Elliott ’94 Selected as Next Abbot Cluster Dean

Jennifer Elliott ’94, Instructor in History and Social Science, will succeed Elisa Joel, Associate Dean of Admission, as the next Dean of Abbot Cluster. She will commense her six-year term in Fall 2012.

Paul Murphy, Dean of Students, notified Elliott of the decision at the beginning of Winter Break.

Elliott said, “This is work that I really enjoy doing. I’m excited to get to know Abbot.

“My colleagues in Abbot have already been really welcoming. It’s going to be really fun to know the students, and I hope that will help to ease the transition a little bit,” she continued.

Though she was once a student at Andover, Elliott acknowledged that the role of a cluster dean has changed since her time, and she hopes to embrace its new personal nature.

“The cluster dean plays a much more personal role in the lives of students now in terms of knowing kids,” said Elliott.

“When you really know your students, it becomes easy to deal with the big and the little details. I think that’s my most important work, knowing the kids in my cluster and figuring out how to help them navigate life at PA.”

Elliott’s appointment concludes a selection process that was open to input from the entire faculty. Elliott hopes to continue to foster the same sense of community among students in the Abbot cluster that Joel did.

Joel’s term as Dean of Abbot Cluster began in the 2005-2006 academic year.

Although most cluster deans serve six-year terms, a decision was made last year to extend Joel’s term until the end of the 2011-2012 year because two other cluster deans were also leaving their positions and the administration wished to avoid too much turnover.

During her time as cluster dean, Joel has noticed that “the pride students feel [about] living in Abbot cluster has grown over the years.”

Joel said that she will miss working with so many students. “To be able to come to know 220 students is a great opportunity. I’ve come to know kids I otherwise wouldn’t know through coaching soccer or advising” she said.

Year after year, Joel has consistently led her cluster in organizing Abbot Cabaret, Abbot’s annual talent show in the winter term.

“I’ve seen six years worth of these shows, where not only some of the really awesome talent of Andover kids can be highlighted, but also the behind-the-scenes work,” Joel said.

“I think my job every year is to make people realize that the role of cluster dean, whoever resides in it, is really excited to work with students.”

Joel said she feels confident that Elliott will successfully lead Abbot as cluster dean. “I could not be more thrilled that Mrs. Elliott will be stepping into this role,” she said.

Elliott stated that taking on the role of cluster dean will be a “big transition” from her current duties.

In addition to teaching history, she is currently a house counselor in Nathan Hale and coaches JV2 Field Hockey and Girls Varsity Squash. She has also served as a complement house counselor across three clusters, in Smith House, Clement House and Stevens.

Before coming to Andover, Elliott served as Dean of Students at the Westminster School in Connecticut from 2004 to 2005 and the Stevenson School in California from 2009 to 2010.

Candidates applying for the position of Dean of Abbot Cluster submitted their names before Thanksgiving Break. After the Dean of Students Office narrowed down the applicant pool to two candidates, according to Murphy.

After the applicant was narrowed down to two candidates, the Faculty Advisory Committee (AdCom) decided to include feedback from all faculty members and solicited input via email during the decision process.

Rebecca Sykes, Associate Head of School, Temba Maqubela, Dean of Faculty and Murphy individually interviewed the two candidates. Each candidate also had a group interview with the other cluster deans and Carlos Hoyt, Associate Dean of Students, according to Murphy.

Ultimately, Murphy, Sykes and Maqubela made the final decision to appoint Elliott as the next Dean of Abbot Cluster.

According to Paul Murph an email was sent to the faculty on December 12 notifying them of the decision.