Trustee Selection Process

The recent election of Peter Currie ’74 as the next President of the Board of Trustees prompted some students to reflect on the trustees, but often the intricate roles of the Board’s organization can go unnoticed. Nancy Jeton, Special Assistant to the Head of School, said that the Board of Trustees is responsible for governing the school, as opposed to managing the school, which is the duty of the Head of School and the administration. Jeton explained that governing the school includes managing the school’s finances as well as hiring, evaluating and, if necessary, replacing the Head of School. The Board is also responsible for making major policy decisions. These decisions range from determining the Strategic Plan to creating the Academy’s Investment Policy to allowing same-sex faculty members to live with their partners and serve as house counselors. The Board is made up of four different types of trustees: Emeriti, Ex Officio, Alumni and Charter Trustees. The President of the Board of Trustees is a Charter Trustee. Emeriti Trustees are former trustees who have selected to remain on the Board as honorary members. An Ex Officio Trustee is appointed when the Board needs a “special trustee” with a specific mission, according to Jeton. Currently, there is only one Ex Officio Trustee, Sidney Knafel ’48, whose “mission” is to chair the Addison Gallery of American Art Capital Campaign. According to Jeton, the biggest differences between Alumni and Charter Trustees are “how they get on the Board and how long they serve.” The Alumni Trustees serve for three or four years while currently Charter Trustees serve six-year terms. Of the six Alumni Trustees on the Board, two serve as the President of the Alumni Council and the Co-chair of the Annual Giving Board, respectively. These two serve three-year terms, while the remaining four Alumni Trustees serve four-year terms. Alumni Trustees are selected after the Alumni Council creates a list of potential candidates; all living Andover alumni are eligible to vote on whether to admit the candidates as Alumni Trustees. There are currently 14 Charter Trustees but the Board’s by-laws allow for a maximum of 16 members. Charter Trustees have terms of six years, though it is common for Charter Trustees to be reelected and serve a total of twelve years. According to Jeton, the school’s constitution also states that one of the responsibilities of the Charter Trustees “is to replenish their group.” Charter Trustees are typically the chairs of various committees within the Board of Trustees because they usually remain with the Board longest. Louis Elson ’80, Charter Trustee and Chair of the Committee on Trustees, wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “The act of bringing on new trustees is one of the Charter Trustees’ most important tasks as custodians of the school’s future.” When a Charter Trustee vacancy is anticipated, the Board’s Committee on Trustees forms a group of potential candidates with the input of the administration. According to Elson, the committee initially identifies alumni actively engaged with the school, in groups such as the Alumni Council, Alumni associations, reunion event committees, the Addison’s Board of Governors, the Peabody Advisory Committee or the Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers. Elson wrote that determining and assessing candidates is “always on-going” and deliberations over the final candidates can take a long time. Voting generally takes place at the Board’s trimester meetings. Elson wrote, “If we do our job right, the election itself is merely a formality as the whole group of Charters will have had a chance to consider over time on any single candidate and reach a consensus.” All the elections Elson has observed have been unanimous, but the Board defines the majority needed to elect a Charter Trustee as more than half the votes. “The Andover board is relatively small, so we need to make certain that every trustee can be truly additive to the functions we are required to fulfill,” said Elson. According to the by-laws, only Charter Trustees can vote for the President of the Board of Trustees and the Head of School. However, Jeton said that this practice ended during the presidency of David Underwood ’54, the predecessor of current President of the Board of Trustees, Oscar Tang ’56. “In reality, [Alumni Trustees and Charter Trustees] consider each other colleagues. There is an egalitarian sense among people at the table,” she said. The President, chosen from the current group of Charter Trustees, is reelected annually and can serve up to twelve years. The Board can vote to allow the President to serve an additional year at the end of his or her twelfth year, though there is a self-imposed age limit of 75. Though elections are technically annual, Jeton said it is common for the incumbent President to be reelected for consecutive years. The President is responsible for working with the Head of School at the beginning of each year to draft the upcoming year’s agenda for the Board. The President also appoints certain trustees to serve as liaisons to various other groups within the Andover Community. For instance, Knafel, along with two other trustees on the Addison’s Board of Governors, serve as the liaison between the Addison Gallery and the Board of Trustees. In choosing a new President, Jeton said that trustees identify “somebody who’s demonstrated leadership, has strategic vision and has the time for extra service to the school.” The format of the trustee’s roles and elections are still being adjusted. The trustees recently revised their by-laws in January 2010 to shorten the Charter Trustee’s term from eight years to six years. Term length has reduced over the years. In the original Board elected Trustees served for life. “[The change] is a reflection of current lifestyles. When so much is going on in their lives, people may find it harder to make a really long-term commitment,” said Jeton. Jeton also said there has been an interest in increasing diversity on the Board. “The trustees would like the Board to represent the face of the academy, just as we have ‘youth from every quarter,’” said Jeton. The current Board has members living in Germany, London, Hong Kong, California and Texas. Though it is “much more diverse, they’d like to be more diverse,” said Jeton. According to Jeton, the Board is also trying to increase the variety in members’ ages and professions. “In recent years, we have definitely stepped up our efforts to widen the identification of new prospects in order to insure there would be a wider range of candidates in the final stages of selection,” wrote Elson.