Hampshire College today announced that Marlene Gerber Fried will serve as interim president. Current president Ralph Hexter, who announced his transition from the office earlier this month, will be on sabbatical starting September 1, 2010.
A professor of philosophy and director of the Civil Liberties and Public Policy (CLPP) program, Gerber Fried brings strong administrative and scholarly experience to her new role as acting president, as well as deep institutional knowledge.
"We are pleased to announce that Marlene Gerber Fried will be interim president," said Sigmund Roos, chair of the Hampshire College Board of Trustees. "She is a strong leader who exemplifies the best of Hampshire, with a deep commitment to the college and its mission. We are honored that she has agreed to lead the college during this transition time."
"It is an honor to serve the college in this new way," said Gerber Fried. "Hampshire is an extraordinary institution that encourages all members of its community to stretch our knowledge, to challenge ourselves, and to embody our commitment to social justice."
The board of trustees will initiate a formal search process for a new president starting early in the school year. The board hopes to have a permanent president in place by July 1, 2011.
Gerber Fried holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Brown University and master's and bachelor's degrees from the University of Cincinnati.
She focuses in her scholarship and teaching on reproductive rights and public policy. She is coauthor of Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organize for Reproductive Justice, which was awarded the 2004 Outstanding Book Award by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights, and of a chapter in the 2005 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves. She edited the collection From Abortion Rights to Reproductive Freedom: Transforming a Movement.
Known nationally and internationally as a leader in the reproductive rights movement, Gerber Fried serves on the board of the Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights. She was the founding president and continues to serve on the board of the National Network of Abortion Funds and the Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts.
She has been at Hampshire College since 1986. She is the mother of 2000 Hampshire graduate Daniel Gerber Fried and Michael Gerber Fried, a graduate of the University of Maryland.
"I am so grateful to Professor Gerber Fried that she has agreed to serve as acting president during my sabbatical," said Hexter. "Nationally and internationally known as the visionary leader of CLPP and a remarkable teacher and scholar, she fully embodies Hampshire's values. I will assist the acting president in every way to make this transition as seamless as possible and look forward to working with her."
Hexter plans to divide time between Amherst and San Francisco while on sabbatical this year as he transitions out of the Hampshire presidency. A first priority is completion of several scholarly projects including a volume on Medieval Latin language and literature he is co-editing for Oxford University Press.
He will continue to assist in the development of a new group launched earlier this month, LGBTQ Presidents in Higher Education. Hexter was one of the organizers of the group's first meeting and is a member of the steering committee.
Hexter has been president of Hampshire since 2005. Of the college's accomplishments during his leadership, among those he said he is most proud of are expanded opportunities for faculty and students to engage in work in languages other than English, increased first-to-second-year student retention, a successful conclusion of the capital campaign underway when he joined the college, the build-out of a more robust and active alumni network, and a richer online representation of the extraordinary benefits of a Hampshire education.
He also cited a number of projects that contribute to sustainable operations. During his presidency, Hampshire completed fundraising to significantly expand and renovate the Jerome Liebling Center for Film, Photography, and Video. The addition, which is named the Ken Burns Wing, was recently awarded LEED Gold certification for sustainable building construction.
Other sustainability initiatives during Hexter's presidency include a solar canopy, being completed with federal assistance, which will serve as a public education resource. He is a signatory of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment. Hampshire was recognized earlier this week by Sierra Magazine as one of the nation's top 10 "Cool" Schools for its commitment to sustainable operations.