Ian Douglas ’73
October 28, 2011
by Christopher Dow ‘93
“On behalf of the Alumni Council, I am pleased and fortunate to present the 2011 Laverack Family Alumni Award to Ian Douglas ’73.
The Laverack Family Alumni Award was established by Applewild’s founding Headmaster, William Laverack, and his wife, Persis Leverack, and his family to celebrate the values that Mr. Laverack held as most important in life: dedication and generosity – specifically, being generous with one’s time, one’s love, and one’s life. The Laverack Family Alumni Award is presented annually to any alumna or alumnus whose life has, in an exemplary way, embodied Applewild’s mission and core values.
A quick look at past recipients shows us that this generosity and dedication is a core characteristic in that it is always present in our recipients and all of them have found ways to weave this generosity and compassion seamlessly into every corner of their lives. Applewild is a place that fosters and encourages everyone to show their compassion – students, alumni, faculty and community members alike are challenged to give of themselves in ways that build genuine relationships and connect us to each other.
Bishop Douglas is a great example of our core value of compassion – he has dedicated his professional life to helping those in need both locally and globally and he has done so with the success that looks natural but belies the hard work and effort that he has put towards that success.
Ian Douglas graduated from Applewild in 1973 and went to Lawrence Academy, together with classmates David Stone and Lucy Crocker Abisalih. From there he went to Middlebury College, majoring in political science, then earned joint Masters degrees from Harvard Divinity School and the Graduate School of Education. His intention was to teach, but after Episcopal relief work in Haiti in 1983 and then developing a relationship with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, he went back to school to earn a PhD and pursue Holy Orders. In 1987 he was ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church. The relationship he forged with Tutu started in 1984 through his work at the Episcopal Church Center in New York, the year Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; and Ian has continued to be mentored by Tutu ever since.
After becoming a priest, Ian was the Angus Dun Professor of Mission and World Christianity at Episcopal Divinity School and an associate priest for 21 years at St. James Church, both in Cambridge, MA. While continuing his service to the underrepresented that had began in Haiti, he also developed a college course focusing on World Christianity that led to his being named a full professor and also a key mediator and public spokesperson from 1995 – 2008 to help heal the Episcopal – Anglican tensions over sexuality and colonialism. In 2008 the Archbishop of Canterbury asked him to help facilitate the decennial Lambeth Conference, which brings together all leaders of the Anglican faith, to assure that it would be productive and not destructive for the faith. For his efforts, Ian and his fellow planners were awarded the Cross of St. Augustine, among the highest honors that the Archbishop can bestow.
On April 17, 2010, Ian was consecrated as the Bishop of the Epicoal Diocese of Connecticut, with Archbishop Emeritus Tutu acting as an officiant. As Bishop, he oversees a diocese, founded in 1784, with 61,000 members from 171 Episcopal parishes and congregations. Ian served on the Anglican Consultative Council and continues to serve on the standing committee of the Anglican Communion. In May of 2010, Ian was also awarded an honorary degree from the Episcopal Divinity School. Ian, along with his wife Kristin Harris and family, remains committed to an inclusive and united Anglican Church.
It is my honor to welcome Ian back to campus as the 2011 Laverack Family Alumni Award recipient.”
Remarks by Ian Douglas ’73
“It is great to be back at Applewild. And I am indeed honored to be standing here as the recipient of the Laverack Family Award. I will speak about Bill Laverack a bit later, but first I want to acknowledge Mrs. Laverack who is here with us today. It is wonderful to be with you and I am humbled by this award. Thank you.
When I was a student at Applewild, I lived at the bottom of the hill where Prospect Street meets the Upper Common, near where Todd Goodwin now lives. Each day, I would walk up and down Prospect Street, sometimes not leaving Applewild until after dark because of some extra tutoring or work on the campus – such as flooding the ice rink in winter (the rink was where the new Dining Hall is being built). It was a full day and much of my life centered on Applewild, particularly the sports teams.
I came to Applewild in seventh grade. The school seemed much bigger then. I was just in the Crocker hallway this morning and was surprised by how much smaller the staircase looked than I remembered! Now, I wasn’t much of a student and frankly could easily have neglected my studies and thus not gone on to Lawrence Academy, Middlebury College, Harvard, and Boston University. But because of Applewild I discovered the joy of learning. And what Applewild gave me became the foundation of my educational ventures throughout life. The school’s mission speaks about the love of learning and that ages 5 – 15 are central to one’s educational formation. That was certainly true for me.
And I also discovered at Applewild a love of community – a love of responsibility for the community that we are all called to create together. For example, I recall how Nick Storrs (here today – thank you Nick for coming) and I would spend seemingly countless hours scraping and flooding the ice rink together in the evenings. It meant so much to me that I, as a young man, was invited into a community of responsibility and caring by challenging teachers who took an interest in each of us.
A few of the teachers who instilled in me the love of learning and community will always be with me. I remember Chick Doe. She taught the course “Core.” Now, I didn’t figure out until much later what Core meant. The content of the course was the study of early Greek and Roman civilization, as in the “core” of western. Of course, she also taught us Latin, which we were all required to take in the Upper School. Mrs. Doe was a tough, demanding teacher, but she inspired us because she cared about her subject and us dearly.
Tom Clemens – a younger faculty member who came to Applewild straight from Dartmouth – became a peer and mentor to many of us. His high standards and clear expectations encouraged us to emulate him. Mr. Clemens was known for his pop quizzes, which he referred to as “quizzicles.” These “quizzicles” taught us to be prepared for the unexpected. Over time Tom Clemens became a dear friend and remains so to this day.
Jarvis Hunt was a challenging teacher with a great sense of humor and a warm smile. He introduced us to the physical sciences, particularly biology. I remember his many entertaining science experiments in the classroom above the kitchen. And I remember the exercise in dissecting frogs, which he made fun and even reasonably comfortable.
We were so fortunate, as you students are today, to develop rich relationships across all levels of the Applewild community. Now, I was here in the early 1970’s, and that was a time of great experimentation in community action and organizing. Another young teacher, Bill Harmon, developed outdoor education as a way to challenge each other and ourselves. Bill also introduced all school “town meetings.” The whole school would gather in what is now known as the Sutton Gymnasium and we students would help make decisions with the faculty and staff about our common life. Imagine being able to decide what to eat for lunch!
And I remember working alongside Gus Stewart in the athletic office handing out uniforms, cleats, shin guards and hockey equipment. Gus invited us into a place of responsibility where we could help our peers and our teams be the best we could be.
These wonderful and dedicated adults encouraged us students to become confident learners and responsible citizens, not just for our future schooling but also for our adult lives and careers. And so with the support of these teachers and friends I ventured forth. As a priest and now a bishop of The Episcopal Church I have been blessed to work in Haiti and travel throughout the world in my work with the Anglican Communion. In all my sojourns, I hold on to the values of community service and responsibility for the greater good that Applewild instilled in me.
It is wonderful, Persis, to be here with you today to receive the Laverack Award. I recall with great fondness the stately figure of Bill Laverack, complete with his bow tie, addressing the students in the Crocker Lobby each day. Every morning he would offer words of wisdom and direction to help us get through the day. Each morning talk would offer a clear call to dedication and generosity: generosity of one’s time, one’s love, and one’s life. I am honored to share in that generosity through this Laverack Award.
My friend and mentor Archbishop Desmond Tutu says: “I am because we are. . . . I am because we are.” That is clearly what Applewild believes in and what I began to learn when I was here. I am because Applewild is. I hope that the love of learning and responsibility for community that is at the heart of Applewild will continue to inform each of your lives now and into the future as they have informed mine. Again, it is an incredible honor to stand before you and receive the Laverack Family Alumni Award from Applewild School. Thank you very much.”