Former Dean Dissette Passes Away After Prolonged Illness

Former Phillips Academy Dean of Admissions and founding Director of the International Academic Partnership Jeannie Ford Dissette died three weeks ago at the age of 54. Ms. Dissette, who passed away September 6 in Rockport, Maine after a long illness, sued the Academy in 1998, claiming she had been wrongly fired two years previously. Two years after her dismissal, Ms. Dissette filed a lawsuit against the school, claiming that her contract had been illegitimately terminated and that Head of School Barbara Landis Chase had “fabricate[ed] false and defamatory statements” about her.” The school denied all accusations. Ms. Dissette initially requested $750,000 in legal expenses, emotional damages and employment benefits from the Academy. However, the suit was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. Although she will be most remembered for her public dispute with the school, Ms. Dissette contributed much to the Academy during her tenure in the Admissions Office and the IAP. Ms. Dissette joined the Academy faculty as Dean of Admissions in 1985 after working in the University of Pennsylvania Admissions office for 12 years. Between 1985 and 1992, Ms. Dissette greatly reformed the admissions process. She computerized the office and advocated for need-blind admissions. Dedicated to the philosophy of “youth from every quarter,” she placed new emphasis on international diversity. Ms. Dissette also increased the use of research in establishing policies. “She loved to crunch numbers, looking for trends and potential new markets,” said Jane Fried, who succeeded Ms. Dissette as Dean of Admissions. In 1993, Ms. Dissette became the first director of the IAP, a partnership with the Aga Khan Education Services which runs a network of primary and secondary schools throughout the world. She was instrumental in establishing the program and traveled extensively to build relationships with schools. After she left Andover, Ms. Dissette moved to Rockport where she worked as the director of adult education for the Five-Town Community School District and was involved in community service. She was divorced and had no children.