MacMullens Awarded the 2023 Horace Dutton Taft Alumni Medal

Pam and Willy MacMullen '78 have been honored with the 2023 Horace Dutton Taft Alumni Medal

In recognition of their combined 68 years of service to Taft, its students, alumni, faculty, staff, families, and community, Willy ’78 and Pam MacMullen P’14,16 have been honored with the 2023 Horace Dutton Taft Alumni Medal. The Medal is given each year to a person (or persons) whose life work best reflects the essence of the Taft School motto: Non ut sibi ministretur sed ut ministret; Not to be served, but to serve. It was presented to the MacMullens during Alumni Weekend.

"In most years the debate about the many outstanding candidates goes on for hours and involves multiple rounds of voting by secret ballot,” notes 2023 Horace Dutton Taft Alumni Medal Committee Chair John Merrow II ’59. “This year there was no debate and only one round of voting: unanimous and by acclamation for Pam and Willy. No one is more deserving."

The Taft-MacMullen story began in 1976 when Willy arrived in Watertown as an upper mid. As a Taft student, Willy played soccer, hockey, and lacrosse, was elected school monitor, inducted into the Cum Laude Society, and received the Aurelian Award at graduation. He went on to receive a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a master’s degree from Middlebury College before teaching in a wilderness program for intellectually and emotionally challenged adolescents. In 1983, he returned to Taft to teach English and coach soccer.

Known as “Mr. Mac” to decades of Taft students, Willy taught mid and upper mid English and introduced electives in wilderness literature, autobiography, and the course, A Sense of Place, to the English Department curriculum. In his early years on the faculty Willy lived in the dormitory and served as dorm head, was advisor to the school literary magazine, served as advisor to the school monitors, and coached boys’ varsity soccer, JV hockey, and lacrosse (as coach to the thirds team and assistant coach to the varsity team). As soccer coach from 1984 to 2002, he won more than 150 games, received the 2001 Connecticut Soccer Coaches Association Coach of the Year Award, and placed in multiple New England tournaments. Over the course of his Taft career, Willy has served as class dean, codirector of the Senior Seminar, college counselor, director of teaching fellowships, dean of faculty, dean of academic affairs, and coordinator of the NEASC Accreditation Self-Study. Before being named head of school, he held the Edwin C. Douglas Chair and was a recipient of the Abramowitz Award for Teaching Excellence.

Willy and Pam,met while they were working towards master’s degrees at Bread Loaf, Middlebury College. Pam, a graduate of Middlebury College with a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in secondary education, began teaching at Taft in 1995, after nine years of public-school teaching. She served as class dean for eight years, has taught lower mid English and various senior electives, and is a certified aerobics instructor who introduced the program to Taft and has taught hundreds of students.

Pam and Willy have two sons, John ’14 and Tom ’16, both of whom attended Taft and then Brown University.

Read more about the MacMullens, their contributions to Taft, and tributes from members of the Taft community here.

The Horace Dutton Taft Alumni Medal is the school’s highest alumni honor and is given each year to a person whose life work best typifies the school motto: Not to be ministered unto but to minister. All citations, since the award’s creation in 1960, hang in a place of honor along Main Hall. The Horace Dutton Taft Alumni Medal is a reminder of Taft’s commitment to serve others.

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