Individual growth and public purpose

Principal Bill Rawson ’71; P’08
August 1, 2021
Principal Bill Rawson

As we prepare to welcome our students back to campus this month, we do so with a deep sense of purpose and gratitude. Our students bring an incredible thirst for knowledge, a desire to excel in every aspect of their Exeter experience, and a great sense of joy in being part of the Exeter community. Their commitment reinforces our own sense of purpose, and their presence reminds us of how fortunate we all are to live and learn alongside each other.

I began dorm duty in Wentworth Hall last fall, and am eager to return to my duties this term. The individual conversations I have had with students have been quite meaningful and insightful. Listening to dormmates from around the world engage in passionate debate, and watching them play games or simply hang out, also has been a wonderful privilege. So too are the opportunities to connect with students in other ways — from meetings with ESSO leadership, Student Council and Student Listeners, to attending rehearsals, athletic practices, club meetings and other student gatherings. In every instance, I have been deeply impressed by our students’ resilience, their determination to make the most of their opportunities this year, and their gratitude for all that their teachers, coaches and every other adult in the community have done to support them.

The conversations we are having, and the commitments we have made, are essential to what we want Exeter to be, now and in the future.“

All that we do at Exeter is grounded in our mission to unite goodness and knowledge and inspire youth from every quarter to lead purposeful lives. As those words guide us today, they also compel us to look forward and dare to imagine the Exeter of tomorrow — just as our predecessors did 50 years ago. The adoption of coeducation was a monumental shift for our school, requiring an ability to imagine an Exeter that did not yet exist and the willingness to change. As we continue to honor the anniversary of coeducation, we do so with a deep appreciation for the girls and women who pushed Exeter forward and redefined how we interpret “youth from every quarter.” I encourage you to read some of their stories in this magazine and on

We bring the same determination and resolve to our work to become a fully inclusive, equitable and anti-racist community. This work is fundamental to our mission and requires active, sustained participation from every member in our community. I am grateful for the foundation laid by those who came before us, and for the adults and students who today are greatly expanding upon those efforts, both inside and outside the classroom. The conversations we are having, and the commitments we have made, are essential to what we want Exeter to be, now and in the future. I invite you to visit and to learn more about our vision for diversity, equity and inclusion, and to see some of the work being done this year.

The Academy was founded on the philosophy of non sibi — a belief that the “wisdom gained here should be used for others as well as for oneself,” as expressed in our value statement. “Teaching and living the principles of a just and sustainable society,” it continues, “are fundamental to this philosophy today.” The education gained here is an avenue for transformative individual growth informed by a deep sense of public purpose.

As you read this issue of the Bulletin, I hope you will see that we are busy building on our strengths, living our values, and imagining the Exeter of tomorrow. We see exciting opportunities in the years ahead for our school, and we look forward to working with every member of our community to turn those opportunities into realities for our students.

Editor's note: This article first appeared in the winter 2021 issue of The Exeter Bulletin.

More to Explore

Academy mission

"Unite goodness and knowledge and inspire youth from every quarter to lead purposeful lives."


Read the values that support our mission. 

Go to the page titled Academy mission

Becoming an anti-racist school

Hear voices from our community and beyond, and find resources that will help inform the conversations and the actions we must all take to effect real change for Black Americans and other persons of color. 

Go to the page titled Becoming an anti-racist school
girl holding map with lines that extend in many directions

The Exeter Bulletin

Person and path