During the last weekend of October, three new members of the Deerfield Academy Board of Trustees arrived on campus for their first meeting. Stephen Quazzo ’78, P’08, Rudi Wachsman ’53, and Elizabeth Weymouth P’18, P’20 will each serve two five-year terms on the Board, taking part in their first meetings during the first of three Trustee Weekends during the 2017-18 school year.
A Nominating and Governance Committee, led by President of the Board of Trustees, H. Rodgin Cohen ’61, identifies candidates for the Board. “We look for a variety of qualifications; by far the most important is the commitment to Deerfield and a sense of community, which we hope will be the hallmark of Deerfield,” explained Mr. Cohen. He cited “individual expertise and experience” as additional criteria that are considered in the selection process.
Head of School Margarita Curtis described the Board of Trustees as “financial and cultural stewards of the institution.” An important task of the Board is to appoint the Head of School who then selects other members of the administration. Dr. Curtis also noted that the administration is the body overseeing and managing Deerfield, whereas the main job of the Trustees is to “act as advisors and listeners who provide great insight” to the administration in making important decisions for the school.
The Board is continuing progress on the Campus Master Plan, which recently included renovations of the Hess Center for the Arts and the Boyden Library. The ambitious Athletic Complex is currently in construction, and next on the list is a Wellness Center whose design has already been approved by the Board. Its construction schedule is in its beginning stages.
Other interests of the trustees include allocating enough financial aid to “bring the best possible kids from the world,” as Dr. Curtis articulated. They are also seeking to bring the “best possible faculty” and retain them at Deerfield as well as to upgrade the academic curriculum continuously.
Mr. Quazzo brings expertise in buildings and property as Co-Founder and Managing Director and CEO of Pearlmark Real Estate Partners, a real estate investment firm in Chicago. He is also the Chairman of the Urban Land Institute Foundation. Mr. Quazzo stated, “Serving on the Board of Trustees is an opportunity to give back [to] a school I’ve seen evolve and improve over time. I would like to do my small part [in] maintaining the unique spirit, character, and culture that differentiates Deerfield [from other secondary schools].”
With a self-described occupation of “world traveler,” Mr. Wachsman has enjoyed a career working with a Mexican communications conglomerate, a paper company, and banking. He has also taught international affairs at the graduate level. Although his home is Mexico, he draws on his international perspective from years of traveling to contribute to the Board. “There are few institutions around the world like Deerfield that produce strong students who [demonstrate] leadership and the roundness of character and interests,” he commented. Mr. Wachsman expressed that contributing to the advancement of Deerfield is “time well spent.”
Ms. Weymouth was a partner of Riverstone Holdings, a $34 billion private investment firm concentrating in growth capital investments in the energy and power industry. She brings to Deerfield 25 years of experience in private equity, finance, and investment, including 13 years at J.P. Morgan. Earlier this year, Ms. Weymouth became the first woman in the history of the University of Virginia Darden School of Business to be named Chair of the Board of Trustees. “Education has probably been the most important focus for our family. My interest is in making sure that women at Deerfield are advancing in the same way as men and achieving their full potential,” said Ms. Weymouth.
Mr. Cohen remarked, “The three new trustees are truly citizens of the world. There is no place they have not been, nothing they have not done. They are extraordinary individuals.”