April 5, 2019: Letter from Luis Hernandez 70F

To the Hampshire community:

You know by now that Miriam Nelson has stepped down as president of Hampshire College. It is with a heavy heart that I accept her resignation. In the nine months she has been with us, Mim has served the College honorably and well, and I am dismayed by what she has had to endure. What Mim tried to do was emphasize that Hampshire’s long-term viability is an existential question, and I hope we can now move toward actually addressing that issue together. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I thank Mim for her efforts and wish her the very best for the future.
I know you have many questions. First and foremost, I am pleased to announce that the Board met earlier today and voted to appoint Kenneth Rosenthal as interim president while the Board works to identify new leadership for the College. When I entered Hampshire in 1970 as a member of the first class, Ken was already here on campus, having helped Chuck Longsworth and Franklin Patterson with the founding and opening of the College. In the intervening 50 years he has always stayed close, advocating for and volunteering on behalf of Hampshire. Ken is the parent of an alum, a former vice chair of the Board of Trustees, and upon his retirement from the Board was named Historian of the College. There is no one better to help bridge this transition.
I also want you to know that today the Board voted to elect me as interim chair of the Board until my term as trustee ends on June 30, 2019. Especially in this role, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Gaye Hill, who resigned last week as chair of the Board of Trustees, and to Kim Saal, who effective today is resigning his post as vice chair of the Board. With their departures we are losing two of Hampshire’s greatest champions. Kim was my classmate and remains my dear friend; Gaye is a wonderful person who exemplifies leadership and decency. Their wisdom and generosity have moved Hampshire forward in more ways than any of us can ever know.

Finally, the Board recognizes that this is a moment for Hampshire to come together and focus wholeheartedly on one path forward. We have been grappling with two possibilities: to keep Hampshire as an independent entity or to move forward with a partnership. The Board today voted to endorse the primary direction of engaging fully in fundraising in support of an independent Hampshire. This must be our unifying principle in the days and weeks ahead.

There will be more news to come, and we will keep you updated. In the meantime, I ask you to keep your focus on one priority: giving Hampshire’s students the best education we can and preparing to celebrate those who will be graduating next month. They are the reason we are all here.

Luis A. Hernandez 70F
Interim Chair

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