Fred Williams Shares June 2025 Retirement Plans
Head of School Fred Williams shared with his colleagues and students that he and Marcia will retire at the end of the 2024-25 academic year. Below please find the letters that Fred wrote to Chair of the Board of Trustees Kevin Lewis P’22 and that Kevin sent in response.
Fortunately, the entire Rectory community will have many opportunities to celebrate the tenure and achievements of Fred and Marcia before June 30, 2025.
In 2008, after a decade in Washington, DC, Marcia and I sought a return to New England to find a school we loved situated within a car ride of family. As fate would have it I learned while en route to a family gathering in Pomfret, of all places, that Rectory would be looking for a new head of school. I couldn’t get my resume in the mail fast enough.
Through my incredible good fortune, I was subsequently offered the opportunity to lead this great institution, which I have done with immense pride and appreciation these past fifteen years. Now, as Rectory completes a number of significant undertakings—the work associated with the 2012 campus master plan, the corresponding Centennial Campaign, and the final initiatives identified in the current strategic plan, it is time for me to conclude my tenure with the completion of the 2024-2025 school year, and to open the way for new leadership to continue the exciting growth trajectory Rectory is experiencing.
While serving as the head at Rectory, I have had the privilege of working with the most devoted and accomplished faculty, staff, and administrators who have made the well-being of young people their life’s calling. This team, which operates by personal drive and duty, not by job descriptions, stands out for their professional expertise, their collaborative support of Rectory’s mission, and their desire to make a Rectory School experience the best possible. Additionally, interacting with the Rectory’s student population on a daily basis has made each day a joy and an adventure.
All this said, no head can be successful without a productive relationship with the board of trustees. “Productive” far undersells what I have experienced. In my time at Rectory, the six board chairs and countless board members I have had the privilege of working with have been constantly available with their time and thoughts and fully committed to Rectory’s well-being. I am indebted to this group for all they have offered me and all they have done for Rectory.
Years ago when interviewing for the Rectory head of school position, my daughter found the Rectory viewbook on the floor in my office. Flipping through it she exclaimed, “Dad, I want to go to Rectory, this school is awesome!” How right she was as she looked at all the programs the school offered, the facilities the students enjoyed, and the faculty who, even in still photographs, displayed a unique connection with the students. My hope is that I have helped advance all that makes Rectory an excellent school.
Marcia and I will depart the Rectory campus in June of 2025; however, we will always carry this school and the memories of our years here with us. We have both been so fulfilled professionally and personally. While we welcome a new pace of life and a full range of adventures to come, we will dearly miss all that life on the Rectory campus has to offer. There is no greater opportunity than to lead this school, and I thank all the alumni, parents, students, employees, and friends who have made this job the greatest one I could ever hope for.
Marcia and I look forward to months ahead to finish our work here and to thank those we have met along the way. It has been a most enjoyable and rewarding ride!
All my best,
Frederick W. Williams
Summarizing your decade and a half of rigorous service is challenging as your tenure forever changed the landscape of Rectory School, both literally and figuratively. Under your leadership, not one aspect of the school went untouched, including moving away from a logo focused only on boys to one that is inclusive of all.
Upon joining the Rectory community, you immediately began developing relationships with alumni and past parents that returned many to the school and created lifelong Rectory supporters. These relationships have enabled the school to progress and to create a bright future for educating girls and boys. To the widest group of people, from current students, parents, alumni, faculty, and staff, as well as the surrounding community, the most visible results of your leadership can be seen in the development of the school’s campus. The remodeling of numerous existing buildings and the careful landscaping of the campus grounds are gorgeous, but the incorporation of new buildings into Rectory’s 100-year-old architecture is beyond stunning. Before you retire, the school plans to break ground on additions to the gymnasium, amazingly the seventh new construction project during your 15-year tenure that will complete the master plan launched in 2012. Other new buildings—the Grosvenor House Entrance and Admissions Office, the Seaward Family Pavilion and Tang Amphitheater, the faculty duplex, the Smith Learning Center and Hale Elementary School Wing, Centennial Hall, and the Brewster Odeum—have proven critical to Rectory’s progress in consistently attracting, winning, and retaining students, faculty, and staff. Today Rectory’s campus is pristine and exudes Wolf Den pride; the face behind that campus is yours and so many Rectory supporters.
A part of the transformation of the landscape that is less visible to most but critical to all is Rectory’s financial standing and stability. Through your commitment to Rectory, the school has benefitted from remarkable admissions and fundraising progress and from a financial foundation for a sustainable future. During your tenure, Rectory’s endowment has nearly quadrupled to $26.5 million. To see the size of the endowment increase year over year with the real possibility of hitting four times the 2009 level by 2025 has been astonishing. Your financial acumen and diligence as a responsible fiduciary leader has created an organization that runs with strong controls and discipline. These efforts to strengthen the school’s financial standing, to grow its endowment through such funds as The Tang Family Endowment for Excellence in Teaching, and to build relationships have created ongoing opportunities to develop market competitive compensation and benefits for faculty, ultimately resulting in strengthening the academic teaching and coaching to better meet students academically and socially, guiding them closely as they fulfill their potential. Under your leadership, the Rectory faculty may build a career through professional development and growth. Your passion for academics also brought brain-based learning, a significant change that refocused the style of teaching and that required dedication, time, resources, and creation of a new curriculum for the school.
Your relationship with the Board of Trustees has created strong and united leadership for the school. You have established a strategic planning process that ensures that the school continuously looks and plans three years out with contingencies and flexibility. This type of preparation and forward thinking requires commitment, focus, and passion, all of which describe you and your leadership at Rectory.
Of course, we must also thank Marcia for her equally tireless work on the school’s behalf. Assisting in several areas, she has worked in the development office, focusing her expertise and valuable skills in technology, especially in database cleansing, before settling in the technology office in recent years. Along with helping update and modernize the development office database, she oversaw the Annual Fund for three years and was instrumental in unearthing lost alumni who had been disconnected from the school for years. Her current role in technology has been key in the complex transition to a new schoolwide software; she has helped the entire Rectory community, offices and individuals, with her support through this transition. Furthermore, the school has benefited greatly from her role as school diplomat on trips to Asia and other international and domestic locales and from her warm hosting of many, many events at Brittain House. You two have been a perfect fit over these fifteen years, both as the leaders of Rectory and as the in loco parents of so many students who have passed through the school. Your campus presence during the coronavirus pandemic reflected the school’s safe and secure environment and assured students and parents whether international, domestic, or local that Rectory’s faculty would continue to deliver an excellent education under the most trying conditions.
Fred, you have achieved your overarching goal to fill Rectory students with inquisitive minds while constantly embracing the core values of the School Creed: Responsibility, Respect, Honesty, and Compassion. You have taken your goal around the world, have filled our campus with wonderful students, and have sent them into the world as amazing people. We will be forever grateful.
Fortunately, we will have you for the 2024-25 school year, your 16th and final at Rectory, and look forward to the celebrations that will come.
With deep appreciation,
Kevin T. Lewis P’22
Chair, Board of Trustees