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Alumni Advisory Group

Summary of Alum Voices: February 18 meeting with Trustees

On Monday, February 18, we held a meeting attended by three alumni members of the Board of Trustees (Kim Saal 70F, Ellen Sturgis 77F, and Jesus Colmenares 03F) to discuss the current state of the school’s strategic visioning process. The goal of this meeting was to share the voices, questions, concerns, and ideas collected from the alumni community over the last three weeks. Our methods for collecting this input included:

  • Hosting two virtual community discussions on Feb 7 and Feb 9. These sessions were structured around brainstorming ways the alumni could support current students, faculty, and staff, as well as the school in general at this time. The results of these conversations can be reviewed in full here.
  • Publishing a Google form where alumni could submit questions. The consolidated results of this form can be reviewed here and have informed our conversations with trustees.
  • Continuous conversations, email exchanges, Slack chats, and ongoing liaison participation in alumni groups including existing alumni circles, the newly founded Western Mass Alumni Group, and SaveHampshire group.
  • One-on-one conversations and listening on social media.

To summarize all of these elements of feedback from the alumni population, we compiled this presentation to share with the board representatives at our meeting and with President Nelson. The resulting conversation was cordial and frank, reflecting a shared commitment to exploring the best path forward.  

The AAG would like to share key information we received from the board during this meeting:

  • Some of the most burning questions that we hear from alumni are around the approach to partner selection, including the options currently under consideration. Kim shared with us the three options that are currently under consideration:
  1. Merger with another institution of higher education (where two institutions become one)
  2. Joint venture or partnership with another institution of higher education (where both maintain their independence, but share resources, services, programming, etc.)
  3. Or re-imagining Hampshire in a way that allows the school to stand alone
  • Any of these options would involve significant changes to make happen, including the possibility of downsizing and layoffs. Hampshire will most likely have to become a smaller organization in the short term in order to survive, and hopefully be able to expand again in the future.  
  • Kim Saal shared that committees are being formed by the board and administrative leadership to tackle the different aspects of this planning effort, including financial, legal, academic, and student experience. We will provide a list of the committees and participants when it’s available.  
  • The path forward will include:
  1. The committees will evaluate the options of a merger, partnership, or remaining independent according to these guiding principles and review potential partnering institutions. While in discussion with external institutions, the groups will have to maintain some degree of confidentiality.
  2. Once they have outlined our options for possible paths forward, they will open the conversation up to the community for feedback and review. The goal is to have a significant amount of time for broad level of input from the community at large.
  3. After a plan has been proposed there will be approximately a year of working out all of the details. The goal is to launch “Hampshire 2.0” by the summer of 2020 (our 50th anniversary).

Moving Forward  

We spent some time speaking at the end of our meeting about how the Board of Trustees and Office of the President could work to rebuild trust with the alumni community. Both groups, the AAG and representatives of the board, felt that this was one of the biggest and most urgent issues to address. We agreed that we needed to work towards greater transparency and agreed to meeting regularly to share information between the greater alumni community and the board. Specifically, we will have representatives from the Board at our regular AAG meetings moving forward to address questions and ensure that we are working together better. On Monday, February 25, we met again with members of the Board and with Mim. Coming out of the meeting, AAG efforts are focused on working with leadership to rebuild trust, organizing ways alums can be engaged with the visioning process, and continuing to share your voices.  

We’ll continue to report back by email, and here on our website. Please also be in touch with us at alumniadvisorygroup@hampshire.edu.  

Sincerely,  

Stephanie Allen 99F

Davis Bates 73F P16

Tashal Brown 03F

Tracy Calvan 74F P10

Catherine Craig 08F

Sarah Gordon 09F

Leslie Hiebert 73F

Eddie Mandhry 97F

Adrianna Perry 12F

Jacob Reider 83F P10

Jeff Ritter 78F P14

RJ Sakai 08F

Jinnie Spiegler 80F

Dan Sroka 85F

Brittany Williams 08F

Karla Zarate-Ramirez 92F P16  

Members of Hampshire’s Alumni Advisory Group

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Mission

The mission of the Alumni Advisory Group, established at the invitation of the College President, is to support the mission, values, and philosophy of Hampshire College by building alumni engagement, supporting the College in attaining its fundraising goals, and through its members acting as ambassadors for the College today. The AAG works to establish, maintain, and build mutually beneficial and lifelong connections among alums, and in so doing, strengthens alumni leadership as a College resource.

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