A Bold Step Forward

When the Trustees endorsed the landmark need-blind admission policy, they did more than move Andover forward in the race with our peer schools. They set the tone for Andover in the 21st century. The bold new policy puts Andover’s “Youth from Every Quarter” initiative into action. Andover will be able to admit the most qualified students from around the world, whether or not their families are capable of paying the full cost of an Andover education. Maintaining a commitment to meet 100% of demonstrated need in the midst of an economic squall may test Andover’s resilience. Some economists estimate that the United States is on the brink of a major recession, which would put pressure on the endowment and make our needs-blind policy unsustainable. But while administrators are optimistic that Andover is well protected, those will not be shielded from national recession are the people for whom this policy has been created. Such a valiant step forward, even if in the direction a tidal wave, demonstrates Andover’s resolve in this next era of its history. The Trustees’ vote also indicated their confidence that our community is willing to make sacrifices in our pursuit of admirable goals. One such sacrifice may be the presence of our Head of School. The Trustees have rightfully put their faith in Mrs. Chase as a central proponent of the policy charged with seeing the initiative through. Bringing the funds together will require Mrs. Chase to work tirelessly, traveling the world as well as fulfilling her on-campus role. She may miss a few more All-School Meetings and Head of School’s Tables, but we should support her efforts in whatever way we can. Andover’s progress must continue well into the 21st century. If the needs-blind policy is successful, fifty years from now, Andover will be an extraordinary example of multicultural education, drawing students from varied cultural, ethnic, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds. When we can attract the most passionate and talented students in the world, the phrase “the best and the brightest” will come to life. The transformation, which has occurred here since the 1950’s, has changed the notion of this “prep” school. Pursuing diversity and equality is no longer a charitable endeavor, it is a moral obligation. In their vote, the Trustees indicated that Andover will continue on this path. There is still much to be done at Andover. We should apply the momentum of this latest initiative to other goals laid out by the 2004 Strategic Plan, by our Constitution and elsewhere. The Strategic Plan’s goals for the faculty and for the program should all be addressed. The ideal of non sibi, as explored early this fall on Non Sibi Day, must be further discussed. Issues of any eclectic community, such as race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and gender, must continue in the dialectic. The question of a student center, which falls below other important priorities, deserves to be examined nevertheless. Hopefully the new Commons will provide the area for student-gathering which students have desperately called for, but it may not. All of these issues should be considered as we march towards the Andover we envision. Today’s announcement set the pace for Andover’s next historical period. In the last 50 years the school has been transformed, and in the next 50 years Andover looks to be equally dynamic. If their recent vote was any indication, the Trustees will continue to transform Andover with a bold confidence in the viability of this community and its goals. To Mrs. Chase and to the rest of the Trustees, Andover is grateful.