Picking the Next Dean

For the first time in the Phillips Academy’s history, students will be involved in choosing a new Dean of Students. The question is, how? Student involvement in this process should be a conversation. Our thoughts should be heard, our questions answered. The administration should have a chance to respond and question us in turn. Those involved in the decision-making should actively seek out student opinion and create a forum to allow for continuous dialogue. Candidates should give students the opportunity to become acquainted with them, should be available to answer students’ questions and inquiries, and should allow discussion throughout the course of the application. The process should be transparent. The selection is one that will directly affect every member of the student body. The Dean will be in charge of our disciplinary system, housing system, and student organizations. Students should know who is applying, how the application process works and how the role may change. The Phillipian will do its best to play a part in communicating this information to the community, but the administration should also allow students a meaningful role in the process. Not only students but the entire community must be involved. Faculty submissions should be considered carefully. Administrators’ opinions should carry heavy weight. The departing Dean of Students has a unique perspective and can advise with valuable expertise. If these worthwhile and constructive perspectives are taken advantage of, then it is only appropriate that students also have a voice. Ultimately, we are the ones who will be most affected by the selection. By simply listening, the administration makes itself accessible, and by responding, it makes the process genuinely inclusive. This time for discussion is a chance for the administration to reach out to students, as well as an opportunity for the student body to begin an open and genuine relationship with the next Dean of Students. Let’s take advantage of it.