As Jane Fried, current Dean of Admission, prepares to say goodbye to Andover after 21 years, Jim Ventre ’79, Director of Financial Aid, was appointed last week as Interim Dean of Admission for the 2012-2013 school year.
According to Ventre, the search to find the Interim Dean of Admission was conducted among the existing Andover faculty by Barbara Chase, Head of School, John Palfrey, Head of School-Elect and the Senior Administrative Council (SAC).
Because he is a temporary appointment during a time of transition, Ventre will continue to fulfill his responsibilities as the Director of Financial Aid while assuming the responsibilities of Dean of Admission. The search for the permanent Dean of Admission has not yet begun.
According to both Ventre and Fried, some parents have reached out and expressed concern as to how Ventre will be able to work as the Director of both Financial Aid and Admissions.
Instead of working on specifics aspects of the financial aid and admission process, Ventre will be in charge of making all the final decisions while long-term members of the Admission office will transition into larger roles both in Admission and in Financial Aid.
Ventre said, “Our reassurance is that I’m going to be more at the point of management, rather than the point of actually putting all the numbers together to the system so we can evaluate them.”
Similarly, the team of experienced Admission Officers will read the applicants’ files and make decisions, but the most challenging decisions will be brought up before the Admission Advisory Committee and Ventre.
“My philosophy on this is that when you have great people working here, the managers just let them do their job. And that has been tested over time; members of Team Shuman are so good at what they do,” Ventre said.
Fried, Ventre and Bill Leahy, Director of Admission, will also be working very closely together this term to plan out the upcoming year.
Fried said, “It is also not going to be just Jim Ventre. It is also going to be Mr. Leahy, who has 24 years of admission experience. He will be a tremendous support to Mr. Ventre, as well as the very experienced admission team we have here.”
“It’s going to be a team effort, and this has always been a great team,” added Fried.
As Ventre transits into his role as Dean of Admission, he hopes to improve the process of campus visits by cultivating more outreach with families and students, offering increased opportunities for the prospective students to interact with the current students and faculty while providing a high level of exposure to what is being offered at Phillips Academy.
Ventre is also working on implementing an electronic, paperless application process for both admission and financial aid.
Fried said, “[Ventre] is very good with technology and figuring out how to make things work to allow more people to apply more easily. He will think about the new ways to run the admission process to make it more efficient, more individualized, and I think he will be very good at that.”
Ventre also wants to work on switching the name of the Shuman Admission Center to Shuman Innovation Center.
“This is the testament to Ms. Fried over these many years. She has always invited a healthy dialogue around new ideas, and that is one of the primary goals of what I hope to do. I hope to maintain that kind of open exchange of ideas, because that’s how we’ve grown and been successful in all of our new initiatives,” he explained.
Fried said, “[Ventre] will bring his love for this school, because he is a graduate of Phillips Academy. He will also bring a true compassion to a very selective admission process. It’s very important here that we think of ourselves as the Office of Admission, not the office of denial, and he gets that. We have to see the good in everyone, and he will carry on that legacy.”
When Ventre graduated from Andover and came back as a Teaching Fellow in English, he did not originally plan to pursue admission and financial aid.
According to Ventre, the diverse student body and their families attracted him to work with admission.
Ventre said, “Working with students and their families to make Andover education affordable has really been a rewarding experience.”
During his 25 years at Andover, Ventre is most proud of helping to establish the need-blind admission system and of working as a house counselor in large boys’ dorms, Bartlet, Foxcroft and Fuess, in his time at Andover.
“I would say that I was given the gift of working as a house counselor. Working with the students and their families in the dorm has informed me tremendously about the challenges their families face as well as the benefit of so many things that work well at Andover,” said Ventre. “By being a house counselor, I have sort of had a front-row seat. It gave me a different perspective.”
Ventre will officially assume his new position on July 1.