Letter from Ken Rosenthal, Interim President: May 8, 2019

Dear Hampshire College Community,

Every time I hear the Div-Free bell, it brings a smile. Congratulations to our students who are now Div Free or soon will be.

Commencement events for our 295 graduates and their families begin with a Division III gallery exhibit running all next week, then the Division III Project and Performance Showcase next Friday, capped by an evening reception for students, families, and our community.

Saturday, May 18 will mark Hampshire’s 49th spring Commencement. I hope you’ll join us in person or via livestream on our YouTube channel. We’re excited to honor our graduates’ accomplishments, as well as recognize the support of the many faculty, staff, and family members who have helped guide them.

Serving as the ceremony’s student moderators are Tasheena Stewart and Faith Glenn, and as student speaker, Cheyenne Palacio-McCarthy. The Commencement program and poster will feature art by Lauren Rhee Burke. The keynote speaker selected by our graduates is activist, sexuality educator, and “cancer warrior” Ericka Hart. You can find the list of all participants and Commencement details at commencement.hampshire.edu

Fundraising. There is a tremendous amount of momentum from alumni, donors, and friends behind our fundraising efforts right now. Our Board and senior team are grateful to everyone who has donated, pledged, and supported our campaign in any way. We’ve set an ambitious goal of raising $20 million for 2020, on our way to an even more ambitious multi-year campaign. I believe we can do this. For Commencement weekend, the College has organized a giving weekend, the #Div4ward challenge, bringing together donors across the country to participate in our campaign. Look for more details soon. 

Accreditation. A top priority for our Board and senior team is preparing our response to the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) to show cause why the College should not be put on probation. To demonstrate we are in compliance with accreditation standards, our senior team is preparing a thorough report, responding to NECHE’s concerns. The Commission has invited me, Vice President for Academic Affairs Eva Rueschmann, Vice President for Finance and Administration Mary McEneany, Secretary of the College (and Accreditation Liaison Officer) Beth Ward, and two trustee leaders to represent Hampshire at NECHE’s meeting on May 30.

There are many accredited colleges across the country that successfully operate with fewer than 600 students (and the majority of them do not belong to a strong consortium as we do). Our Board is engaged in full support of our fundraising and restructuring, and trustees will gather for the annual Board meeting next week.

Looking Forward to Next Year 2019-20. Earlier this term, Hampshire decided to admit a small class of students for next fall while we restructure. We’re excited that 15 students have reserved a place in our next incoming class; we’re grateful for their trust, and we look forward to welcoming them at Orientation in the fall. Our Academic Affairs Division is ensuring we’ll meet the curricular needs of all our projected 600 students next year. And our Student Life Division will follow its plan to ensure a continuity of student services. The support of our partners in the Five Colleges is essential to our success, as it has been for 50+ years.

Also, the Admissions office is working to offer opportunities for visitors to come to campus this summer—a preliminary step with the hope that the restructuring of our financial model, together with our fundraising campaign, will enable us to resume recruitment in the near future.

Hampshire is committed to operating successfully as a smaller college while we restructure and rebuild for a long, sustainable future.

Thank you for your continued trust and support.


Ken Rosenthal
Interim President