Andy Housiaux, Instructor and Chair in Philosophy and Religious Studies, has been announced as the second Currie Family Director of the Tang Institute, an ideas lab dedicated to student learning.
Succeeding Caroline Nolan, the current director, Housiaux will carry on the Tang Institute’s vision to create meaningful learning and teaching experiences for students and teachers.
“I am humbled and honored by this appointment. The Tang Institute offers the opportunity for [Andover] to make possible our longtime ideals of Non Sibi and Youth From Every Quarter by joining them to newer convictions: a commitment to equity and inclusion, ongoing learning and professional growth, and collaboration with partners near and far,” wrote Housiaux in an email to The Phillipian.
Housiaux continued, “I look forward to the opportunity to build upon the superb work of Caroline Nolan and help guide the Tang Institute in its next phase of reflection and growth.”
Head of School John Palfrey expressed excitement for Housiaux’s new role as Director, noting that Housiaux’s time leading the Tang Institute will be informed by his experience as an educator.
“I think [Mr. Housiaux] is a wonderful successor to Ms. Nolan, in part because he has been a classroom teacher here and has been a department chair. And I think Ms. Nolan has done a completely perfect job as the founding director, and I think, for the second phase, to have someone with Mr. Housiaux’s teaching background here will bring a slightly different emphasis in a way that could be very, very positive. I think he will also build upon the work that the Tang Institute has done in terms of projecting outward,” said Palfrey.
As the first Currie Family Director of the Tang Institute, Nolan said that her initial goals were to simply learn about and create a platform for educators in their work of learning and growth.
“I work with a bunch of different collaborators on campus to support these faculty fellows to try and think about the most effective ways to grow these projects, to share what we’re learning, to assess their impact, and ideally, where it works, to be in conversation with other educators and practitioners who are thinking about similar ideas and similar projects,” said Nolan.
Oscar Tang ’56, the main donor for the Tang Institute, said that he wanted the Tang Institute to be able to make Andover’s resources accessible to people outside of the Andover community. Tang, who served as President of the Board of Trustees from 2004 to 2012, played a crucial role in founding the Tang Institute as well as implementing Andover’s need-blind policy.
Tang said, “When I was President of the Board [of Trustees], I struggled with the concept of equal opportunity, if you will. And so we implemented the needblind policy for the school in order to try to level the playing field for the students that were actually here… But it always struck me that, for such a privileged institution as we are, we have such resources and we have such — not only financial but in terms of intellectual — capability among the faculty and students, that for me, it was important that we find a way to protect that capability more broadly to the rest of the world.”
“It’s important that we have access for the students that are actually here, but it’s also important that we have access to the resources that we have here to others as well,” continued Tang. Agnes Hsu-Tang, former professor in Chinese archaeology at Brown University and Tang’s wife, commended Andover’s philosophy of Youth From Every Quarter and noted how the Tang Institute is integral to Andover’s fulfillment of that ideal. “[Tang] had always told me that Andover’s motto is Youth From Every Quarter, and I always thought that the Tang Institute was to bring youth to every quarter. So, not only that you’re taking the best from everywhere, [but] you’re bringing them — you’re proliferating the spirit to everywhere else,” said Hsu-Tang.
Palfrey likened the Tang Institute’s goals to the Roman god Janus, emphasizing the importance of the two-fold distribution of Andover’s mission, assisted by the Tang Institute.
“The Roman god Janus is often depicted with faces in two directions… I think of the Tang Institute in that way. It faces inward — it faces the 1,100 students who come here — but it also faces outward. And so — this may be on the Non Sibi end — it’s not necessarily just for [students]. It’s also for kids who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to experience Andover: students who would use the Khan Academy teaching materials that they developed here [or] kids who find the videos that have been created in sciences. [These] are great ways to teach kids who interact with us through various partnerships [and] are ways in which, I think, the wealth of Andover can be projected outward as well as inward. To my mind, those things actually reinforce one another in a really positive way,” said Palfrey.
Before his appointment, Housiax worked as a Tang Fellow on the Mindful Community Project. Throughout his time as a fellow, Housiaux has seen the implementation of mindfulness in the form of weekly meditation sessions and as integration into leadership training as well as into several schedules of sports teams.
“For the past three years, I have been a Tang Fellow, where I have worked on the Mindful Community project. This project aims to support students, staff, and faculty who wish to practice mindfulness to create a greater sense of emotional balance and calm in their daily lives,” wrote Housiaux.
Housiaux continued, “In concrete terms, a number of different events take place on and off campus to support this project. There are four community meditation sessions a week, two for students and two for adults. [Andover Girls Soccer] sets aside practice time for mindfulness each week, and a range of other sports teams, including Track and Field and Girls Squash, have also incorporated mindfulness and mental training into their practices. Student leadership orientation programs have also had some mindfulness training, and that may be enhanced in years to come,” wrote Housiaux.
Palfrey said that he is excited for Housiaux’s role as Director of the Tang Institute and is especially looking forward to the innovation and new ideas that Housiaux will bring.
“I am hugely excited. I am most excited about the ideas that I can’t think of right now. The point of having a center dedicated to creativity and innovation is that you’re putting out a call to brilliant people to come forward and to try something out. So I look forward to the unexpected,” said Palfrey.