The Hampshire Fellows Program

When Hampshire opened in 1970, the entering 250 students were predominently first-years, fresh out of high school. The planners felt that an older student presence would be highly beneficial on campus, as well as essential to the ongoing educational experiment, so they created the Hampshire Fellows program. The program was directed by faculty members John Boettiger and, later, Sheila Houle. The Hampshire Fellows were a group of senior students who were admitted to Hampshire College as transfer students during the first three years of the college. They served as teaching assistants, resident advisors, and counselors while each completed his or her own independent work. Their responsibilities were threefold, according to Hampshire College Planning Bulletin #5: The Hampshire Fellows Program: individual study, integrative seminar work, and teaching. In August 1970, 17 students participated in a four-week workshop to discuss and plan for their role in the fall. In addition to their function as experimental Division III students, they had an important role in the planning and conduct of the academic program as it evolved from paper to reality that first year. These were the students who graduated from Hampshire in 1971; some took their degree from Hampshire, and some from their original institution, with a certificate awarded by Hampshire during the first commencement ceremony. Since Hampshire had only just begun, it was a great leap of faith for them to spend their senior year at an experimental institution, as well as a valuable contribution to the formation of the new college.