Herb Morton to Leave His Post as PA Registrar

Herb Morton, Phillip’s Academy’s Registrar since 1976, will retire from that position at the end of this school year but continue to teach math and be the house counselor in Flagg House and an academic advisor. Dean of Faculty Temba Maqubela informed the faculty of Morton’s decision last Thursday in an email. The news appeared somewhat unexpected to some faculty members. “It surprised me,” said Deborah Olander, Instructor in Math, “But on the other hand, he’s been doing it for a long time, so it’s probably time to hand it over.” Though his decision to retire might have seemed sudden, Morton said, “I’ve been thinking about it for about a year now…Mr. Maqubela was just trying to wait until the time was right to make the announcement.” The Registrar leads a group of people that manages a vast storage bank of data for the Phillips Academy community. All of the official school records and student records are kept in a computer database program called Datatel. When Morton first started working, these records were kept using “pen and paper.” As technology improved, records were moved onto computers and then to the Datatel program. The job of Registrar requires extensive training and years to master the complex Datatel program. Next year, Morton will help the new Registrar to learn the job. Morton said, “It took me five years, so I’ll be around for training the next person up for this job.” Administrative Assistant Gail Ralston, who works closely with Morton in the Dean of Studies office, said that the job of Registrar “absolutely needs experience.” She said that in addition to understanding the “how,” it is also important to understand the “why” when it comes to handling such a job. After working at Phillips Academy for more than 30 years, Morton has gained an extraordinary “institutional memory” and the knowledge that comes with time, Ralston said. Since her first meeting with Morton 16 years ago, Ralston felt that Morton’s foremost quality is fairness. “He applied fair rules to everyone, and I remember him telling me how to do things, and when I should do things,” Ralston said. “We have so much mutual respect for each other and know what each other expects, which comes with working with someone for such a long time. I think [the transition] is going to be okay, but I’d hate to see him go… I can’t imagine working with anyone else!” Olander said that after the announcement, she had asked Morton, “Is this your general path to retirement?” “Who knows?” replied Morton. As for retiring from his job as an instructor in mathematics, Morton said, “I’m old enough, certainly, but I haven’t decided yet.”