Faculty farewells

Colleagues reflect on the impact of fellow instructors during their distinguished tenures.

August 9, 2021
Gail Scanlon, Peter Schultz, Sarah Ream and Zuming Feng

(Clockwise from top left) Retiring faculty members Gail Scanlon, Peter Schultz, Sarah Ream '75 and Zuming Feng.

After a collective 98 years of service, four faculty members retire from the Academy ranks this summer. Across campus — in the dorms, classrooms, music halls, theater and library — these individuals have made a lasting impression on generations of Exonians. Their wit, intelligence, laughter and friendship will be deeply missed. Students, alumni and colleagues paid tribute to the four in the pages of the 2021 PEAN yearbook. Here we share a few of their parting memories and accolades.

Zuming Feng

Stephen G. Kurtz Teaching Chair and Instructor in Mathematics, 1995

“When Mr. Feng came to the Academy in the spring of 1995, all of his colleagues in the Mathematics Department knew immediately that somebody very special and unique had joined our team. Mr. Feng became a force in the International Mathematics Olympiad program starting in the 1990s and continuing to this day. He has had many important roles in that program, including being the coach of the U.S. Olympiad team and the team leader. Mr. Feng’s presence has attracted to PEA some of the brightest and most-able high school mathematics students in the world for the last 25 years. His work with these students, as well as hundreds of other students as head of the Math Club and math teams at Exeter, is unparalleled and will be impossible to replace. Although known for working with these top students and their intense training, Mr. Feng was also a great teacher for the entire range of Exeter mathematics students. He was gentle, kind and understanding to those who struggled with math, and his sense of humor and big smile was appreciated by all. A close colleague writes: ‘Through my regular contacts with Mr. Feng, I have become a better problem solver and a more complete mathematical thinker. He has enriched the lives of the students who have been lucky enough to experience his tutelage, and he has been a gracious and valuable colleague. He shall be missed.’ It is not an exaggeration to say that Mr. Feng has been one of the most important and impactful mathematics instructors in the history of the Academy.” 

— Eric Bergofsky, Instructor in Mathematics

Sarah Ream ’75

Instructor in Theater and Dance, 1997

“Sarah, you have been a remarkable gift to Exeter and your retirement leaves a hole that cannot be filled — by anyone! Having worked with you on numerous committees, seen countless plays you have directed, and listened to many notable speeches you have given to various groups, I think I can say that you are among the brightest and most capable people I know. Your wit, your ability to come up with the most perfect turn of phrase for any occasion, and your unflappable determination to do good and just work at this school is unparalleled. So many plays you have done include a deep and meaningful educational experience for your students: conversations with the playwright, historical research, panel discussions and on and on. Over and over again, I have seen how students who work with you in theater are doing so much more than performing — they are learning about their world in a deep and meaningful way. ... Whether you are giving a meditation, talking to alumni groups, making a presentation to the faculty about curriculum review, fundraising for the future Goel Center for Theater and Dance, or introducing a new faculty member, your words are always beautifully crafted and filled with humor, humility and wisdom. Listening to you talk is like viewing Van Gogh’s Starry Night or listening to a Brandenburg Concerto: All one can do is laugh out loud and marvel that anyone could create that! ... It is hard to envision an Exeter without you, and you will be sorely missed.” 

— Brad Robinson, Instructor in Science

Peter Schultz

Michael V. Forrestal ’45 Chair in Music and Instructor in Music, 1989

“Peter Schultz has brought laughter and music to Phillips Exeter Academy for 30 years. He has been the conductor of the concert band, the co-conductor of the chamber orchestra, a coach and organizer of chamber music, department chair and a teacher of music theory. Frustrated with the textbooks available for teaching music, he wrote his own series of texts and exercises for studying theory. Mr. Schultz is a master of puns; his mind seems to contain a whole separate set of operations for formulating clever wordplay. He has been a trusted adviser to generations of Exonians, known for providing doughnuts and conversation around the Harkness table in the music building’s atrium each week. Mr. Schultz served as my mentor when I arrived at the Academy, and he treated me with the kindness and warmth of true friendship. Anyone who lives on the north side of campus is familiar with the strains drifting from Mr. Schultz’s home as he practices his flute late into the evening. Mr. Schultz and his wife, Ms. Watt — an oboe instructor at the Academy for many years — have decorated our campus with their music for decades, and the silence they will leave behind is modulated by memories of their delightful, ever-present laughter.” 

— Kristofer Johnson, Chair of the Department of Music

Gail Scanlon

James H. Ottaway Jr. ’55 Chair and Academy Librarian, 2011

“A champion of human rights, justice and racial equity, Ms. Scanlon made our library a hub of programs that could bind the curricula across departments and could foster collaboration. Via her outreach to the non-arts departments, math and science found a home in the ‘’45 Celebration’ display; our Music Department colleagues installed exhibits of music and architecture in this grand space; and dialogue was encouraged with her offering the library for gatherings and readings to storytellers and poets. As our angel of the Lamont Poetry Committee, she supported this work with all the resources she could muster, and with great kindness and patience. And when snow would close the roads, and no one could drive to our school, she would sleep on a colleague’s couch the night before in order to open the library to the students who needed it for their history research papers — a great opportunity of found time during a no-classes snow day. And in addition to all this work, one could find her doing dorm duty, as an affiliate to one of our two all-gender dorms, with sweet grandmotherly care and wisdom.” 

—Tatiana D. Waterman, Instructor in Science