April 19, 2019: Securing Hampshire’s Future: A Letter from Ken Rosenthal

Dear Hampshire Community,

When I agreed to serve as interim president, I knew there would be hard work ahead. We may face new challenges, but I’m confident we are on the right path. This is our chance to secure our future as a College focused on high-impact, lifelong learning. Our world needs more great thinkers, innovators, problem solvers, and experimenters; we need more graduates with ethics, empathy, and a selfless commitment to social justice and community.

We learned of our latest challenge yesterday when we received word that Hampshire’s accreditor, the New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE), is asking us to “show cause” why our College should not be placed on probation or have our accreditation withdrawn. In its upcoming meeting on May 30, 2019, the Commission will consider information that our senior leadership team plans to present, showing that Hampshire remains in full compliance with the two standards of immediate concern to NECHE, related to Organization and Governance, and Institutional Resources.

Here is the response I sent to the Commission yesterday: "Hampshire is taking important steps to operate as a smaller college and to fundraise in support of our mission, guided by our Board of Trustees. We welcome this opportunity to come before the Commission to present our plans as we restructure and financially reinvigorate the College, and to demonstrate that we remain in full compliance with the Commission's standards. Hampshire was reaccredited last year following our decennial evaluation, and we are confident that we will continue to uphold NECHE’s standards."

You’ll recall that Hampshire was reaccredited by NECHE in March 2018 after undergoing a comprehensive evaluation. At the time, the Commission asked Hampshire to continue to report our progress, including on our essential work to improve the College’s financial position. Our meeting next month is an opportunity for us to continue to present our progress as we restructure for a secure future. I’ve provided a link below to NECHE’s full letter.

This year, alums, faculty, staff, students, parents, and friends of the College have come together in support of Hampshire like never before, and we ask for your full, continued support now. This month, I announced we’re launching a major fundraising campaign to raise $20 million this year toward $90-100 million in five years. Ken Burns 71F has now agreed to serve as a campaign chair, and has made a significant pledge. We are inspired by his leadership and trust.

Our trustees, working with our administrators and many campus stakeholders from the Re-envisioning Coalition and beyond, have developed a five-year financial plan to leverage the campaign’s funding and restructure the College. I’m confident in the plan. We will finalize it soon and, when the Board approves it, we’ll share it with our community.

This major campaign will fund Hampshire’s strategic priorities, to

  • improve our student experience and strengthen our campus community,
  • re-invent our academic program, and
  • secure our business model.

Already, two alum-led fundraising organizations—Campaign for Hampshire College and Hampshire Futures—have joined with the College and are working with our advancement staff to ask their donors to deliver their nearly $3 million in pledges to Hampshire. The College has since received more commitments, of $1.7 million, bringing us to a total of close to $4.7 million.

I’m extremely grateful to the passionate volunteers behind these fundraising efforts, and to everyone who has donated and organized to show their love and support for Hampshire. You can help us ensure a thriving Hampshire by giving to our campaign today. We are asking for donations directly to the College; our online giving site is donate.hampshire.edu. We can use the support now more than ever.

We’ve set ambitious goals and we’ll move quickly. At the same time, we’re beginning the difficult process of downsizing and operating as a smaller college for the next couple of years. As I wrote to faculty and staff this week, this couldn’t be harder. We’re committed to supporting employees through this transition. We’re focused on retaining sufficient faculty and staff to provide the academic and student life resources that our projected 600 students will need next year. I am deeply grateful for the faculty and staff who have helped sustain Hampshire and support our students and mission.

I believe in our community, and I believe we can turn this around. Our world needs Hampshire to extend its influence for years to come.

With gratitude,

Ken Rosenthal
Interim President


REFERENCE: Download Letter from NECHE to Hampshire College April 18, 2019