Coreen Martin, Instructor in English, and Megan Paulson, Instructor in History, resigned from their position on the Faculty Advisory Committee (FAC), a committee formed to advise the Head of School. At the time of their resignation, Paulson and Martin were the only women of color out of the six total faculty members.
As Martin described, FAC was initially created to improve communication between faculty and administration.
“The function of the committee is to really be the voice of the faculty at large, in its broad diversity and range of issues, to be able to bring issues, concerns, and wisdom of the faculty to the administration, and also to listen and to understand the administration’s priorities and needs and issues that they want to bring to the faculty as well,” said Martin.
However, according to Paulson, the role of FAC has become increasingly fluid, making it difficult to pinpoint the exact purpose of FAC.
“The role of FAC has changed over time and is somewhat ambiguous, which can make it difficult. I think it is suited to whoever is the head and what they would like FAC to be. But at its core, my understanding was, it is a way to bring faculty issues and concerns to the Head of School, and also for the Head of School to respond to those issues,” said Paulson.
Both teachers chose to leave at the same time, a decision made after a FAC meeting on February 1. For Martin, she said her decision came after reflecting on the effectiveness of her contributions towards FAC, ultimately resulting in her resignation.
“I believe that the faculty advisory committee is a voice for the faculty. [And] I gave it my best effort to uphold that mission. I stepped back because I felt that I was not being effective, that I could no longer be effective in that role. And that I needed to create a space for someone else to give it a try,” said Martin.
As for Paulson, she said that particular meeting brought to the surface aspects of the faculty-administration dynamic that she felt were uncomfortable, leading to her resignation.
“I felt like there was a lack of collegiality in some of my interactions, [and that] there was a clear hierarchy of power, so to speak. And I did not feel like I was being dealt with as an equal, which was very frustrating,” said Paulson.
The Phillipian reached out to the Head of School, Dr. Raynard Kington for a comment. Kington was asked if he would like to share more information about the role of FAC or present his perspective on the faculty leaving. In an email to The Phillipian, Kington wrote, “I cannot agree to an interview about this matter because it would be inappropriate for me or any faculty member or staff member to engage in a discussion with students about an adult matter such as this.”
According to both Martin and Paulson, faculty have little say in major decision-making processes, such as budgeting and programming, affecting the Andover community. By extension, FAC can only advise the administration and provide ideas or feedback.
“Students might be under the impression that the faculty actually runs the school, and we don’t. We actually have very little decision-making power or authority. That’s why we say having a voice is so important because we try to have input and feedback on directions that the school is suggesting or decisions that need to be made,” said Martin.
Paulson echoed the statement, emphasizing the committee’s lack of decision-making power.
“In some ways, we think of it as a part of shared governance, except it doesn’t really have any power, so its sole purpose seems to be to communicate concerns and positive things as well, but to be able to communicate with the Head of School… the group has very little power and was seen more as an advisory role to bounce ideas off of. It didn’t feel as useful as it could be,” said Paulson.
Three faculty members were chosen to replace Martin and Paulson — Allie Booth, Instructor in History, Maria Martinez, Instructor in Spanish, and Congmin Zhao, Instructor in Chinese. The current state of FAC, as described by Martin, is one where faculty voices have been minimized. However, Martin remains optimistic about FAC and its potential for change.
“Everyone would say [FAC] is the voice of the faculty, although what that means in practice is complicated. And maybe some of us feel that that voice is being heard less and less. And maybe our role [has] become less of a voice at the table and more of, ‘You’re here to listen and to communicate back to the faculty’… It’s a committee that is only as good as the relationship between the faculty and the administration. So hopefully, that relationship can continue to become more cooperative and more collaborative, and stronger,” said Martin.
Subscribe to The Phillipian Newsletter!
Read the week’s top stories from The Phillipian, curated for your inbox. Subscribe here!