Dean of Students Candidates Announced

After seven years as the Dean of Students, Paul Murphy’s term will end after the 2014-2015 school year, prompting the search for a new Dean.

The candidates for the position are are Fernando Alonso, Director of Outreach and Summer Session, Tasha Hawthorne, Instructor in English, and Jennifer Elliot, Dean of Abbot Cluster and Instructor in History.

Murphy will assume the role of a full-time Instructor in Mathematics.

**Meet the Candidates for the Next Dean of Students**

Fernando Alonso

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**Q: For those who don’t know you, what are five adjectives that describe you?**
A: Friendly, compassionate, direct, funny and forthright.

**Q: What do you think is the greatest challenge Andover students currently face, and how would you seek to remedy it?**
A: I think that too many times, students and faculty here perceive from the other side that they’re working at cross purposes when in reality we’re not; we actually don’t spend as much time as I think we should actually talking about things… And when I say “talking,” it means that we’re both being honest with each other. I am always happy to have a conversation with students about workload as long as students admit that they [do] sometimes procrastinate.

So I think that is the piece: how we talk about… sexuality and health issues, the mental health issues, workload issues and actually spend enough time just simply talking to students and helping students talk to adults about it.

**Q: What do you think is the most important quality of a Dean of Students?**
A: I know that people are going to agree with some, disagree with other changes [that I bring], and that’s fine. I’m also not purporting to have the only, exclusive correct vision. I worked at a Quaker school for a long time, and one of the things I learned there is that truth can come from any corner of the room. If you truly believe that, you have to go into every situation, into every meeting, assuming that while you may have some truth, there might be some other truth out there that will be shown to you as you are having this conversation. You have to be able to be open to listening to that [other truth].

**Q: Why do you want to be Dean of Students?**
A: I want to do the job because we are at a time at Andover in which the next five years are going to define what the next 30 [years] will look like. That is very exciting… I really do believe that at its core, the Dean of Students office involves everything that happens on this campus because, without the students, we don’t have a school. That doesn’t mean students always get what they want, just like it doesn’t mean faculty doesn’t always get what they want. I want to be in a place in which we can have those conversations with students and adults and then figure out where we want this place to be together.

Jennifer Elliott

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**Q: For those who don’t know you, what are five adjectives to describe you?**
A: Energetic, curious, committed, collaborative and optimistic.

**Q: What do you think is the greatest challenge Andover students currently face, and how would you seek to remedy that?**
A: Students face an exciting, challenging, stressful and, at times, daunting set of opportunities as they navigate their Andover experience. Along the way, too many of our students resort to unhealthy, unsustainable and/or unwise coping strategies when they feel particularly stretched. Too often, Andover students struggle to take care of themselves and each other with kindness, generosity and thoughtfulness. I have always felt that the greatest part being a member of this community is that you are surrounded by peers and mentors who inspire you to be and do better. While I hope that this striving for progress remains constant, I feel strongly that the health and well-being of our community and each individual must always come first. I think that the Dean of Students is uniquely positioned to tap into and coordinate the talents, energies and hard work of the deans, the residential faculty, day student advisors, the Graham House team and the Isham team to care for our students deliberately, carefully and effectively.

**Q: What do you think is the most important quality of Dean of Students?**
A: The Dean of Students needs to enjoy our students, have faith in our students and have high expectations for our students. The Dean of Students must protect the integrity of our community’s rules and expectations, cannot be afraid to hold students accountable for their actions and care for our students with compassion. The Dean of Students cannot shy away from hard conversations, and he or she must seek opportunities to find and celebrate the good in our students.

**Q: Why do you want to be Dean of Students?**
A: As we work to implement the goals of our strategic plan in the next few years, I think this is an exciting and prime opportunity to help shape and improve our school community. My favorite part of my work as [Dean of Abbot Cluster] is getting to know, working with, supporting and celebrating my Abbot students. I care deeply about their progress, health, and well-being. I see the role of the Dean of Students as a way to do similar work with the entire Andover student body.

Tasha Hawthorne

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**Q: What are five adjectives to describe you?**
A: Vivacious, direct, honest, thoughtful and thick-skinned.

**Q: What do you think is the greatest challenge Andover students currently face, and how would you seek to remedy it?**
A: I don’t think there’s just one. That’s part of the problem. I can’t imagine being a student in this day and age, considering all of the white noise that [they] all have. It seems to me that it’s hard to gain clarity when there’s so many distractions. I don’t know if that’s the biggest challenge, but it’s certainly a major one.

I think it’s hard to think about ways of communication when the means of communication are so stunted, and I mean that in terms of not simply communicating with adults, but communicating with each other. I think there’s very little space for that.

**Q: What do you think the most important quality of a Dean of Students is?**
A: It seems a pretty thankless job. I imagine, for example, that the things that you get right, people aren’t necessarily going to know, but the things that you get wrong, those are the things that people are going to remember. There’s a kind of “thick-skinned-ness” that I think one has to have [while] at the same time being sensitive to the needs of all the people that you’re trying to serve. Also, it’s not just students that you’re trying to serve, but trying to ensure that the people who are in places that they need to be in are also supported. So, that we’re all working on this common goal which is to care for [the students] all in the best way that we can.

**Q: Why do you want to be Dean of Students?**
A: I think in all of my roles, I have established relationships with kids and have had opportunities in the trenches, if you will, that gives me a different kind of perspective on kids. There’s a way in which sometimes people can talk about students as if they’re the only ones who know kids, and who know them really well, and that kind of language and that kind of rhetoric is a little dangerous. But I do think that I have a lot to give in having served in multiple roles and in different kinds of roles and roles that are directly linked to kids.