LC reaccredited by NEASC
The second part of the reaccredidation process was the campus visit on April 10-13, 2011 by a 11-member NEASC visiting committee, led by Margarita Curtis, head of school at Deerfield Academy. Head of school Sheila Culbert said about the visit, “It’s a very standard process at every school. [The committee] comes in on a Sunday and leaves on a Wednesday. We make ourselves totally available; we let them see anything they want to see, and meet with anybody they want to meet. However, how they organize their time is entirely up to them.”
She also noted, “What generally happens is you have a team of people that all have different responsibilities. One person’s responsibility is to look at student life and athletic program. There would be someone else just for looking at the finances, or the physical plant, or the faculty and teaching. By the time they leave on Wednesday, they need a draft of the report written.”
The visiting committee praised the school for its “highly organized, systematic, and inclusive approach to institutional growth” and its “thoughtful management of change across several operations and aspects of school life.” Indeed, the school has undergone a large number of changes over the past two years, and it plans to make more reforms in the near future.
Loomis received commendations in several standards and failed none; however, the visiting committee did make five major recommendations in which they saw potential for development.
The first of these recommendations was a suggestion to broaden the faculty evaluation process, such as a specification of “best practices and faculty expectations in all domains of school life.” With the addition of the Kravis Center for Excellence in Teaching, led by Scott MacClintic, the service of Ned Parsons, dean of faculty, who has set up a “new, more robust” faculty evaluation program, and the work of a committee led by English teacher Jane Archibald in professional development of senior faculty, the school has already begun to thoroughly address this issue.
The visiting committee praised the new campus master plan, and proposed that the school put both the master plan and regular campus maintenance at the top of its priorities. Over the past few months, members of the physical plant have worked hard to make several renovations, such as the roofs of dorms and buildings around the Grubbs quad. For new facilities, Dr. Culbert cited a new dorm and a campus center, which would be the “heart of the community-a place where faculty and students could really come together.”
Furthermore, the visiting committee advocated for a “healthy balance between action and reflection, work and leisure.” It was impressed with the school’s work on the faculty equity project, the daily schedule, and the discussions on the importance of sleep and time management. A noticeable change this year has been the lengthening of the school calendar; with snow days and the resulting changes in syllabi, both students and teachers often feel pressured to complete all of the assignments on their agenda, especially for an Advanced Placement class. Starting this year, the school year now extends a week into June. Dr. Culbert said, “We moved into June another week to give us more space during the year, so students wouldn’t feel as rushed.”
Another recommendation that the visiting committee made was the development of diversity of students, faculty, staff and board members. With the introduction of the Diversity Task Force and AIM this year, Loomis has already emphasized the need for and value of diversity in the school community.
Finally, the visiting committee recommended an enlargement of the Technology Committee and the development of a “comprehensive academic and institutional technology plan.” Although technology is an area that has no end in development, the school has been focusing much attention on using new technology that could enrich a student’s experience at Loomis.
Dr. Culbert said, “Technology is really something that I am excited about. We tried to separate the technology issues that have to do with the backbone of the school, such as the database and registrar, under Dan Corjulo, head of IT, from teaching technology, led by Mr. MacClintic.
With regard to these recommendations, Dr. Culbert said, “None of this was a surprise to us. These were all things that we called out in our own report. We had done our self-study, and these were all things that we thought we ought to be working on that the committee simply confirmed.”