Suvarna Garge (Editor)

Hampshire College

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Motto  Non satis scire
Type  Private
Endowment  $40 million
Motto in English  To Know is Not Enough
Established  1965
President  Jonathan Lash
Hampshire College

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 Consortium.


The college is widely known for its alternative curriculum, socially liberal politics, focus on portfolios rather than distribution requirements, and reliance on narrative evaluations instead of grades and GPAs. 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 U.S. colleges in the percentage of its graduates who go on to attain a doctorate degree (notably first among history doctorates).


The idea for Hampshire originated in 1958 when the presidents of Amherst, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, appointed a committee to examine the assumptions and practices of liberal arts education. Their report, "The New College Plan," advocated many of the features that have since been realized in the Hampshire curriculum: emphasis on each student's curiosity and motivation; broad, multidisciplinary learning; and close mentoring relationships with teachers.

In 1965, Amherst College alumnus Harold F. Johnson donated $6 million toward the founding of Hampshire College. With a matching grant from the Ford Foundation, Hampshire's first trustees purchased 800 acres (3.2 km2) of orchard and farmland in South Amherst, Massachusetts, and construction began. Hampshire admitted its first students in 1970.

For several years immediately after its founding in the early 1970s, the large number of applications for matriculation caused Hampshire College to be among the most selective undergraduate programs in the United States. Its admissions selectivity declined thereafter because of declining application popularity. The school's number of applications increased again in the late 1990s, causing increased 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 been financially challenged since its founding, in large part because the college lacked a founding endowment to rely upon for stability of income, and it relied almost entirely upon tuition income for operations. As of 2012, the endowment was a very modest $35,739,555.

In recent years, the school has been on more solid financial footing, though lacking a sizable endowment. Its financial stability relies on fundraising efforts of its most recent past presidents, Adele S. Simmons and Gregory S. Prince, Jr.. The College has issued a draft for a "sustainable campus plan" and a "cultural village" making possible the residence of non-profit organizations not affiliated with the school on its campus. The cultural village includes the National Yiddish Book Center and the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.

On April 1, 2004, president Gregory Prince announced his retirement, effective at the end of the 2004–2005 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.

Some of the most significant 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.

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


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.

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.

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. The most durable legacy of the Radical Departure was EPEC, a series of student-led non-credit courses. 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.

In the media

In May 1977, Hampshire was the first college in the nation to divest from apartheid South Africa. The college removed $39,000 in stocks in four companies. 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. In February 2009 it was reported that Hampshire College had divested from Israel because of its violation of human rights. However, under pressure from pro-Israel groups and high profile individuals, most notably attorney Alan Dershowitz, the father of a Hampshire alumnus, Hampshire's president stated that the changes in investments were not politically motivated. Hampshire continues to display a statement from Dershowitz on its website, in which the lawyer withdraws his criticism and pledges his support, stating, "Hampshire has now done the right thing. It has made it unequivocally clear that it did not and will not divest from Israel. Indeed, it will continue to hold stock in companies that do business with Israel as well as with Israeli companies...."

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 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." 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."

Flag removal

Following the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, on November 9, 2016, Hampshire students lowered the American flag at the center of campus to half-staff as "a protest against acts of hate and harassment." The next day, school officials announced they would allow the flag to remain at half-staff temporarily. College president Jonathan Lash said in a statement that some of the people on campus felt that the flag was "a powerful symbol of fear they've felt all their lives because they grew up in marginalized communities, never feeling safe." In an incident under investigation by campus police, the flag was burned at some time in the evening of November 10 or the morning of November 11. It was replaced the following day and the school indicated it would continue to fly the flag at half-mast "to mourn deaths from violence in the U.S. and around the world." Following a backlash, the college announced on November 21 that it would temporarily cease flying the flag on campus. This, in turn, led to protests of over one thousand people, including veterans, for restoration of the flag. Local state representative John Velis (D) called for the school to return the flag and expel the students who burned the flag: they should "pack up their bags and leave." On November 29, shortly after Fox News aired a news segment on the incident, Trump tweeted "Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag—if they do, there must be consequences—perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!" On December 2, the school decided to raise the flag to full staff.

Notable alumni

  • Joseph Amon, epidemiologist, human rights activist
  • Autre Ne Veut, musician
  • Vincent Baker, role-playing game designer, Dogs in the Vineyard, Apocalypse World
  • Math Bass, artist
  • Joshua Beckman, poet
  • Xander Berkeley, actor
  • Eula Biss, author
  • George Bonanno, psychologist, Columbia University
  • Heather Boushey, economist
  • Dennis Boutsikaris, screen and stage actor, "*batteries not included, W., Sight Unseen
  • Ken Burns, documentary filmmaker, The Civil War, Baseball, Jazz, The War, etc.
  • Nicholas Callaway, founder of Callaway Arts & Entertainment
  • Hasok Chang, historian and philosopher of science
  • Charlie Clouser, musician, former member of Nine Inch Nails
  • Barry Marc Cohen, art therapist, Diagnostic Drawing Series
  • Leah Hager Cohen, writer
  • Peter Cole, poet
  • Chuck Collins, political activist, co-founder of United For a Fair Economy
  • E.V. DAY, artist
  • Toby Driver, musician and artist, Kayo Dot and Maudlin of the Well
  • Ed Droste, singer/songwriter from the Brooklyn-based indie group Grizzly Bear (band) (transferred from Hampshire after one academic year)
  • John Falsey, Emmy Award-winning creator of St. Elsewhere, I'll Fly Away, and Northern Exposure
  • Noah Falstein, video game designer, Sinistar, and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
  • Victor Fresco, television writer and producer, My Name Is Earl and Andy Richter Controls the Universe
  • Tooker Gomberg, municipal politician and environmentalist, 1980 graduate
  • Neil Gust, musician and artist
  • Tom Hanway, bluegrass and Celtic banjoist
  • Peter Harkawik, artist
  • Benjamin Mako Hill, technologist, free software developer, free culture advocate, assistant professor in Communication at the University of Washington
  • Sean Hill (scientist), neuroscientist, co-Director of the Blue Brain Project, founding co principal investigator in the Human Brain Project
  • Lee Hirsch, filmmaker, Bully (2011 film)
  • Gary Hirshberg, Chairman, President, and "CE-Yo" of Stonyfield Farm
  • Jeffrey Hollender, President and CEO of Seventh Generation Inc.
  • Daniel Horowitz, noted criminal-defense attorney.
  • Edward Humes, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist
  • Jeph Jacques, artist, Questionable Content
  • Patricia Klindienst, writer and former professor at Yale
  • Jon Krakauer, mountain climber and author, Into Thin Air, Into the Wild, and Under the Banner of Heaven
  • Mike Ladd, Hip Hop MC and member of the Antipop Consortium
  • Aaron Lansky, founder of the National Yiddish Book Center
  • Ken Leavitt-Lawrence, rap artist a.k.a. "MC Hawking"
  • Lê Thi Diem Thúy, writer and solo performance artist.
  • Dawn Liberi, U.S. Ambassador to Burundi
  • Daniel Lopatin, musician known as Oneohtrix Point Never
  • Nancy Lord, former Alaskan Writer Laureate
  • Jeff Maguire, screenwriter, In the Line of Fire
  • Daniel Marcus, science fiction author
  • Gary Marcus, cognitive scientist
  • Lucy-Ann McFadden, astronomer
  • Fred Melamed, actor, A Serious Man (2009), writer
  • Nicholas Merrill, founder of The Calyx Institute and plaintiff in the legal case Doe v. Ashcroft
  • Eugene Mirman, comedian
  • Matt Mondanile of Ducktails & Real Estate
  • David Moscow, actor, Big
  • Fariba Nawa, freelance journalist
  • Lupita Nyong'o, Academy Award-winning actress
  • Stephen Petronio, choreographer
  • Raghavendra Rathore, Indian fashion designer
  • John Reed, novelist, Snowball's Chance
  • Will Reiser, screenwriter and producer
  • Rod Roddenberry, television producer
  • Liev Schreiber, stage and screen actor, The Manchurian Candidate (2004), director, Everything is Illuminated
  • Joshua Seth, noted hypnotist and voice over actor, Akira (1988), Tetsuo, Digimon Anime meta-series, Tai
  • Jeff Sharlet, journalist, Harper's
  • Timothy Shary, film scholar
  • Aamina Sheikh, actress and supermodel
  • David Shulkin, internist, and the 9th United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs
  • Elliott Smith, musician and artist
  • Zachary Cole Smith, frontman of DIIV (withdrawn from Hampshire during his second year)
  • Lee Smolin, theoretical physicist at the Perimeter Institute
  • Sonya Sones, author of What My Mother Doesn't Know and other young adult novels in verse
  • Barry Sonnenfeld, director, Men in Black
  • Doug Stanton, author, In Harm's Way
  • Thomas H. Stoner, Jr., author
  • Supreme Dicks, lo-fi and experimental band
  • Wes Takahashi, visual effects supervisor and animator
  • Danny Tamberelli, actor, The Mighty Ducks and television series All That and The Adventures of Pete and Pete
  • Sander Thoenes, journalist. Murdered on September 21, 1999 by Indonesian Battalion 745 in Dili East Timor
  • Naomi Wallace, playwright and MacArthur Fellowship recipient, One Flea Spare, Slaughter City
  • Jessamyn West, well-known librarian and blogger
  • Erica Wheeler, singer-songwriter
  • Christopher Young, film composer, Spider-Man 3
  • Timothy Wilson, Sherrell J. Aston Professor of Psychology, University of Virginia
  • Fictional alumni

  • 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
  • Erlich Bachmann from Silicon Valley (TV series) claims to have received a "B.A. in Ultimate Frisbee" from Hampshire College
  • In University (The Sopranos), Meadow Soprano's boyfriend Noah Tannenbaum plans a trip to the school with his friend, whose brother attends.
  • Notable past and present faculty

  • Diane Arbus, (co-instructor of a photography class for a summer term), photographer
  • James Baldwin, writer
  • Leonard Baskin, artist
  • Bill Brand, experimental filmmaker
  • Ray Copeland, Jazz musician, trumpet
  • Mark Dresser, jazz musician, contrabass virtuoso
  • David Anthony Durham, acclaimed historical and epic fantasy novelist
  • Marty Ehrlich, jazz musician
  • Alan H. Goodman, anthropologist
  • Lynne Hanley, literary critic
  • Paul Jenkins, professor of poetry
  • Norton Juster, architect and writer
  • David Kelly, professor of mathematics, founder and director of the 3-decade-old Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics program
  • Michael Klare, scholar on U.S. defense policy and global resource issues
  • Yusef Lateef, musician
  • Michael Lesy, writer, author of Wisconsin Death Trip
  • Jerome Liebling, filmmaker and photographer
  • Elaine Mayes, filmmaker and photographer
  • Walid Raad/Atlas Group, artist
  • David Roberts, mountaineer and author
  • Eric Schocket, American studies scholar
  • Andrew Salkey, writer
  • Chase Twichell, poet, founder of Ausable Press
  • E. Frances White, historian
  • Carrie Mae Weems, photographer
  • Presidents of the college

  • Franklin Patterson (1966–1971)
  • Charles R. Longsworth (1971–1977)
  • Adele S. Simmons (1977–1989)
  • Gregory S. Prince, Jr. (1989–2005)
  • Ralph J. Hexter (2005–2010)
  • Marlene Gerber Fried (2010–2011) (interim)
  • Jonathan Lash (2011–)
  • References

    Hampshire College Wikipedia