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Welcome to 2012! Letter from Jonathan Lash

Dear Friends,

I am very happy to welcome you to the spring semester at Hampshire, although I do wonder what happened to winter in New England this year. I especially want to welcome the 40 new students to our campus and send warm congratulations to the 57 students who passed Division III in December.

As you know, I spent a good deal of time this fall listening to your stories about the uniquely powerful educational experiences that Hampshire offers, and I continue to be inspired by your ideas about our future. I am encouraged by the conversations we are having (and will continue to have) about making the case for Hampshire. You understand so well, and care so deeply about, Hampshire's approach and its value that there can't be a better starting point for articulating our case than to harvest your ideas. Together, let's think about what the world and our future students and alumni will need over the next 25 years, what new challenges we will face, and how we will surmount them. Specifically, I am posing the question: "If Hampshire didn't exist, why would we create it today?" I plan to continue these conversations on making the case through February, both on campus and off (with the help of our alumni virtual think tank), and share my final draft of the case after gathering your valuable feedback and suggestions. In the meantime, please feel free to send me your input via

This semester we are bringing in alumni and national experts for discussions on the trends in higher education on topics including technology, sustainability, humanities, arts and the social sciences. A sample of the events taking place at Hampshire in the spring include:

The Hampshire College Presidential Lecture Series:

- Josh Goldman, 81F, CEO and Founder of Australis Aquaculture on February 6.

- Hod Lipson, Associate Professor of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering and Computing & Information Science at Cornell on February 7.

- Ken Burns, 71F, director and producer of acclaimed documentary films; Christopher Benfey, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of English and Acting Dean of Faculty at Mount Holyoke; and Eve Blau, Adjunct Professor of the History of Urban Form at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard - panel on February 21.

- Edward Humes 75F, Pulitzer prize-winning author of eleven non-fiction books including his latest, Force of Nature: The Unlikely Story of Wal-Mart's Green Revolution, on March 7.

- David Budbill, freelance writer, lecturer, children's book author, poet and playwright, on March 13.
You will be updated on additional speakers in this series later in the semester.

Cognitive Science Distinguished Alumni Lecture on February 9, featuring Dr. George Bonanno, Professor of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University and author of The Other Side of Sadness;

The 14th annual Eqbal Ahmad Lecture on March 8 featuring Mozn Hassan, Director of Cairo's Nazra for Feminist Studies and leader of the democracy movement in Egypt; Paul Amar, Associate Professor in the Global and International Studies program at UC Santa Barbara; and Kholoud Saber, Director of the Egyptian Institute for Academic Freedom;

Eric Schocket Memorial Lecture on April 16 featuring Andrew Ross, Professor of Cultural and Social Analysis at New York University.

Details about these events will be posted to

This semester we will begin the campus discussion on what our new Student Government Association (SGA) will look like. These discussions follow the work of a group of volunteer students and staff who for the last six months have been busy laying the groundwork to begin a planning process for Hampshire's SGA. Campus involvement and input is key to determining the work of the SGA and I encourage our staff, faculty and students to participate in one of four brainstorming workshops planned for February. For those of you on campus, please visit the SGA intranet site at for details, or register to participate in the brainstorming sessions at For those of you off campus, feel free to contact Josiah Litant or Susan King in the Dean of Students office with input.

With the help of the campus Environmental Committee, Hampshire is making progress in its commitment to sustainability. Hampshire will begin collaborating with alum David Adamian 84F, VP of Engineering and Operations of GreenerU, and Bonny Bentzin, LEED AP and Director of Sustainability at GreenerU, to create a Climate Action Plan that meets the requirements of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment. The Climate Action Plan will be a part of the college's ongoing dialogue about more closely aligning campus operations with our core identity. A key component of the plan will be an evaluation of current energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities at Hampshire, culminating in a strategy for moving forward with engagement mechanisms and capitalizing on existing resources.

The Five College Board of Directors is looking for ideas for new initiatives and programs in academic, co-curricular, and operational aspects of sustainability. In that light, Professor Susan Darlington, who I have asked to coordinate this initiative, has organized "blue sky" brainstorming sessions to explore incorporating sustainable practices into existing operations and initiating projects and programs centered on sustainability. With the resources of the Five Colleges and the Pioneer Valley, the potential for sustainability leadership among us seems to be almost unlimited. This exercise should provide people with an opportunity to think about the full range of those possibilities. All members of the Hampshire College campus community are welcome to brainstorm ideas at the following sessions, or email proposals to

Thursday, February 9, at 3:30 p.m. in the Tavern;
Tuesday, February 14, at 3:30 p.m. in the Tavern; and
Thursday, February 23, at 3:30 p.m. in Franklin Patterson's East Lecture Hall.

In addition, I hope you will attend one of the upcoming community discussions on February 1st and 2nd to address campus concerns about Hampshire's buildings and space. We have groups on campus that are working on projects to help with some of these issues. For example, I applaud the Rehamping group, which has been working on repurposing the barn at 15 Middle Street. They dedicated two long Saturdays in January to discussion of the many viable proposals they received. They will make a presentation to the Monday Group on January 30 and you can follow progress on Rehamping the barn at their blog In addition, we have a group working on the proposal for the greening of the Robert Crown Center as well as a group working on addressing the space concerns for Admissions and the possible location for the Hitchcock Center. These issues will be addressed at two sessions: Wednesday, February 1 at 5:00 pm (pizza will be served) and Thursday, February 2 at 3:30 pm, both in the West Lecture Hall. I hope you can attend at least one of these sessions.

Finally, I would like to congratulate Aracelis Girmay, Assistant Professor of Poetry, for being named by the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) as a poetry finalist for her book Kingdom Animalia. The NBCC awards, presented in March, honor the best literature published in English in six categories--autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction and poetry.

I look forward to the upcoming semester and hope that many of you will be able to join us, whether in person or virtually, for the presidential inauguration on Friday, April 27, with former vice president Al Gore as our keynote speaker. More details on the inauguration will be available soon at

Welcome back!


Jonathan Lash


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