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Dean Gimbel Passes Torch to Pamela Safford

After 23 years of service to the Academy, Dean of Admissions Patricia Gimbel will retire this spring, beginning a momentous transition in the admissions office. Ms. Gimbel’s tenure leaves a transformative legacy in the department, boasting both impressive recruitment and retention records and an ever increasing applicant pool.

Ms. Pamela Safford will assume the reins as Dean of Admission and Financial Aid this spring. Currently in her twelfth year as the Associate Head for Communications, Enrollment and Planning at Concord Academy, Ms. Safford will bring experience and professionalism with her. She also served as the Director of Admission at Northfield Mount Hermon from 1994 to 2000.

Ms. Safford is a Founding Trustee and Chair of the Board for the Association of Independent School Admission Professionals (AISAP). Head of School Margarita Curtis said, “In addition to her expertise in enrollment management, Ms. Safford also brings experience in strategic planning, marketing and institutional research.”

An alumna of Ethel Walker School, Ms. Safford is no stranger to boarding school life. She said, “I value being part of a strong community, and it’s my sense that Deerfield is distinguished as such.” Deerfield has intrigued Ms. Safford by offering a new opportunity to develop a school that has the capability and will to combat the global challenges of a 21st-century education.

“The world around us is changing, and it presents schools like Deerfield Academy with both opportunity and, indeed, threat,” Ms. Safford added. “I expect that the admission staff and I will, in support of the school’s goals, review and even reconsider some of our practices so as to position the school to remain strong, which includes being relevant.”

Ultimately, Safford has two objectives. Dr. Curtis entrusts Ms. Safford to cultivate students with a dedication to more than just academic and athletic pursuits.

“I also felt that her educational philosophy aligns with Deerfield’s mission and our emphasis on educating young people with a strong moral compass and a commitment to lead consequential, service oriented, worthy lives,” Dr. Curtis said.

Ms. Safford, who has spent most of her life at boarding schools, added, “I hope to bring to Deerfield a deep belief in, and understanding of, the value of the boarding school experience, even in this day and age.”

While Ms. Safford acknowledges the need to respect and honor traditions of the past, she sees opportunity for refinement and improvements for the future.

“As students prepare to prosper and make a difference in this next century, we have to demonstrate why going to a place like Deerfield matters now more than ever,” she said.

The faculty search comTmittee, chaired by English teacher Michael Cary, advised Dr. Curtis on the matter. Mr. Cary noted the inevitable conflicts of technology and development.

“She is wise in the ways of independent schools, thoughtful about the challenges that lie ahead, such as those of access and the effective use of technology, and she’s a warm, collegial educator who has a wonderful way both with colleagues and young people,” he said. “Ms. Safford will lead us in building on the success that we have achieved during Ms. Gimbel’s tenure.”

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