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The Scarlet & Black

Kington bows out

President Raynard Kington will leave Grinnell in June to head Phillips Academy in Andover, MA. Photo by Andrew Tucker.
President Raynard Kington will leave Grinnell in June to head Phillips Academy in Andover, MA. Photo by Andrew Tucker.

By Eva Hill

President Raynard Kington will be departing his position at Grinnell at the end of this academic year for a new role as the head of Phillips Academy Andover, a Massachusetts private preparatory boarding school. 

The College officially announced Kington’s departure on Dec. 5 in a special campus memo sent out by email to students and staff.

Kington arrived as the College’s 13th president in late summer of 2010, making this year his 10th at Grinnell. 

Last year, the Board of Trustees extended his contract to the end of the 2021-2022 academic year. However, current Chair of the Board of Trustees David Maxwell wrote in an email to The S&B that “the typical college president contract commits the institution to certain obligations, but the president is free to depart at any time.”

Phillips Academy administrators contacted Kington late in the summer of 2019, after the school’s previous head, John Palfrey, was named president of the Macarthur Foundation.

“We were, obviously, aware of his credentials and standing, so we reached out to him,” said Amy Falls, president-elect of the Phillips Academy board of trustees, in a phone call with The S&B. “Grinnell and Andover have a historical connection, and I think that the values of excellence and access, of being an institution that really is trying to provide exceptional young people with the tools to have a big impact on the world, regardless of their ability to pay—all of those values that I think both institutions share just made it seem like a very good fit.”

The historical connection that Falls referred to is from the beginnings of Grinnell. 

“The Iowa Band”—the group of ministers who founded what would eventually become Grinnell College—were all trained at Andover Theological Seminary, which shared Phillips Academy’s campus and board of trustees until its relocation to the Harvard University campus in 1908.

According to Maxwell, Kington informed the Grinnell board of trustees “a few weeks ago” that he had accepted the position at Phillips Academy.

Moving forward, Grinnell plans to start the search as soon as possible. Maxwell wrote, “We have already contracted with one of the country’s top higher education executive search consultants, and the Board will be meeting with him at the end of this week. We expect to have identified the full membership of the search committee within days.”

According to Maxwell, the Board hopes to select Grinnell’s 14th president before the end of this academic year, meaning that the College will likely not elect an interim president.

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