Faculty Grants Adjust with Changing Economic Climate

As Andover, and the nation, have adjusted to the 2008 Financial Crisis, requirements for faculty grants have evolved over the past two years.

In meeting two weeks ago, attention was drawn to the new limitations of Kenan Grants, according to the AdCom notes of the Andover Gazette.

While faculty members could previously receive grants for any educational opportunity, Kenan Grants must now specifically relate to the classroom, according to Elliot Hacker, Director of Finance and Assistant Treasurer.

The Kenan Fund was established between 1975 and 1977 with a series of gifts totaling $300,000, according to David Chase, Director of Stewardship. The Kenan endowment is now worth $1.5 million.

Chase said the wording of the grant’s purpose was broad, “to support educational activities, particularly teaching excellence at Andover.”

Because the Kenan funds are a part of the endowment, the fluctuations in the economy directly affect the value of the fund each year. Approximately five percent of the fund is distributed each year, according to Hacker.

“Since I have been here, it has gone been from being structured almost completely unrelated to the classroom, to be focused on classroom instruction. There just isn’t enough money to support all of the things that the faculty would like to do outside of the classroom,” said Hacker.

“The focus is more on how do we provide the educational opportunities for the faculty. If we had all those needs taken care of, then it might be the situation that some grant can be diverted to other opportunities.”

As a result, two years ago, grants were redefined to only fund experiences that related directly to faculty or course development, according to Hacker.

“[The Kenan Grant looks] for more ways to provide opportunities for our faculty to enrich the classroom,” said Hacker.

The Head of School and the President of the Board have the authority to define how the annual grant will be spent, according to Chase.

The Dean of Studies and Dean of Students typically suggest the areas that need training or development so that the Head of School can make his or her decision accordingly.

The new Head of School will determine the specific purpose of the grants in the future, depending on the funds available and the academy’s priorities, according to Hacker.

Another grant which has changed over the years is the Class of 1976 Grant, an endowment fund for language teachers, has allowed teachers in the language department to visit a country of the foreign language they teach.

Stricter Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidelines generated new limitations on this grant’s uses.

According to Hacker, when the IRS began investigating universities’ tax payments, Phillips Academy needed to ensure hat the Academy would comply with IRS regulations.

Foreign travel as education does not qualify as a deductible expense, according to Hacker. As a result, the funds could only cover trips for language teachers that contributed to academic development at the academy.

Peter Neissa, Head of the Division World Languages and Chair of the Spanish and Arabic Department, said that available faculty grants help recruit high quality teachers to Phillips Academy.

The grants, however, are not always used. “Not as many [faculty members] use the grants as you would think. Everyone has private lives, so the six or seven weeks of vacation need to be spent with family,” said Neissa.