Exeter chooses next dean of students

Ashley Taylor arrives from Episcopal in Virginia and will succeed Russell Weatherspoon in July.

March 12, 2024

A lifelong educator whose teaching career began in the biology classroom before shifting to administration will be Exeter’s next dean of students, Principal Bill Rawson ’71; P’08 announced Tuesday.

Ashley Taylor will begin her new role in July, succeeding Russell Weatherspoon in the dean’s office. Weatherspoon is retiring from the Academy after nearly 40 years of service.

Taylor comes to Exeter after spending the last nine years as dean of students at Episcopal High School, an independent boarding school of about 450 students in Alexandria, Virginia.

“We are thrilled to welcome Ashley and her family to Exeter,” Rawson wrote in an email to students and employees. “In a large pool of highly qualified candidates, Ashley stood out for her ability to inspire students and build meaningful collaborative relationships across the community, and for her commitment to challenging and supporting all students in an environment where they are deeply known and encouraged to develop character, self-awareness, resilience, and a sense of purpose.”

Taylor began teaching at Pingry School in New Jersey, where she also coached lacrosse. Two years later, she moved to St. Mark’s School in Massachusetts, where she held the roles of biology teacher, head coach of girls varsity lacrosse, girls hockey coach, dorm head and faculty adviser. 

Since joining Episcopal in 2010, she has been a teacher, coach, dorm head, student adviser, member of the senior leadership team, member of the student life and student health review committees, and chair of strategic planning and scheduling committees and a diversity task force, among other responsibilities. She has received numerous awards and recognition during her time there.

Taylor earned her undergraduate degree from Brown University, where she was a member of the varsity women’s lacrosse team. She earned a Master of Liberal Arts with extension studies in Biology from Harvard University. She is married with two children.

Weatherspoon has held the dean of students position for three years, but his legacy at Exeter reaches back to his appointment as an instructor in 1987. He has taught in the Religion, English and Theater departments and served as the dean of residential life, the interim dean of multicultural affairs and the interim dean of Exeter Summer prior to being named dean of students in 2021.