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Letter from Ken Rosenthal, Interim President: July 10, 2019

Interim President Rosenthal updates the community on campus staffing

Dear Hampshire College Community,

As we start our new fiscal year and prepare for what promises to be a transformative school year for Hampshire—leading up to our 50th anniversary in fall 2020—I want to recognize our staff and faculty who have remained with the College under the most fluid, ambiguous, and in some cases severely challenging circumstances. Since I became interim president in April, I’ve seen how difficult and frustrating the work can be on campus, and I’m sorry we haven’t always had easy answers or solutions, with our modest resources.

I am deeply thankful to all our employees for working with me and showing dedication to our students, our College, and our important mission. Retaining colleagues who believe in Hampshire—who are the heart and soul of Hampshire and have invested their careers here—is one of the College’s top priorities. I’m writing to tell you about recent developments that will help us better manage our staffing resources.

I agreed to serve as interim president with the understanding the College would move quickly to find a permanent president. This summer a Presidential Search Committee led a national search that attracted highly qualified candidates whose interest in being our next president is a thrilling endorsement of the College’s mission and consequence to U.S. higher education. Likewise, the national attention we’ve received this year from fellow educators and education media has been validation of Hampshire’s importance and influence.

This week the finalists for president were assessed by more than 35 members of our community representing all constituencies: students, faculty, staff, alums, trustees, and parents. We are hopeful for an announcement from the Board of Trustees within several weeks, and for our new president to begin in early August. I’m committed to staying as long as necessary to ensure a smooth transition.

Because we need to make progress as quickly as possible securing the College’s operations, relaunching Admissions to enroll a 2020 class, and fundraising, I’m making some interim appointments this summer to fill key administrative openings.

After our Chief Financial Officer Mary McEneany accepted a position with another institution, I decided to split her responsibilities in two. Starting this month our director of operations will be Larry Archey, who retired (very young) from Hampshire two years ago as director of facilities. Larry knows us very well as a former insider, and is much loved by many in our community. Larry will be responsible for campus facilities, buildings and grounds, public events, community relations, campus safety and security, and auxiliary services, which includes dining services and the Hampstore.

Our new CFO/treasurer will be Peter Shea, a CPA who worked for 25 years for Amherst College including as treasurer, the college’s chief financial officer. He is retiring this summer after seven years in a similar position at Roxbury Latin School.  Working for Hampshire on a part-time basis, Peter will manage finance, insurance, banking, accounting, I.T., budgeting, and human resources. He is highly qualified and knows Hampshire and the Five Colleges well.

These two appointees will serve at the pleasure of our new president, for at least six months and as long as 24 months.

We are also working with the staffing firm The Registry, which specializes in senior-level temporary appointments, to name an interim chief advancement officer and interim dean of admissions and financial aid, and to fill these vacancies with veteran, highly qualified administrators. Please join me in thanking our outgoing dean of admissions and financial aid, Kristina Moss Gunnarsdóttir, a terrific Hampshire alum who has been working with our Admissions office since 2009. Kristina will begin graduate school at Harvard in September, and in the meantime has graciously agreed to extend her stay through the end of the summer to help develop plans to rebuild Admissions.

With more than 600 students enrolled this fall, it’ll take Hampshire a few years to grow back to our full enrollment capacity, but we’re committed to making progress as quickly as possible.

My goal with these appointments is to ensure the next president will have a strong team in place so he or she can hit the ground running, and transition smoothly when the College is ready to fill those positions permanently.

Hampshire is a young college; our oldest alumni are only about 66 years old. As the College matures and increases our number of alums, we’ve been exponentially growing our assets. One alum told me recently she and her partner were planning to give to Hampshire in their will, but, hearing of our current challenges, they decided to arrange for that money to benefit Hampshire now. We’re deeply grateful for all our alums and friends who believe in Hampshire and have made gifts of any size in support. As we finalize our bookkeeping for the past fiscal year, it's safe to say that, in terms of the sheer volume and pace of donations, we've never seen anything like it: We are well on our way to our ambitious goal of $20 million for 2020. We'll report out our year-end fundraising totals soon.

Our work this year finding solutions to our fiscal challenges and developing new models of teaching and learning promises to be valuable to many small colleges across the country and beyond.

You’ll be heartened to hear that learning has continued on campus this summer, aligned with our mission. Last month the R.W. Kern Center hosted a national symposium on net-zero buildings, demonstrating our ongoing leadership in environmental sustainability. This month we’re teaching students in our annual summer education programs, and next month we’ll again host the 45th annual Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) Summer Conference.

We know the impact of Hampshire and a Hampshire education. The opportunities and challenges presented by our modern world are accelerating faster than ever. Hampshire students benefit from a learning experience that is highly personalized, self-directed, wholly active, and not standardized. They learn the skills and confidence to take the lead solving complex, novel problems using the most original, innovative, out-of-the-box thinking. This work is essential.

Thank you for helping us endure and thrive. Your work is what is making this possible.

Ken Rosenthal
Interim President


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