Rick England: A Shepherd of Lick’s Growth

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Rick England in the library photo by Eleanor Sananman

When people talk about Lick-Wilmerding High School, they praise the shop classes, the impressive academics, the diversity, and the school’s maxim, “Private school with a public purpose.” But none of these important parts of Lick would exist without long-time Chief Financial Officer Richard England. At the end of the semester, England will be retiring after twenty-two years and leaving behind an extensive legacy that has carried Lick into the twenty-first century.

Besides creating the flex tuition program at Lick, England has been part of several building projects at Lick: the library, the cafeteria, the theatre and the shops. Currently, he is working with the board on the possible renovation of the front school building. England is also on multiple committees that work to foster safety, sustainability and benefits for staff members. Of course, his main job is balancing the budget and making sure that every bill and faculty member is paid. England won’t claim responsibility for all of the monumental changes that have happened at Lick. “The school has been on a upward growth in terms of popularity and quality over the years and I think everybody has been a part of that for the last 20 to 25 years,” England says fondly. “To some degree I’m responsible for that but it started with the vision that Dr. Adams had.”

England first started working in schools purely for necessity. “After I graduated from college, I was trying to find a job,” he says. “It was just a coincidence that I met a trustee of a boarding school…and he told me about the school and I gave it a shot. I met the people and was really surprised at how much I liked everyone I met and talked to. It was a chance to get a paycheck and learn something new. I found I really liked working in schools.” Since then, England has had a similar job title at San Francisco Day School, Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma, Washington, and Wasatch Academy in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.

England first heard about Lick when a trustee from SF Day moved over to Lick and asked England if he could “do some analysis for the school on affordability.” Lick was trying to start its flexible tuition program. “I realized the school had a significantly different emphasis on access than most private schools,” England says. “That really appealed to me that the school made that a key element in admission—that they wanted to accept as many people as they can regardless of ability to pay.” England immediately became interested in working at Lick, but it wasn’t until a couple of years later that Dr. Al Adams, then head of school, offered him the job. England was thrilled. His response to Adams was, “How soon can I come?”

Working in education is very important to England. It’s not about how much money you’re making, England explains, it’s about “doing something worthwhile. I didn’t realize until I got into the work that it resonated with me being part of the service industry that’s doing something important.” He continues, “I’ve had so many positive experiences since then working in schools.”

After he leaves Lick, England isn’t sure what he will do. “I have five grandkids,” he says, “so I plan to spend more time with family.” In September, he is also going to travel with his wife. They will go to Ireland for a month. “I’ve never been able to take off time during the school year,” he says excitedly. But after that, England will probably go back to work part time or do more charity work. “I’m just taking a break,” he reassures.

After working with England for four years, Mr. Temple has only kind words to say about him: “Though I find it almost impossible to imagine this school without Rick England as our CFO, he is indeed retiring in order to spend more time with family and friends. We will have plenty of time to celebrate Rick’s tremendous contribution to Lick, perhaps most importantly his championing and refinement of the Flexible Tuition program in 1988 that truly transformed how independent schools manage financial assistance, and a program that is a national model for breaking down inclusion barriers in our schools. Rick is also a “people CFO,” meaning that though he understands and likes numbers, he understand and likes people more. He always puts people first in his financial management of the school. There is much more to say about Rick, but for now, let me simply say THANK YOU!”

England’s daughter Rebecca Weber graduated from Lick-Wilmerding in 2000.

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