Although Phillips Academy has a recent history that puts it among the leaders in secondary school diversity, the school did not make a conscious effort to recruit a diverse student body until 1966.
The 1966 recruitment change was prompted by a faculty steering committee. The committee explored which students Andover should serve. According to school Archivist Ruth Quattlebaum, this was the beginning of Andover actively recruiting students of color.
The first student of color who was admitted to the school was Thomas Paul Smith of Boston, MA. According to Quattlebaum, Smith was an African-American student who was a member of Andover’s graduating class of 1838.
According to a school document entitled “Black Students at Phillips Academy (Revised) by Graduating Class,” there is a 27-year gap between Smith’s graduation and the graduation of the next black student.
This next student, and the first documented African-American to graduate from PA, Richard T. Greener was a member of the class of 1865. He went on to graduate from Harvard and became a lawyer and “a prominent diplomat,” said Quattlebaum.
The first documented Asian student was Joseph Hardy Neesima. Neesima was Japanese, graduated from Andover in 1867 and later became a seminary at Andover in 1874. He attended Amherst College and graduated in 1870.
Quattlebaum said that Neesima was originally a stowaway on a ship, but he was fortunate that a Phillips Academy alumnus owned the ship.
“When [the crew and owner] found [Neesima] they sent him here,” said Quattlebaum.
Starting in the early 1930’s the school unofficially instituted its only quota. This quota limited the number of Jewish students that the school would accept each year.
In 1935 former Headmaster Claude Moore Fuess wrote, “It is just too bad about the little Jewish boy, but I can’t very well blame Dean Lynde [the Dean of the Academy at the time, in charge of admissions] for trying to keep our school as predominately Aryan as possible. If we once start to open our doors freely to [Jewish students], we shall be overwhelmed by applications. As a matter of fact, we have hundreds each year as it is.”
In Andover’s bicentennial history, “Youth From Every Quarter,” author and former Chair of the Department of History and Social Science, F.S. Allis quotes letters that support the idea of having a quota.
In a different letter to the Headmaster of a British school Fuess wrote, “We shall never have a larger percentage [of Jewish students], and I am trying to reduce it just a little.”
At this time there were between 30 and 35 Jewish students out of 690 students, wrote Allis.
Quattlebaum said that this quota was instituted because the school was afraid that if it accepted students purely based on merit there would be a disproportionate number of Jewish students at Andover.
A shift in race among students also came about as the result of former Headmaster John Kemper who served from the 1940’s to 1971.
When Kemper assumed office he ended this quota. Kemper was also Headmaster when the “Steering Committee” made their commitment and when Massachusetts passed the “Fair Educational Practices Act.”
Very few students of color were admitted in the following years. The State of Massachusetts passed the “Fair Educational Practices Act” in 1956.
This act stated, “Any kind of discrimination in admission procedures on the basis of race, creed, color or national origins is illegal.”
Quattlebaum said that the late 1950’s and early 1960’s were a time of change in racial diversity because of the Civil Rights Movement and the formation of a “Steering Committee” at the school.
Through the “Steering Committee,” the school made a commitment to broaden the constituency.
Although there were no official documented reports of racial hazing, Quattlebaum said that students often “felt isolated.”
To help support the black community, Af-Lat-Am was also founded during the 1960’s and preceded CAMD.
Despite this feeling of isolation, six of the school’s Student Council presidents have been of color. The first black president was Todd Fletcher in 1986-1987. Following him were Asian-Americans John Hong and Willie Tong, serving from 1989-1990 and 1990-1991, respectively.
From 1992-1993, African-American Ore Owodunni served as president. There was then a 10-year gap until the next president of color. From 2002-2003 Kanyi Maquebela, son of Dean of Faculty Temba Maquebela, served as president and most recently, Ali Siddiqi served as president from 2005-2006.
Quattlebaum said that most of the school’s information about the student body’s racial diversity in past years is based on photos. She continued by saying race was rarely ever identified in records.
Citing Andover’s 1778 constitution, Quattlebaum said, “The school will be open to youth from every quarter but there is a little caveat there that says youth from every quarter, but with requisite qualifications. That means…you had to be able to meet the [school’s] standard.”