William R. MacMullen
B.A., Yale ; M.A., Middlebury
Work Phone: 860-945-7777
Year Appointed: 1983
Willy MacMullen, Taft’s fifth headmaster, was born in Rome, Italy, and was educated in the United States and England. He currently serves as the chair of the Commission on Independent Schools of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and is a member of the Visionary Heads Group. Willy has presented to numerous audiences, including the annual NEASC conference and the National Association of Independent Schools Institute for New Heads (INH), which he attended in 2001. He has participated in the Institute for Experienced Heads, been a member of the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) board, attended many educational conferences, served on or chaired school accreditation visiting committees, been a keynote speaker at numerous organizations, and has been published in professional journals.
Appointed headmaster in 2001, Willy comes from a family of educators. His father is a retired Roman historian and the chair of the classics department at Yale. His mother was also a professor at Yale, in education, and served as director of the Teacher Preparation Program. Willy’s siblings all attended Yale, and two are currently private school teachers.
Willy lived with his family in Oxford, England, during his freshman year of high school, and when he returned to the States, he graduated cum laude from Taft in 1978, having played three sports and served as a school monitor. At Yale, he was an American Studies major, an award-winning member of the varsity soccer program, a member of a blues band, contributor to two literary publications, and a volunteer in the Big Brother program. He received a master’s in English with honors from Middlebury College, where he also did graduate work in Oxford.
After graduating from Yale, Willy worked for a year for an experiential wilderness based school with delinquent and emotionally disturbed adolescents. He joined the faculty at Taft in 1983 and taught English all levels, including Advanced Placement English. He coached varsity soccer for 15 years, building the Taft program into one of the most successful in New England; he also coached JV hockey and assisted with varsity lacrosse. Willy served in many roles during his career: dean of faculty, dean of academic affairs, dean of the upper middle class, college counselor, dormitory head, adviser to the school monitors and to the literary magazine.
Willy and his wife, Pam, who also teaches at Taft, live on the campus with their two sons, John ’14 and Tom ’16.