On October 20 and 22, the Board of Regents held its first of three annual meetings on campus to conduct their school business. The News interviewed the board’s president, Stacie Lissette ‘85, and raised questions about the broader outlook for the board and the Mercersburg community.
Mercersburg News (MN): What are the main goals of the board?
Stacie Lissette (SL): Our board’s purpose is the fulfillment of the school’s mission through oversight, partnership, and foresight. We are specifically responsible for the financial success and long-term sustainability of the school. We ensure an effective school leadership team; set, resource, and measure progress toward the strategic vision; and encourage engagement and stewardship of our constituents. The main goals of the board are to hire, evaluate, and retain the Head of School, help set a strategic vision for the school, and ensure the financial sustainability of the school. We work closely with the school leadership team to fulfill this purpose.
MN: What are some current projects and plans the board is working on (short term and long term)?
SL: In the past couple of years, the board worked with the school leaders to create a strategic design, and we continue to be involved in the work to implement that design. That plan has “Four Bold Moves”: 1. Emphasize meaning and mastery 2. Invest in our educator capacity 3. Serve the whole learner 4. Prioritize financial aid. We have also been working for the past 18 months with an outside consultant and school leadership to create a campus master plan which is a physical framework/blueprint that supports the school’s mission and strategic vision. This plan is currently being reviewed by the full board with the hope of having a document approved at the January board meetings. The campus master plan looks at the physical spaces on campus and determines if there are changes needed to those to support the programs (academic, residential, etc.) of the school. These two processes will help to guide the work that the board and the school will be focusing on for many years. It’s important to note that the campus master plan is a document that will be flexible, and different areas covered within the plan are subject to change based on needs of the school as we move forward. A project we are also working on is a comprehensive look at ways to ensure the financial sustainability of the school. Mercersburg is financially an extremely strong institution, but we always need to be thinking through ways to maintain that strength.
MN: What is the main goal of your talk with the school community?
SL: We hope to answer questions you may have about what we do and who we are and to help you get to know us better. We have not been able to be on campus as much the past couple of years, and we really want to be able to interact with the people who are most affected by our decisions. We also want you to learn more about us and what we do with respect to the school. We hope that you will also see that there are many ways, such as serving on the board, to give back to Mercersburg long after you have graduated, and I feel certain that some of the current students will be future members of the Mercersburg Academy Board of Regents and Alumni Council.
MN: Even when we don’t have meetings, are there ways for students to keep the conversations going?
SL: I really do hope so. We are open to ideas of how we can do this and can work with the Student Life Office to figure out some options. That being said, the board is really responsible for the higher level strategic planning, and we always want to be careful that we are not interfering with day-to-day operations which are the responsibility of the school leadership, faculty, and staff. There are many decisions that the board should not be involved with.