Phillips Exeter Names Hassan 14th Principal

Phillips Exeter Academy announced Friday that Thomas Hassan will be the school’s 14th Principal, succeeding Tyler Tingley, who plans to retire in June after 12 years as Principal. For the past eight years, Hassan has been the Assistant Principal at Exeter and served for two terms as Acting Principal from 2005-2006. Hassan has worked at Exeter for the past 20 years as an Instructor in Mathematics but has also held positions including Director of College Counseling and Director of Admissions. “I’ve seen Exeter from a variety of vantage points and have a deep love and knowledge of this place,” Hassan told The Phillipian. “I just felt excited for the possibility of being the next leader of Exeter.” Hassan has several connections to Phillips Academy as well. In the early 1980s, Hassan taught math at Andover’s summer outreach program (MS)2 – Math and Science for Minority Students. Rebecca Sykes, Associate Head of School, said that she has known Hassan for over 30 years and “maintained a professional connection” with him because of the similar nature of their jobs as Associate Head of School and Assistant Principal. According to Sykes, she and Hassan get together for lunch at least once a year to “compare notes” and to “get ideas and perspectives from one another.” She added, “I know [Hassan] better [than Tingley], so I am expecting that I will have more interaction with him, just because of that.” Sykes said that she is looking forward to meeting with Hassan at Andover/Exeter weekend. “There are always challenges in running a school and I think that Tom [Hassan] is more than capable of doing that job well and with integrity and innovation,” said Sykes. Hassan said that he has previously worked closely with other people at Andover as well, including Jane Fried, Dean of Admission, Carl Bewig, Associate Director of College Counseling, and Victor Henningsen, Instructor in History and Social Science. Hassan said that he is also “friends and good colleagues” with Barbara Chase, Head of School. The search for Exeter’s next principal began last year after Tingley announced his intentions to retire, said Hassan. Exeter formed a Principal Search Committee comprised of five Trustees, four faculty members and one administrator. “[The committee] geared up last winter and spring to collect all the information about what they were looking for in a candidate,” said Hassan. “Then they moved into a period of talking to people who might have interest.” Over 150 candidates expressed interest in the job, according to a press release issued by Exeter’s Communications Office. The applicants consisted of faculty and administrators from secondary schools, liberal arts colleges and Ivy League schools. Hassan began discussing the idea with a search consultant this June and interviewed with the search committee in September and October. Students at Exeter were able to give input during the selection process. According to Madeleine Henry ’10 of Exeter, students completed a questionnaire offering their thoughts on the qualifications necessary for Principal. They then sent their responses to the Principal Search Committee by email. Hassan said students primarily expressed an interest for a “principal who is pretty accessible to the students.” In October, the search committee narrowed down the candidates to two finalists – Hassan and Dean at Williams College Nancy Roseman. Last Thursday, the search committee chose Hassan and recommended their selection to Exeter’s Board of Trustees, at which point Hassan was notified. The next day, the school publicly announced the committee’s and the Trustees’ decision at an all-school assembly. Henry said that Hassan’s reception was “overwhelmingly positive” among students. Hassan said that he is looking forward to assuming Tingley’s position and does not expect that he will have to prepare extensively for the transition. “Mr. Tingley and I have always worked very closely,” said Hassan. “There is really nothing that has come across his desk that I don’t know about, but I think we will be talking about transitioning things throughout the next several months. He continued, “We’ve always had a very open relationship, so there won’t be many – if any – surprises when I take over.” Hassan will also need to choose an Assistant Principal to replace him once he becomes Principal. He said that he will probably consult faculty and administrators as he makes the appointment. “What is great is that I have those connections already, so I don’t have to establish them,” said Hassan. “I think that there is a wonderfully unique and historic connection between the two schools and so it excites me to continue forging that relationship.”