Official Historian of Hampshire College Ken Rosenthal

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Hampshire Honors Ken Rosenthal for Fifty Years of Service

Hampshire's first treasurer and retiring trustee is honored and named the official Historian of the College

Ken Rosenthal is—as so many extolled him, on May 14, at a celebration of his decades at Hampshire—one of the reasons the College exists.

Official Historian of Hampshire College Ken Rosenthal

He’s also now the official Historian of the College. The title was bestowed as he stepped down as a member of the board of trustees, one of the numerous positions he’s held since 1966, when Hampshire’s first president, Franklin Patterson, and cofounder Charles Longsworth called on him to help bring the school into existence.

“Ken is one of the finest human beings I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing,” said Longsworth, who was the College’s second president. “No one I know has done more for this community than he. How fortunate we are to have had him on our team.”

Speakers at his retirement celebration recalled the many times Rosenthal lent his expertise, whether fund-raising in Washington, D.C., to get the College built, serving as the first treasurer, or welcoming new trustees to the board. Whatever the challenge, the campus’s “most generous-spirited, nicest badass,” in the words of Secretary of the College Beth Ward, got the job done.

“Nothing appeals to him like a complex problem that needs to be solved,” said President Jonathan Lash.

“He would never have been effective at that if he hadn’t believed in what Hampshire is all about,” said Gregory Prince, Hampshire’s fourth president, who praised Ken and the other founders for their vision. “We have inherited something so wonderful because they believed in an idea. Ken, not only did you believe; you executed.”

Rosenthal thanked the crowd for their commitment to Hampshire, and noted that ten or so people in the audience were with him at Hampshire’s opening convocation, in October 1970. He recalled lines from Archibald MacLeish’s talk that day, namely, “The Troubles” affecting higher education in that era are troubles at the heart of human life, troubles in the culture itself, in the civilization. He recounted that, “Hampshire proposes . . . to accept for itself a responsibility for the restoration, for the maintenance, of the difficult balance between society and self.” (Read the address here.)

“That speech sounds eerily like the present,” said Rosenthal. “What Archibald MacLeish said still applies this year.”

In Ken’s honor, the College has established the Rosenthal Fund for Faculty, which will provide start-up funds to support faculty throughout their careers as they develop courses, embark on groundbreaking research, and share the Hampshire model with leaders in higher education. More than a quarter of a million dollars has been raised so far, past board chair Sig Roos told the audience.

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Ken Rosenthal with Board Chair Gaye Hill
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