A Look Into the Faculty Housing System

When a faculty member leaves Andover, they leave behind their residence. Remaining faculty members interested in that empty house or apartment can then put in their bids for it, and whether they get it depends solely on how many “points” they have.

Andover operates under a faculty point system that determines things such as housing. The system has been in place for over a decade and has served as the foundation for faculty housing assignments.

Bids for open residences in dorms and houses are granted in accordance to the amount of points a faculty member has accumulated.

In an interview with The Phillipian, Patrick Farrell, Dean of Faculty, outlined the system.

“Basically, it’s a way of assigning housing based upon how many points people earn from a variety of factors: their age, number of years they’ve served in a dormitory, and the number of years they’ve served teaching,” said Farrell.

He continued, “There are two different categories. There’s dorm housing and non-dorm housing. Age only counts in non-dorm housing.”

The older a faculty member is, and the more years they have served — either in dormitories or as teachers —  the more points they earn. The more points a faculty member has, the higher their chances are of receiving their desired residence.

When a faculty member retires or a place of residence is otherwise opened up, current faculty bid to move into said residences.

“There’s a two-week period where first of all [faculty] get to go and look at the apartment and see if it is going to actually fit the needs of their family. Then all they have to do is write on a sheet that just basically says these are the units that I am interested in that are up for bid right now, and they are asked to list them in order of priority,” said Farrell.

The system is carried out by the work of the Faculty Housing Committee. Its co-chairs are Scott Hoenig, Instructor in Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science, and Catherine Carter, Instructor in Classics. Carter is currently in her third year as co-chair of the committee.

“Our committee’s job is to administer the process set forth in the Faculty Housing Supplement,” said Carter in an email to The Phillipian.

“[The Housing Committee] looks at the points that [faculty] have and then assigns the residence to the person with the most points,” said Farrell.

With this system have come various challenges, due to the very nature of the system’s point-based structure. Farrell described how advantages for some faculty members can arise.

“No matter how you construct a system, it is going to eventually favor some faculty over others. If you think about age, age favors older faculty. If you think about teaching experience, teaching experience favors people who start a teaching career earlier,” said Farrell.

Another difficulty emerged due to the necessity of providing certain faculty families with deleaded units for the health and wellbeing of younger faculty children. 

“If someone has a child, according to the state law of Massachusetts, age six or under, they have to live in a properly deleaded unit, and that means that we have to give an advantage in the bidding process to those faculty who have children under the age of six… Those are some of the challenges that come up in a system like this,” said Farrell.

Despite these complications, Farrell expressed his belief in the system’s success, a structure that has been in place throughout his time at Andover.

“In my opinion, it’s been extremely successful, and one of the best measures that I have is faculty who have been at other schools that do not have a formal system like this where the Dean of Faculty is actually the person doing all the housing assignments. Faculty who come from those schools to Andover think the system is so much fairer and better,” said Farrell.

Faculty members such as Leon Calleja, Instructor in English, agree with this assessment of the system.

“I think the school and the faculty really try to make it as fair as possible and try to devise a system that allows that. I think it’s a reflection of the school trying hard to come up with a solution to a difficult problem,” said Calleja.

Looking toward the future, there do not seem to be any imminent plans for the revision of the faculty point system.

“Right now, there are no future plans to make significant changes. That would be a process that would have to be started up from the faculty actually requesting that we look at the system. At this point, the Housing Committee, I believe, has solicited the faculty and got some input, but there does not seem to be a desire for a huge amount of change in the system,” said Farrell.

However, Heidi Wall, Instructor in Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science, suggested a possible course of action to improve the system.

“As far as improvements, I think there needs to be an effort to value life experiences, whether they be teaching, graduate school, or work in other industries prior to life at Andover more equitably than they are now. This is important to being able to attract and retain faculty with other experiences outside of Andover,” said Wall.