Two days ago, as it does each Monday, Thacher’s campus community gathered together in the Centennial Amphitheater for All-School Assembly. Unlike other Mondays, the space was filled with a palpable sense of anticipation as students, faculty, and staff eagerly awaited a major announcement that had been months in the making. Who would be tapped as the next head of school after Michael K. Mulligan, Thacher’s inspiring, steadfast leader for the past 25 years, retires this June?
Maria Morales-Kent, director of college counseling, and Jeff Hooper, dean of faculty, took to the stage with an unmarked white envelope in hand. Both had been members of the 13-person succession committee—made up of representatives from the board of trustees and the Thacher faculty—who had worked tirelessly over the last nine months on a comprehensive national search that involved identifying, recruiting, vetting, and interviewing a wide variety of top-notch candidates for the role. In the end, three strong candidates had participated in multi-day campus visits as the final stage of the decision-making process.
“Our guiding and uniting principle was a deep sense of loyalty to and love for Thacher and its current and future students, staff, and faculty,” said Mr. Hooper. “Throughout the process, we were ever-mindful of the critical importance of our work, as the inspired choice of the last succession committee 25 years ago to ask Mr. Mulligan to lead the School has allowed us to prosper in unimagined and unimaginable ways. And now it is with unreserved joy, enthusiasm, and confidence that we share with you the unanimous choice of the succession committee and the board of trustees to be Thacher’s next head of school.”
Ms. Morales-Kent lifted the envelope in the air. She opened it up and paused over its contents. Then she announced: “Ms. Blossom Beatty Pidduck.” The pronouncement was met with cheers and applause.
In an email to the Thacher community, Gretchen H. Milligan P ’00, P ’02, chair of the succession committee; Philip Pillsbury CdeP 1967, P ’08, vice chair of the succession committee; and Cabot Brown CdeP 1979, P ’10, P ’15, chair of the board of trustees, wrote: “We are thrilled to announce the appointment of Blossom Beatty Pidduck CdeP 1992 as the ninth head of The Thacher School. A rising star, Blossom is a collaborative leader, an extraordinary communicator, and a gifted teacher with a lightning-quick mind and a bountiful sense of humor. In Blossom, we have a fearless forward thinker with large measures of open-mindedness, creativity, infectious energy, and optimism to lead the next generation of Thacher faculty and students.”
With Ms. Pidduck comes her husband, Brian Pidduck CdeP 1992, an esteemed faculty member, climbing instructor, and director of Thacher’s Outdoor Program. Thacher is also home to their 9-year-old twin daughters, Addie and Daisy.
In a letter to the School, Ms. Pidduck wrote: “At Thacher, we join together in taking responsibility for the health and success of our School and of one another. We boldly ask the questions that need to be asked, and face our challenges head-on.”
She concluded: “In accepting the tremendous honor and responsibility of serving as Thacher’s ninth head, I commit myself to defining a new era while protecting the values and ethos that have made Thacher a peerless school for one hundred and twenty-eight years. I look forward with great excitement and hope to forging the path ahead with you all.”
You can read Ms. Pidduck’s full remarks here
Beginning July 1, 2018, Blossom Beatty Pidduck will succeed Michael Mulligan, who, along with Joy Sawyer-Mulligan, current chair of the English department and former director of admission and financial aid, will “graduate” with the class of 2018 this June. Mr. Mulligan has steadily and expertly helmed the school for 25 years and worked here for over 30. Together, the two have served in many ways as the heart and home of the Thacher community, and have played a seminal role in making the School into what it is today. As they depart, we can say with confidence that the reins of the School remain in highly capable hands.