Update from the Search Committee – 9/4/18

Dear Oakwood Community,

Welcome back! We hope that everyone had a wonderful summer break and is excited about another amazing school year. As you well know, the 2018–19 school year marks an historic transition at Oakwood School. Longtime Headmaster Jim Astman will step down as Head on June 30, 2019, and a new Head of School will begin on July 1.

The Board of Trustees’ Search Committee has worked throughout the summer identifying, interviewing, and ultimately selecting three Head of School finalists who will be introduced to our community this fall, between October 1 and October 17, 2018.

Oakwood’s search consultants, Debbie Reed (retired Head of Polytechnic School) and Tom Hudnut (retired Head of Harvard-Westlake), were in touch with more than 100 potential candidates for our Head of School position. In addition to their extensive database of leading candidates, Tom and Debbie attended both the NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) and the CAIS (California Association of Independent Schools) conferences this year to deepen the candidate pool prior to distributing our Position Statement to all interested parties. The Oakwood Search Committee was then presented with 32 of the strongest applicant dossiers to review over two weeks. In mid-July, we met in person to evaluate and robustly discuss this pool of 32 candidates, from which our nine semi-finalists were selected.

In mid-August, the semi-finalists were invited to Los Angeles where for two days the Search Committee conducted off-site interviews with each candidate. These semi-finalist interviews focused on many aspects of the feedback we received from the community survey and on-campus interviews earlier this year, as well as other areas of inquiry. Each candidate thoroughly enjoyed their experience and went away impressed with Oakwood School and the professional and thorough search process that has been conducted. Following the last interview, the full Search Committee spent a half-day evaluating and discussing each semi-finalist before ultimately selecting three finalists.

The finalist visits will begin on Monday, October 1st and conclude Wednesday, October 17th in three separate, 3-day visits. Each finalist, with their spouse, will arrive on a Sunday evening and spend 2 ½ days in scheduled meetings with students, faculty, staff, administrators, parents, and trustees. Our goal is for everyone to hear directly from the finalists and provide feedback via an online survey following each visit. Once the last finalist has departed on October 17th and the survey results are received, the community feedback will be reviewed, the Search Committee will make its recommendation to the Board of Trustees, the Board will vote, and a new Head of School will be announced.

The identity of each finalist will be kept confidential until the Friday before their Monday arrival on campus, at which time a brief bio will be distributed to the community. This common practice is done out of respect for the finalists, all of whom are employed and must notify their respective constituencies.

The Search Committee is confident that we have within this stellar group of finalists a fantastic next Head of School. Each of these individuals offers something unique and significant in this 66th year of Oakwood School’s evolution, and we join you in welcoming them this October.

Bridget Baker & Mitchell Butler ’89

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