Looking to 2050: New Learning Steering Committee Envisions the Future of Andover

Andover’s student body was recently informed of the new Learning Steering Committee (LSC), a committee of faculty members dedicated to long-term planning for the next 30 years. On January 15, all students were asked to complete a survey for the LSC that included three questions about how students imagine Andover in 50 years: What is new and meaningful at Andover, what have we stopped doing, and what has endured?

Co-chaired by Dr. Merrilee Mardon, Deputy Head of School and Instructor in History and Social Science, and Carmen Muñoz-Fernández, Instructor in Spanish, the LSC is composed of seven faculty members and three ex-officio members. Over the next two years, the LSC will aim to develop a vision and action plan for the future at Andover.

In the “Andover Magazine,” Head of School Dr. Raynard Kington wrote a letter that emphasized the importance of this initiative in light of various societal and educational changes. He expressed how the LSC would partially focus on ensuring that students are well-prepared to navigate the world.

“Over the past decade, we have seen dramatic shifts in the education landscape. Rapidly changing technology and globalization greatly influence how we teach and the way that knowledge is generated and consumed. Coming out of the pandemic, we also continue to grapple with mental health as a factor in students’ social-emotional development and their ability to learn to their full potential. With these factors in mind, what are the skills students will need to make a difference in a world that is more complicated than ever?” wrote Dr. Kington.

Beginning in the 1880s, Andover has engaged in a long-term planning process every 20 to 30 years to reevaluate its current state and assess its future. Over the years, these initiatives have resulted in changes like the removal of Latin as a mandatory subject in the mid-1900s and, more recently, the establishment of a need-blind admission policy.

The LSC is one of three committees that currently constitute the Roadmap initiative, according to Dianne Domenech-Burgos, Chief of Staff and Assistant Head of School for Strategic Planning. In addition to the LSC, there is an Operations Working Committee, composed mostly of administrators, and a Finance Committee, composed of both administrators and trustees. The Co-Chairs of each committee meet with Kington and Amy Falls ’89, President of the Board of Trustees, on a monthly basis.

While the LSC is a faculty-based organization, Domenech-Burgos shared that it will be seeking contributions from everyone in the Andover community, including students. She emphasized the importance of input from all sources when imagining the future of the school.

The Learning Steering Committee is going to be soliciting information from all faculty, all staff, administrators and students so we can make Andover the best it could be, not just now, but way into the future,” said Domenech-Burgos.

Looking forward, Kington described plans to source input from the broader Andover community.  

“We have begun to grapple with questions around academics, student life, and finances. This winter and spring, we will hold a series of open forums to hear from the campus community and will follow with outreach to alumni and families,” wrote Dr. Kington in the “Andover Magazine.”

According to Domenech-Burgos, though the LSC has not yet established an action plan or concrete objectives, it has begun to develop a vision of Andover in 2050 by identifying current needs and limitations. 

“We don’t have any goals yet, but I’ll tell you where we hope to go. We started with the faculty in June, and we asked them the same three questions that students [got] asked in advising on Tuesday. That was the basis to get us thinking about, what is it that [Andover] could look like?” said Domenech-Burgos.

Domenech-Burgos continued, “Since then, we’ve identified, ‘Why now? What’s going on in this day and age that is pushing us to think about what could and should be different?’ We identified issues that are pushing us to think about why, and now we’re looking at how we can solve these issues. Some of that has to do with what we want Phillips Academy to look like and some of it has to do with ‘What are the needs of our students and our employees? And how can we meet those needs?’”