Jokes about Governor Dummer Academy, the nation’s oldest independent boarding school, are about to become history.
The Newbury school’s board of trustees voted Saturday to shed “Dummer” and change the name to The Governor’s Academy.
Governor Dummer Academy will remain the elite institution’s legal name, but it will begin doing business under the new name July 1, 2006, the start of the new fiscal year.
“The board of trustees believes the long-term interests of the Academy are best served by implementation of this change in the school name,” board president Dan Morgan said in a statement.
Morgan had told alumni of plans to change the name after a preliminary vote by the trustees in December 2004, drawing questioning letters and e-mails.
To appease critics, trustees agreed to include the words “Established in 1763 by Governor Wm. Dummer” on the school’s printed name and seal.
The gesture wasn’t enough for Michael Smith, a 1954 alumnus who said he has made his last donation to his alma mater.
“Why give money to a school that has no respect for history?” asked Smith, a retired federal government official who lives in McLean, Va.
The school, situated in a coastal town about 35 miles northeast of Boston, has a $61 million endowment. Live-in students, who make up about two-thirds of the school’s 370 students, pay more than $33,000 a year in tuition. Day students pay $26,000.
Judith Klein, the school’s director of communications, said she believes supporters of the name change far outnumber critics.
“Those who have very strong feelings are the most vocal,” Klein said. “There was a lot more support for this than might have been apparent.”