See our updates on planning for Fall 2020.


A Flower in the Hampshire College Greenhouse

News & Events

Updates on Covid-19 Novel Coronavirus

Hampshire is continuing our efforts to keep the community healthy and to monitor Coronavirus COVID-19

Prevention

Please remember to practice preventive health and social distancing as recommended by the CDC, including:

  • Careful and frequent hand washing or cleaning with hand sanitizer.
  • Social distancing: Staying at least six feet away from other people and avoiding crowds and large gatherings. Where possible, work remotely and avoid crowded public spaces.
  • If you are sick, don’t spend time in any public spaces. Stay at home and self-isolate until all your symptoms are gone. This could be as long as 14 days.
  • Carefully disinfect and clean high-touch items.
  • Get an updated annual flu vaccine.

Responding to and Reporting Potential Cases of Covid-19

Patients with respiratory symptoms—sore throat, nasal congestion, fever, cough, or shortness of breath—are best triaged over the phone by medical staff. For mild to moderate symptoms, do not walk into a health office without calling first or enter any public spaces in order to limit risk of exposure to others.

If you have severe symptoms, including any difficulty breathing, call 911 for emergency response.

Students

Students who have left campus, please call your primary care provider for medical care. All students remaining in residence seeking medical care must call the Health Services office first. Contact Hampshire Health Services during normal business hours Monday–Friday 413.559.5458—this number may also be used for counseling and mental health services. After-hours medical advice is available 24/7 through UMass Triage 413.577.5229 or 413.577.5000.

Students, please contact Hampshire Health Services if you’ve been tested for Covid-19, to help us assess any impact on fellow community members.

Download Student Table for more information.

Employees

Please contact your primary care provider(s) for medical and mental health care.

When you are not able to work for Covid-19-related circumstances affecting you or a family member, please contact Hampshire Human Resources (email jtHR@hampshire.edu) and your supervisor. Our employee assistance program, e4Health, has many benefits and supports for all employees and their immediate family members—800.828.6025.

Download Employee Table for more information.


June 18, 2020

Dear students and families,

This spring and summer have brought grief and outrage but also renewed energy, hope, and movement toward building a more just and sustainable society. At Hampshire, we are working to identify and dismantle the structures of implicit bias and white supremacy that have marked our own institution and to live up to our ideals as a college committed to social justice and equity. Our faculty are building a curriculum that engages students to address racism, pandemics, climate change, and other crucial problems of our time, and to respond to them with creativity and determination.

We are applying the same creative thinking to the challenge of designing a safe, meaningful college experience in the face of COVID-19. This fall, we expect to welcome all of our new and returning students to campus. Our clear plans will create an environment that preserves the immense benefits of a residential campus while minimizing opportunities for potential transmission of the virus. We will provide a comprehensive range of programming to support community engagement and connection, following guidelines for safe social distancing when in person, and also offering online options such as lectures, presentations and interactive discussions.

New Dates for Fall Semester

Fall classes will now begin on August 25 and end on November 20, the Friday prior to Thanksgiving. Once students arrive on campus, they will be expected to remain until the end of classes. There will not be an extended fall break. Please note we are not shortening the fall calendar; we are starting and finishing earlier and compressing the calendar by eliminating breaks, allowing us to teach a full semester within a compressed time frame. Students are welcome to remain in residence through the end of the term in early December, as long as they remain on campus during the Thanksgiving Break. Students who leave campus for Thanksgiving will not return until the beginning of the spring term.

Faculty are currently building course options and schedules that provide for adaptability and support to meet students’ needs. The course registration process is still in flux, as faculty at Hampshire and the other Five Colleges redesign and reschedule their courses. We are coordinating with our Five College partners so that Hampshire students may continue to take courses at the other institutions, though likely only in an online mode. As soon as these issues are settled, we will let you know and provide updated information about course registration.

Safe On-Campus Living

Every Hampshire student will have their own single room. Occupied rooms will be spread out within campus residences, maintaining all areas below 50% capacity. The number of students sharing any bathroom will be strictly limited. Our food services are prepared for in-person dining, pick-up meals, or food delivery, depending on the state guidelines in place in the fall. Making sure every student has the space to maintain social distancing in their daily living situation is the minimum expectation any college should have in order to open – we will more than meet that standard.

Accommodations for Learning

Academic courses and student activities will observe social distancing guidelines while providing ample opportunity for the sort of interaction and personalized attention that characterizes a Hampshire education. We will hold seminar meetings in rooms that accommodate adequate spacing and will follow guidelines for facial coverings. We are expanding the course schedule so that class meetings can be spread out to reduce traffic within academic buildings. Every class will be designed to include online options to accommodate changing circumstances without disrupting the academic experience, and to accommodate the use of spaces and equipment in areas with limited capacity for social distancing. Student activities and co-curricular opportunities are being thoughtfully designed to support vibrant programs while respecting limits on gathering sizes and space usage.

Ensuring Health and Wellness

Hampshire has a strong plan in place to address medical concerns. The Hampshire COVID-19 response team is in the process of evaluating several state and national recommendations for campus testing programs. The group will have detailed plans for student COVID-19 screening testing requirements for before and after return to campus. There will also be ample same-day symptomatic COVID-19 testing available on campus this fall. Expect to see more information about testing in the next two weeks.

There are plans in place for designated isolation or quarantine housing, along with dining, medical, and residential support for students who may need to be in quarantine because of COVID-19 exposure on campus this fall semester.

Hampshire has an extraordinarily dedicated faculty and staff, a spacious campus, access to state-of-the-art medical services, and a commitment to experimentation, creativity, and problem solving. Few other colleges have these advantages, which is why we are so confident that, if any colleges are open for in-person learning in the fall, we will lead the way.

Djola Branner, Vice President for Student Affairs 
Professor of Theatre

Christoph Cox, incoming Dean of Faculty & Vice President for Academic Affairs
Professor of Philosophy

May 13, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty, Staff,

Yesterday afternoon the faculty voted to award the Bachelor of Arts degree to 289 graduating Division III students. On Friday the Board of Trustees will approve the conferral of degrees to our graduates, and on Saturday we will celebrate their achievement virtually. I invite everyone to attend. In any year, Commencement is both a celebration of the students who have completed their individual journeys through Hampshire College and a recognition that everyone in our community is essential to making those journeys possible. Our graduates, and all of our students, were successful during these unprecedented conditions because of the extraordinary efforts of everyone at Hampshire. I look forward to congratulating our 2020 graduates and hope everyone will take the opportunity to celebrate along with them. We all deserve some communal joy.

I also encourage you to participate in the Division III Showcase taking place this week (details on the Commencement webpage). Among the many regrets of our remote spring, the absence of in-person Div III presentations was profoundly missed. Our students do exceptional work—we are all incredibly fortunate to be able to share in their process and learn from their passions. I am thankful that we will recreate some of that excitement over the next several days.

I hope that next fall and spring, our campus will be filled with Div III presentations and Div Free bell ringing. Many in our community continue to work creatively and quickly to make an in-person Hampshire possible and safe next year. One of these groups is the Academic Continuity committee, established in late April to determine how best to prepare the campus and the academic program for the 2020-21 school year. The work of the committee is divided into two phases. In the first phase, a group of thirteen faculty and staff explored a wide range of curricular models and are narrowing these to a small set of options that are best for Hampshire. In the second phase, this committee will add another ten faculty, staff, and students to refine these models and prepare them for implementation.

The first phase concludes this week. In determining the best course of action for Hampshire, the committee considered more than a dozen different curricular models and examined their impacts on the health and safety of the community, the needs of the new curriculum, faculty and student workload, college finances, information technology, the academic calendar, and other considerations. The group also paid close attention to the planning of the other Five College institutions and that of other regional colleges and universities.

In this first phase, the committee determined that it is in the best interests of the College and its community to bring students back to campus next year, to institute regular testing for the virus, and to establish firm policies regarding off-campus travel and social distancing in and out of the classroom. The committee has also concluded that, to ensure the safety and participation of as many students and faculty as possible, all courses should be hybrid (both face-to-face and remote) and, in some cases where necessary, taught remotely. The committee will make specific recommendations about course scheduling and the academic calendar that reflect these goals. The second phase of intensive planning will commence the week of May 18. The College must develop policies to ensure health and safety for the entire campus as we prepare for in-person operations. That work will require close collaboration with the Emergency Response Team and employees across the College to ensure coordinated efforts. It is essential that this planning work happens quickly and with focus.

The Board of Trustees will meet this weekend to take up the regular business of the spring meeting, held annually leading up to Commencement. The Board has assembled almost weekly throughout the spring, and will continue to meet regularly. As the College develops a budget for 2020-2021 and resolves the challenges to our financial planning posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic disruptions, the Board will continue its efforts to ensure our success, and the long-term viability of our mission.

Hampshire, like every college and university, faces substantial challenges because of the current global crisis. My foremost goal as president is to ensure that Hampshire College will not merely survive these challenges but emerge as a more stable institution, one that pursues its identity as an experimenting college with courage and ingenuity. Our mission is “to transform higher education.” Living up to that mission means transforming ourselves and building the future that students deserve. I remain confident in that outcome, while acknowledging that reaching that point will impose additional burdens on our staff, administrators, and faculty. I recognize that Hampshire has already asked a great deal of all who work here and all who support the College. I am sorry that so much continues to be asked. I hope the celebration of our graduates this weekend, and the imagination of many commencements to come, offers inspiration for the future.

Ed Wingenbach
President

May 5, 2020

Dear Hampshire Community,

As we complete the 2019-20 academic year this week, marked both by historic progress for Hampshire and unprecedented challenges presented by Covid-19, we’re receiving many questions about Hampshire’s plans for our next academic year.

As long as the State of Massachusetts allows colleges to open, which seems likely, Hampshire fully intends to welcome students to campus in the fall. Hampshire has some significant advantages for ensuring health and safety of our students on campus, and has already taken steps this spring to institute protocols.

We’re projecting enrollment of 550-600 students on our 800+ acre campus, making social distancing viable. Our class sizes are small, allowing students and professors to spread out in classrooms.

Our students have single rooms, and we have surplus housing for quarantine or isolation if necessary. Thankfully we have had no confirmed cases among students on campus this spring, and we instituted protocols to support a small number of quarantined students as they awaited test results.

Hampshire Health and Counseling Services benefits from a long partnership with UMass Amherst Health Services. Under Director Sara Aierstuck, we have maintained services for students by offering telehealth for both medical and counseling visits. This spring we have offered students on-campus Covid-19 testing (PCR test) in an outside triage tent on campus and now offer antibody testing as well. By the summer, we are planning to have same day rapid testing for Covid-19 infection and antibodies. And our staff is experienced in contact tracing and notification of close contacts.

I have directed our Covid-19 Emergency Response Team and newly formed Academic Continuity working group to plan for all contingencies for the fall, more on that below.

Altogether, Hampshire's circumstances are ideal to open safely in the fall and maximize community health. If we are unable to open, I cannot imagine any college will.

Campus Health Notice: Masks/Face Coverings

Massachusetts Governor Baker has issued an order effective tomorrow, May 6, requiring masks/face coverings in public places where social distancing is not possible. Starting tomorrow on campus, all students, employees and visitors must wear a mask/face covering in the Hampstore, post office, and dining commons, and at all times when social distancing of approximately six feet is not possible, indoors and outdoors. A face covering is anything that covers your nose and mouth, including scarves and bandanas. Exceptions are allowed for those unable to wear a mask/face covering due to a medical condition and children under the age of two. See more from the Department of Public Health.

For our students remaining on campus and small number of employees working on campus, you can find masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer at the Hampstore, its hours are weekdays noon – 2pm.  The College’s emergency funding for students may be used for these purchases. There are many online videos about how to DIY fabric masks, and the CDC has posted guidance on how to wear and make a cloth face covering.


Some employees require Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including masks for job-specific tasks, and it’s available by contacting your supervisor. Hampshire’s employee guidelines for campus work during Covid-19 were posted on April 14 and are still in place.

Update on Providing Shelter for Town of Amherst

Last month, we had offered available space in Dakin for the Town of Amherst to use as an isolation and quarantine shelter for townspeople experiencing homelessness. The town recently tested all homeless individuals and workers at the Craig’s Doors shelter in town, and all tests were negative for Covid-19, so the town will not need use of Dakin. Thank you again to our staff from Campus Safety and Security, Facilities, Dining, and Residential Life and for everyone at Hampshire who supported our effort to protect our most vulnerable population during this pandemic. We will be prepared if we are called on again to support our community during this crisis.

Emergency Response and Academic Community

I have directed our Covid-19 Emergency Response Team and newly formed Academic Continuity working group to plan for all contingencies for the fall and to coordinate closely in their work.

Hampshire’s Covid-19 Emergency Response Team continues to meet twice a week and has turned its attention to developing processes for employees to return to work once the Governor’s stay-at-home order is lifted, possibly beginning May 18, recognizing that some employees have children and family at home who will need care. The team is also preparing for the College’s anticipated reopening including college operations, student life, and college-sponsored travel by employees and students in late summer or fall.
The Academic Continuity working group is developing models in the event we need to deliver remote/hybrid teaching for 2020-21, to ensure the models are feasible from both a curricular and financial perspective. Chaired by Incoming Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs Christoph Cox, the working group is proceeding in two phases:

  • The first phase began two weeks ago with six faculty and six staff working toward generating two or three viable models by mid-May. They are consulting regularly with the Health and Counseling Services director and other on-campus experts, and also monitoring the plans of our Five College partners.
  • The second phase will begin in mid-May and will involve an additional five faculty and five staff working to refine these models and prepare them for implementation.

Student Emergency Fund

Since we established a student emergency fund a few weeks ago for students struggling with unexpected financial expenses brought on by Covid-19, nearly 250 students have submitted requests, and the College has approved $286,120 in disbursements. The fund utilizes emergency aid that the College received from the federal government’s CARES Act, plus funding for international students in need from Sontag-Miller/SAF. Students who have not already applied may still submit emergency funding requests until June 1.

Summer Housing

While Hampshire is not staffed to provide summer housing for students, Student Affairs has developed criteria to house a small number of students who need to stay on campus during the summer. We are approving students:

  • who have identified themselves as homeless
  • who have reported their home/family would put them in danger
  • who are international students and cannot travel home

We will hire two-three students as resident assistants, plus one full-time area coordinator to start in June to help live-in staff with on-call coverage.

Virtual Commencement and Div III Showcase

Our Dean of Faculty’s Office is leading the planning for our virtual Commencement and Division III Showcase events next week, with many collaborators and contributors across campus. On Thursday and Friday May 14-15, Hampshire will host a virtual Division III showcase featuring presentations by many graduating students. Our virtual Commencement will take place Saturday May 16, at 11 a.m. Invitations will be distributed this week, and the final schedule and viewing details will be posted on commencement.hampshire.edu.

We’re planning to follow the virtual Commencement with an in-person ceremony for 2020 graduates as part of our 50th Anniversary event, scheduled for Oct. 16-18 weekend.

Ed Wingenbach

President

April 17, 2020

Dear Students,

Hampshire College remains focused on our students’ health and well-being. This week the College established a Student Emergency Fund for current students who are struggling with unexpected financial expenses or hardship brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting transition to remote learning. Hampshire designed the fund to provide students in these circumstances with temporary, short-term financial assistance, utilizing emergency aid that the College has received from the federal government’s CARES Act.

Hampshire’s Student Emergency Fund is overseen by our Division of Student Affairs. Requests for assistance must be necessary, reasonable, and related to Covid-19 impacts, and may be retroactive reimbursement of related expenses incurred starting in March. Areas considered for support include but are not limited to:

  • Travel: unexpected expenses of emergency travel
  • Technology: to support remote learning
  • Living expenses: including food, housing, medical care and counseling, hygiene products, medications, eyeglasses, and hearing aids
  • Course materials: books and academic materials related to courses and divisional work
  • Summer: including housing impacts beyond May 17 such as international students unable to travel home

Students may request a maximum amount of $2,000 but can add to an initial request if emergency expenses continue beyond May 17.

Please complete the Hampshire Application for Student Emergency Funds. You will be asked to certify that your request is for expenses related to Covid-19 impacts. These emergency funds may be taxable to students, so the College is required to send students a 1099 at the end of the calendar year for tax purposes. You are encouraged to retain your receipts and other supporting documents.

If you have questions, please contact deanofstudents@hampshire.edu. We also welcome suggestions for other ways the college can be supportive of students during this challenging time.

Djola Branner
Vice President for Student Affairs

April 8, 2020: Financial Planning for Pandemic Impacts

Dear Hampshire College Community,

In this challenging time, I am especially grateful for the caring support of the Hampshire community. Over the past three weeks, we have weathered extraordinary changes in our world, our lives, and here at Hampshire. Indeed, colleges and universities, private and public institutions, small and large schools are all being stretched by this unprecedented crisis. We cannot yet know the impacts of the pandemic in terms of admissions, enrollment, operations, fundraising, and more.

In spite of the many unknowns, we are adapting our financial plans to address the problems presented by Covid-19, responding to fast-changing circumstances with imperfect information. In the short term, we’re prioritizing what’s in the best interest of our employees and students. Long term, our priority is to preserve Hampshire as an autonomous, experimenting institution that continuously pursues our mission to transform higher education. While it may not be easy, and difficult decisions will be required, I am confident we'll be successful.

Hampshire has distinct advantages—we are creative, innovative, and experimenting, and not burdened by rigid requirements. We're partners in a major, distinguished consortium. I believe these better position us to survive this trying period.

Obviously, the timing is difficult. We endured a major disruption a year ago, and are now in year one of a five-year plan to achieve a balanced budget and long-term sustainability. Fortunately, we based our plan on conservative projections across several key elements:

  • Launching a reinvented academic program and student experience next fall to increase value for students while, just as importantly, controlling our expenses
  • Reducing our operating budget to sustainable levels, offset by a five-year, $60 million fundraising campaign
  • Rebuilding enrollment year by year to full enrollment by 2023-2024, based on reasonable, conservative projections.

The pandemic will likely have significant implications for our plan, especially in relation to revenue. Given the uncertainty, we are responding with a three-tiered approach:

  • Triage. We’re maintaining operations and continuing to deliver a quality personalized education this semester through teleworking, remote learning, and creative forms of virtual community-building and engagement.
  • Short-term planning. We’re assessing implications for our current revenues and securing the College's finances through the end of the fiscal year in June. Our revenues this year will be impacted by room and board reimbursement, event postponements and cancellations, donors deferring gifts due to market instability, and increased student financial need. For this fiscal year, we anticipate that lost revenue and emergency costs may have a $1.2 million negative impact on our budget. This could increase depending on the duration of the pandemic.  We’re analyzing how these reductions may be countered by federal and state economic stimulus packages. We are in regular contact with our education association partners and we’re planning to leverage the aid that will help colleges replace lost revenue through grants and other means.
  • Long-term planning. We’re scenario-planning, considering the consequences of the pandemic on student behavior, the economy, and higher education as a whole. I’ve asked a group of trustees and senior leaders to work with me to develop a range of possible scenarios and to create financial models. As the depth and severity of the pandemic's consequences become more apparent, we will be prepared to act quickly to ensure that Hampshire persists as an autonomous college.

This spring we sent acceptance letters inviting approximately 650 students to join our 50th anniversary class in the fall, when we hope to enroll a total student body of 600. Hampshire is engaging with all our accepted students this spring through virtual accepted student day events and via direct personal communications featuring faculty, staff, students, and alums, to invite them to join our community.

We’re continuing to raise funds through our Change in the Making: A Campaign for Hampshire initiative, and assessing the impact of the pandemic on our philanthropic support. We’re asking all those who care deeply about Hampshire to please continue to prioritize the College in their giving this year.

If there is one thing I know for certain, the events of this spring demonstrate the genuine importance of Hampshire’s educational approach. Responding to a global pandemic requires citizens who look at a problem or question well beyond the limits of disciplines. Addressing the pandemic involves science, health, politics, history, psychology, arts, music, the media, storytelling, and more. An end to this epidemic will require leaders grounded in ethical decision-making, trained in entrepreneurial approaches and able to ask new questions. It’s a perfect example of the value of Hampshire’s transdisciplinary approach.

While Covid-19 may be an extreme test, it illustrates an essential point—every significant and meaningful challenge our graduates will encounter will require them to grapple with complexity and uncertainty, and develop creative solutions. A Hampshire College education is designed with these skills at the center. It’s one reason why I believe our model is unrivaled in higher education.

I welcome your input on how we may work together to continue to plan for Hampshire’s future.

Ed Wingenbach
President

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