OAR Consults Faculty On Capital Campaign

Hoping to solicit faculty input on the purpose statement of Phillips Academy’s still-unannounced capital campaign, the Office of Academy Resources (OAR) presented a draft of the campaign’s briefing paper at Monday night’s faculty meeting. The capital campaign, which is currently in its “silent phase,” has a fundraising goal of $300 million, hoping to accomplish the goals outlined in the 2004 Strategic Plan. Before the campaign’s statement of purpose is published to potential donors, OAR is gathering feedback. Campaign Director Christine Atwood said that the briefing paper will describe the Strategic Plan’s academic priorities in relation to funding priorities. During last week’s meeting, the faculty was offering feedback on what the campaign’s priorities should be. Atwood said that faculty input is very important and will likely bring changes to the leadership briefing and to OAR’s thinking as the campaign moves forward. The faculty first heard about school finances and the capital campaign in an earlier meeting with Chief Financial Officer Stephen Carter, Director of Financial Aid and Admission Operations Jim Ventre and Secretary of the Academy Peter Ramsey. Susanne Torabi, International Student Coordinator said, “[This meeting] was more like Mrs. Chase hearing from faculty members what we’d like to add or what we’d like to see in this pamphlet that eventually will go out to many people to raise enough money for our capital campaign.” At the meeting, OAR staff facilitated discussions in small groups of approximately nine faculty members. Vincent Avery, Instructor in Philosophy and Religious Studies, said, “The question was how to describe accurately and fairly what the academy wants to achieve by asking for the generosity of its donors.” While some goals of the capital campaign are already established, school officials are hoping to use community input to shape other funding priorities. Atwood said, “We know, for instance, that support for students through financial aid and support of the faculty through endowed teaching foundations and support for faculty development [are funding] priorities we can describe and we really know what they are.” Deborah Olander, Instructor in Math, said one recurring issue was providing students with the access to attend Phillips Academy and the support to succeed. Olander said, “That would be everything from quality faculty, to a good residential experience, to a good academic program, to a supportive environment in terms of help given to acclimate to the academic demands of our school, helping them residentially acclimate to being away from home, being sure they have lots of different opportunities to pursue in music and the arts and athletics.” Torabi said that some input was also about wording, since the paper is still a rough draft. “Rather than showing words like ‘Our school is the best,’ [we wanted to be] a little more humble about it, because there was some mention about the singularity of our school,” she said. Efforts for campus sustainability and athletic facilities were other priorities mentioned by the faculty groups, though both are projects that require more time and planning before new programs can be established. “They want about two to three million for athletic fields, and some faculty mentioned ‘What about the Borden Gym and other facilities?” said Torabi. Atwood confirmed that the athletic fields are a priority for fundraising at the moment, though plans have not yet been finalized. For the past year, school officials have traveled across the country and around the globe in hopes of engaging alumni and parents in a dialogue about Phillips Academy’s priorities. Torabi said, “I think the most important [part of the meeting] was for Mrs. Chase to get the feedback from the faculty to see what our concerns are, what we’d like to see addressed, and I think she got some good feedback on things that are important to us.”