A letter from President Wingenbach to our campus community
Dear Hampshire College Community,
Since I joined Hampshire I’ve been asked why I left a tenured position to lead a college that is rebuilding its enrollment and revenues and working to restore the faith of its community. My decision is affirmed every day I’m here. It’s affirmed by the more than 700 Hampshire students who have chosen to return this fall to continue their studies here, having weathered the uncertainty of last spring, and by the high school students who have already applied for our incoming class next fall, since we relaunched applications through the Common App this month.
And my decision is affirmed by some 300 staff and faculty who have committed to working here, and the thousands of alums and donors who have stepped up in record numbers to support the College with their time and resources, voices and hearts.
We are all part of this community because we believe in Hampshire’s unique mission and influence.
In my first weeks on campus I’ve been meeting with groups of faculty and staff so I can learn what they love about Hampshire, and how they see its core identity, essential values, strengths, challenges, and future. It’s been wonderful to hear these discussions and to see colleagues passionately agree or negotiate their differences.
What I’ve gathered so far is that our community members want Hampshire to live its distinctive mission, they want our students to flourish, and they are eager to experiment, innovate, and take risks to build a Hampshire that will thrive for the next 50 years.
As a long-time faculty member, I’m not surprised to see the commitment of Hampshire’s faculty. I am inspired to see that Hampshire’s staff are equally invested in student success and see themselves as essential partners in support of the student experience. This is a great distinction and strength for the College.
A Year of Renewal and Invention
While we’re working to rebuild to our full enrollment capacity, Hampshire faces significant revenue challenges over the next few years. Addressing these challenges will require sustaining our fundraising momentum from the spring, at record levels for Hampshire. I’m working with the senior team and the Board to carefully manage the College's budget amid reduced revenues. Our resources must be thoughtfully allocated to three core commitments: ensuring the quality of our student experience, recruiting new students, and fundraising to secure Hampshire's future.
Our Academic Affairs division has worked hard to maintain our academic program, ensuring sufficient course seats and advisers for our students and their individualized programs. Likewise Student Affairs will deliver a quality residential experience this year across housing, dining, and student life. Our facilities team is making sure residences, buildings, and roadways are in good shape as they landscape, paint, and clean to ensure a welcoming campus.
On Labor Day weekend, we’ll welcome our new students and their families with a weekend Orientation led by student leaders, followed by the return of all students by September 3. I’m hoping to meet many students in the coming weeks by hosting open office hours, eating a weekly dinner or two in the dining hall, and attending events and meetings of student groups and residences.
This promises to be a year of renewal and invention. Hampshire’s trustees, philanthropic supporters, accreditors, alums, and partners are expecting us to deliver a compelling, innovative, realistic plan for our future, one that exemplifies our identity as an experimenting college and presents a model for others in higher ed. This semester we’ll work together to create a roadmap for our next four to five years and beyond. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape Hampshire’s future.
I’ve invited our community to help launch Hampshire’s next 50 years, starting with a celebratory event for students, faculty, and staff on Tuesday September 3, including a community lunch and a chance to share and collaborate on ideas. Hampshire alums are invited to a similar event via video conference on Thursday, September 12.
These events will lead to ongoing, regular meetings through October as we work together to create a promising, viable vision and plan. This is critical to our admissions recruiting and fundraising.
Our Admissions office is rebuilding its capacity and filling open staff positions. They have communicated with thousands of guidance counselors, and thousands of students who inquired the past two years. You can help by encouraging your networks of prospective high school and transfer students to:
• Apply via the Common App
• Join Our Mailing List
• Schedule a Campus Visit
You can refer a student using our Refer a Student Form
We expect to soon announce a Chief Advancement Officer, and I’m developing relationships with our community members who are interested in giving to the College and have asked to hear our plans. I’m making the case that Hampshire remains a meaningful investment, both for the students we shape and the society they transform.
I hope you will join our efforts this fall and support Hampshire as we invent the future, again.