A Matching Gift To Inspire Others: Supporting the Hagerman Center Renovations
Wendy Witter Kistler P ’85 has dedicated her life to serving educational and non- profit organizations. In addition to being a Holderness School trustee from 1983 to 1993 and co-chairing “A Campaign for the ’80s,” Wendy has served as a member of the board at the Buckingham Browne & Nichols School, the Fenn School, and the Carroll School. In 1985, she chaired the CASE/NAIS Conference for Independent Schools. She has also been a volunteer leader at Smith College and Harvard University and is a member of the Council for the Arts at MIT. A long time trustee of the Boston Museum of Science, she also serves Massachusetts General Hospital as a member of the Ladies Visiting Committee.
Wendy and her husband Phil—a Harvard Professor of Neurology and Director Emeritus of the Stroke Service at Massachusetts General Hospital—have two sons: Philip “Flip” Kistler ’85 of Dallas, TX, and David Kistler of Tiburon, CA. “We chose Holderness because of the school’s values: the Chapel and Job programs, family style dinners, dedicated faculty within a supportive learning environment, the challenging experience of Out Back, and the embracing of community,” says Wendy. “We could not be more pleased that the board and the school’s leadership have maintained these essential core values which make Holderness special.”
The family has a long history of supporting Holderness; they established the Philip Corder Witter Kistler ’85 Scholarship Fund, in honor of Flip’s graduation, as well as the Kistler Summer Sabbatical Endowed Fund, which provides travel grants for Holderness faculty to pursue interests outside the framework of formal academic study.
In the past few years, visual arts teacher Franz Nicolay went to Santa Fe, NM, to participate in a workshop focusing on an introduction to archaeological practices and the ancient Anasazi culture; English teachers John and Marilee Lin explored Norway; and biology teacher Pat Casey took part in a six-day mountain bike race in the Savoie Region of France.
Wendy and Phil’s commitment to Holderness continues with their offer of a generous matching gift to inspire others to support the Hagerman Center renovation, a part of the Elevating Academics Campaign. As two of the initial supporters of the original construction of Hagerman, Wendy and Phil want to make sure that the building continues to serve the needs of the school community long into the future. With the addition of a green room, costume storage, and set fabrication workroom, the impact on the theater program will be huge. The Hagerman renovations will also feature increased faculty planning and breakout spaces, a makerspace, a digital lab, and a dedicated Senior Thesis classroom.
“It gives us great joy to support the campaign and the school that has meant so much to our family over the last 35 years,” says Wendy. In grateful appreciation of their largesse, Holderness will name the auditorium in Hagerman “The Kistler Family Auditorium” in their honor. With their help, Holderness is turning blueprints into reality.
Albert Bierstadt, the German-American painter renowned for his landscapes of the American West, came to the White Mountains to capture its simple yet overwhelming beauty. What came to life through nearly a decade’s worth of work was The Emerald Pool, a massive oil-on-canvas monument to the natural majesty of a hidden swimming hole along the Peabody River in the Pinkham Notch. Recounting The Emerald Pool, Bierstadt said, “I never had so difficult a picture to paint, as this White Mountain subject the Emerald Pool; my artist friends think it my best picture and so do I.”
At Holderness we deliberately build community through the people we bring in and programs we support. Today I want to share one story about people who showed us what it means to be a mission-centered community and talk about one unique program that is hitting a milestone.
Kicking off its 141st year, Holderness School welcomed new students to campus on September 5th. Under blue skies and surrounded by the cheers of joyful Senior Leaders, 114 new students eagerly joined the Holderness School community. The day was filled with smiles as new students and families unpacked their cars and turned dorm rooms into a home away from home.