Kay Kiefer to Retire: The Hun School Says Farewell to an Influential Leader

Katharin L. Kiefer is a brilliant academic whose intellectual curiosity is matched only by delight in the success of her students and colleagues. Since 1980, she’s been a science teacher, department chair, dean of academic affairs, and now, dean of faculty at The Hun School. This spring, after forty-one years in education, she will retire.

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A beloved teacher and campus leader, Dr. Kiefer sets high expectations in class with a gentle demeanor. She’s taught nearly every science course offered, often in her white lab coat and with a iguana on her shoulder.

“I just started bringing animals to class one day,” she recalled with a smile.

“(Director of Athletics) Bill Quirk built an enormous cage for my iguana Puff, and I used to let them walk around during class. One day I got a call from Alison (Chmielewski, Upper School assistant) who said ‘Um, Kay, there’s a big lizard walking down the hall.”

An avid runner and yogini, she has coached track and cross country. Before Hun’s curriculum included international travel, Dr. Kiefer took students to Mexico, Peru, and Belize. “I wanted to take them on adventures to unique places that they wouldn’t necessarily visit during a family vacation,” she said.

Growing up in Baltimore, Maryland, with her father, a pathologist, and her mother, a teacher, Dr. Kiefer attended Florida Atlantic University and then taught at St. Andrews in Florida. In 1980, Hun Upper School Head Allen Kirschner hired her.

“I was very proud to be teaching at Hun and in Princeton. It was more formal (than Florida); but it was very welcoming and collegial,” said Dr. Kiefer. “I love the students at Hun, and the adults – who don’t graduate as quickly!”

Dr. Kiefer bonded with colleagues Allen and Linda Kirschner, Ed Bamman, Terry and Bonnie Beach, and others. The late Dean of Students Carol Arnold was a mentor and role model. “She was articulate, strong, and had a great sense of humor,” recalled Dr. Kiefer. “I have always felt supported here, and felt that I had a responsibility to do the same.”

While at Hun, Dr. Kiefer earned an Ed.D in independent school administration from the University of Pennsylvania. As dean, she is responsible for recruitment and development of faculty.

“She has used her expertise in curriculum development and faculty recruitment and growth to enrich our school in innumerable ways,” said Headmaster Jonathan Brougham.

“I can’t say enough about what an invaluable part of our community she has been.”
Global Studies teacher and Director of Service Learning Lynn McNulty said. “Kay is a true educator who engenders a culture of faculty kindness and mutual support, with a focus on professional growth.”

Science teacher and Senior Class Dean Vivian Piel said, “Kay has led young women to embrace science; she is an outstanding role model.”

Dr. Kiefer praised Upper School Head Ryan Hews and Middle School Head Ken Weinstein, and called Mr. Brougham “one of the best people I have ever worked with.

He exudes 
integrity, and works tirelessly to support our faculty.” Married to retired Hun School English teacher Jim Kerr for thirty-three years, (they met in 1982 while chaperoning students to see Macbeth) the couple live in Yardley, Pennsylvania, with their standard poodle, Willie. They plan to travel after Kay hangs up both of her academic hats.

“Teaching and academic administration are two very different professions,” reflected Dr. Kiefer. “But the same principles apply – all people, students and adults, just want to be accepted and loved.” 
The Hun School of Princeton is an independent, coeducational, private day and boarding college preparatory school.  Student-centered, hands-on learning prepares students for the global community in which they will live and work.

176 Edgerstoune Road, Princeton, NJ 08540  |  Phone: (609) 921-7600 | Email: admiss@hunschool.org