Head of School Willy MacMullen '78, P'14,'16, "Endowment Is Destiny"

Photo of Headmaster Willy MacMullen '78, P'14,'16I was asked by a parent, "What legacy do you want to leave?" I recall answering, "I hope to leave the school even stronger than it was when I became head of school."

In Taft's 128-year history, I suspect that all five heads of school have shared a similar goal: to make a great school even better, Horace Taft, Paul Cruikshank, John Esty, and Lance Odden all changed Taft, and each left a different and stronger school to his successor. I became head of school in 2001. Having graduated from Taft in 1978 and having taught here since 1983, I had seen firsthand how Head of School Odden transformed the school—even as those before him had. My hope is that I will be able to honor the legacy of change and improvement of the leaders before me so that Taft is always able to carry out our mission of educating the whole student while remaining one of the nation's premier mid-sized private boarding schools.

Stay Strong

Leaving Taft stronger has meant in the past—and can mean in the future—many different things. But today, above all, it means this: Ensuring the school's financial sustainability and excellence by growing the endowment. A great school can only remain competitive as long as there are sufficient resources to:

  • Attract and retain superb teachers.
  • Expand programmatic and academic offerings.
  • Deepen the admissions applicant pool.
  • Enhance the school's international reputation.
  • Provide scholarships to ensure the quality and diversity of the student body and control tuition costs.
  • Ensure an ideal teacher-student ratio.
  • Maintain state-of-the-art facilities and historic buildings.
  • Provide funding not only for operating costs but also for new initiatives.

Each of us has benefited from the generosity of those who contributed to Taft before we knew it, and I believe it is our time to support the school for those yet to come. It is up to us now to ensure that our school is in a position to shape young men and women into strong leaders who will carry the lessons of Taft—and our motto, Non ut sibi ministretur sed ut ministret—into the world.

Your Taft Legacy

A critical way alumni, parents, and friends can support Taft is through a legacy gift. A planned gift, regardless of the amount, will help build the endowment so that we can achieve our goals in the future. And to be clear, the need is pressing, especially when we measure ourselves against our peer schools. That we are a great school is undeniable, and we have realized this without the resources at the disposal of other schools. Throughout our history, we have attained excellence through extraordinary prudence and discipline. But as the table shows in comparison with its peers, Taft's endowment is lagging.

With the intention of closing the endowment gap and ensuring that Taft continues to grow, we established the Horace Dutton Taft Legacy Society—composed of all who have made or pledged a legacy gift to the school.

Naming the Taft School as a beneficiary of your will, retirement plan, or life insurance policy is easy and can be accomplished with little expense or time. Other gifts such as trusts and annuities can be of great benefit to the school—and to you and your family.

Planning for the Future

I began by commenting on what I hope my legacy might be: An even stronger school. But I close by saying that my appeal is not about my work at Taft. It is about a belief thousands of us share, a conviction that our nation and, indeed, the world need an institution like Taft, with its commitment to the whole student, its tradition of excellence in scholarship, and its history of graduating young men and women who embody its lessons and motto.

To write the next chapter in the story of our great school, we need a stronger endowment. The Horace Dutton Taft Legacy Society's purpose is to inspire, recognize, and thank those who establish legacy gifts and, through annual gatherings, newsletters, and this Web site, to keep this vital group informed of the school's successes, challenges, and opportunities. Although our endowment today of roughly $208 million means Taft is able to offer students and faculty a remarkable experience, we cannot stand still. History tells us that great schools insist on improvement. I thank you in advance for considering a legacy gift.


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