June 17, 2020

Actions to address systemic racism

Trustees reaffirm DE&I progress and set course for expanded efforts

To the Andover community:

On behalf of the Phillips Academy Board of Trustees, we acknowledge that this is a profoundly painful time in our country, marked by a series of tragic acts of violence against George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and countless other Black people in the United States. For those who are hurting, please accept our heartfelt compassion and support. In the face of widespread anger and chaos, we stand together in solidarity for what is right and just.

We reaffirm Andover’s commitment to educate youth from every quarter, and in doing so, preparing students to combat systemic racism in our institutions and our country.

Across generations of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents—of myriad races, cultures, and identities—we have gathered over these recent days to grieve, to express outrage and frustration, and to support one another. We have heard and read painful personal experiences shared in virtual gatherings and social media.

To the Black members of our community and beyond: We see you; we hear you; we are suffering with you. We acknowledge that Black Lives Matter and support the movement.

Our 2014 Strategic Plan, Connecting Our Strengths, placed Equity and Inclusion as a central pillar upon which we remain accountable. We must re-examine that pillar, with new context, and ask how Andover can have the greatest impact in the ongoing battle to dismantle systems of racism and oppression.

Andover is proud of its intentional diversity, and while we have made efforts to create an equitable and inclusive community, we know there is more we can and must do. Guided by the Equity and Inclusion Committee of the Board of Trustees and working closely with school leadership, including incoming Head of School Dr. Raynard Kington, Andover will take the following actions:

  1. Reaffirm the Board of Trustees’ commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). This will include re-examining the board’s efforts to enhance its own diversity and make changes where necessary, increasing efforts to embrace equity and inclusion in all board endeavors, requiring anti-racism education for all trustees, and extending the charter of the Committee on Equity and Inclusion.
  2. Dedicate a task force to establish Andover’s strategic focus on anti-racism. The task force will review recently collected data and feedback from students and campus adults; critically examine current practices, systems, and structures; and analyze results to determine what actions Andover must take to build upon its broad and deep work in equity and inclusion. The task force’s formal charge and membership will be considered by Dr. Kington after his arrival this summer. We seek a report, with recommendations, in the fall.
  3. Assess and deepen the intellectual pursuits of the 2014 Strategic Plan pillar of Equity and Inclusion. Andover will take measure of academic and co-curricular programs, including Empathy, Balance, and Inclusion courses to expand its commitment to anti-racist education. We will build on efforts of the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies to embed inquiry of race and ethnicity within the core curriculum.
  4. Expand Community and Multicultural Development (CAMD) initiatives, including support for affinity groups that underpin identity development and affirm students of color. Continue CAMD’s justice series, which examines anti-black and white supremacist ideologies in the criminal justice system, economic and educational institutions, and voter disenfranchisement.
  5. Continue to engage alumni in opportunities for meaningful reflection on racism and systemic oppression. As it so often has, our alumni community has stepped forward to lead important conversations affecting both Phillips Academy and the broader world. We will build on this work by hosting a series of discussions and a forum featuring some of the best minds in our community.
  6. Launch a trustee-sponsored challenge that directly impacts access for students of color and affirms our mission as a private school with a public purpose. The board is initiating a fundraising match to encourage support of CAMD and equity and inclusion efforts; Outreach Programs (Institute for Recruitment of Teachers, (MS)2, Andover Bread Loaf, and PALS); and endowed scholarships that support students of color: the Richard T. Greener Scholarship, the Sojourner Truth Fund, and the Todd A. Isaac Scholarship. More than 30 current and former trustees have committed $1.2 million to this matching fund, and donations to these purposes will be matched dollar for dollar up to this threshold. You will learn more about these efforts in the days to come.

These actions will build on Andover’s heritage to expand opportunities for Black and other underrepresented students. Founded at Andover in 1963, A Better Chance has paved a path to college for more than 16,000 students of color. Each summer since 1977, (MS)2 has provided tuition-free access to STEM education for underrepresented students. More than 1,000 educators and administrators of color have launched careers through Andover’s Institute for Recruitment of Teachers.

The school’s 2004 Strategic Plan’s emphasis on access sharpened our focus and resolve. In 2008, trustees made an enduring commitment to need-blind admission; Andover now assesses every applicant for talent and potential, regardless of economic circumstances. Financial aid is our action statement, supporting more than 550 students each year. It is also a contemporary extension of our founders’ vision to educate youth from every quarter.

Andover’s work among secondary schools is deeply rooted in inquiry and educational programming and includes: student advocacy and activism, faculty-student research, courses that examine race and challenge historical narratives, and faculty thought leadership. Because nearly every one of the Academy’s 600 employees has participated in DE&I professional development, our campus community shares a fluency that provides a strong baseline for ongoing engagement.

Andover has never been a school, however, that rests satisfied with an empty checklist. Like the Academy itself, 242 years in the making, DE&I initiatives remain a work in progress.

We will continue to hear one another and expand upon what we’ve learned from the scholars and educators who have engaged with our campus community. We are especially inspired today by the ideas and work of Patrisse Cullors and Ibram Kendi and the perspective of author Robin DiAn ge lo.

Charting a way forward is the responsibility of every one of us—and needs the strong minds and generous hearts of our campus community and our extended family of alumni and parents. This work is especially crucial for our students, who will apply what they’ve learned on and off campus across a spectrum of urgent societal needs.

Andover has made deep and meaningful progress to date. In these challenging times, Andover must stretch itself in the pursuit of excellence and its mission of achieving knowledge for a greater good.


Amy Falls ’82, P’19, ’21
President-elect, Board of Trustees

Gary Lee ’74
Chair, Trustee Committee on Equity and Inclusion

Jim Ventre ’79
Interim Head of School

Categories: Leadership, AATF

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