Michael G. Hirschfeld, Rector of St. Paul’s School, will be stepping down at the end of the 2018- 2019 academic year. Hirschfeld announced his resignation on January 4 in a letter published on the school’s website.
Hirschfeld has served as the school’s rector since 2010. He first joined the faculty in 1994 and served as Vice Rector for External Affairs for six years. Hirschfeld wrote in his letter, “Leaving the School would be more difficult if I did not know these truths: the School is absolutely on the right trajectory in all things that relate to educating and caring for young people; there are extraordinary people here — talented students from across the globe and faculty and staff who are wholly devoted to advancing our mission; and the time is right for new leadership.”
Archibald Cox, President of the Board of Trustees at St. Paul’s School, also released a letter addressing Hirschfeld’s resignation. According to Cox, the trustees of St. Paul’s School are in the midst of a rigorous process to determine who will be appointed the fourteenth rector of the school.
Cox wrote, “Now, as the end of [Hirschfeld]’s committed term approaches, his energy, wisdom, and devotion to St. Paul’s School has been manifestly clear throughout. In meeting our challenges, Mike has demonstrated exceptional insight and courage. For those qualities, I am especially grateful.”
During Hirschfeld’s time as rector, St. Paul’s School came under fire after rape allegations by Chessy Prout, a then 15-year-old, against Owen Labrie SPS’14, a senior at the time. In the 2015 trial, Labrie was acquitted of rape but found guilty of sexual assault and other crimes.
The trial brought to light a student tradition of “Senior Salute,” in which male seniors attempt to have as many sexual encounters with female freshmen as possible. In 2017, the New Hampshire Attorney General investigated an incident in which male students recorded their relationships with girls using a cardboard crown. Five students were found in violation of school rules but not in violation of New Hampshire law.
Neither Hirschfeld nor Cox’s letters provide specific reasons for Hirschfeld’s resignation.