Hampshire Announces Eighth President is Ed Wingenbach, Accomplished Scholar

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For the past six months, he has served as acting president of Ripon College in Wisconsin, the venerable liberal arts college where he has been vice president and dean of faculty and a professor of politics and government since 2015. Previously, he served for 15 years as an administrator and faculty leader at the University of Redlands in California.

“For 50 years, Hampshire College has represented all that is best in higher education,” Wingenbach said in accepting the appointment. “I see my charge as helping to reinvigorate its proud legacy of innovation, because its example is too important, and there are too many students who need and want its high-impact, individualized, student-driven education. I believe in Hampshire and I’m excited to help lead it into its second half-century.”

He added, “It’s time to put Hampshire back on your college tour list. Come visit this summer or fall.“

Hampshire’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously for Wingenbach’s appointment last Friday after a formal recommendation from the presidential search committee chaired by trustee Ellen Sturgis and comprising faculty, students, staff, trustees, and alumni. The Board’s goal was to name a new president this summer to help guide the College in securing its operations, planning for its future, and preparing for the coming academic year.

Chair of the Board Luis Hernandez, an educational consultant who was a member of Hampshire’s first class in 1970, commented, “We welcome Ed to Hampshire, he embodies the many ideals that our students, staff, faculty, and alumni bring to our community. We are ready to support him in our important next steps forward and to work together with a sense of renewal and hope. “

Since its founding in the 1960s by Amherst, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges and the University of Massachusetts Amherst—its partners in the Five Colleges—Hampshire has remained a national innovator and leader in empowering students to design their own degree program and learn by active inquiry, mentored by faculty.

In his fifteen years at the University of Redlands, Wingenbach aligned his teaching with the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies, which practices a similar individualized learning model to Hampshire’s. Originally founded as an independent college in 1969, the Johnston Center emerged from the same philosophy as Hampshire, of guiding students to direct their own learning. Both institutions belong to the Consortium for Innovative Environments in Learning (CIEL), a working group promoting best practices around education reform and experiential learning. Wingenbach believes this high-impact model is more relevant to today’s global challenges than ever, preparing graduates with skills for the most creative, meaningful work and a lifetime of learning.

Since its founding, Hampshire’s innovations have had broad impact on higher education and beyond. The College has:

•  elevated the practice of learning through experience, by questioning the passivity of large lecture classes, and instead enabling students to take initiative and become active producers of knowledge

•  replaced grades with written assessments that are constructive, formative, and instructive

•  broken down barriers between departments and invited students and faculty to work freely across disciplines and pioneer new transdisciplinary approaches

•  replaced mass advising with close mentoring by faculty who often collaborate with students on research, projects, conferences, and publications

•  elevated the role of community-based learning, service learning, and global learning

•  required 100% of graduates to complete a capstone project or thesis, resulting in students developing innovations, creating new research, finding new data and information, and publishing new ideas

•  helped to establish the Five College Consortium and advocate for the social and educational value of open collaboration among institutions

Wingenbach, who as president will also be a member of Hampshire’s faculty, is a strong proponent of this approach. “I find Hampshire’s model of education to be thrilling,” he said, “I have seen how it utterly transforms the lives of students, faculty, and staff.”


In January, 2019, Ripon College’s Board of Trustees appointed Ed Wingenbach to serve as acting president during President Zach Messittee’s spring sabbatical. Concurrently, Ripon’s chief financial officer left the college, so Wingenbach acted in both capacities. He worked with the Board and senior leadership to develop a campus-wide strategic planning process and predictive modeling for enrollment, retention, and net revenue, and oversaw Ripon’s $26 million operating budget.

Founded in 1863, Ripon College enrolls some 800 students and is a member of the prestigious Associated Colleges of the Midwest alongside Beloit College, Carleton College, Colorado College, Grinnell College, and others. Its endowment is $92 million.

Wingenbach, 49, has been a dynamic and effective administrator at Ripon, where his leadership helped increase the size of the incoming class by 28% from 2015 to 2018, while maintaining stable net tuition, improving its national profile, and putting the college on a stronger footing financially.

As vice president and dean of faculty, Wingenbach acted as the chief academic officer and was responsible for the leadership of the faculty and the management and development of the academic program. He also oversaw athletics, career and professional development, sustainability, and sponsored research, and a budget of some $12 million.

Wingenbach acquired significant external support for Ripon, including from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. As both an administrator and faculty leader, he has significant experience in fundraising, working with foundations, major donors, and givers at all levels.

Wingenbach guided Ripon through several transformative projects:

1. He led the faculty in developing the new Catalyst core curriculum, employing traditional liberal arts approaches to teach essential skills graduates need to be lifelong learners and successful professionals. In Catalyst’s Applied Innovation Seminar, groups of students spend a semester grappling to solve a large, real-world issue.

2. Wingenbach prioritized diversifying the college community, and increased the number of faculty of color substantially. He guided Ripon in refocusing the College’s mission on serving low-income and first-generation students, generating measurable success: the 2018 entering class was 43% Pell-eligible and 49% first-generation, had a stronger academic profile than previous classes, and was the largest entering class in a decade. He led the development of a new diversity seminar required of all students.

3. He led the faculty through a collaborative process of reallocating staffing and resources to balance the budget. Over the course of three years Ripon reduced the Academic Affairs budget by approximately 15%, and reduced faculty size by 20%, while reshaping the curriculum to match.

He also established the Office of Career and Professional Development and new degree partnerships and pathways.

Previously, at the University of Redlands, Wingenbach was associate provost for academic affairs, faculty chair of the Department of Government, and director of the International Relations Program. There, he led efforts to expand international recruitment of students and faculty, improve success of sponsored research, expand community-based learning, and increase the use of data for student success. The University honored him with an award for distinguished service, and students selected him as their commencement speaker.

Wingenbach’s own experience with personalized, experiential learning began as an undergraduate at Lake Forest College in Illinois, where he chose a program similar to Hampshire’s, designing his own course of study and completing a major thesis research project. That experience gained him admission to the University of Notre Dame in Indiana where he earned a master’s degree and doctorate in government and international studies.


Wingenbach’s research interests include contemporary political theory, democratic theory, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. His research has been published in books and premier journals of political science including The Journal of Politics, and the American Journal of Political Science.

He has been a frequent speaker nationally including at annual meetings of the Association of American Colleges and Universities and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, on such topics as improving success for low-income students, reforming curricula, implementing inquiry-based learning, and engaging students in conversations about oppression and inequality.

One focus of both his scholarly work and management practice has been radical and participatory democracy: how do you engage everyone who is a stakeholder, effectively and productively? He said his approach draws on the Quaker model of consensus and participation. Wingenbach believes democratic practices have to allow people to disagree fulsomely, meaningfully, and with understanding that the solution reflects everyone’s perspective. Much of his scholarly work centers on agonistic democracy, asserting that certain forms of political conflict can lead to positive results.


Seven months ago in December, 2018, Hampshire College enrolled more than 1,100 students, saw an increase in applications for Admissions, and was preparing to enroll a normal-size incoming class of close to 300 students. But like many small colleges across the region, Hampshire was facing challenges to its enrollment due to declines in the Northeast high school population. The College’s leadership was concerned about enrolling sufficient students and fundraising successfully to compete against colleges with much larger endowments.

The Board of Trustees voted on February 1, 2019, to enroll only a limited incoming class, and the College downsized its Admissions staff while leaders explored options for a more solid business model. A high-profile debate ensued over whether to form a partnership with another institution, making national news.

An unprecedented outpouring of support from Hampshire alums, friends, and others who believe in the College gave the Board confidence in the promise of a major fundraising campaign. On April 5, the Board voted to pursue keeping Hampshire independent and to engage fully in fundraising for that purpose.

Hampshire has embarked on a major multi-year fundraising campaign, the largest in its history. While the Board is finalizing the campaign plan and goal, Hampshire is moving to raise $20 million in the campaign’s first year (by June 30, 2020) to secure the College’s finances in the short term and prepare for longer-term planning.

Hampshire is currently operating as a smaller college of more than 600 students while it restructures.

The College is moving to admit a class for fall 2020, and taking steps to grow back to its full enrollment capacity within five years. Hampshire has also begun a process of renewing its academic program by inviting ideas from across its community and from educators nationally. Students will participate and help shape the vision of the future of the College.

Hampshire is planning to celebrate its 50th anniversary in fall 2020, to kick off its second half-century as one of higher education’s most innovative, influential colleges.


In his roles at Ripon College and University of Redlands, Wingenbach gained significant experience with the process of accreditation, which he’ll quickly draw on as Hampshire president. Recently, Hampshire’s accreditor, the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), issued a notation announcing its expectations that the College make significant progress strengthening areas of its organization, governance, and institutional resources by November. The College remains fully accredited today and its leaders have been working to address areas of need this year.

On May 30, a team of trustees and administrators presented to the Commission at a “show cause” hearing, attesting that the College will uphold the standards. On June 7, NECHE and Hampshire jointly announced that the Commission has decided to issue the College a public Notation while deferring a formal vote on accreditation until November, 2019, because the College is in a period of unprecedented transition.

“I’ll be focused on the work of ensuring we’re adhering to NECHE’s standards well ahead of their meeting in November,” Wingenbach said. “As a community, we’ll develop core principles to guide us, adopt a framework, and then we’ll buckle down and focus on securing the College’s future.”


Wingbenbach will begin his term at Hampshire in early August. Ken Rosenthal, the College’s interim president appointed by the Board of Trustees in April, will remain into August to ensure a smooth transition, and then he’ll continue to volunteer to support the College in his role as Hampshire historian and parent.

Rosenthal was one of the College’s founders and its fifth employee, hired in 1966, and its first treasurer. He left the Hampshire administration in 1976 for a long career in law, business, and the nonprofit sector, ultimately retiring as president of the non-profit The Seeing Eye, the world’s premier guide-dog school for the blind. He returned to Hampshire as a trustee from 2008 to 2016 after his daughter graduated from the College.

“Ed Wingenbach is the right person to lead Hampshire in this time of renewal and regrowth,” Rosenthal said. “His experience and approach to higher education resonate with Hampshire’s mission.”


Hampshire’s national reputation is based largely on the mainstreaming of many of its experimental ideas in education, and its influence on its community and society broadly:

Hampshire was the first college in the late 1970s to divest from apartheid South Africa.

The College is a leader in environmental sustainability and was the first college to divest from fossil fuels. In 2016, it opened the R.W. Kern Center, the largest net-zero living building in all of higher education. It then installed campus array fields and formed green-energy partnerships to be able to operate 100% solar for electricity.

Hampshire strives to make its education accessible to a broadly diverse student body through its progressive admissions and financial aid strategies, where more than 90% of its students receive aid; their average aid package is almost $48,000. The average student loan debt for a Hampshire graduate is $24,000, which is lower than the national average and comparable to graduates of state public universities in New England.

Hampshire is consistently ranked as one of the top LGBTQ-friendly colleges in the US.

The College’s success can be measured in its roster of alumni achievement: Oscar and Emmy winners, best-selling authors, scientists, historians, Peabody awardees, MacArthur “genius grant” recipients, and more Ph.D. candidates than any other school of its size.

Hampshire is in the top three percent of schools (top 40 U.S.) whose alumni advance to earn Ph.D degrees, per federal National Science Foundation data.

Two-thirds of graduates earn advanced degrees within ten years of commencement, commonly attending the top graduate schools in the country.

Hampshire students and alums have a record of earning national recognition; awards received by students and grads since 2011 include:

• Fulbrights: 23
• Gilman Scholarships: 14
• Princess Grace Awards: 8
• National Merit Scholarships: 6
• Freeman Asia Scholarships: 5
• Gates Millennium Scholarships: 2

More than a quarter of Hampshire graduates have started their own enterprises—social ventures, investment firms, advocacy organizations, film companies, businesses, and more.

As undergraduates, one in five who complete a Division III thesis in science present their work at peer-reviewed conferences. Five percent are lead authors on peer-reviewed journal articles (as undergrads).

Hampshire is a founding member of Five Colleges, Inc., one of the oldest and most successful educational consortia, enabling students free, open access to a breadth of resources, e.g. shared courses, libraries, symposia, certificate programs, clubs, events, transportation, and more.



Hampshire’s 2019 Presidential Search Process

Hampshire College Presidents, 1966-Present

Notable Alumni, Wikipedia

Notable Alumni, Google



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