Hampshire College
Seal of Hampshire College
MottoNon satis scire
Motto in EnglishTo Know is Not Enough
Endowment$28.9 million[1]
PresidentJonathan Lash
Academic staff160[citation needed]
Admin. staff115
LocationAmherst, Massachusetts, USA
CampusRural, 800 acres (3.2 km²)
Avg. Class Size17
ColorsLight blue, red, purple and white                    

Hampshire College is a private liberal arts college in Amherst, Massachusetts, United States. It was opened in 1970 as an experiment in alternative education, in association with four other colleges in the Pioneer Valley: Amherst College, Smith College, Mount Holyoke College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Together they are now known as the Five Colleges, or the Five College Area.

The College is widely known for its alternative curriculum, focus on portfolios rather than distribution requirements, and reliance on narrative evaluations instead of grades and GPAs. It is known particularly for facilitating the study of film, music, theater and the visual arts. In some fields, it is among the top undergraduate institutions in percentage of graduates who enroll in graduate school. Fifty-six percent of its alumni have at least one graduate degree and it is ranked 30th among all US colleges in the percentage of its graduates who go on to attain a doctorate degree (notably first among history doctorates).[2]

History[edit | edit source]

File:Hampshire College from Bare Mountain.jpg

The Hampshire College campus (right, not center), as viewed from Bare Mountain

File:Hampshire College Dakin Dorm.jpg

Dakin House dormitory

The College opened to students in 1970. Its history dates to the immediate aftermath of World War II. The first The New College Plan was drafted in 1958 by the presidents of the then-Four Colleges, and was revised several times after planning for the College began in the 1960s. Many original ideas for non-traditional arrangements for the College's curriculum, campus, and life were discarded along the way. Many new ideas generated during the planning process were not described in the original documents.

For several years immediately after its founding in the early 1970s, Hampshire College was among the most selective undergraduate programs in the United States.[3] Its admissions selectivity declined thereafter, but the school's number of applications increased in the late 1990s, allowing for greater admissions selectivity since then. The college's rate of admissions is now comparable to that of many other small liberal arts colleges.

The school has struggled with financial difficulties since its founding. At some points, the administration seriously considered ceasing operations or merging into the University of Massachusetts Amherst.[citation needed] In recent years, the school is on more solid financial footing, though without a sizable endowment. Its financial stability is often credited to the fundraising efforts of its most recent past presidents, Adele Simmons and Gregory S. Prince, Jr.. The College has also distinguished itself recently with a draft for a "sustainable campus plan" and a "cultural village" through which organizations not directly affiliated with the school are located on its campus. The cultural village includes the National Yiddish Book Center and the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.

File:Hampshire College logo.svg

The 'H' logo of Hampshire College, used separately from the seal. The four colored bars represent the other four colleges that formed Hampshire.

On April 1, 2004, president Gregory Prince announced he would retire at the end of the 2004-05 academic year. On April 5, 2005, the Board of Trustees named Ralph Hexter, formerly a dean at University of California, Berkeley's College of Letters and Science, as the college's next president, effective August 1, 2005. Hexter was inaugurated on October 15, 2005. The appointment made Hampshire one of a small number of colleges and universities in the United States with an openly gay president.[4]

Some of the most important founding documents of Hampshire College are collected in the book The Making of a College (MIT Press, 1967; ISBN 0-262-66005-9). The Making of a College is (as of 2003) out of print but available in electronic form from the Hampshire College Archives[5]

On August 23, 2012, the school announced the establishment of a scholarship fund dedicated to helping undocumented immigrants get degrees. It would give more than $25,000 each year to help an undocumented immigrant pay for the $43,000-plus tuition.[6]

Academics and resources[edit | edit source]

Curriculum[edit | edit source]

Hampshire College describes itself as "experimenting" rather than "experimental," to emphasize the changing nature of its curriculum. From its inception, the curriculum has generally had certain non-traditional features:

  • An emphasis on project work as well as, or instead of, courses
  • Detailed written evaluations (as well as portfolio evaluations) for completed courses and projects, rather than letter or number grades
  • A curriculum centered on student interests, with students taking an active role in designing their own concentrations and projects
  • An emphasis on independent motivation and student organization, both within and without the college's formal curriculum

Emily Dickinson Hall, designed by the architecture firm of former faculty member Norton Juster, houses much of the humanities, creative writing, and theatre

The curriculum is divided into three "divisions" rather than four years, and students complete these divisions in varying amounts of time. The administration has recently made efforts to encourage students to stick more closely to the traditional four-year model by requiring that students spend three semesters in Division I, three semesters in Division II, and that they complete Division III in a year.

  • Division I, the distribution stage, requires students to complete one course in each of the five "Schools of Thought," plus three other courses, either on or off campus. As well, there is a required "CEL-1" for Division 1; this is a rough equivalent to community service, and it stands for Campus Engaged Learning.
  • Division II requires students to complete two years of course work in their selected area(s) of study (which may or may not be traditional academic fields.) Most students combine related subject matter to form an interdisciplinary concentration such as "The chemistry of oil painting." Still, some choose to concentrate in multiple areas without drawing such connections, instead simply concentrating in "Both Chemistry and Oil Painting." Some students complete an in-depth concentration in one field only. Students design their own Division II, in cooperation with a committee of at least two faculty members (subject to their approval). Many students choose a faculty committee whose members represent their own interdisciplinary interests. The Division II requirements also include a community service - CEL-2, Community Engaged Learning, as opposed to Campus Engaged Learning in Division 1 - project and a multicultural perspectives requirement.
  • Division III, the advanced project, requires students to complete an in-depth project in their field (which is generally related to the Division II field). Division III usually lasts one year and is completed while taking few or no courses, but two "advanced learning activities," which might be courses, internships or specific independent studies, and may or may not be related to the Division III, are required. A Division III topic can be a long written academic paper (in which case it is best considered as something between a traditional college's "bachelor's" or "honors" thesis and a Master's or other graduate thesis), but it can also be a collection of creative work (writing, painting, photography, and film are popular choices) or a hands-on engineering, invention, or social organizing project.

Since 2002, the school has taken steps to expand and attract more academically conventional students and address low retention. The most significant change was a revision of the Division I program for first year students. Before the fall of 2002, Division I consisted of four major exams, one in each of the academic departments and/or quantitative analysis.[citation needed] These exams took one of three forms: a "two-course option," where a student could take two sequential courses; a "one-plus-one," where a Hampshire course supplements an outside course (AP score of a four or five, or a summer college class); or a project, usually involving a primary or significant secondary research paper, or an art production (a short film, a sculpture, etc.), that stems from previous coursework. Students were required to complete at least two project-based exams, while transfer students usually had one project requirement waived. In the fall of 2002, a new first-year program was started in response to the high numbers of second- and third-year students who had not completed Division I.[citation needed] The program now mandates eight courses in the first year, at least one in each of the five schools. This reduces the required work for passing Division I significantly, as the old system could require up to 10 courses.[citation needed]

Effective in Fall of 2011, the first year requirements have been changed once more. Students most now fulfill FOUR of the FIVE distribution areas: Arts, Design, and Media (ADM), Culture, Humanities, and Languages (CHL), Mind, Brain, and Information (MBI), Physical and Biological Sciences (PBS), Power, Community, and Social Justice (PCSJ. Students are expected to complete seven courses in their first year, four to fulfill distribution areas and three elective courses in areas of their own choosing.[7]

Schools and programs[edit | edit source]


Cole Science Center contains the School of Natural Science and administrative offices

The Hampshire College faculty are organized broadly in defined Schools. The Schools function much as departments do at a traditional liberal arts college. The Schools' names and definitions have varied over the College's history, but they have always numbered between three and five.[citation needed] As of 2010, the Schools were:

  • Cognitive Science (CS): includes linguistics, most psychology, some philosophy, neuroscience, and computer science.
  • Humanities, Arts, and Cultural Studies (HACU): includes film, some studio arts, literature, media studies, and most philosophy.
  • Critical Social Inquiry (CSI): includes most sociology and anthropology, economics, history, politics, and some psychology.
  • Natural Science (NS): includes most traditional sciences, mathematics, and biological anthropology.
  • Interdisciplinary Arts (IA): includes performing arts, some studio arts, and creative writing.

The Five College Program in Peace and World Security Studies (PAWSS) is based at Hampshire; its director is Michael Klare.[8]

Five College Consortium[edit | edit source]

Hampshire College is the youngest of the schools in the Five-College Consortium. The other schools are Amherst College, Mt. Holyoke College, Smith College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.[9]

Students at each of the schools may take classes and borrow books at the other schools, generally without paying additional fees. They may use resources at the other schools, including internet access, dining halls, and so forth. The five colleges collectively offer over 5,300 courses, and the five libraries have over eight million books.[10] The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) operates bus services between the schools and the greater Pioneer Valley area.[11]

There are two joint departments in the five-college consortium: Dance and Astronomy. Several certificate programs among the schools are available to students at any of the schools:[citation needed]

  • African Studies
  • Architectural Studies
  • Asian/Pacific/American Studies
  • Buddhist Studies
  • Coastal and Marine Sciences+
  • Cognitive Neuroscience+ ^
  • Culture, Health, and Science
  • International Relations
  • Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies
  • Logic
  • Middle Eastern Studies
  • Native American Indian Studies
  • Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (REEES)

+ pending approval at Amherst College ^ pending approval at UMass Amherst

Prominent campus issues[edit | edit source]

Re-radicalization[edit | edit source]

In the spring of 2004, a student group calling itself Re-Radicalization of Hampshire College (Re-Rad) emerged with a manifesto called The Re-Making of a College, which critiques what they see as a betrayal of Hampshire's founding ideas in alternative education and student-centered learning. On May 3, 2004, the group staged a demonstration that packed the hall outside the President's office during an administrative meeting. Response from the community has generally been amicable and Re-Rad has made some progress.[citation needed]

File:Hampshire College Yurt.jpg

The Yurt is home to Hampshire's student radio station

The Re-Radicalization movement is responding in part to a new "First-Year Plan" that changes the structure of the first year of study. Beginning in the Fall of 2002, the requirements for passing Division I were changed so that first-year students no longer had to complete independent projects (see Curriculum above). Though still a major source of contention, this change is rapidly fading from memory as most students who entered under the old plan have graduated or are in their final year. Re-Rad submitted its own counter-proposal in both 2006 and 2007, but these proposals were not acted on, and no follow-up was attempted.

The Re-Radicalization of Hampshire College assisted the administration in launching a pilot program known as mentored independent study. This program paired ten third semester students with Division III students with similar academic interests to complete a small study—observed by, and subject to the approval of, a faculty member. The program was judged successful and has been institutionalized.[citation needed]

While some students worry about what they see as Hampshire's headlong plunge into normality, the circumstances of Hampshire's founding tends to perennially attract students who revive the questions about education the institution was founded on, and who challenge the administration to honor the founding mission. Unsurprisingly, then, Re-Rad was not the first student push of its type. Similar efforts have sprung up at Hampshire with some regularity, with varying impacts. In 1996, student Chris Kawecki spearheaded a similar push called the Radical Departure, calling for a more holistic, organic integration of education into students' lives.[12] The most durable legacy of the Radical Departure was EPEC, a series of student-led non-credit courses.[13] A more detailed account of movements such as these can be found in a history of Hampshire student activities, an account written by alumnus Timothy Shary (F86) that was commissioned by Community Council in 1990; he has subsequently been a faculty member at Clark University of Worcester, Massachusetts, and the University of Oklahoma[14]

In the media[edit | edit source]

File:Harold f. johnson library.jpg

The Harold F. Johnson Library

In 1979, Hampshire was the first college in the nation to divest from apartheid South Africa (with the nearby University of Massachusetts Amherst second).[15] Legal and financial research undertaken by student Michael Current and faculty member Kurtis Gordon was promoted nationally by business activists Douglas Tooley and Debbie Knight.[citation needed]

In November 2001, a controversial All-Community Vote at Hampshire declared the school opposed to the recently-launched War on Terrorism, another national first that drew national media attention, including scathing reports from Rupert Murdoch's Fox News Channel and the New York Post ("Kooky College Condemns War"). Saturday Night Live had a regular sketch, "Jarret's Room," starring Jimmy Fallon, which purports to take place at Hampshire College but is inaccurate. It refers to non-existent buildings ("McGuinn Hall," which is actually the Sociology and Social Work building at fellow cast member Amy Poehler's alma mater, Boston College) and features yearbooks, tests, seniors, fraternities, three-person dorm rooms, and a football team—none of which the school has ever had (though in the Fall 2005, 2006, and 2007 semesters the college experienced a higher than expected number of freshmen and temporarily had to convert some common spaces into three-person dorms). The sketch also claims that the college is actually in New Hampshire (a common mistake).

Alumnus Ken Burns wrote of the college: "Hampshire College is a perfect American place. If we look back at the history of our country, the things we celebrate were outside of the mainstream. Much of the world operated under a tyrannical model, but Americans said, 'We will govern ourselves.' So, too, Hampshire asked, at its founding, the difficult questions of how we might educate ourselves... When I entered Hampshire, I found it to be the most exciting place on earth."[citation needed] Loren Pope wrote of Hampshire in the college guide Colleges That Change Lives: "Today no college has students whose intellectual thyroids are more active or whose minds are more compassionately engaged." In 2006, the Princeton Review named Hampshire College one of the nation’s "best value" undergraduate institutions in its book "America’s Best Value Colleges."

Alumni and faculty[edit | edit source]

Notable alumni[edit | edit source]

Fictional alumni[edit | edit source]

  • Alice Kinnon and Charlotte Pingress, characters in the film The Last Days of Disco
  • Jarret and Gobi, characters in the Saturday Night Live skit Jarret's Room. In the same recurring sketch Al Gore once appeared as a professor.
  • In the webcomic Questionable Content, occasional run-ins with Hampshire students and faculty occur.
  • In Party of Five, Bailey is accepted to Hampshire College.

Notable past and present faculty[edit | edit source]

Presidents of the college[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. rosenbe (January 18, 2011). "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2011 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2010 to FY 2011". nacubo.org. Washington, DC, USA: National Association of College and University Business Officers. p. 19. http://www.nacubo.org/Documents/research/2011NCSEPublicTablesEndowmentMarketValues319.pdf. Retrieved August 4, 2012.
  2. Outcomes
  3. Making of a College pp. 307-310.
  4. The exact number is unclear, but there may be as few as eight openly gay college and university presidents as of 2007, and at the time Hexter was named president of Hampshire there were fewer still. "Openly Gay Presidents Say Chronicle Article Left Them Out." Chronicle of Higher Education News Blog, 7 August 2007. See also Hexter, Ralph J. "Being an 'Out' President." Inside Higher Ed 25 January 2007.
  5. (1975 ed.), http://www.hampshire.edu/archives/3881.htm, retrieved January 1, 2013. A new edition is rumored to be in progress.
  7. "Division I". Amherst, MA, USA: Hampshire College. http://www.hampshire.edu/academics/div-i.htm. Retrieved 6 November 2011.
  8. Five College Program in Peace and World Security Studies
  9. Five Colleges Corporation.
  10. Five Colleges, Incorporated: Libraries.
  11. Pioneer Valley Transit Authority PVTA
  12. The Experimental Program In Education and Community Peter Christopher Document Archive
  13. The Experimental Program in Education and Community
  14. Timothy Shary, University of Oklahoma, Faculty of Film & Video Studies Faculty.
    Timothy Shary, Curriculum Vitae (MS Word)
    Note in the CV: Keynote Speech: Activating the History in Student Activities, delivered at Hampshire College History Day, Amherst, MA, April 29, 2000.
  15. Volume 2, 1975-1985, Chapter 6: Divestment Hampshire College Archives

References[edit | edit source]

  • Alpert, Richard M. "Professionalism and Educational Reform: The Case of Hampshire College." Journal of Higher Education 51:5 (Sept.-Oct. 1980), pp. 497–518.
  • Dressel, Paul L. Review of The Making of a College: Plans for a New Departure in Higher Education. Journal of Higher Education 38:7 (Oct. 1967), pp. 413–416.
  • Kegan, Daniel L. "Contradictions in the Design and Practice of an Alternative Organization: The Case of Hampshire College." Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 17:1 (1987), pp. 79–97.
  • Pope, Loren. "Hampshire College." In Colleges That Change Lives. New York: Penguin, 2006.

External links[edit | edit source]

Template:Hampshire College Template:Five Colleges

42°19′30″N 72°31′51″W / 42.325079, -72.530837

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.