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Head of School search to focus internally

The Head of School Search Committee is in the middle of an ongoing internal search for Malvern’s next leader.


In order to replace current Head of School Christian Talbot, who will depart in June 2017, the Head of School Search Committee has decided to first look at internal candidates, as a result of both a survey of members of the Malvern community and the judgement of the Board of Trustees.

The committee collected survey results from 50 people, including students, faculty, administration, and alumni in September, according to Search Committee Chairman Mr. John McGlinn P’14’16’18.

“We ran a survey asking them questions about what should the next head of school be like and what should the priorities be for the next head of school, and other comments,” McGlinn said.

Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Search Committee member Mr. Stephen Cloetingh P’10’13 said that the respondents identified two ideal attributes of the next Head of School.

“We feel like there are several really, really high quality candidates that are affiliated with Malvern right now. The Board believes that we need to have someone that knows Malvern, knows where we are right now, and can have some transition time.”

-Mr. John McGlinn

“The criteria that came back loudly was a preference for someone who embraced our Augustinian values, and as you know that’s our secret sauce,” Cloetingh said. “It’s this Augustinian piece that really makes us special, as well as embracing the new movement of our academic track. Really, those two things were very prominent in everybody’s responses.”

Examining the survey results, the Board of Trustees decided in a meeting on October 12 to strictly look at internal applications before expanding the search to a national level.

“We feel like there are several really, really high quality candidates that are affiliated with Malvern right now,” McGlinn said. “The Board believes that we need to have someone that knows Malvern, knows where we are right now, and can have some transition time.”

Progress has been made on the search, according to McGlinn. Resumes and other information have already been accepted from internal candidates, and interviews are set to take place within the next couple of weeks.

McGlinn said that the Search Committee hopes to recommend a candidate or two to the Board by Christmas.

With the arrival of Talbot as Head of School in 2012, project-based learning became a central theme of changes to Malvern’s curriculum, first in the middle school and eventually in the high school, according to previous reporting.

The learning curriculums set in motion by Talbot were already planned out by the Board of Trustees before he arrived, according to Cloetingh.

“We hired Christian because he was the one who demonstrated that he could be most effective in doing that,” Cloetingh said. “And he’s done it.”

McGlinn said that the most important aspect of Talbot’s term as Head of School that Malvern wants to carry over to the next leader’s term is the component of change.

“The element of keeping things fresh, continuing the progress and momentum we have with student centered learning, continuing to really integrate Augustinian values with our learning process here,” McGlinn said.

He thinks that Talbot did all of these things beautifully, and there is nothing that he would really change in terms of his leadership. However, McGlinn acknowledges that Malvern does need something different out of its next leader.

“[Talbot] is a change agent, a big thinker, and a visionary. In the life of institutions, schools, and businesses, you need that kind of individual sometimes, but then you need to evolve to the next leader who can take it from there,” McGlinn said. “It would be detrimental to have another change agent come in now and affect our trajectory.”

The Search Committee wants to make this process as transparent as possible. On the Malvern website, there is a tab in the About Us section entitled Head Of School Search.

“Everyone can read what we’re doing and how the process rolls out, and who is on these committees. To date, people have been thrilled by that,” McGlinn said. “I’ve gotten a lot of really nice emails as have other committee members.”

People really appreciate being able to learn more about the search because it is such an important event for Malvern, according to McGlinn.

“We all love this place,” he said. “Picking the next leader for this place is a huge deal.”


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