Teaching Faculty Accept Early Retirement Package

Thirteen teaching faculty members will retire at the end of this school year, after accepting Andover’s Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program by the deadline last Thursday. The faculty members who will retire at the end of this school year are: Vincent Avery, Instructor in Philosophy and Religious Studies; Carl Bewig, Associate Director of College Counseling; Andrew Cline, Instructor in Math; George Dix, Instructor in Spanish; Susan McCaslin, Associate Dean of Faculty and Instructor in Philosophy and Religious Studies; David Penner, Instructor in Math; Alice Purington, Associate Director of College Counseling; Jonathan Stableford, Instructor in English; Elwin Sykes, Instructor in English; Stephen Wicks, Instructor in Art; and Derek Williams, Instructor in History. Steve Carter, Chief Financial Officer, said that Edwin Quattlebaum, Instructor in History and Social Science and Ruth Quattlebaum, Instructor in Art and the Archivist, have also accepted the VRIP package, and are officially taking a leave this year. Carter said the school expected between 10 and 15 faculty members to accept the program, so he is pleased with the number who accepted. “We wouldn’t want 30 people [to accept the program] because the difficulty of replacing those people would be quite high. If we got five people, [VRIP] really wouldn’t have been worth doing,” Carter said. The retirement package offers incentives for teaching faculty who are over 59 years old and have taught at PA for at least 20 years. Through the VRIP, the school will pay these teachers 70 percent of their final year’s salary for two years after their voluntary retirement. Administrators devised the program to consolidate the school’s operating budget during the economic downturn. According to Carter, the administration is not yet certain how much money the school will save from the VRIP. Carter estimated the amount to be between 300,000 and 500,000 dollars. “[The savings] will be substantial, because in hiring younger faculty, the new teachers come in at a lower rate,” Carter said. He added that Temba Maqubela, Dean of Faculty, “has to meet with department chairs to figure out what the open positions mean for the department. He’ll go into that mode for the rest of the fall. We’re still trying to figure out what the results are and what the results mean.” According to Carter, there is a relatively simple process ahead for those teachers who accepted the program. Carter said the teachers will have to sign official paperwork for documentation, but otherwise the program will be easy to follow through. Carter also said that the money conserved from the VRIP will contribute to the six million dollar budget cut that the school decided upon last year. McCaslin said she considered the program a positive step for Andover towards financial stability while being “far more humane” than layoffs. “I think [the retirement program] was received positively as an effort to deal with this issue rather than to do layoffs. There was a great deal of curiosity [among faculty.] VRIP encouraged a lot of people to think about when they wanted to leave the school,” she said. McCaslin continued, “[VRIP] gives faculty more choice and flexibility in terms of when they want to step away from the Academy. It’s important that faculty have the ability to choose when they want to leave.” McCaslin said that when the program coincided with her last year of being Associate Dean of Faculty, she thought that taking the benefits of the VRIP package was a good decision. She was not immediately sure, however, if she wanted to accept the program. “I certainly was interested in [VRIP] for myself from the start, but again, there was a certain amount of research I wanted to do about how wise it would be for my self. I’m married to [Victor Henningsen, Instructor in History] and we talked about what it would mean for us and how it might affect his ability to leave the school when he was ready,” McCaslin said. She continued, “All of us who are doing this have our own reasons for doing this and are leaving feeling good about the school and the support we’re getting. I trust it’s going to be a kind of win-win situation.” “I object to the usual notion of ‘retire,’ which makes it seem like I’m going to sit in my garden and do nothing. It just means I’m not going to work full time at PA,” McCaslin added. Cline, who is also accepting the package, said of his decision, “I hadn’t anticipated the opportunity [to retire.] I had planned that I would teach for at least a few more years. But when the opportunity came along, they announced it back in the spring; it seemed like something I ought to give serious consideration.” He continued, “I thought about it for quite a while over the summer and came to a decision at the end of the summer that it would be a good decision for me and my family. I have loved this job ever since I came here and continue to enjoy the classroom, coaching, and my colleagues. But, this is an opportunity to have some new adventures at a time in my life when I hopefully have good health and energy to try some things.” Cline, who has been teaching for 37 years, 31 of which have been at Andover, is not sure what his plans for next year are. “I don’t know exactly what lies ahead. I don’t have a master plan, I know some things I want to do…I have some plans for things I want to be involved with, but I want to be open to opportunities that come along that I can’t anticipate,” he said. In an email, Purington wrote, “I have had a marvelous career (nearly 25 years) in the college counseling office at Phillips Academy. I treasure the remarkable colleagues I have worked with both in that office and in the school as a whole.” According to Purington, the administration’s timing of offering VRIP was perfect for her. Jeffrey Domina, Instructor in English and Department Chair, said that the English department is using the normal procedure to fill the two positions left by Stableford and Sykes. “Even though the departments search for candidates, it’s the Dean of Faculty that does all the hiring. Mr. Maqubela has told us to begin a search for two open positions. That ad will be posted soon,” Domina said. Domina said that he is “Sorry to lose [the retiring faculty], but happy to be able to replace them.” Sue Buckwalter, Instructor in Mathematics and Department Chair, said that she does not yet “have clear answers to the questions of how the VRIP is going to affect the math department.” “Staffing is always a complicated issue, and this year is no exception,” she continued. Carter said he is happy with the response and progress of the program. “I hope that the people who [accepted VRIP] are happy, and I think it will help the school move forward as we work our way out of this situation. I think we’ll emerge stronger, not because those people are gone, but because we’ll be able to reposition ourselves. Every little bit helps,” Carter said. VRIP Retirees Vincent Avery Instructor, Philosophy and Religious Studies Carl Bewig Associate Director, College Counseling Andrew Cline Instructor, Math George Dix Instructor, Spanish Susan McCaslin Associate Dean of Faculty; Instructor, Philosophy and Religious Studies David Penner Instructor, Math Alice Purington Associate Director, College Counseling Edwin Quattlebaum Instructor, History and Social Science Ruth Quattlebaum Archivist; Instructor, Art Jonathan Stableford Instructor, English Elwin Sykes Instructor, English Stephen Wicks Instructor, Art Derek Williams Instructor, History and Social Science