Meera Viswanathan to Head the Ethel Walker School

Jessica Day – October 7, 2015

The Ethel Walker School announced on October 6 that it has appointed Dr. Meera Viswanathan as its next Head of School, effective July 1, 2016. Dr. Viswanathan will join Walker’s from Brown University, where she is an Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and East Asian Studies.

Dr. Viswanathan and husband, Dr. Eric Widmer, Deerfield Class of 1957, resided at Deerfield during Dr. Widmer’s 12-year tenure as Headmaster. At Deerfield, Dr. Viswanathan taught English for a year while on sabbatical from Brown. After Dr. Widmer’s retirement as Headmaster, and at the behest of King Abdullah II of Jordan (Deerfield Class of 1980), she and Dr. Widmer cofounded King’s Academy in Madaba, Jordan—the Middle East’s first coeducational preparatory boarding school with financial aid. At King’s Academy Dr. Viswanathan taught and served as the curriculum’s principal architect and dean of faculty. King Abudullah personally awarded Dr. Viswanathan the King Hussein Medal, Jordan’s highest honor, for her work.

 A lifelong educator and scholar, Dr. Viswanathan holds her undergraduate degree, her MA, and a PhD from Stanford University. Regarding education, she recently said, “Education is always provisional—we never achieve closure or end, ie, perfection, in our understanding. What we learn tomorrow will reshape our understanding of today, not simply add to it. I am taken with Walker’s motto, ‘nullas horas, nisi aureas,’ understood as ‘no hours, except only golden ones.’ At the heart of education is the question of how we learn to live our limited lives on this earth with an attitude that sees the potentiality of each hour, each moment as significant.” 

Stuart M. Bell, Chair of the Ethel Walker Board of Trustees, commented, “In Dr. Viswanathan, we have found a powerfully visible presence in the community; a skilled and thoughtful listener; an eloquent, inspiring communicator who loves young people and has the ability to steward and mentor Walker’s outstanding faculty; an approachable leader who is passionate about educational excellence and is committed to preparing girls for a global future.” Mr. Bell continued, “We are confident that Dr. Viswanathan will lead Walker’s with great intellect and heart, and with a cohesive and compelling vision for taking the School to even greater heights as a premier institution for girls’ education.”