Alison Easterling P’20 Selected As New Dean of Academics

This past Monday, February 22, Lawrenceville announced Associate Dean of Faculty Alison Easterling P’20 as its new Dean of Academics, effective July 1, 2021.

This past Monday, February 22, Lawrenceville announced Associate Dean of Faculty Alison Easterling P’20 as its new Dean of Academics, effective July 1, 2021.

According to Head of School Stephen S. Murray H’55 ’65 P’16, “The Dean of Academics is in charge of the curriculum and life in the classroom, energizing the academic life of the school and maintaining it at the highest standard.”

Overall, Easterling hopes “to play a role in helping bring the school out of this Covid-19 period and to look ahead to what might be next in terms of thinking about our curriculum and who and what we are as a school” through focusing on staff leadership, integration, and diversity on campus. Regarding the curriculum implications of her office, Easterling said, “I am hoping to work with the department chairs and talk about how we might begin to think about expanding the kind of leadership roles that they play in their departments…to grow their positions as academic leaders on campus.”

Easterling believes that diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is a large priority for the School and that promoting these values will be “very important for Lawrenceville’s future.” She was the Co-Chair of the DEI Task Force in 2018, which sought to find room for improvement in areas such as residential programs for staff, faculty issues, and hiring practices at Lawrenceville.

According to Easterling, one of the goals for the task force was “to have issues of inclusion really become part of the school landscape, whether we’re talking about academics and curricular issues or residential programming in the houses [or] athletics.”

To incorporate these issues of inclusion into every aspect of Lawrenceville, Easterling worked with Athletic Director Tripp Welborne H’58 P’21 and other staff members to help create the position of a Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, currently held by Rick Holifield. This year, her focus has been on the recruitment and retainment of faculty of color. “We’re aspiring to get to a place where at least 30 percent of our employees are employees of color, specifically faculty,” she said, “And once we reach that goal, we won’t just stop; it’ll be a process, but this is a big aspirational target for the next several years.”

Over the summer, she also played a large role in designing the structure for the Fall and Winter Terms, ranging from testing schedules to classes. One project that she has been especially proud of is the learning lab she’s helped create in the Clark Music Center, where children of faculty and employees can attend their virtual classes and have fun with some Covid-19 safe activities. “I’m really proud of that because I think that provided a lot of support to our staff and faculty when they really needed it,” she said.

With the hybrid Spring Term approaching quickly, Easterling has also had her hands full planning for a successful conclusion to the school year. She has been particularly focused on the student experience and notes that “to ensure a better classroom experience, [she] and [current Dean of Academics David Laws P’21 ’23] have already participated in some trials trying to figure out some ways to improve the audio issues in the classrooms.”

Murray, Co-Chair of the Dean of Academics Search Committee, ultimately selected Easterling for the role due to her “methodical yet creative mindset.” Murray noted that “she has the ability to methodically [unpack] an issue and the problems and challenges that the people that are involved experience, as well as [whom] it’s going to affect,” he said.

He also mentioned that she had a “deep understanding of the rhythm of life in a boarding school,” and, more importantly, an ability to “build relationships and collaborate with others.”

“Real leadership comes from being able to [inspire] people [to follow] you, building the case for doing something differently or making a change and getting people on board...I have high hopes and incredible faith in her. She is an all-in school person—she has an incredible work ethic and gets things done,” he said.

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