Rachel Skiffer to Help Shape Future School Policy as New Dean of Policy and Strategic Planning

As the new Dean of Policy and Strategic Planning, Rachel Skiffer will join Andover at the start of the summer to help formulate the school’s Strategic Plan, which will provide framework for policies and direction in the years to come. Skiffer, current Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at San Francisco University High School, will help draft Andover’s new Strategic Plan and monitor its implementation on campus in the coming years, as well as oversee Andover’s institutional research programs. Strategic Plan acts as a framework for the school’s future policies by establishing specific goals over time. The institution of need-blind admissions in 2008, for example, was a part of the 2004 Strategic Plan, according the plan’s final report. Head of School John Palfrey created the position in order to help guide the school in his relatively new tenure. “This position is essential as we chart the future of the Academy, through our strategic planning process, which will run from the end of this academic year through the next year, and beyond,” wrote Palfrey in an e-mail to The Phillipian. Skiffer’s primary role, she said, will be to work with a variety of members of the Andover community to create a plan that serves the entire community’s interests. “To start, I will be asking, listening and learning—getting to know PA from the folks who know it best. That will enable me to facilitate a strategic planning process that is inclusive, engaging, innovative, sensible and clear,” wrote Skiffer. “The plan’s direction is driven by our constituencies, not by me. It’s about talking to faculty, staff, students, trustees and alumni. It’s a time for Andover to reflect and figure out in which direction we want the school to go,” she continued. Skiffer will also expand on the existing Strategic Plan, which was created in 2004 and delineates Andover’s official ideological direction, along with the policies necessary to carry out the plan. “Youth from every quarter” is the primary focus of the 2004 Plan, which aimed to encourage diversity of perspectives and talents in the student body and the faculty. In order to facilitate Skiffer’s leadership of Andover’s institutional research program, Andover will also hire a Director of Institutional Research, who will report to Skiffer, wrote Palfrey. “[Institutional Research] is an ongoing process to understand what the Andover education really means and what we accomplish through our work with students,” wrote Palfrey. Current research programs include “The End Depends Upon the Beginning: Study of Ninth Grade Transition,” “Parent Satisfaction Surveys” and the “Access to Success Senior Survey,” all of which aim to “expand understanding of current students’ levels of success, to study the effectiveness of new programs and to measure the ‘value added’ of an Andover education,” according to the 2004 Strategic Plan final report. Skiffer’s appointment was not the result of a direct application, but instead the strong recommendations of the students and faculty she met with during her visit to Andover when she was interviewing for the Dean of Admission position in December. “Many colleagues and students wrote notes to me to the effect that ‘we should somehow try to convince Rachel to join us at PA,’” wrote Palfrey in an e-mail update sent to parents. Skiffer grew up in San Francisco, California and is a graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School. Skiffer’s has previously worked as an admissions and financial aid officer at Harvard University and the Latin School in Chicago, according to her biography on the Katherine Delmar Burke School website. She has also worked as a management consultant at McKinsey and Company in Los Angeles and New York City, as well as a commercial real estate lawyer in San Francisco, according to the Andover press release.