Hampshire College Celebrates 50th Anniversary; Marks Major Contributions to the Innovation of Higher Education
Over the weekend of October 15–17, Hampshire College marked 50 years of innovation in higher education, welcoming back to campus almost 900 guests, among them alums, families, community friends, donors, and former presidents and faculty members. Current staff, faculty, and students also participated in the festivities.
Tours of campus, open houses for programs, lectures and screenings, and class- and interest-specific gatherings took place throughout the weekend. Alums and faculty members offered a series of educational talks. The Art Gallery held an opening by visiting graffiti artist Mow 504, from Senegal. Other activities were a talent share, trivia night, campfire s’mores, a twilight swim in the RCC pool, a reception with the first class members of the College, a get-together of former faculty and staff, and more.
The celebration was the culmination of two years of exceptional collective work. Following the 2019 decision to not admit a class, the Hampshire community rallied to ensure that the College would remain a thriving, independent operation. Since fall 2019, Hampshire has:
- Created a bold new approach to college education, centered on globally relevant challenges in urgent need of solutions;
- Innovated its curriculum and academic structures to create an environment free from the bounds of a typical college, enabling an open exchange of ideas and pursuits;
- Built project requirements for students that instill the skills necessary for them to explore their passions and take action to make change;
- Launched a successful fundraising campaign that just passed the $26 million mark and continues to attract significant support from our community;
- Invested in our brand and marketing program, resulting in new admissions materials, a refreshed website, exciting narrative video, and a retooled digital advertising campaign;
- And rebuilt our admissions operations, resulting in a 68 percent increase in enrollment this year over fall 2020 and a 100 percent increase in first-year enrollments over 2020.
The weekend was a celebration not only of Hampshire’s rich history, but of these recent accomplishments as well.
On Saturday night, before a community farm-to-table dinner, President Ed Wingenbach delivered a State of the College Address under a packed tent. “After the challenges of 2016, after the decision of 2019, after a year and a half of the COVID pandemic, we’re still here,” he said. “And we’re here because you all insisted we be here.” The crowd then rose in a thundering standing ovation. When the cheers subsided, President Wingenbach leaned into the microphone and smiled: “That felt good, didn’t it?”