Mercersburg Academy held a service of installation for Head of School Quentin R. McDowell on Friday, September 16, in the Irvine Memorial Chapel.
Quentin was officially appointed in March 2022 and is only the eighth head of school in Mercersburg's 130-year history. Before accepting the acting head of school position in June 2021, he was named Mercersburg's associate head of school for external relations in 2019 after serving for three years as assistant head of school for enrollment.
Rev. Dr. Will Whitmore, school minister, welcomed students, faculty, staff, and guests to the ceremony, and Priscilla Lee '23 and Johanna Lee '25 played a moving violin duet titled "Tango."
Tom Hadzor '72, Board of Regents member and 2022 recipient of the Class of 1932 Distinguished Alumni Award, introduced the Hon. John Jones '73, Dickinson College president and former Board of Regents vice president, who gave the address as a mentor and friend of Quentin's. The Mercersburg Chorale, under the direction of faculty member Bryan Morgan '07, and Jim Brinson, school carillonneur, performed the anthem "Look to This Day" before Stacie Rice Lissette '85, P '14, '14, '17, '23, Board of Regents president, officially installed Quentin as head of school.
"Quentin and his family have been members of this community for 15 years, and he has proven himself as a leader in so many areas," said Stacie. "His dedication to this place has been unwavering and I think it's fair to say that he is as 'true blue' as they come. He is constantly showing us that he has the ability to empower, inspire, and unite people with integrity, humility, empathy, and optimism."
As part of the ceremony, a group of community members offered aspirations to Quentin as he takes on this new role. They included Kalwa Tembo '23; Nikki Walker, faculty member; De-Enda Rotz, director of executive services; William Su '88, White Key Executive Council co-chair; the Hon. Shawn Meyers '86, president judge of Pennsylvania's 39th Judicial District Court; and Michael Pedersen '95, mayor of Mercersburg.
Quentin took time in his remarks to thank everyone who helped him arrive at this special moment in his life. "This is not the world I was born into. It is, however, one that has adopted me, embraced me, and nurtured me, quite literally changing the course of my life forever," he said. "Like so many of us here today, the idea of boarding school was as foreign a concept to me as could be imagined. Yet, perhaps by divine intervention, or maybe just by sheer fortune, an opportunity presented itself and I took a leap of faith that proved to be a pivotal moment in my life."
Quentin arrived at Mercersburg in 2007 as a member of the history faculty and became director of summer and extended programs in 2008—a position he held until 2012, when he joined the Admission Office as the senior associate director of admission and financial aid. He also served as the head boys' varsity soccer coach for eight years, leading the Blue Storm to its first-ever Mid-Atlantic Prep League championship and the PAISAA state championship game in 2014. Prior to his arrival at Mercersburg, he was, for two years, a member of the history faculty and head boys' varsity soccer coach at Cushing Academy in Massachusetts.
A native of Washington state, Quentin attended Holderness School in Plymouth, New Hampshire, as a postgraduate student before matriculating to Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, where he earned a bachelor's degree in religious studies. He holds a master's degree in educational leadership and administration from George Washington University. Quentin and his wife, Lauren, live in 1893 House on campus with their three children: Nina '25, Ewan, and Rooney.
"I am incredibly honored and deeply humbled to be named Mercersburg Academy's eighth head of school," said Quentin. "It is a responsibility I do not take lightly, but it is also a burden I do not carry alone. We are all charged with carrying this torch together: to honor our history and to keep alive the names that came before us and built the world we now enjoy; to do our best to selflessly serve the students, families, alumni, and friends of Mercersburg today; and to always work toward the brightest possible tomorrow for our beloved school."
As head of school, Quentin succeeds Katie Titus, who held the position from 2016-2021. Previous heads of school at Mercersburg include Douglas Hale (1997-2016), Walter Burgin '53 (1972-1997), William Fowle (1961-1972), Dr. Charles Tippetts '12 (1941-1961), Dr. Boyd Edwards (1928-1941), and founder Dr. William Mann Irvine (1893-1928).