Changes in Organization of the Head of School’s Office: Deputy Head of School Takes Lead on Student Life

Throughout the decade, the organization of the Head of School’s office has undergone many changes, specifically in the reporting structure regarding Dean of Students, Dean of Faculty, and Dean of Studies. Most recently, Head of School, Dr. Raynard Kington, changed the structure again by announcing Dr. Merilee Mardon as the first Deputy Head of School. 

According to Kington, this position is similar to the position of “Assistant Head of School” — a position that existed in former Head of School John Palfrey’s administration. 

“The position was actually created by John Palfrey. But it dates to a report that’s almost 20 years old. In 2005, when Barbara Chase became head, there was a recognition by the board and Barbara, that the Head of the School was being asked to raise money, [with an] extraordinary amount of travel, and oversee the day-to-day functioning of the school. So they commissioned an outside group to come in, talk to everyone, and one of the things that came out of this was a recommendation that the school follow what many secondary schools are doing now, and it’s always been the case at colleges and universities, by creating a number two position which has had various titles,” said Kington.  

According to organizational charts of the Head of School’s office provided by Director of Archives and Special Collections Paige Roberts, in 2017 the Dean of Students & Residential Life, Dean of Faculty, and Dean of Studies reported directly to Palfrey. In 2018, Palfrey reconfigured the positions months before his departure. Kington provided an email sent by Palfrey on December 14, 2018 regarding this change. 

The big change is that I will eliminate the position of Dean of Strategic Planning and Policy and instead appoint an Assistant Head of School for Teaching and Learning. The Dean of Faculty, Dean of Studies, Dean of College Counseling, and Director of the Tang Institute will report to this Assistant Head of School,” wrote Palfrey in an email to faculty. 

In a Winter 2021-2022 organizational chart of the Head of School’s office provided by Roberts, the Dean of Students & Residential Life, Dean of Faculty, and Dean of Studies reported directly to Kington. Since the Fall of 2022, those positions now report to the Deputy Head of School. Kington provided greater insight into Mardon’s role. 

“She has basically the student life and the core academic mission of the school. And it makes sense for those two to be connected because students live across those domains. And often issues, various policies, have implications across all those domains. She oversees the Dean of the Faculty, who oversees the hiring, the review, everything related to faculty, the Dean of Studies, the curriculum, structure, the program and all, and the Dean of Student[s and Residential] Life, dorm life, House Counselors, Cluster Deans, the student conduct system. So it’s those three elements. She also has Dr. [Amy] Patel, the Dean [of Health and] Wellness [and Chief Medical Officer], reporting to her,” said Kington. 

Kington continued by detailing other responsibilities which fall under the role of Deputy Head of School. 

“She also plays a big role in advising me about policy matters, when should we change the way we do things, budget formulation, we’re starting this road mapping process. So she’s playing a lead role in thinking about what the curriculum needs to be over the next 30 years. And so she also gets, she’s the intersection between the day-to-day functioning… It’s the Deputy Head who works with the Deans, and works across the Deans to sort of coordinate activities, set matters of policy, financial issues, complicated discipline cases,” said Kington. 

Kington has shifted his responsibilities away from student life, now putting more focus on the external workings of Andover. Mardon detailed how the two positions differ. 

“I’m focused internally. Dr. Kington, he’s both internal and externally focused. He’s got the whole, he’s got everything. He’s got a lot of work with the Office of Academy Resources. He’s got a lot of work working with external constituencies. This is a massive operation. And he can’t possibly pay attention to sort of the daily details and also all the things that it takes to run a school,” said Mardon.