Dear Members of the Westminster Community,
I write on behalf of the Board of Trustees concerning Bill Philip’s announcement that the 2020-2021 school year will be his last as our Head of School.
Bill Philip became Westminster’s eighth Head of School in 2010, during which time he has led Westminster through an unprecedented period of growth and development. Since they joined us in 1983, Bill and Jenny Philip have given the best of themselves to Westminster School, raised their family on campus, and contributed immeasurably to the daily life and long-term legacy of our school.
During his 38-year tenure at Westminster, Bill has served in a variety of teaching, administrative, and coaching responsibilities. Prior to becoming Head of School, Bill served as Assistant Headmaster, Associate Headmaster, as well as serving as Director of Studies, Director of College Counseling, and Senior Development Director, all while teaching history for years. He has also been a corridor and dormitory supervisor, a coach of swimming, baseball, and lacrosse, and a sought-after advisor for hundreds of students. He received the O’Brien Award in 1998 and was named an honorary member of the Class of 2006. He has and continues to work tirelessly on behalf of Westminster students, faculty, administration, and staff, as well as the broader school community.
Jenny Philip has also served the school in many ways over the years as a faculty member in addition to being a key partner to Bill. Jenny currently coaches field hockey and lacrosse at Westminster, writes and edits electronic communications in the Marketing and Communications Office, curates art exhibits for Baxter Gallery, including the coordination of an annual spring alumni art exhibit, and this summer she is leading the dining team that is planning for the reopening of school. Many of the campus beautification efforts are hers; Jenny initiated the planting of the hundreds of daffodils along Perkin Drive that explode with yellow blooms each spring and she coordinates the planting of additional bulbs each fall with the help of her field hockey team. Prior to joining Westminster full time, Jenny worked in admissions at Yale University and at Ethel Walker School, and in the Advancement Office at Renbrook School. Jenny and Bill’s two daughters, Kate ’06 and Alie ’09, grew up at Westminster, discovered their passion for art history as Westminster students, and enjoyed considerable success on various Westminster athletic teams, before matriculating to Yale University and Bates College, respectively.
There will be many opportunities between now and June 2021 to fully recognize and celebrate Bill’s and Jenny’s many contributions to Westminster. First and foremost, they have been exemplary stewards of our mission, fostering the intellectual curiosity, character, and community spirit that our faculty and students share with each other every day. With Bill’s leadership, we have continued to transform Westminster’s campus, in accordance with the master plan, with the building of Armstrong Dining Hall, Brockelman Student Center, Gund, Kelter, and Squibb Houses, as well as other new faculty residences, and Hovey Field. The physical transformation of these community spaces was important in terms of reflecting Westminster’s values, and Bill has always emphasized the need to support the people who make up our community: our students and faculty. Westminster’s landmark Soar Together campaign, which is devoted in its final years to raising endowment funds to support students and their experience, and the faculty who teach them, coach them, and advise them, reflects both Bill’s and Jenny’s longstanding devotion to our school and its future. Most importantly, throughout this period of growth, Bill has ensured that Westminster remained true to itself and our community ethos of Grit and Grace, which has resulted, not surprisingly, in a robust school community with a strong student body, continuity in faculty including numerous alumni, and a spirit that is familiar to all of us. Bill’s thoughtful leadership admirably guided Westminster through an unprecedented spring term under accelerating pandemic conditions, working with our incredible faculty to ensure that the remote learning experience delivered not only academic excellence but community spirit. We are fortunate to have Bill and Jenny to continue to guide us as we plan for the coming year.
On a personal note, I have known Bill since he first came to Westminster, and I am grateful to him for the time and guidance he has offered to the Board (past and present), and to me and prior Board Chairs. His wisdom runs deep and his passion for Westminster is unrivaled. Both Bill’s and Jenny’s dedication to our school and the people who comprise our community will leave a lasting legacy.
For our Head of School search process, we have formed a Search Committee, which consists of other board members, parents (current and former), alumni, and faculty. The Search Committee includes:
- Brad Raymond ’85, P’19, ’20, ’23, ’23, Chair
- Mary Peck ’90, Vice Chair
- Madeleine Ekholm P’19, ’20
- Powell W. Holly III ’82
- Moyahoena Ogilvie Johnson ’86
- Jessica Keough, Dean of Faculty
- Thomas W. McCargo ’82, P’21
- Bill Sistare, Dean of Studies
- Kirsten Sichler Webb ’98
- Gregory Williams, Director of College Counseling
Also, we will be assisted in our search by Carney, Sandoe & Associates (CS&A), a nationally recognized educational search firm, and I am pleased to report that Devereaux McClatchey, President of CS&A, will be leading the firm’s search team for Westminster.
We plan to begin our work immediately. While the timeline will depend on a variety of factors, we will remain committed to a thorough and disciplined approach. The search process will include input from all of you. We plan to communicate as regularly and with as much transparency as possible during what will at times be a highly confidential process. We are confident that Westminster’s reputation for excellence will draw a diverse group of highly qualified and interested candidates and that we will be in a strong position from which to select the next Head of School.
A transition such as this, from one longtime head of school to another, is an important moment for our school. As we pause to reflect upon Bill’s remarkable contributions to Westminster and plan for the year to come, we must also look forward and consider the school’s future. The search is an opportunity for us to recognize who we are today and to explore where we need to go. We will focus not only on our deeply rooted strengths and proud tradition, but, as importantly, on new educational goals for the world in which our children will live.
Westminster School’s motto, virtute et numine — by grit and grace— defines and distinguishes the Westminster experience, our community, and our alumni. It will also guide us in our search for the next Head of School.
The Board and I look forward to working with the entire Westminster community in the months to come.
Brad Raymond ’85, P’19, ’20, ’23, ’23
Chair of the Board