Belmont Hill has recently announced four new endowed chair holders, as well as the creation of a new chair. On the evening of Thursday, October 7, 2022, the community gathered to honor the new chairholders and to thank those who have given so generously in support of these chairs.
With the addition of a new chair in the Science Department, Belmont Hill’s total has grown to an astounding 10 endowed chairs currently, though Greg Schneider, Ronald M. Druker ’62 Head of School indicated that this number might expand to a dozen in the weeks and months ahead. The original conception of the endowed chair program was to first and foremost celebrate and honor excellence within the faculty at Belmont Hill. “It is no secret that our faculty are, in so many ways, the heart of our school,” Mr. Schneider said. “Through a deep adherence to relational learning and a teacher-coach model across campus, the lives of boys here are transformed with remarkable consistency thanks to all of them.”
The first faculty member to be honored was Tim Sullivan as the newest holder of the Michael T. Sherman Chair in Mathematics, which was established in 2015 by Lyn and Tod Rodger and friends to honor a faculty member for excellence in the teaching of mathematics and for a broad commitment to students and school life. Mr. Schneider offered his thoughts on Mr. Sullivan, followed by Mr. Sherman himself, who was the first holder of this chair.
Next, Dr. Jeanne Tift was awarded the Darling Chair in Humanities, which was established in 2012 by Nelson Darling ’37 to honor a faculty member for excellence in the teaching of language, literature, philosophy, history, or the arts and for a broad commitment to students and School life. Prior recipients include Nancy Montanaro and Ken Martin ’65. Fellow English teacher Anna McDonald then offered a warm reflection on her colleague and friend.
It was then Dr. Todd Davis’s turn to be honored as The Maggie and John Ryan Family Teacher/Coach Chair. The Chair was established in 2017 in memory of Maggie and John Ryan by the Ryan family—Ann, Tony, Matthew ’14, William ’17, and Thomas ’19. This Chair honors a faculty member who exemplifies an ideal embraced by the School since its founding: excellence as both a teacher and a coach. The first chairholder was David Leonardis. After Mr. Schneider’s introduction, colleague Chris Richard’s offered a tribute to Dr. Davis.
The evening closed with Ruth Sweeney being named as the first Hans F.E. Wachtmeister Chair in Science, endowed by Lyn and Tod Rodger and other friends of the School. This new science chair is named after Dr. Hans Wachtmeister, who for 30 years taught with a remarkable blend of rigor, humor, and joy. A generous donor himself, he recently made a commitment to name our new Health and Wellness Chair after longtime former school nurse, Donna David. After Mr. Schneider’s remarks, longtime friend and colleague Nancy O’Connor offered wonderful words of praise.
When friends of Belmont Hill establish endowed chairs, they make powerful statements both about the faculty and to the faculty. They remind all of us that our teachers implement Belmont Hill’s mission, exemplify the School’s traditions, and deserve the greatest respect. The generosity of our donors, even as they help build the School’s endowment, allows us to honor great faculty members who have served Belmont Hill so admirably. Endowed chairs, which are typically awarded for a five-year period, establish a continuing legacy for the donors, while sending a strong message of support regarding those responsible for instructing, counseling, and coaching our boys.