Mike's Notes: Institutional Guidance

Posted by Mike Henriques

02/16/2018

Four times a year Proctor’s Board of Trustees arrive on campus for two days of meetings, conversations, and planning. They are parents, alumni, and friends of the school and their relationship can stretch back decades or just a year or two. They come to Andover to share their talents and their love for the school, bringing invaluable perspective from different worlds. Renovations or running an endowment? What it takes to be a successful entrepreneur or artist? They’ve got that. They are not on campus four times a year to be prescriptive but to help, and their wisdom and work contributes mightily to the success of Proctor.

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This past weekend was a Board weekend, and besides meetings trustees stepped out to attend basketball and hockey games, tour the new fitness center and gym, join the community at the ski hill event on Saturday night, and engage in some of our community conversations. The winter meeting is also a time when budgets for the following year find their shape and tuitions are set. Education is a people intensive endeavor, true at Proctor and other schools, and that translates into constant budget pressures. To help cover next year’s anticipated expenses the Board voted on a 2% increase in Learning Skills fees and a 2.75% increase in tuition for boarding and day students for the 2018-19 school year. It is on the lower end of increases for Proctor, but concerns about the ever increasing tuition burden continues to be a topic at the Board level. Who can afford independent school tuitions that can now run well over $60k a year? How can financial aid do more? How can endowments do more to offset rising costs? These are constant questions in schools today and already there are active Board conversations about Proctor’s next capital campaign (after we finish this one!) being focused on endowment growth.

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On Friday evening, after basketball and hockey games finished, a handful of student leaders, Board members, administrators and some faculty sat down to talk about technology. It was informative for all as we heard from the students who have a love hate relationship with devices. “My phone is blowing up in my pocket even as we are talking about this,” Genevieve shared.”I’m ignoring it.” Lance talked about an app that let him track how much time he spent on his phone each day.”Two hours! What else could I have been doing with that time?” Each had a different relationship with technology. Some are email users, others email ignorers as in “I have about 6,000 unread emails.” Each has a different relationship with social media. Each has a distinct preference for how they receive information. All recognize the downsides and the upsides of the tech landscape, and yet all want more time away from it. It was fascinating for the Board to be a part of the exchange as we collectively search for better ways both to fold technology into our lives and keep it out.

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All boards have different committees that trustees either chair or are a part of, and from school to school many of these committees are similar: Finance, Governance, Buildings and Grounds, Development, Executive. Yes, Proctor has those committees, but rollout of work done in Governance since November to assess and strengthen the committee structures on the Board has brought Proctor a few new and revitalized committees. Of note are the resurrection of two old committees - Energy and Land Utilization - and the advent of three new committees focusing on Student Life, Institutional Advancement, and the Arts. These new structures are seen as ways that the Board can more actively engage and collaborate with the community, and we look forward to seeing how this evolving structure enhances the school as it seeks always to better deliver on the promise of its mission.

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By late Saturday trustees had left campus. Many students and faculty see their arrival and departure as the smallest ripple in our routine, but the impact of a strong and committed board is never small and never to be taken for granted. Proctor is fortunate to have the board it has today. The partnership is strong and the work it does is critical.

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Mike Henriques P'11, P'15

Proctor Academy Head of School

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