While Hampshire College takes important steps to secure its future, I want to be clear that our Board of Trustees considered multiple reasons for its decision not to admit a full entering class for fall 2019. The prospect of eventual changes in the state’s regulatory environment—which remain, as of now, still undefined—was not a deciding factor.
Among the multiple factors considered, our Board carefully examined Standard Seven of the New England Commission of Higher Education’s accreditation standards, which requires a college or university to demonstrate, “through verifiable internal and external evidence, its financial capacity to graduate its entering class.”
In this sense, the NECHE standard is a much higher bar to clear than any benchmark that reportedly may eventually be utilized by state regulators.
During this time of careful reflection about the College’s resources and mission to serve students, our Board did not have confidence that we could fully meet the NECHE standard. Put another way, we felt we could not at this time make an ironclad commitment to all members of an entering class that they would be able to graduate from Hampshire. Our priority is to provide the highest quality education to and graduate students who are currently enrolled at Hampshire.
For the past nine months, Hampshire has been monitoring the work of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education to protect students. These consumer protection considerations are aligned with our Board’s considerations.
We hope that such a stance is temporary, and that future classes of students will be able to thrive as part of Hampshire’s unique community of learners. We remain optimistic about Hampshire's future and our ability to engage in a mission-aligned partnership, one that will enable us to emerge from our current challenges as a stronger and even more vibrant institution.
Miriam E. Nelson, President