Board of Trustees Update—October 2020

October 15, 2020

Dear Putney Community,

Nearly all members of the board of trustees and the senior administrative team were able to meet by Zoom in September.

Josh Laughlin ’82, Chair of the Board of Trustees

It was exciting to convene now that actual school has restarted and great to hear about the success of bringing the student body back to the hill and all the activities on campus. A tremendous effort by the entire faculty and staff has made in-person school possible. I’m proud of Emily Jones’ leadership and the success of this school-wide effort. To date, the campus remains COVID-free and stands as a safe example of in-person school.

Emily described her excitement about reuniting all of those returning, announcing excellent new hires, and celebrating all of the bright and energetic new students who have joined us.

Committee reports started with business and finance describing some of the costs and challenges incurred for bringing the campus to COVID compliance, based on state and federal recommendations. Multiple tents and and one new temporary classroom building have been added to allow for appropriate distancing and student densities. The fall weather has been kind to us, allowing us to fully take advantage of Putney’s remarkable campus.

The board voted to accept federal Payroll Protection Plan funds under the Cares Act and the school has been working diligently to meet the federal requirements that those funds entail.

The focus of the Committee on Trustees and Governance has been the onboarding of three new trustees plus  the student and faculty members elected by their peers. We have also been reviewing our board self-assessment and have spent a significant part of the last year reviewing and updating the bylaws by which the board functions.

The Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) continues to educate our board on pertinent topics, focusing on defining and recognizing equality versus equity and the implications of that difference. The DEI committee has also been holding a reading group and spending time updating the DEI section of the website. In November, we will watch and discuss the film Race: The Power of an Illusion. We are quite aware of the need for measurable results of our board work, and that good intentions are not enough. We are focused on envisioning how board DEI work can help to maximize the school’s appeal to BIPOC faculty and students in order to grow, strengthen, and empower the BIPOC community.

This was a very successful year for the Annual Fund and the board is grateful to the many donors who respond generously to the invitation to invest in Putney. We are confident that our supporters’ generosity is strong, and we realize that there are many needs in today’s world. We believe that Putney’s history demonstrates an unusually powerful impact for a school our size and notes that our mission is as important as ever.

Thank you for your ongoing interest in The Putney School. The entire board of trustees hopes you are all staying healthy and well in these trying times.


Joshua D. Laughlin ‘82


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