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Home / Offices / Office of the President / Letters to the Community / March Letter to the Community: March 6, 2012

March letter to the community

Greetings everyone. Here is the latest update intended to keep the community informed of news from the president's office and upcoming campus initiatives and events.

Student Government Association Creation Task Force

One recommendation of last year's Governance Task Force was that Hampshire should create a Student Government Association to replace the Community Council. A group of students worked with Associate Dean Josiah Litant over the summer and fall to identify key issues and collect information on models at other schools. We will now convene a group of students, staff, and faculty to draft a description of the structure, responsibilities, and procedures of the SGA. We hope to circulate a draft of these by April 16, in order to receive comments from the campus community. I would like to have a final draft for the May meeting of the Trustees. The drafting group will include representatives from Community Council; Community Advocacy; Campus Leadership and Activities; Residential Life; Academic Affairs; Finance and Administration; Staff Advocacy Committee; and the President's Office. The committee will be co-chaired by Dean Litant and a student member of the task force to be selected from among the task force's membership.

Update on the search for Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty

Aaron Berman, chair of the search committee, reports that phone interviews have concluded and the committee is reviewing the candidates and determining which ones to bring to campus during April. Visit schedules are being constructed with every attempt to accommodate all constituencies and I hope that many of you will take the opportunity to meet the candidates. The dates will be announced shortly. Prior to the visits, we will share each candidate's curriculum vitae and samples of published works. Everyone will have an opportunity to provide feedback via online forms.

Occupy Education

On March 1, a group of students marched through the snow to participate in the National Day of Action in support of education. The Hampshire group sought to raise awareness of issues that matter to all of us, including economic unfairness, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, employee rights, tuition costs, administrative salaries, faculty hiring, transparency, and priorities for investment in Hampshire. I met them at the front entrance of Cole Science and invited them into my office for dialogue and cookies. They preferred to remain outside and present a list of demands.

Students have a right to demonstrate. Protest is an important part of the Hampshire culture, and every member of this community should feel comfortable challenging decisions that they don't agree with. I was disappointed to receive a shouted list of demands, however, before we had any chance for a discussion of the issues. I was perplexed to hear complaints of lack of transparency when I have had scores of open meetings, large and small, formal and informal, with students, staff, and faculty. We won't agree on everything, but I try hard to be open to talk about anything. I will continue to work with students, faculty, and staff to coordinate open meetings where we engage in conversations that address these issues and together come up with solutions that we can all support, even if in the end we don't all agree.

Update on Rehamping the Barn

This past fall, we began a process to move the horse barn from 15 Middle Street to campus. I challenged faculty and students to extract the most educational opportunities from this process as possible. Much has happened since then. The Rehamping student group has facilitated a process to identify spatial needs on campus that could be satisfied by the barn structure. An open call yielded thirteen proposals. Two all-day open workshops in January brought more than twenty students, two staff members, and two faculty members together to discuss spatial needs, educational opportunities, and community impact afforded by the project, as well as institutional sustainability and stewardship of the completed space. Through this process, the presentation to the Monday Group, and the community forum that followed, the Barn Project has set a rich precedent for a collaborative process of thinking about and working with spaces on campus.

The programmatic function of the barn once it is relocated to campus should be something the whole community can be excited about and proud of; able to be executed at a reasonable price; and allow the space to be readapted in the future. A clear need was expressed in many of the thirteen proposals for a space that is "by students, for students, managed by students, and exciting to students." The architectural studies course, entitled Rehamping the Barn, led by Visiting Assistant Professor Caryn Brause, will now be collaborating with proposal writers to identify overlaps from the proposals with this program. The class will also be working with campus facilities managers to review sites on campus that best match up with the program. The class will report back on their work in a few weeks and will continue to move forward with the project.


On February 20, you should have received your formal invitation via email to attend the inauguration ceremony, which will take place on the afternoon of Friday, April 27, 2012. I hope you will attend! For more information and regular updates on the ceremony and related programming, please refer to the inauguration website. From the Hampshire home page, click on the green square entitled "presidential inauguration," or link directly to You are also welcome to email

United Way

I am pleased to report that we have raised more than $13,000 this year for the United Way of Hampshire County. As you know, the United Way serves the common good through sustaining and strengthening a network of local agencies prepared to respond to our neighbors in need. The United Way focuses campaign investments in three areas that offer some of the basic building blocks for a good life--a good start for children and youth, health and safety for all, and resources that promote economic security. And, as the lives of those in need improve, our entire community benefits. Thank you for your commitment to our local community.

Thank you all for your hard work this semester. Together, let's look forward to spring and the outdoor opportunities it brings!

-Jonathan Lash


Contact Us

Office of the President
The Charles W. Cole Science Center First Floor Room 110
Hampshire College
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002
Fax 413.559.5584

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