Head of School Candidates Visit Campus

The final two candidates in the search for the next Head of School arrived on campus this week for a day of meetings with student leaders, administrators, faculty and staff. The selected candidate will succeed current Head of School Barbara Chase.

John Palfrey Phillips Exeter Academy ’90, Professor of Law at Harvard University, visited campus on Tuesday and Lisa MacFarlane ’75, Professor of English at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), visited on Thursday.

In addition to teaching, Palfrey also serves as the Vice Dean of Library and Information Resources at Harvard Law School and the Faculty Co-Director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, a research center dedicated to studying law-related issues in cyberspace, according to its website.

Palfrey has taught courses and authored books on Internet law and intellectual property.

He serves as Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Digital Public Library of America, an initiative launched by the Berkman Center in 2010 to create a large-scale library with digital content that is freely accessible to the public, according to the center’s website.

Palfrey has also advised senior theses in History and Literature, taught as a visiting law professor at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland and edited the Harvard Environmental Law Review.

His experiences outside of education include a position as an associate attorney for law firm Ropes & Gray LLP, working in Internet, intellectual property and corporate law.

Palfrey was also twice appointed by the White House to serve as an aide to John DeVillars, former New England Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In addition to his work at Harvard Law School, Palfrey currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts 2020 Foundation, whose mission, according to its website, is to “expand educational and economic opportunities” for children throughout the state and to close achievement gaps among students.

Palfrey majored in History and American Literature at Harvard College. He earned a Master of Philosophy in Historical Studies from the University of Cambridge and a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School.

Along with teaching in the English department at the university, MacFarlane serves as the university’s Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs.

She also is involved in several of the university’s faculty committees, including the President’s Cabinet, the Central Budget Committee and the Diversity Council, which strives to maintain a “inclusive, diverse and equitable” community at the university, according to the UNH website.

As a professor at UNH, MacFarlane teaches classes on subjects ranging from female American writers to the role of spiritualism in American literature.

Beyond her work with English, MacFarlane also specializes in American Studies. She has chaired and taught courses in the Program of American Studies at Utrecht University in The Netherlands, and from 2002 to 2004, she served as President of the New England American Studies Association.

She has presented at American Studies and Literature conferences throughout the country, examining subjects like the dynamic between female Anglo-American photographers and their Native American subjects, a topic on which she has also coauthored a book.

MacFarlane currently serves on the Board of the New Hampshire Humanities Council, a non-profit organization that supports local public programs and community events in the humanities throughout the state, according to the website for the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Prior to teaching at a university level, MacFarlane was a teaching fellow at Phillips Exeter Academy.

MacFarlane majored in English and American Studies at Princeton University. She earned her PhD and Master’s Degree in American Cultures from the University of Michigan.

During their visits to campus, both candidates met individually with Chase and had dinner with students, which included members of Student Council, Cluster Presidents and CAMD leaders.

Peter Currie ‘74, President of the Board of Trustees, said the meetings were scheduled with the administrative structure of the school in mind to allow the candidates to meet with varying relevant committees on campus.

Currie said, “The interviews [conducted by myself and the search committee] in the Spring also indicated a real desire on the part of the community to be involved in the process, so we brought the candidates back to campus for a series of discussions and a full faculty meeting.”

“Last week I was getting coordinated with the candidates with the help of the Spencer Stuart associates, one of whom told me she had not seen a process that was this open in the last five years in secondary schools,” he continued.

The candidates kicked of their visit with a morning meeting with the Access to Success Working Group, co-chaired by David Fox, Instructor in English, and Linda Griffith, Dean of Community and Multicultural Development (CAMD) and Instructor in English.

The Access to Success Working Group includes Fernando Alonso, Director of Summer Session and Instructor in Mathematics, Sally Batchelor, Associate Director of College Counseling, Patrick Farrell, Instructor and Chair in Mathematics, Brian Faulk, Instructor in Chemistry, Leon Holley, Instructor in Biology, Chris Jones, Instructor in History and Social Science, Betsy Korn, Associate Dean of Studies, Peter Neissa, Head of the World Languages Division and Instructor and Chair in Spanish, Jim Ventre, Director of Financial Aid and Admission Operations, Judy Wombwell, Instructor in Theater and Dance and Marlena Ysalguez, Academic Skills Specialist.

Palfrey and MacFarlane also met with administrators, including Becky Sykes, Associate Head of School, Nancy Jeton, Special Assistant to the Head of School, Temba Maqubela, Dean of Faculty, Jane Fried, Dean of Admission, Paul Murphy, Dean of Students, Carlos Hoyt, Associate Dean of Students, Peter Ramsey, Secretary of the Academy, Tracy Sweet, Director of Academy Communications, Elisabeth Tully, Director of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library, Max Alovisetti, Director of Graham House Counseling Center, Katie Vozeolas, Director of Nursing at Isham Health Center, Paul Murphy, Dean of Students, Carlos Hoyt, Associate Dean of Students and the cluster deans.

Both candidates met with various faculty and staff groups throughout the day including the the Academic Council, the Athletic Council, the Global Perspectives Group and the Staff Benefits Committee.

Meetings with the entire faculty body concluded their visits.

A confidential, anonymous survey is available on PAnet for individuals who met with the candidates to complete. The survey responses, portions of the candidates’ resume, YouTube clips of the candidates, portions of papers they’ve authored and strategic plans they’ve contributed to will be collated by the Search Committee for the Trustees.

When the Trustees convene on November 4, they will review this information. In the final deliberations, both Charter and Alumni trustees will vote on their choice candidate. The Charter trustees’ votes will be also recorded separately in accordance with the school Constitution, which dictates that the Head of School is elected by a majority of Charter Trustees.