A Letter from Past Presidents in Support of Hampshire

Dear Hampshire College Community,

As past presidents of Hampshire, we appreciate fully the challenges Hampshire College faces today, and we have watched with concern its struggles these past few months. We fully support the Board’s decision to affirm that its highest priority will be to maintain Hampshire’s independence and distinctive approach to education – and we have each pledged to support the fundraising effort needed to secure that future.

With the challenges facing this country and the global community, Hampshire is more important now than ever. The College was founded to nurture and tap into the creative and entrepreneurial potential of young people. We cannot allow an institution to fail that has committed itself to the premise that students will be most transformed if they are treated as partners in the educational process, rather than as objects.

The record that Hampshire’s graduates across all fields have established within just one generation, and the testimonials published this spring by other educators, professionals, and organizations, testify to the extraordinary power of Hampshire’s education. More countries need institutions that provide students this transformational opportunity. If it were easy to do, more such institutions would exist, but they do not, because it is not easy.

The conviction of the four colleges 50 years ago, upon founding Hampshire, was that all students can and should be partners in defining the essential questions they wish to explore, and students should negotiate the contracts that will guide their own course of study. This remains the approach most likely to create transformational outcomes. Today, almost every university offers this kind of opportunity to its very best students, because they know it will provide them the greatest challenge. On the other hand, Hampshire is predicated on the idea that all students would benefit from such an opportunity rather than remaining passive recipients of what others think they should know.

Hampshire’s broader message to the world is that every local, national, or global problem would benefit from pursuing the model Hampshire offers, for tapping into the creative potential of its youngest generation. The country and the world need this model of inter-generational education.

We believe that the ideas and support for Hampshire that have emerged this spring point to a tremendous potential for creating a sustainable and independent future for the College. We will do all in our power to support the Board, administration, and the entire community in their efforts to sustain and defend Hampshire’s independence and its essential vision of education, while at the same time achieving the structural reforms required to make it economically viable.

Charles R. Longsworth
President (1971-1977)

Adele S. Simmons
President (1977-1989)

Penina Migdal Glazer
Acting President (1984-1985)

Gregory S. Prince, Jr.
President (1989-2005)