Chase Announces Retirement

Barbara Chase, Head of School, announced yesterday that she will retire after the 2011-2012 school year. For Chase, who has served as the Head of School for 17 years and has been a Head of School for 31 years, retirement marks the close of a long legacy and the opening of a new chapter in her life. Aware of a surprise announcement, students clustered in the Smith Center for a special picnic dinner, buzzing with anticipation while enjoying Chase’s signature blue and white gummy sharks. Chase announced her decision in a personal speech and emphasized the importance of delivering the news in person. Chase had informed faculty in a meeting Wednesday morning. She followed the announcement with an emailed letter to the Phillips Academy community and a press release. Chase will remain active as Head of School for the remainder of this year and all of next year. She said she decided to announce her decision now because a search committee led by the Charter Trustees will soon begin looking for a successor. “There is never a perfect time to leave a place you love, but thanks to the vision and work of many, the Academy is, by all measures, on a very firm footing,” wrote Chase in a press release. One of the most important changes to Andover in her 18 years at the school was the introduction of a need blind admissions policy in 2008, something the school continued despite the financial collapse. Chase was influential in numerous other initiatives throughout her years at Andover, from strategic plans and capital campaigns to construction projects like the building of Gelb Science Center. Chase has many special memories from 17 years at the school, but she holds particularly close the image of the blue clock on top of Samuel Phillips Hall. “Now, as I walk across campus in the evening, I look up at the clock on Sam Phil in a new way: I think about how wonderful this place is and how I tell each new class at matriculation about that blue clock and what it means,” said Chase. Chase arrived at Andover in 1994. “From that day forward, I have found the most meaningful work possible, among some of the world’s greatest young people and adults,” wrote Chase in her letter. She added “I admired Andover long before I arrived. Over the years, I have come to both admire and love it.”