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August 22, 2023

Introducing Dean of Academic Affairs Megan Drinkwater


Talking with Dean of Academic Affairs Megan Drinkwater feels like catching up with someone you’ve known for so long that you can’t remember where you met. She listens with full and unhurried attention, is thoughtful and intentional with her words, and her enthusiasm for her new position at St. Paul’s School is palpable when she speaks. “I’m here to see what St. Paul’s School is doing, because I know it’s doing it well. Everybody knows it’s doing it well,” Drinkwater says. “My main role this first year is to observe and absorb and then see where that leads.”

Drinkwater joined the SPS community in July from Agnes Scott College, a small college historically for women in Decatur, Georgia, where she taught classics for 17 years and served as department chair for 14. In her new role, she will help each academic program reexamine its priorities, strengths, goals and impact. She also will work with department heads and teachers in determining what benchmarks are appropriate for their areas. Her ultimate goal, she says, is to help the School amplify and communicate the alignment between its academic programs and the overall student experience.

Bringing to bear her work at Agnes Scott, where she also served as director of the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Professional Development and sat on committees for curriculum and institutional effectiveness, Drinkwater emphasizes that she’s here to facilitate conversations with teachers and within departments about how they measure their success. “What do you think are the right benchmarks?” she asks. “We want to make sure all the programs have what they need to create the best student experience.”

Drinkwater will work closely with Dean of Faculty Lori Bohan P’24,’25 and Director of Studies Sarah Ludwig. “We have some new energy and a lot of institutional knowledge,” Drinkwater says. “Lori used the [phrase], which I really like: ‘We have lanes, but they’re perforated lanes,’ because a lot of times they’re going to overlap.”

Though she has spent much of her career working at the college level, Drinkwater says she always knew she would return to the world of independent boarding schools. She attended the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut, then went on to earn her bachelor’s at Cornell and her doctorate at Duke, both in classics with a strong focus in Latin. Between degrees, she interned at St. Stephen’s School in Rome — where she met her now-husband and developed a strong allegiance to the AS Roma soccer team. Her brother, David, graduated from SPS as a member of the Form of 1989, and her mother, father and stepmother have all worked in independent secondary schools. “It’s in my blood. Definitely,” she says.

While preparing for the return of students, Drinkwater settled into her office and home on the grounds and anticipated the arrival from Georgia of her husband and teenage son, a rising 10th grader at Proctor Academy, with whom she was looking forward to sharing the beauty of SPS.

“I went for a walk around the grounds after dinner last night. I called my brother and sent him some pictures of the pond,” she says. “The water was really still, and you could see the reflection of Sheldon.” Drinkwater smiles as she describes the moment — the experience of capturing not just the natural beauty of Millville but also some of her first impressions of her new home.