By Michael Rothberg
Head of Athletics Audrius Barzdukas has been promoted to the newly created role of Associate Head of Harvard-Westlake.
Retaining his duties as head of athletics, Barzdukas will also be responsible for various aspects of the school’s administration, including advancement, international relations and admission.
Barzdukas will be delegating some athletic department work to Athletic Directors Darlene Bible, Terry Barnum and Terry Elledge to spend more time helping the administration, Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts said.
“Since Mr. Barzdukas will spend some more time with the administration, I think there will be a bigger burden, but Darlene Bible, Terry Elledge and I work well as a team, so I think we’ll be able to pick up the slack and it will be fine,” Barnum said.
Barzdukas, who has worked at Harvard-Westlake since 2002, said he intends to address philosophical questions regarding the school’s role as a school in a 21st century environment by working with the President Thomas Hudnut, Huybrechts and Chief Advancement Officer Ed Hu.
“What does it mean to be a school and how do you prepare students, to enter a world where there is more information at hand, in a world that is smaller than ever before?” Barzdukas said. “What is the role of the school in getting young people ready to face the challenges of that world?”
To prepare for his new position, he observed the faculty, staff and students last year. Barzdukas, who described himself as “a question asker” and “a life long learner,” sat in on about 170 classes and met with teachers to develop an understanding for the curriculum and academic philosophy of the school.
“You should seek to understand rather than judge,” Barzdukas said. “You should learn to think critically, learn how to make corrections, learn how to understand things and put things in context. Learning is a great deal. Learning is seeking to understand. I think learning is about aspiring.”
Barzdukas said he would like to help the school to “bridge cultures[…]among departments, between campuses, among Los Angeles and around the world.”
During the summer, Hudnut and Huybrechts represented Harvard-Westlake at the World Leading Schools Association conference in New York where delegates from schools in the west and China share and exchange ideas about education.
As Associate Head of School, Barzdukas is working with Hudnut and Huybrechts to improve the school’s relations with international schools by coordinating visits between these schools’ administrators.
Hudnut said the new position was created specifically for Barzdukas’s unique role in the school’s administration and “his sense of curriculum pedagogy and the school and the community as a result of his administrative work in athletics.”
“The timing was good because Mr. Barzdukas was ready for [the position], and a lot of his ‘new’ responsibilities aren’t really new because he’s been working with our admissions office and with advancement for a couple of years, so this makes it more official,” Huybrechts said.
“We’re terribly excited to have him,” Hudnut said. “He’s an extremely able, energetic man who has a wonderful sense of what the school is about.As teacher, administrator and parent, he will be able to see from a variety of perspectives, and that’s a very useful kaleidoscope to have.”