Student painting on the farm

Family Orientation

Family Orientation is an optional, in-depth series of workshops, panels, and informational events designed to give families a deeper understanding of Hampshire College and its resources.

Friday, September 4, 2015


Family Orientation occurs the day after Opening Day. The Family Orientation Fee ($40 per person until August 3 or $45 after August 3) helps offset basic costs of catering and materials. There is no need to pay for your student, as your student will be participating in New Student Orientation. Please note that the College offers individual fee reduction based on financial need; contact alumni and family relations at 413.559.6638 before August 3.

Register now


Schedule (subject to change)

8:30-11:30 a.m.

  • Check-in
    Franklin Patterson Hall, Torrey Courtyard
    Pick up name tags and lunch tickets.

8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

  • Family Lounge
    Franklin Patterson Hall, Faculty Lounge
    At any time families can take a break, enjoy light refreshments, relax, check email, read Hampshire publications, or talk with Hampshire staff and students.

9:00-9:45 a.m.

  • Division I: Creating a Strong Academic Foundation
    Franklin Patterson Hall, Main Lecture Hall
    What is Division I? How is an individualized academic program created by a student and supported by an advisor? What does the journey to academic success look like? Discover how students create their own programs of study from the people who provide support and guidance throughout the first year.
    • Aaron Berman 70F P08 P05, professor of history
    • Melissa Burch, associate professor of cognitive development
    • Laura Melbin, assistant dean of advising
    • Bobbie Stuart, director of central records

  • Academic Panel: Focus on Transfer Students
    Franklin Patterson Hall, East Lecture Hall
    What is a Division II Committee, and how do students get one? How do students transition to Hampshire's academic style? What are the requirements? Families of transfer students have their own specific questions and concerns. Academic support staff talk about how they assist transfer students in moving along the divisional path and help families understand everything from evaluations to graduation.
    • Anne Downes, senior associate dean of advising
    • Rachael Graham, associate director of central records
    • Matt Haley 10F
    • Natalie Sowell, associate professor of theatre

9:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

  • New Student Orientation: Group Activities and Common Reading Discussion with Faculty
    New students participate in activities to introduce them to the College, and then participate in a discussion of the year's common reading.


  • Farm Center Tour
    Meet at the Torrey Courtyard, Franklin Patterson Hall
    How does the Farm Center operate? How do students use the farm in their academic programs? How can students join its CSA? Meet the farm staff and see the vegetable fields, barns, greenhouses, and pastured livestock that make up this vital part of the Hampshire community. Farm-friendly footwear is encouraged.

10:00-10:45 a.m.

  • Separation and Transition Workshop
    Franklin Patterson Hall, Main Lecture Hall
    What can you expect during the student transition to Hampshire? What transitions are common to all families and what else might occur? No matter what stage you’re in, come reflect and laugh with the professionals from our counseling services as they help you prepare for this next phase of your student’s life—and yours.
    • Sara Aierstuck, director of health and counseling services
    • Eliza McArdle, director of counseling services

10:45-11:45 a.m.

  • The New Student Experience
    Franklin Patterson Hall, Main Lecture Hall
    What happens outside the classroom? How are students supported in their adjustment to the residence halls? What opportunities do students have to build community and engage with their interests? How will students know about all of this? Staff on the front line will answer these questions and more, as they give you get a sense of what to expect in your student’s first year.
    Moderator: Jessica Ortiz, director of new student programs
    • Vivianna Alvarez F12, student assistant area coordinator
    • Ellen Bernstein, rabbi and adviser for identity and praxis
    • O.C. Gorman, interim director of multicultural and international student services
    • Emily Rimmer, director for queer/women’s services
    • Kalyn Stroik, Merrill House area coordinator

11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

  • Family Orientation Lunch
    Dining Commons
    Join faculty and staff for lunch prepared by Bon Appétit. Note: Students will be participating in common reading discussions with faculty at this time.

1-2 p.m.

  • Student and Family Resource Fair
    Longsworth Arts Village, under the solar canopy
    Where can students get involved? In what sports can a student participate? What on-campus activities, resources, and programs are available? Students and families can explore offices and meet staff from around the campus.
    • Alumni and Family Relations
    • Campus Leadership and Activities (CLA)
    • Campus Police
    • Career Options Resource Center (CORC)
    • Center for Academic Support and Advising (CASA)
    • Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program (CLPP)
    • Community Advocacy (CA)
    • Community Partnerships for Social Change (CPSC)
    • Creativity Center
    • Critical Studies of Childhood, Youth, and Learning (CYL)
    • Culture, Brain, and Development Program (CBD)
    • Ethics and the Common Good Project
    • Farm Center
    • Global Education Office (GEO)
    • Hampshire Fund
    • Harold F. Johnson Library
    • Health and Counseling Services
    • Housing Operations Office (HOO)
    • Institute for the Study of Interdisciplinary Sciences
    • Information Technology (IT)
    • Media Services
    • New Student Programs
    • Outdoors Program/Recreational Athletics (OPRA)
    • Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (University of Massachusetts Army ROTC)

2-5 p.m.

  • New Student Orientation: Engaging with Intellectual Life Session and Orientation Group Activities
    New students participate in a conversation, facilitated by a member of the faculty, about academics at Hampshire, including an overview of Division I. Transfer students will attend sessions specifically geared to their experience.

2-3 p.m.

  • Student Accounts, Financial Aid, and Work-Study Panel
    Franklin Patterson Hall, East Lecture Hall
    How do ID cards work? What jobs are available on campus? Does your student have to apply for financial aid again next year? Hear from the staff of student financial services about what you should know to make paying bills and securing financial aid easier.
    • Jillian Brown, bursar
    • Janel Johnson, student employment coordinator
    • Jennifer Lawton, director of financial aid

  • Alumni Reel
    Franklin Patterson Hall, Main Lecture Hall
    What types of work are alums in film, television, and video involved in? Come watch this collection of one- to two-minute clips of recent work showcasing the vision and creativity of our alums who work across these media.

3:30-4:30 p.m.

  • Learning, Researching, and Creating
    Harold F. Johnson Library, first floor
    What do students do when they’ve got a research paper, project, film, or other academic project due? How do students interact with source materials and create original content? Meet the professionals who help them with research and media production, using a wide variety of technologies and resources.
    • Angelina Altobellis, archivist and collections curator
    • John Bruner 94F, new media production technician
    • John Gunther 84F P02, manager for advanced media
    • Jennifer Gunter King, director of the library
    • Suzanne Karanikis, circulation supervisor
    • Alana Kumbier, critical social inquiry and digital pedagogy librarian
    • Heather McCann, interdisciplinary science librarian
    • Bonnie Vigeland, humanities and film librarian
    • Neil Young 94F, manager of media services

  • Community Engaged Learning
    Franklin Patterson Hall, Main Lecture Hall
    Community Engaged Learning is a key part of a Hampshire education. All students complete at least two community engaged learning activities during their time at the College. In our community, this engagement takes many forms and  provides opportunities for students to bring new and diverse perspectives into their education. During this session, we discuss the central role community engagement and experiential learning play in Hampshire’s academic model, with a focus on resources available to first-year students. Moderator: Mary Bombardier, assistant dean of community engagement and director of community partnerships for social change
    • Javiera Benavente, director of the ethics and the common good project
    • Beth Mattison 84F, assistant director of the critical studies in childhood, youth, and learning program
    • Lucy Trainor, assistant director of the civil liberties and public policy program

5-7 p.m.

  • Dinner
    Families can eat in the dining hall (pick up meal passes in the family lounge) or take their students off-campus.

Doors open at 7:15 p.m.

  • McKinley E. Melton on “Facing the Fire This Time: James A. Baldwin and a Prophecy Fulfilled?"
    Robert Crown Center, gymnasium
    There are many reasons why James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, this year's common reading for incoming students, equal parts testimony and prophesy, continues to endure more than 50 years after its publication. Baldwin’s essays, framed as they are through personal reflection and social critique, continue to compel readers to challenge the ideas and the institutions to which they have committed themselves. In the contemporary moment, just as in 1963, we are charged with the ever-deepening responsibility to critique and analyze the world around us, and to better understand our place within it. How might Baldwin’s words aid us in the effort to navigate our current conditions? How has his work prepared us for such a time as this?

    McKinley E. Melton, former member of the faculty at Hampshire College (2007-2012), is now an assistant professor of English at Gettysburg College. His teaching interests are in literatures of Africa and the African Diaspora, most specifically 19th- and 20th-century African American literature, and his courses are designed to engage the intersections of social, political, and cultural movements as part of a critical approach to Africana literature. His talk will include an audience Q&A.


If you have further questions about Family Orientation, please email or call 413.559.6638.

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Alumni & Family Relations
Hampshire College
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002
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Fax: 413.559.6764