Changes in Webb’s administrative leadership


Eric Luo ('25)

Situated right by the dining hall, the administration building may be a mysterious place to some students as they rarely enter the building. The admin building, however, serves as a key location for decision-making at Webb. Housing offices the Deans, the Director of Studies, and the Associate Head of Schools, the admin building brings different positions into one space, a space where the future of our community is decided.

Webb is on its way to facing many walls of change. With Dean Duque stepping down and the one-school model approaching, what could this mean for the future of Webb’s administrative leadership? Webb has started adjusting the leadership model through combining the VWS and WSC Dean of Students and adding a Dean of Residential Life, made to balance the needs of the Webb community when transitioning into the one school model. These changes were implemented with an aim to making more steady resources for students and shaping student experiences. 

“We decided to create a cohesive Dean of Students role and create a team around that person to support a lot of student life programming, such as Mr. Rosenfeld’s role as Dean of Campus Life and a new role –– Dean of Residential Life,” said Dr. Theresa Smith, Associate Head of Schools.  

The Dean of Residential Life role was implemented to oversee the residential program as well as give the Dean of Students more capacity to think about the big picture of the school, since the Dean of Students will now be overseeing twice the number of students.  

This position will oversee all aspects of boarding life, including dorm heads, prefects, chapel, and community dinner, as well as supporting the international student program and BIPOC residential advisors. Boarding specific tasks like room selections and passes that used to be approved by the dean of students will now go through the Dean of Residential Life.  

“I think that what we’re envisioning too with Dean [of residential life] is that if there’s a disciplinary issue that has to do with boarding like room searches, roommate conflicts, issues happening within dorms, or students missing commitments like check in, Dean [of residential life] would help walk through that process,” said Sarah Lantz, Dean of VWS students.  

Besides the structural changes to faculty leadership, the people who are holding these positions have also changed. Currently, the changes include Dr. Smith as Head of Schools, Michael Hoe as Assistant Head of Schools, Dean Lantz as Dean of Students, and a new addition to the Webb community, Peter Hatala, as Director of Studies. The Dean of Residential Life has not been selected yet but will be chosen and incorporated into campus life by the next academic year. 

When finding candidates to fill in new or existing positions, Webb does a nationwide search by putting job offers on 8-10 job boards, with a goal to add more diversity to the team. Each candidate goes through an interview day, which includes campus tours, lunches with students, and various interviews with different faculty depending on the nature of the position.  

“How folks are interacting with the community is really important –– I think people who are creative, people who care about other people, and people who are willing to demonstrate growth [are important],” said Mr. Hoe, Director of Studies.  

Webb is also focusing on including diversity, equity, and inclusion through hiring. Webb works with a company called Nemnet in charge of minority recruiting. The way prospective faculty approach DEI, their cultural competency in guiding conversations about DEI, and their own identity are all things considered in the hiring process. 

“When I do a screening interview for faculty, there are four questions I ask, and one has to do with what it means to live in an inclusive community, and how they have built inclusive communities in the spaces they have worked in before,” Dr. Smith said. “Living with teenagers and being willing to is another. Another is educational philosophy, and the last is about Webb’s mission of honor and moral courage.” 

Although there are many changes to the administrative leadership board, it all moves towards the Webb’s one school model and the needs of Webb students.  

“Our educational philosophy is that students should drive their experience here,” Dr. Smith said. “That’s part of our belief, so we don’t want teachers who just stand in the front of the room. We want teachers who make things experiential, that include you in the decision-making process, or in choosing your curriculum.”