• Academics
Dana Kooistra Named Faculty Speaker

Staff Report from The Lawrence 

Congratulations to Associate Dean of Academics Dana Kooistra on being appointed as the Class of 2022’s Faculty Speaker. A member of the history department, Kooistra was chosen by the current Fifth Form to speak at this year’s Commencement as she says goodbye to the School herself since the 2021-22 year is her last at Lawrenceville.

Upon learning of her selection, Kooistra was both “flattered and overwhelmed.” Given how “Covid-19 has made it harder to know people on campus,” Kooistra understood “that it might have been a harder year than usual to find a speaker whom [students] felt connected to,” so she was especially honored that the Class of 2022 chose her for this role.

Throughout her 18-year tenure at Lawrenceville, Kooistra has especially appreciated the lessons that her students have taught her. After spending so much time in “such an achievement-oriented environment” like Lawrenceville, Kooistra has recognized “the importance of leading with humanity.” She reflected, “[While] it’s important to challenge students, at the end of the day, [nothing] can be more important than responding skillfully to the person [who is] right in front of you and the things that they need [at that given moment].” Kooistra also loves the quality time that she has been able to spend with her students, noting how she “[delights] in the students [whom she gets] to work with and [takes] so much joy from their growth and their discoveries.”

While reminiscing on her time with her students, Kooistra said, “You can just feel [past students] on campus,” adding that their influence is a “strong presence” on campus, especially in shared spaces like the concert halls of the Clark Music Center. After two years of the Covid-19 pandemic splitting the School community apart, Kooistra has especially been able to notice past Lawrentians’ impact today, commenting, “I love that sense of continuity that I’m [now] experiencing...because I think that for so long, the distance really got in the way of [our] experience.”

Reflecting on her own legacy at the School, Kooistra wants to be remembered for “having created some of the space that has allowed us to be more reflective and more honest” about aspects that Lawrenceville can improve on. Kooistra noted that when she first arrived at the School, the institution was “perhaps a little arrogant about [its specific] way of being” due to its position “in [the] private school universe,” and she hopes that her work has helped foster an environment where Lawrenceville is more “open to acknowledging where [the School] could grow a little bit more.”

Photo courtesy of The Lawrence

For additional information, contact Lisa M. Gillard H'17, director of public relations, at lgillard@lawrenceville.org.