Trustees with Robotics Class
February 12, 2020

Hands-on learning, faculty honors, Academy finances on trustees’ agenda

Five instructorships and one teaching foundation awarded
by Tracy Sweet

Trustees ventured back to the classroom on Friday, placing themselves in the talented hands of faculty and experiencing firsthand the versatility of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library.

Board members programmed robots in The Nest with physics instructor Carol Artacho. Archivist Paige Roberts and Hijoo Son, geographer-at-large, guided them through a study of historic American landmarks using the Sidney R. Knafel Map Collection. Teamwork prevailed in mathematics, statistics, and computer science as they worked through a whiteboard full of angles and formulas in problem-based geometry with instructor Heidi Wall ’94, while others tackled text data sets with instructor Nick Zufelt.

Trustees looking at a selection from the Knafel Map Collection

The curricular experience extended to College Counseling in the afternoon when CCO Dean Sean Logan and Director Kassy Fritz facilitated a series of discussions centered on the college admissions environment. They led board members through “What would we do if…” scenarios illuminated by the “Varsity Blues” scandal and other headlines that have fueled close scrutiny of the system and reinforced the importance of accountability and best practices.

Known for its intentional curriculum that paces students and families through the college admission process, the CCO continues to assess its work. General Counsel Jessica Herbster is partnering with the team on an internal review. “We practice equity, consistency, and clarity, regardless of a family’s financial means, legacy, or other connections,” said Fritz. “We want to remain confident in defense of our policies and practices.”

“This is a seminal moment in college admissions,” Logan added. “And we will continue to cultivate strong relationships with schools by building on the Andover story and encouraging students to do Andover well—to take advantage of the resources and sophisticated programming seen at no other high school.”

A theme of teaching and learning stretched into the evening, when six faculty members were honored at a dinner reception in the Snyder Center. Made possible by the generosity of donors, the following five instructorships and one teaching foundation were awarded by Dean of Faculty Jeff Domina:

  • Richard J. Phelps Instructorship—Kassie Archambault ’06, instructor in Russian
  • Mesics Family Campaign Andover Instructorship—Khiem DoBa, instructor in mathematics, statistics, and computer science
  • Lumpkin Family Bicentennial Instructorship—Elizabeth Joseph, instructor in mathematics, statistics, and computer science
  • Elizabeth Rogers Instructorship—Elizabeth Monroe, instructor in history and social science
  • John H. Porter, Jr., Bicentennial Instructorship #1—Carmen Muñoz-Fernández, instructor in Spanish
  • Independence Foundation Teaching Endowment #2—John Rogers, instructor in physics and chemistry

In the boardroom:

  • Trustees approved the framework of the FY2021 budget, including boarding and day tuition, need-blind financial aid, and increases to faculty and staff salary pools.
  • Looking beyond the next fiscal year, Ferd Alonso, assistant head of school for administration and chief financial officer, and Trustee David Corkins ’84, chair of the finance committee, took the board through a series of strategic projections.

    With continued reliance on the endowment to fund a substantial portion of the school’s annual budget, the board remains wary of a future economic downturn and the long-term sustainability of the Academy’s current endowment draw rate. The endowment’s average returns have hovered around 9 percent during the bull market of the last decade.

    “We cannot responsibly assume these conditions will continue,” said Corkins. “We need to be prepared.” Trustee Gil Caffray ’71, chair of the investment committee, agreed. “We have enormous aspirations, and those come at a steep price,” he said. “At the same time, we must continue to think in terms of preserving Andover’s purchasing power for the long term.” Among peer schools, Andover’s endowment value is second only to Exeter’s; however, its endowment value per student ranks fourth.
  • The board’s update on philanthropy included good news with respect to alumni and parent donors midway through the fiscal year. With momentum from the Andover/Exeter Challenge and positive response to an award-winning fall appeal, donor counts are pacing well ahead of recent years. Trustees also heard a report on potential candidates for alumni trustee and an update on the redesign of Andover magazine.
Categories: Leadership

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