For stretches, long stretches at times, travel for the school takes me out of New Hampshire and across the country: last week, DC; this week, NYC. I meet alumni from different moments in Proctor’s history like the graduate from the late 80’s who worked for Newsweek and now is a chef; the entrepreneur who graduated in the 90’s and works out of a Manhattan shared space office; the parent who is watching their child slowly build executive functions.
Conversations crisscross between the present day initiatives and the Proctor’s ethos that build character. Themes of support, belief, challenge, and relationships emerge. Conversations range from life in Mac House to Edna’s waffles, from social entrepreneurship to Mountain Classroom.
Sometimes I am asked if I enjoy the work away from campus. I do.
Travel of this nature changes the rhythm of school. It takes one out of the immediate and compressed oscillations of days tumbling after days, and as the sine waves stretch out the Proctor of the moment is replaced by the Proctor that functions over years and decades. I encounter the longer arc, the way the school shaped values and careers, the way it shaped choices and paths. Seeing the longer arc affirms the mission. The coil of highways, the lines at airports, the too-much-coffee travel is all worthwhile.
Travel is also about support. Fundraising. To move infrastructure – not mission - takes investment that comes from all constituencies, and while the dining commons project moves forward, other projects stack up behind it: dorms, the field house, Maxwell Savage, the endowment. There is no Powerball solution to those needs of the school, just steady movement and conversations about why the idea of Proctor warrants support. While support is about new green buildings and revamped facilities, it will always be more about the ideas that wrap the school and the mission delivered by the faculty and staff.
Our last meeting of the trip is late this morning and then we will turn north and head back up to Andover. When Keith Barrett and I pull onto the Proctor campus a little after six, the lights will be on at the ski hill like a beacon, a race in progress. The glow will be a welcome sight after another week on the road.