January 23, 2019: Letter from Hampshire's Board of Trustees

To the Hampshire Community,

Last Tuesday, with President Nelson’s announcement that Hampshire seeks a long-term partner to help us achieve a thriving and sustainable future, we know some of you were taken by surprise. We regret that this news seemed to come out of the clear blue sky. The Board has been working with Mim since she arrived to identify the best pathways forward for the College to address both our short- and long-term financial challenges. These challenges are familiar to many of you. As Mim has stated, now is exactly the time for Hampshire to seek a strategic partner. This is one of the ideas we’ve been discussing, and it has gained momentum, which is what led to both our announcement and to the media coverage that followed.

All of us on the Board—as trustees, alums, parents, faculty, staff, students—understand that the community’s commitment to our College is passionate and more involved than at many other schools, which makes sense given that Hampshire is anything but typical. We’re empathetic to all the concerns of our community as we contemplate change, and the uncertainty about precisely how events will unfold.

On campus we’ve heard concerns about the potential impact on students’ educational goals and on staff and faculty employment. We care deeply about the people of this College and are committed to a process that will support every single person with dignity and respect through our transitions.

We write to the entire Hampshire community today to say we’re confident in Hampshire’s future and in the prospect that we’ll be able to preserve, in any partnership, what we revere about this institution—its singular educational model—while addressing our long-term financial challenges.

This past week has surfaced a wellspring of positive perspectives on Hampshire’s importance to higher education, not only in what people have said publicly, but also in what we’ve been told privately. The conversations Mim initiated with education and industry leaders in November, as a key part of the visioning process, have only expanded as Hampshire’s reputation and place in higher education have gained new visibility.

This is a pivotal moment for all who love this College. As trustees we want you to know how strongly we believe in Hampshire. In Mim we have a leader with the resolve to address difficult issues, and we recognize how deliberately she and her senior team are focused on this, the most compelling issue Hampshire has faced. To you—faculty, staff, students, parents, alums, and friends—you have our deepest respect and admiration for your heartfelt engagement with this vital institution and this essential conversation about its future.

The Board is grateful for the meetings we had with the campus community yesterday, and for all of your recent engagements with the College, from parent and alum webinars to personal calls and emails. We look forward to continued conversations with you in the weeks and months ahead.


Gaye Hill

Kim Saal
Vice Chair                                 

Luis Hernandez
Vice Chair

Hampshire College Board of Trustees