Hession to Replace Beckwith as Flagstaff Cluster Dean

Matthew Hession, Instructor in History, will assume the position of Dean of Flagstaff Cluster starting in the 2011-2012 school year, succeeding Clyfe Beckwith, Instructor in Physics and German. This past week, the Dean of Students Office announced that Hession will serve a six-year term as the Dean of Flagstaff Cluster from the fall of 2011 to the spring of 2017. Beckwith will step down from his current position of Dean of Flagstaff Cluster at the end of the 2010-2011 school year. “I think Hession matches my personality very well, so it should be a smooth transition,” said Beckwith. The cluster dean works directly with the administration, faculty and students to address academic and disciplinary issues, in addition to supporting many members of the community with guidance and supervision. “The dean position occupies an interesting place between the larger administration and the faculty and the administration and the students, so it is truly a unique position,” said Hession. As the Dean of Flagstaff Cluster, Hession hopes to stay dedicated to the work of his students, assist the faculty and create a unified cluster. “I [will] strive to build a meaningful and creative identity for the cluster, and I would like everyone to get to know each other. I hope to support relationships between Flagstaff students and the faculty at large,” said Hession. According to Beckwith, many administrators felt as though Hession was the most qualified candidate to fill the position of cluster dean. Paul Murphy, Dean of Students anwd Residential Life, wrote in an email, “Mr. Hession is a great choice because he has spent many years as a teacher, coach and house counselor. He has earned the respect of many faculty members and students. [He] will be an excellent dean for Flagstaff.” While the new position may seem like a significant transition for Hession, he is certain that his position as dean will not completely alter his role on campus. Hession said that while he may be taking on new and exciting endeavors, he will not leave his current work behind him. “I am still a faculty member, a teacher and a coach,” said Hession. “When you are teaching here at Phillips Academy, you are dedicated to the work of your students, whether in class, in the dorm, on the sports field or in a theater production. The cluster dean position is really no different. I am not going to suddenly leave this all behind.” Hession hopes to be able to continue teaching year-long courses in addition to coaching Boys Varsity Hockey. Hession said that the role he will miss the most is serving as a house counselor. “I absolutely love the boys in Blanchard House this year and have enjoyed the many other dorm experiences I have had,” he added. “It is wonderful at the end of the day to share a few conversations with the kids [in the dorm] and to see how their day went. Everyday, we had the chance to spend some time talking,” Hession continued. After spending six years as cluster dean, Beckwith has mixed feelings about leaving his position as Cluster Dean. “Part of me is sad, because I have enjoyed getting to know and working with the students in Flagstaff, but another part of me is excited to spend more time in the classroom and to have more available evenings,” said Beckwith. “Teaching is why I came to Phillips Academy. I think I will now be able to devote more of my energies into preparing lesson plans and developing the science curriculum, which is a new and different challenge I have had to put on hold over the past six years,” he added. Beckwith will not be living in a dorm next year and plans to teach four periods each day. He is considering taking on duties in the Admissions office in addition to serving as an academic advisor. During this transition period, Hession will try to spend more time in the Dean of Students office in addition to acquainting himself with new individuals in the cluster. Hession said, “I love trying new things. Any time you try something new, there is always a feeling of excitement that comes along with it. In my opinion, there is a lot to look forward to.”