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Franklin Patterson, Founding President

The first president of Hampshire College was Franklin Patterson, who was hired in early 1966 to lead the new "experimenting" institution and design the academic program. In June 1966, he and Charles Longsworth (first vice-president and second president of Hampshire) convened the Hampshire College Conference, inviting leading educators, writers, artists, and musicians from across the country to discuss the implications of the 1958 New College Plan for the design of the curriculum. That summer, Pat (as he was commonly known) and Chuck Longsworth took the results of the conference discussions and synthesized the original academic program for Hampshire College. This was summarized in their book, The Making of a College, which became the blueprint for Hampshire.

The new college would not have traditional academic departments, but would be organized into three large interdisciplinary Schools: Social Science, Humanities and Arts, and Natural Science and Mathematics. In addition, there was an experimental program in Language and Communication, which eventually became the fourth School, and an experimental program in Human Development. Students would progress through the college not by taking courses for credit, but by completing a series of Divisional Exams, culminating in a final project or Division III exam. Rather than taking a set sequence of courses, students would work closely with faculty to design their own education, learning skills as they were required to pursue the topics that interested them. The Schools would teach "mode of inquiry", that is, the methods used by a particular academic discipline to define problems and approach their solution.

Patterson proceeded to hire Deans for each of the Schools and began, with the new Deans, to hire faculty. His idea was to hire many new faculty, fresh out of their graduate programs, who would be willing to try this new approach and would be excited to participate in creating a new college. He also took on the major task of raising funds for the college. Patterson was president when the first Hampshire class entered in 1970 and throughout the first academic year.

Franklin Patterson left the presidency in 1971 to become chairman of Hampshire's Board of Trustees, and was appointed Frank L. Boyden Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston later that same year. Academic Building I (FPH) was renamed Franklin Patterson Hall in his honor. Franklin Patterson died in 1994.

 

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