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Grant to Model Smooth Transitions, Individually and Institutionally

Posted: September 27, 2011

With support from The Mellon Foundation, Hampshire College is exploring creative ways to bridge a range of curricular and financial issues faced by colleges and universities nationwide as a result of the forthcoming wave of baby boomer retirements.

The foundation awarded Hampshire $850,000 to create a next-generation model of innovative, interdisciplinary education, connecting professors who are retiring or who wish to transition into retirement with newer professors.

“This wonderful grant helps us to think and act creatively to link together a cohort of retiring and new faculty, all with expertise, experience, energy, and enthusiasm,” said Dean of Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs Alan Goodman.

The three-year grant will support an intergenerational transfer of knowledge, teaching, and experience that will undergird and enhance the nurturing of cutting-edge ideas and perspectives from newer faculty.

Hampshire’s approach is being designed to benefit scholars at both ends of the spectrum: expanded options will be available to meet the needs of retiring faculty, while phased retirements can open opportunities for promising new scholars. Built into the program will be opportunities for retiring faculty to maintain tangible connections and involvement, including advising student projects, which are central to Hampshire’s academic model, co-teaching with younger faculty, and continuing their research. The grant will also provide some start-up support for research by new faculty.

Hampshire opened in 1970 and was created to redesign undergraduate education. Students pursue individualized educations and work closely with faculty mentors. Senior professors not only hold the institutional memory that gets passed to the next generation on any campus; at Hampshire they are pioneers of student-designed learning within a multidisciplinary environment.

Hampshire will offer a broadened range of voluntary retirement options, including a three-year phased plan with enhanced benefits. (A five-year phased plan is already available at the College.)

New faculty can be recruited in academic areas of high demand and growth. Resource sharing, including cross-disciplinary appointments on the Hampshire faculty and joint faculty appointments through the Five College consortium, will further enable curricular innovation.

And—importantly—within the change that will inevitably occur over the next few years, will be both continuing innovation and mission continuity.

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