In 1988, 16 years after the Academy became co-educational, Lynda Fitzgerald was named dean of students—the Academy’s first female administrator. This was a watershed moment for the Academy and one that required more than a little courage on Fitzgerald’s part. “It was challenging—the room was always full of men,” she recalls. Fitzgerald became a trailblazer, paving the way for other women to take on leadership roles. “It’s wonderful that the administration has so many strong women now,” says Fitzgerald, who went on to become dean of faculty in 2008.
But the hallmark of Fitzgerald’s 30-plus year career at the Academy is her work with, and care for, students. As dean of students, she influenced countless young people as a mentor, teacher, and surrogate parent. She also stepped up as the Academy’s first girls’ ice hockey coach, a sport she had never played before. “The girls wanted to play, and they needed a coach,” she explains simply.
This “students first” philosophy leads former students, advisees, and dorm residents to identify Fitzgerald as the poster child of an engaged faculty member. For this reason, she offers a tangible example for why faculty support figures so prominently in the campaign. Even today, as dean of faculty, she is a dorm parent in a freshmen boys’ dorm, teaches one section of English, and leads a yoga class in the afternoon program. According to Fitzgerald, this is all in a day’s work: “I try to walk the talk, showing the importance of participating fully in the community.”