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$1 Million Gift to Fund Research into Hampshire’'s Educational Impact

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A recent $1 million gift will fund research into the relationship between the character of Hampshire's students and its curriculum, a project aimed at encouraging and sharing the college's most successful educational innovations.

John H. Watts, a member of the Hampshire College Board of Trustees from 1975 to 1991, donated $1 million to establish the Hampshire College "Non Satis Scire" Learning Research Project.

The gift, which will be invested in the college's endowment, will allow Hampshire to examine via ongoing research the connections between Hampshire College's teaching and learning process and its students' initiative, creativity, appetite for ongoing learning, and desire to contribute to society. The project came about after long discussions between Watts and President Ralph Hexter, past Hampshire president Gregory S. Prince Jr., and former Board of Trustees chair Charles Taylor.

"A primary objective is to see what's working well, and thereby help the administration and faculty determine what they're doing right and do more of it. Hampshire was founded as an experimenting institution, but we can do more to identify to what extent the experiment is a success and why. The goal is to better inform Hampshire's ongoing experimentation," said Watts.

"John Watts has been a leader and visionary for the college for many decades, and this most recent contribution allows Hampshire to more effectively build upon its curricular strenths, and to share them with the broader academic community," said President Hexter.

A committee of one faculty advisor and two deans will oversee and advise the project. At least one Hampshire student or recent graduate will lead the project each year, designing the research hypotheses and the project's scope.

For Dean of Enrollment and Assessment Steven Weisler, it's an opportunity to develop essential measures of the qualities of Hampshire graduates, and better gauge how its learning processes affect them: "The point of the grant is to give Hampshire resources needed to document the transformative impact of a Hampshire education. John Watts has a longstanding interest in the college, especially the part of Hampshire's mission that is committed to creativity and preparing students to become people who shape the world around them," said Weisler.

The research findings will be made publicly available on a regular basis. This can both allow Hampshire to analyze its ongoing experimental pedagogy, and enable other colleges and secondary institutions to determine if some of Hampshire's findings can be useful in their own curricula.

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