January 05, 2023

Updates on Anti-Racism Task Force recommendations

Several initiatives making progress as a result of March 2022 report

Members of the campus community have been working steadily to advance recommendations made by the Andover Anti-Racism Task Force (AATF). The full report was released in March 2022, along with a history of diversity, equity and inclusion at Andover, and a dashboard tracking progress on recent initiatives.

Linda Carter Griffith, associate head of school for equity, inclusion, and wellness, updated the campus community on these efforts in December. “Continued DEI progress relies on our collective commitment to grow and develop as individuals and to invest in institutional practices and systems that support an inclusive community,” she said. “I am especially grateful to the Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (IDEA) Committee for their partnership in helping to track Andover’s highest priorities.”

While highlighting the following initiatives (below), she noted that neither this list nor the dashboard represents the full scope of work being done to achieve a more equitable and inclusive community.

“The task forces recommendations affect every area of the Academy from the board level to academics and student life to the administration,” Griffith said. “I invite your thoughts and participation in our ongoing efforts.”

Family Engagement Office

A committee consisting of colleagues representing family-facing offices is working to design and launch Andovers inaugural Family Engagement office. The group has invited campus partners to bring their vision for the essential operations of the new office, which is expected to open in summer 2023. Essential functions will include the following:

  • Onboarding and orientation for new families
  • Serving as an information/resource hub for families
  • Developing policies to improve the family experience
  • Partnering in development of new parent portal and other platforms
  • Collaborating with Associate Head of School and campus partners on programming
  • Developing FAQs to help families navigate Andover’s processes

Admission Practices

In an effort to create an equitable experience for all applicants as well as to reduce unconscious bias and increase access to Andovers admissions process, the Admissions Office has implemented several changes:

  • Applicants have the option to interview on campus or virtually, or to submit a personal video in place of having a formal interview.
  • To create a consistent experience for all students, all interviewers cover three standard questions after learning about students and their interests. These questions are sent to students in advance of their appointment. The interview reports reflect these changes by focusing on student’ responses to these three questions.

Staff Council

The AATF report specifically recommended creating a staff council “to offer staff members an opportunity to share concerns, ideas, and opportunities with the Head of School.” In March of 2022, the staff council began to meet twice a month with the Chief of Staff; the Head of School joins once a month. The council comprises staff members from across different departments and serves as a sounding board for the Head of School while also being “the voice of the staff.”

Staff and Administrator Recruitment and Onboarding

A redesigned new employee orientation program was launched in spring 2022, and in fall 2022 checklists for managers onboarding new employees were rolled out. Human Resources is also leveraging LinkedIn for its recruiting efforts including its active recruiting features that allow HR and hiring managers to seek out individuals and encourage them to apply.

Student Clubs

The IDEA Committee has established a working group to review student club culture and to develop competencies and improved guidelines and expectations for clubs and advisors. With 150 clubs and climbing, it is in our shared interest to enhance student club oversight, accountability, and best practices.

Additionally, the inaugural Student Equity and Inclusion Advisory Board is being formed. In an effort to increase student voice and engagement in the school’s efforts towards antiracism, Griffith will seek nominations from the student body this winter.

Faculty Recruitment and Retention

The AATF made a series of recommendations to further hiring, onboarding, and retention of BIPOC faculty. The IDEA Committee has established a working group to learn more about current hiring processes at Phillips Academy. The group is reaching out to the Dean of Faculty and the Assistant Head of School for Analytic Support and Assessment to learn about the exit interview process and any recurring themes.

The group has noted that recent expansions to our candidate development strategy, including partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and University graduate schools, HBCU Connect, StrateGenius, and IRT, as well as revisions to the annual training of department chairs and search committees, promise to further our anti-racist practices and recruitment of BIPOC faculty.

Development and Alumni Engagement

In an effort to develop strategic frameworks to support alumni by affinity including race, gender, sexual orientation and professional pursuits, we hired our first Director of Affinity Engagement in summer 2022, and he is creating a strategic and operational plan to further advance this work, implementation of which will begin in spring 2023.

An inaugural pilot survey, which will increase data integrity of alumni and parent records in the areas of race, ethnicity and gender identity was administered to five alumni classes with good success earlier this year. The survey is now being implemented as a part of OAR’s annual data integrity efforts.

Responding to Global Crises

Increasingly schools are encouraged or compelled to state their position on issues of national or global urgency. Examples include the January 6th insurrection, the war in Ukraine, mass casualties at a Buffalo, NY supermarket and a school in Uvalde, TX. Last fall, the Chief Communications Officer led an effort to develop a set of questions and considerations to help determine when it is appropriate for Phillips Academy to issue a statement. Guided by mission and values, the overarching premise is to link any statement the school may make to action and education. Having a strategic approach has generated both clarity and conversation around this important topic and has implications for how we support students, faculty, and staff.

Categories: Campus Life

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