Aerial view of center of campus in autumn

News & Events

Fall 2020 Update from the President

We have given ourselves the opportunity to make Hampshire work under unexpected conditions, and, with continuing vigilance and creativity, we will continue this success

Dear students, staff, and faculty,

As we pass the middle of the fall semester, we should recognize both how much effort was required to make it possible for our community to gather (mostly) in person, and how impressively Hampshire has risen to the challenge of keeping one another safe. It was never certain that we would be able to make this happen — dedication, ingenuity, and care for fellow humans made it possible. This semester may not be the one any of us would have chosen, absent a pandemic. But we have given ourselves the opportunity to make Hampshire work under unexpected conditions, and, with continuing vigilance and creativity, we will continue this success. Thank you to everyone for making this fall viable.

Last fall our community gathered to invent, again, the future of higher education, to take the risk to design a Hampshire College that once more defines how colleges should respond to the present era. We inspired one another to think without boundaries, as staff, faculty, students, and alums created together. That work culminated almost exactly one year ago, as a consensus vision emerged: building on the existing strengths, we would develop a radically transdisciplinary framework to explore the personal, local, and global challenges of the twenty-first century through an evolving set of challenge areas responsive to the changing world. We will revitalize the promise of the liberal arts that only an integration of the arts, humanities, natural, and social sciences can tackle the existential issues facing our world. Hampshire College alone has the courage to make that promise a reality.

We have been working thoughtfully, strategically, and intensively ever since to make this vision real. Our progress, across the College, has been significant. Animated by our experimenting mission, we will continue to build, to invent, to imagine, and to take chances. I am confident that, together, we are creating a student experience that will both revolutionize the liberal arts and attract outstanding students.

Underpinning our approach is a clearly articulated set of metrics that will allow Hampshire to survive and thrive into our next half century:

  • Developing and implementing the reinvented Hampshire student experience;
  • Adopting an operating budget for 2020-2021 of $33.5 million, developed to support core objectives of each division and reflecting significantly smaller enrollment;
  • Maintaining the 2020-2021 operating budget as a baseline for future expenditures, adjusting for inflation and enrollment growth;
  • Returning to full enrollment by 2023-2024, at a pace consistent with reasonable and historically justified enrollment and retention goals;
  • Continuing to attract a diverse population of students who will thrive at Hampshire, and thus proactively planning for continuing modest declines in net revenue per student;
  • By June 30, 2024, raising $60 million, of which two-thirds or more is unrestricted operating support.

This fiscal year we have three ambitious goals we are hoping to achieve to maintain progress:

  • Raise $11 million in new gifts and commitments towards our Change in the Making campaign;
  • Recruit and yield a class of 350 new students for Fall 2021;
  • Fully develop, clarify, and strengthen the new academic program.

Some concrete markers of our significant progress on this shared project include:

  • Embedding new Div I seminars in our Learning Collaboratives;
  • Raising significant contributions in cash and pledges since the beginning of the fundraising campaign;
  • Launching major 50th anniversary events and a founder’s fundraising challenge for alumni from 1970–1975;
  • Refreshing Hampshire’s marketing and branding with a launch of new materials in early November;
  • Expanding and reimagining Community Education Days to further emphasize an anti-racist agenda;
  • Fully staffing the admissions team using data driven strategies and tactics to attract and enroll a class for fall of 2021.

We’ve done all this while enrolling 524 students and welcoming nearly 425 of them back to campus, protecting the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff through our commitment to the Community Care Agreement, and innovating our classrooms and programming.

We need to continue academic planning, including clarifying the key questions, problems, and/or challenges that each learning collaborative will focus on for 2021-2022. We must maintain an emphasis on our anti-racist commitments, both as essential elements of our curriculum and reforming our institutional culture, policies, and practices. Finally, we need to plan for a robust spring semester, ensuring that the students attending Hampshire have the best possible access to the benefits of a residential education given the challenge of the pandemic, including developing compelling student life programs and activities and providing clarity about what portion of our courses will occur in person.

This work is challenging, exhilarating, and, for me, deeply rewarding. I believe that Hampshire College is the most important institution in American higher education. We endeavor to show the best of what the liberal arts has to offer, while shedding the unnecessary constraints placed upon undergraduate education by the industry.

Ed Wingenbach

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