March 10, 2016

Dear Hotchkiss Parents, Alumni, and Friends,

We write today to share news of some important and exciting work now underway at school.

Based on the recommendation of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) accreditation committee, during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 academic years, Hotchkiss will undertake a review and revision of its current mission statement.

Per the guidelines of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), it is incumbent upon a school’s trustees to “determine the school’s mission, vision, strategic goals, and policy positions.” At Hotchkiss, the Trustees take that responsibility seriously, and understand that the creation of an authentic, meaningful mission statement depends heavily on the investment and participation of the community as a whole.

With that in mind, we are pleased to announce the formation of a Mission Task Force, whose members have been drawn from both the Board of Trustees and the Faculty. The Task Force will lead the process of review and, ultimately, draft the school’s new mission statement, which will be sent to the full Board of Trustees for approval. The individuals serving on this Task Force are:

Elizabeth Hines ’93 (Chair)
Robert Chartener ’76, P’18
Richard Davis
Tom Drake
Letty Downs P’12, ’15
Merrilee Mardon
Becky van der Bogert

The Task Force will be aided in its work by another group, comprised of both faculty and staff, that will serve in an advisory capacity. This group — our Listening Committee — will play an essential role in collecting the necessary data, particularly via focus groups and surveys, for the work ahead, and will also serve as a sounding board for the Task Force during the mission drafting process. The individuals serving on this committee are:

Brad Faus P’10
Bill Fenton
Jim Fornshell
Hellen Hom-Diamond
Taylor Kenyon ’08
Rachel Myers
Amy Rasner Clulow
Laurie Ross

The goal of this revision process is to provide the school with a mission statement that clearly articulates the distinct value of a Hotchkiss education, in language that is both concise and compelling. Indeed, this is precisely what good mission statements are made of. As NAIS states,

In creating and reviewing the mission, the board must understand and concentrate on the unique focus and expertise of the school. It must realize what the school is not as well as what it is... Boards that truly understand the role of their schools in the communities they serve draft mission statements that, by themselves and without amplification, clearly articulate the vital, inviolate characteristics of these schools. Good mission statements do not explain “how” or “why.” They communicate “what” in clear, inspiring, and guiding words.

Arriving at the point where we, as a community, feel that we have well articulated the “vital, inviolate characteristics” of our school will require participation from all corners, and one of the principal goals of our work will be to elicit commentary and analysis from a wide variety of stakeholders within the community. Faculty, staff, parents, students and alumni — all of these groups will be invited to lend their voices to the process of articulating what makes Hotchkiss unique. It is our hope that by the end of this journey, all who wish to be heard will indeed have been heard; the success of our endeavor depends upon our ability to realize precisely this spirit of inclusion.

There is little doubt that this process will be revealing, enriching and sometimes frustrating; it goes without saying that compromise will be essential — no single constituency is likely to get everything they desire. Yet we hope that all will nevertheless come to the work with the same sense of openness and optimism we aim to inculcate in our students. If we pay close attention, we stand to learn an enormous amount about who we are as a school and who we are not — both of which matter tremendously as we seek to build a Hotchkiss fit to lead in the twenty-first century.

We will soon be in touch again to let you know how you can participate in this important process. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.


Elizabeth G. Hines ’93
Chair, Mission Task Force

Jean Weinberg Rose ’80, P’18
President, Board of Trustees