The first Hopkins Committee of Trustees was appointed by the Reverend John Davenport in April, 1668. The Committee then, as now, was often referred to as the "Hopkins Board." Davenport, as principal executor of the educational trust established by Edward Hopkins, transferred his rights and responsibilities to the new committee via a deed of trust. In addition to bequeathing £412 to the Trustees, Davenport's grant set forth a number of Trustee responsibilities. First among them was the stipulation that the funds be used for a grammar school in New Haven to bring up "hopefull youths in the Languages, and other good Literature for the public use and service of their country…and for no other use, interest, or purpose whatsoever."
The Trustees, originally seven faithful friends of Davenport, were empowered to invest the trust’s funds to provide revenue for employing the schoolmaster, building a dwelling for him, and maintaining the existing schoolhouse. In practice, that primarily entailed buying local farms which generated rental income and commodities for barter or sale. The Trustees were also expected to hire a schoolmaster qualified to teach Latin, Greek, and Hebrew "so far as shall be necessary to fit youths for College." The Trustees were directed to oversee the School according to rules Davenport had already provided, or which a majority of the Hopkins Board subsequently deemed appropriate.
Most important, Davenport's grant provided that the Trustees would be self-perpetuating and free of any outside control - by the town of New Haven, the Connecticut Colony or the Congregational Church. This provision about self-perpetuation, which has been so vital to the independence, longevity and continuity of Hopkins, was a critical element of Davenport's restructuring of the original, ineffective governing board he had established at the School's founding in 1660. That first Hopkins Board was composed exclusively of prominent colony and church leaders who served on an ex-officio basis - and who ultimately demonstrated insufficient determination to sustain the School in its early years.
Today, the Committee of Trustees remains mindful of its role and responsibilities in both an historical and current context. Of note, Hopkins recently reaffirmed its mission, in connection with preparations for its 350th anniversary, in a restatement of its purposes and values. The Trustees strongly support the current statement and the interpretation of it by the Head of School, Barbara M. Riley. We are proud of the myriad of extraordinary accomplishments of the School and its students over the centuries, particularly in public service; but also in the arts and sciences, in the law, medicine and education, in business and finance and in a wide range of other meaningful vocations and roles. These achievements are most important in terms of their impact on our society at large, but also as an affirmation of the environment in which the academic skills of young scholars were fostered. Teaching and learning remain at the heart of what Hopkins is and does and will continue to do.
The Committee of Trustees is dedicated to four principal areas of responsibility regarding the School's activities:
• Financial integrity
• Strategic vision
• Program oversight
• Employment of the Head of School
The financial integrity of Hopkins is of paramount importance to the School community, and the Trustees are actively engaged in three primary aspects of the School's finances.
1. The Committee of Trustees approves the operating budget of the School each January for the subsequent school year. It provides for, among other things, the level of tuition, faculty and staff compensation, and financial aid. For the past 10 years the School has operated with an annual surplus of $100,000 or more. Although tuition has remained low vs. peer schools, faculty compensation is at or above median levels for comparable schools; and financial aid, including remission for children of faculty and staff, was 15.3% of tuition income in the most recent academic year.
2.The Board's Finance Committee oversees the endowment assets of Hopkins, which were approximately $56 million on June 30, 2010. The Treasurer, Alex Banker, chairs the Committee. The School's endowment management philosophy, which was pioneered at Yale University by former Trustee David Swensen, involves investing with top performing investment managers across a well diversified mix of asset classes. In recent years the performance of the endowment has ranked within the top tier of independent secondary schools in the country.
3. Fundraising is an important Trustee responsibility, in terms of leading the community in annual giving and in gifts of capital. Hopkins added $25 million to its endowment in the 1995-2000 Capital Campaign and committed almost $20 million to new and renewed facilities during that period. Since 2005, the School has raised an additional $34 million for endowment and facilities, and the Annual Fund was $1.2 million for the most recent academic year.
The strategic vision of the future of Hopkins is clear. The Trustees, and the School community as a whole, are committed to preserving Hopkins as a 675 student co-educational day school on its 108-acre Westville campus, serving grades 7 through 12. Having recently renovated the Library from the ground up, and constructing Thompson Hall for academics, visual arts and music, the Trustees have fulfilled the major facilities objectives of the School's most recent master plan, with work still to be completed as to added endowment. A new planning effort, to review the School's highest priorities in terms of capital needs, will recommence in due course.
The academic program of the School - broadly defined to include academics, the arts, athletics, and community service - is within the primary purview of the Head of School, her administrative team, and the faculty. Nonetheless, being a Trustee requires a meaningful understanding of the School's operations and activities in order to fulfill the Board's obligations and responsibilities as stewards of Hopkins. The Education Committee of the Board represents the Trustees in overseeing the School's academic programs. In addition, the Board as a whole periodically reviews the School's academic departments and major programs, such as Community Service and the Summer School.
Finally, and of paramount importance, the Board has the responsibility for, and privilege of, hiring the Head of School. We believe that Hopkins is extremely fortunate to have Barbara M. Riley as its leader. The current Trustees, listed on this page, believe that Hopkins is best served by a Head with strong conviction about the School's mission, actively supported by a dedicated and determined Committee of Trustees.
William J. Kneisel ’65
Past President, Committee of Trustees