Head of School Search Process

On September 10, 2018, the MCI Board of Trustees announced that Headmaster Christopher J. Hopkins will be leaving Maine Central Institute at the end of the 2018-2019 school year, following the completion of his 11th year of service to the school.

Mr. Hopkins has been a respected leader during his time at MCI and a friend to many members of our school community. During Mr. Hopkins' tenure, MCI has achieved numerous successes and milestones, including:

  • The refurbishment of the exterior of Founders Hall, correcting years of deferred maintenance, including restoration of the roof and bell tower, and the soon-to-be-complete replacement of all historical windows in this beloved building.
  • The first comprehensive capital campaign and largest single fundraising effort in MCI history, now 90% complete, the $6.5 million Founders Campaign, supporting academics, arts and athletics.
  • As part of the Founders Campaign, the transformation of JR Cianchette Hall into the Visual and Performing Arts Education Center, creating new instructional and practice space for music and drama programs, and additional practice space for ballet.
  • Completion of new athletic fields, also as part of the capital campaign, bringing all fall sports onto campus for the first time.
  • The successful integration of Bossov Ballet Theatre into the MCI campus and significant growth of the pre-professional ballet school.

The Board looks forward to continuing to work with Mr. Hopkins throughout the 2018-19 school year. The Board and Mr. Hopkins are committed to having both a successful year for MCI students and faculty during this coming year, and are dedicated to ensuring a smooth transition next summer.

The Board is seeking input from highly regarded search firms and from members of the MCI community as we begin the process of conducting a national search for Mr. Hopkins' replacement.

On behalf of the MCI community, the Board wishes Mr. Hopkins much success and we thank him for his many years of dedication and contributions to Maine Central Institute.

Search Update

Michael A. Hodgins '86, Board President, announced that a Search Committee has been formed to conduct a comprehensive, national, and international search for MCI's next leader. Hodgins is serving as the Chair of the Committee, and the other members are Tania Carnrick '73, Arielle Costello '06, Jason Cummings '98, Gregg Newhouse ’81, Peg Olson '84, Linda Shorey '69, Matt Stein ’93, and Norbert Young '66.

We have engaged Educators' Collaborative, a national consulting firm specializing in working with independent schools, to assist us with the search. Deirdre Ling and John Mackenzie will be the partners from the firm working directly with MCI. Both consultants have themselves headed independent schools, and together they bring over 75 years of experience working in and with independent education. Both have been and remain active in regional and national independent school boards and organizations. While the primary responsibility for managing the process of nominating the next Head lies with the Search Committee, the Board of Trustees is committed to making this an inclusive process and will provide opportunities for community input through in-person and electronic means. The first opportunities in this regard occurred when our search consultants visited the School on October 3-4 and through an online constituent survey that was circulated shortly thereafter seeking thoughts about MCI and its future leadership.

Using the information gathered from the online survey, school documents, and interviews during their visit in early October, the Educators' Collaborative team will develop a comprehensive position profile for the next Head of MCI. They will begin to build the pool of candidates by listing the position with appropriate agencies and associations, contacting selected educational leaders to solicit recommendations for the position, and reaching out to potential candidates with whom they and their colleagues are familiar. After the candidate pool has been developed, the Search Committee will meet to review the credentials of the most promising candidates identified by our consultants. Through this process we will seek to find an appropriate balance between involving community input and respecting the privacy of the candidates. This latter consideration regarding candidates is important to help ensure the strongest possible candidate pool. The MCI community will be kept apprised of the progress of the search process via updates by email and other communications. It is our goal to conclude the search and announce the new Head of School prior to the end of this calendar year. We want to emphasize however, that Chris Hopkins will continue to serve in his current role through the conclusion of the 2018-19 academic year. If you have suggestions or questions, we encourage you to talk with members of the Search Committee. In the meantime, the Search Committee and Board of Trustees are grateful for your support and assistance.

Head of School Search Survey and Timing 

On behalf of the Head of School Search Committee, community members were surveyed for their thoughts about MCI and the next Head of School in October 2018. Thank you to the more than 140 people who took the time to complete the online survey, and to those who met with our search consultants in person on October 3rd and 4th. The survey responses were thorough and thoughtful, coming from at least 79 alums, 54 current and former parents, 28 faculty, staff and administrators, and 19 students. (There was overlap as people could select more than one constituency). All comments were reviewed and considered by Educators’ Collaborative and the Search Committee. This was very helpful to develop common themes to guide this process through the early stages, and for continued consideration moving forward. Equally as important, we can now offer the best possible information to candidates about the history, status and goals of MCI moving forward.

Although our original target date to complete this process was the end of this calendar year, due to scheduling constraints and to allow adequate time to build and review the candidate pool and conduct the necessary research, it is more likely this process will continue into the latter part of January 2019. It is unlikely that candidates will be on campus to meet with the larger school community until the early part of that month. During that time, there will be an opportunity for open meetings with the candidates and interviews with an Advisory Committee that works in conjunction with the Search Committee. As that time approaches we will provide more updated information, and solicit input for members of the Advisory Committee, which will be representative of many groups within the school community.

Again, thank you to all who continue to be involved in this process.

Search Committee for the Head of School

While the search has been in a quiet phase for the last two months, there has been a great deal of work done, primarily by our search consultants, Educators’ Collaborative.The Search Committee was presented with a field of exceptional candidates, and the committee reviewed the candidate information against the input we received from all constituents earlier in the fall. The Search Committee has now selected a group of the most outstanding candidates who will be invited for a first round of confidential interviews. This next phase of the process should be completed by the end of December 2018.

In January, we plan to bring to campus a group of final candidates who will be here for extended interviews of approximately two days each, meeting key stakeholders and individuals, including an Advisory Committee of faculty, staff and community members, that we are currently seeking input to organize. Our goal is still to make a nomination to the Board of Trustees by the end of January after this second round of interviews and input from the larger community.

Thanks again to the many people, on and off campus, who have committed a great deal of time and attention to this process.

Events for Parents and Alumni to Meet Candidates

The search consultants interviewed members of all constituent groups on campus and have been working hard to build the candidate pool and, together, we have evaluated candidates to determine whether they meet the criteria in the leadership profile which emerged from the input the community gave earlier this fall. The Search Committee has reviewed a highly qualified group of candidates and has invited three finalists to campus for two-day visits to meet with the MCI community.

The Search Committee invites parents and alumni to meet with each of the candidates in the Ella Powell Room in the Library from 5:15 to 6:00 pm on the dates below:

  • Thursday, January 10
  • Monday, January 14
  • Tuesday, January 22 
  • Thursday, January 24 (canceled)
  • Monday, February 11 (updated 2-5; more information below)


Update: February 5, 2019

In mid-January, one of the four selected finalists withdrew to accept another position. The Search Committee moved forward with the remaining three candidates. Following the completion of all of the interviews, however, another finalist withdrew his candidacy.

Although the Committee recognizes that the remaining candidates are well qualified, as affirmed by the input of many people who took part in the process, it is important that we have sufficient candidates to confirm that the selection is the best fit for the school. Fortunately, throughout the process, we have continued to receive expressions of interest from potential candidates. One candidate is coming to campus on Monday, February 11, and Tuesday, February 12. 

We hope that as many people who have participated in the previous visits will make themselves available and continue to provide feedback to the Committee, as that input has been invaluable.

Update: March 1, 2019

In January, four applicants were invited for on-campus visits after first round interviews by the Search Committee in December.  One of those individuals withdrew prior to the visit, having accepted another job. Then, after the first three finalists came to school, one withdrew to remain at his current position.  At that time, based on feedback from the visits, the Head search was extended.  Individuals who had expressed interest after the deadline for applications were invited to submit applications and Christopher Tompkins was interviewed and invited for an on-campus visit in February.

The Search Committee continues to interview and has invited another applicant to visit campus. Due to this applicant’s extended international travel schedule, the on-campus visit will be scheduled in early April.  Other applicants who have expressed continued interest in the Head position are also being considered for interviews during this time.  While this delay in the search process was not anticipated, the time will be used to continue our discussions with applicants who have been to campus, complete due diligence, and explore whether other applicants should be invited for an on-campus visit.

The Board and the Search Committee greatly appreciate the involvement and time committed by many from the MCI community in this process.  We understand the importance of advancing the nomination of a Head of School candidate who has the skills needed to lead MCI into the future.  We remain committed to completing this process with an appointment effective July 1.

Update: March 26, 2019

As announced earlier this month, the Search Committee has invited another applicant, Christopher M. McDonald, to visit campus. The applicant is scheduled to be on campus Tuesday, April 9, and Wednesday, April 10. The schedule will be similar to the schedule followed for the other finalist visits and will include small group meetings, open forums for employees, and an open forum for parents and alumni on the evening of April 9. The full schedule will be confirmed when the candidate is announced next week.