Dear Members of the Fay Community,
Since joining Fay’s Board of Trustees in 2010, and becoming President of the Board in 2014, it has been my great honor and privilege to work closely with Rob Gustavson. When Rob and I began discussions regarding his current four-year contract, Rob shared with me that he believed his time at Fay would conclude in June 2024, marking the culmination of 16 years of dedicated service to the School. On Friday, May 5, Rob formally informed the Board of Trustees, and today, May 8, he announced his decision to the faculty and staff.
Since its founding in 1866, Fay School has benefited from outstanding leaders who have possessed their own styles and strengths. Over the course of the last half-century, I have been honored to know three of these leaders who have served Fay so well. As we move forward, we will maintain our commitment to excellence in elementary and middle school education, and I am proud to help lead Fay’s search for its next Head of School.
Rob’s commitment to Fay School’s mission and to our students’ success has been unwavering, and he has led with exceptional dedication and passion. Under his leadership, the School has grown in enrollment, expanded and improved its facilities, and increased the breadth and the quality of the academic program.
The last 16 years have seen transformative improvements to our campus with the completion of the 2008 and the 2020 Campus Master Plans, resulting in, among other achievements, the full integration of West Campus and the new athletic campus; the completion of the Primary School building; the construction of the West House dormitory; renovations to the Camp Family Dining Room Building, Harris Theater, and Webster House; the construction of Fay’s Center for Creativity & Design; upgrades to campus infrastructure, security systems, and information technology systems; and, coming this summer, renovations to Steward Dormitory.
Rob has overseen the development and implementation of two strategic plans, two AISNE re-accreditations, the expansion of the Primary School program to incorporate Kindergarten, and the launch of Fay’s Early Learning Center. Ever-focused on providing the best possible program to engage, challenge, and support students, Rob has overseen the development of the School’s Creativity and Design curriculum, expansion of the Wellness program, and the establishment of the role of Director of Equity and Inclusion to promote a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community at Fay.
Under Rob’s leadership, the Fay community has continued to show its support of the School. Gifts to the Fay Fund from our generous families and friends have increased every year, and parent and trustee surveys have consistently yielded their highest marks. In addition to their day-to-day dedication, Fay’s faculty and staff have gone above and beyond to demonstrate their support of the School, with over 95% of faculty and staff participating in the Fay Fund.
These milestones are just a few of the many demonstrations of Rob’s outstanding legacy–but the most important, of course, is the fact that Fay continues to provide its students with the foundation for a meaningful life, and that our graduates excel and thrive in secondary school and beyond. Rob’s strategic thinking, excellent judgment, and care for students have ensured that when he departs Fay in June 2024, the School will be in excellent shape and ready for its next leader.
A number of months ago, a small group of trustees began the process of selecting a search firm to help us conduct the process of identifying candidates and then selecting Fay’s next Head of School. After interviewing a number of candidates, the trustees selected Perrett-Laver (PL) to lead a worldwide search. PL has an outstanding reputation for its work in leadership searches. PL’s international footprint, coupled with its deep understanding of junior boarding schools through extensive work globally, made the firm our top choice.
Following the selection of PL, a Search Advisory Committee was formed to provide PL with information about Fay and the Head of School role. Following today’s announcement, the public phase of this search for Fay’s new Head of School will begin, and a formal Head of School Search Committee will be established. In my role as President of Fay’s Board of Trustees, I will lead this search until my term ends on June 30, 2023. At that time, Ann Laquerre, the next President of the Board, will assume the leadership of this search, and I will remain as co-chair.
Aside from providing oversight and support for the Head of School, a primary responsibility of the Board of Trustees is to hire the next Head of School. Therefore, Fay’s Search Committee will be composed primarily of trustees, along with other stakeholder leaders in our community. By gender, race, and affiliation, Fay’s Board represents a diverse cross-section of individuals in our community, including alumni, current and former parents, and a current Head of a secondary school. I assure you that the team selecting Fay’s next Head of School will reflect a breadth of experiences and perspectives.
Lucy Hayes, Partner and Global Head of Practice, Schools and Educational Organizations at Perrett-Laver, will be visiting Fay later this week to tour the campus and to conduct one-on-one meetings with a number of community members. This vital component of the search process ensures that we will have input from a range of voices in our community to help shape the position description for our Head of School candidates. Lucy will not have the opportunity to meet with everyone, but we value your thoughts and opinions; you can complete a survey until May 19. We plan to launch the position profile in late May and have finalist candidates visit campus by mid-September 2023.
Rob Gustavson will continue in his role through June 2024. Rob and the Board are looking forward to a full and productive year, and we will have plenty of time to extend our best wishes to Rob and his family.
In closing, this is a bittersweet moment for me. I arrived at Fay as a fifth grade student 50 years ago; my two older brothers, my children, and eight members of my extended family have attended Fay School. My affiliation with and affection for this great place will never subside, and my deep appreciation for, admiration of, and friendship with Rob Gustavson, his wife Carol, and their children Willa, Jack, and Henry, will not subside, either. It has been a great run!
My thanks to you all for your continued interest in Fay School, and may you keep us close in your good thoughts as we recruit our next Head of School.
Jim Shay ‘78, P ‘15 ‘17
President of the Board of Trustees