In this episode of TASIS Stories, Director of Communications Mark Chevalier seeks to tap into the collective wisdom of three TASIS legends—Mark Aeschliman, Howard Stickley, and Bill Eichner—each of whom has devoted at least 35 years to the School and worn a number of hats along the way.
Mark Aeschliman joined the TASIS Faculty as an English Literature and Art History teacher and a dorm resident in January of 1979 and would later serve as Dean of the Postgraduate Program, a member of the School’s Governing Board and Administration, and a teacher of Humanities and Italian. He also founded IB Art History and IB Architecture programs at TASIS and has demonstrated such a clear mastery of the material he teaches that one graduating senior remarked, “I’ve never met someone who knew as much about a topic and loved it as much as Mr. Aeschliman does.” In recognition of his expertise in the classroom and his remarkable commitment to the students of TASIS over the course of decades, Mr. Aeschliman was named a Khan-Page Master Teacher—the highest honor accorded to a faculty member—in 2010.
Howard Stickley started at TASIS in September of 1981 as a teacher of History, Math, and English as an Additional Language and would go on to Chair the Science Department while also teaching Biology and Environmental Science. For the past ten years, he’s pulled double duty as the School’s IB Coordinator and UK College Counselor, helping hundreds of students achieve International Baccalaureate Diplomas and hundreds more gain admission to excellent schools all over the United Kingdom.
Bill Eichner joined the TASIS family in the fall of 1983 and initially taught Art History and Photography to Postgraduate students. Following one year at the now-defunct TASIS Cyprus, he spent a year helping TASIS Founder M. Crist Fleming open a new school—TASIS France—before returning to Lugano to serve as Academic Dean in 1987, a position he held for 10 years as he helped usher the School through a period of great transition. He became the Director of Admissions in 1998 and has spent the past 20 years recruiting students from all corners of the world. In 2017, Mr. Eichner was granted the title of Director of Institutional Advancement to give formal recognition to the fact that he has been an indispensable and increasingly important constant as the TASIS landscape has evolved over time.
Over the course of a 45-minute conversation in front of a crackling fire in Casa Fleming, Mr. Eichner, Mr. Aeschliman, and Mr. Stickley discussed everything from the circumstances that led them to TASIS (2:40, 3:24, and 6:04, respectively) to what Mr. Aeschliman thinks about being named a TASIS “lifer” (10:48). Other topics addressed include the following:
- Mr. Aeschliman discusses some of the ways TASIS has changed over the course of his 40-year tenure. (11:44)
- Mr. Eichner talks about how both TASIS and Lugano have changed. (12:58)
- Mr. Stickley comments on the greater travel independence TASIS students have now compared to in the past, and he and Mr. Eichner recall how many trips they used to take with students. (14:34)
- Mr. Aeschliman highlights how the School’s location in Lugano has always been ideal for learning Art History. (17:03)
- Mr. Eichner discusses what Casa Fleming used to be like with Mrs. Fleming around. (18:15)
- Mr. Aeschliman reminisces about the presence of Mrs. Fleming and how she was a tremendous help during his first few years. (18:44)
- Mr. Eichner echoes Mr. Aeschliman’s sentiments, explaining how Mrs. Fleming had a way of making the arduous workload worth it. (19:37)
- Mr. Aeschliman looks back at the special nature of the friendships he formed with colleagues in the early years. (21:45)
- Mr. Stickley reflects on how the rough-and-tumble of the early years fostered a strong camaraderie within the faculty. (22:29)
- Our guests compare the lifestyles and stress levels of students in the past to those of modern students while also examining how TASIS has adapted to external changes in education. (23:40)
- Mr. Aeschliman reveals which type of student he has seen succeed most often. (27:39)
- Mr. Stickley discusses how he has seen even underperforming TASIS graduates find success at university and beyond and how these students invariably credit TASIS for preparing them so well for post-secondary life. (29:07)
- Mr. Stickley notes that TASIS has built up a strong reputation with excellent universities in recent years, with former students paving the way for today’s students to get into the upper echelons of higher education much more easily. (31:18)
- Mr. Stickley talks about how returning alumni are always in awe of the beauty of the TASIS campus, having not fully appreciated it in their younger years. (33:40)
- Mr. Aeschliman has a simple reply when asked if there is a particular year from his past 40 at TASIS that he would choose to relive. (34:14)
- Mr. Eichner identifies his first year as his most memorable, and he and the others go on to explain why they have stayed at TASIS for so long. (35:18)
- Mr. Aeschliman and Mr. Eichner discuss some ways in which the School has improved over time. (36:59)
- Mr. Eichner talks about how the proportion of nationalities at TASIS has changed significantly over the years and explains why the percentage of Americans has dipped. (39:13)
- Mr. Stickley expresses admiration for the abundance of cultures and languages that is perceptible all over campus and notes how much this spirit of multilingualism has worked to the advantage of TASIS students when they apply to college. (40:45)
- Our guests talk about how the adaptability and maturity that TASIS students develop are assets noticed by universities even though students often fail to see these impressive qualities in themselves. (41:10)
- Mr. Stickley discusses how the TASIS experience can quickly change the minds of students and make them want to come back for more, and Mr. Aeschliman chimes in with a story about his own experience. (42:57)
- Mr. Stickley praises the ever-welcoming environment that TASIS exudes. (43:55)