengthen these entities through consistent approaches to governance, management, and fundraising.

He also served on the search committee that recommended John Palfrey as the 15th head of school. Palfrey fondly remembered his encounters with Cunningham, from the earliest interview session to their partnership in the boardroom.

“Dan was among the first to warmly and graciously welcome me to the community,” said Palfrey. “In the boardroom, we could always count on his wisdom and institutional knowledge, and his astute analysis of the issues. He embodied what it means to lead and serve with compassion and decisiveness. We will miss him dearly.”

Inspired by Andover’s values and his own experience as a student who relied on financial aid, Cunningham also believed that the school must remain accessible across the economic spectrum. “The thought that some students were turned away, due to financial circumstances and Andover’s limited scholarship funds, did not sit well with him,” said Currie. “Dan was one of the most persuasive voices in the room when the Board of Trustees endorsed a need-blind admission policy in 2007.”

After earning his own spot at Andover and thriving as a student, Cunningham went on to Princeton University and Harvard Law School.

When Cunningham retired from the board in 2015, Currie gave a moving tribute that brought the crowd of alumni and faculty well-wishers to their feet.

Categories: Alumni

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