Hampshire College: Wikis


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Hampshire College
Hampshire College Library Lawn.jpg
Motto Non satis scire
Motto in English To Know is Not Enough
Established 1970
Type Private
Endowment $45.6 million
President Ralph Hexter
Faculty 160
Staff 115
Undergraduates 1430
Location Amherst, Massachusetts, USA
Campus Rural, 800 acres (3.2 km²)
Avg. Class Size 16
Website www.hampshire.edu

Hampshire College is a private liberal arts college located in Amherst, Massachusetts. It was founded in 1970 as an experiment in alternative education, to be 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.

The College is widely known for its alternative curriculum, its focus on portfolios rather than distribution requirements, and its 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 graduate-school enrollment: 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 1st among history doctorates), when adjusted for institutional size.[1] Its School of Cognitive Science was the first interdisciplinary undergraduate program in cognitive science and has few peers.



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; it was revised several times as 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.

During several years immediately after its founding in the early 1970s, Hampshire College was among the most selective undergraduate programs in the United States[2] 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. Ceasing operations or merging into the University of Massachusetts Amherst were seriously considered choices at various points.[citation needed] In recent years the school is on more solid financial footing (though without a sizable endowment). It 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.

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 Prince announced his retirement, effective at the end of 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. President 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.[3]

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[4]

Dakin House dormitory

Since 2002, the school has taken several steps to expand the school and attract more academically conventional students. The most significant change was a revision of the Division I program for first year students. Before the fall of 2002, Division I traditionally 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, which usually consists of a primary or significant secondary research paper, or an art production (a short film, a sculpture, etc.), and which stems from previous coursework. Students were required to complete at least two project-based exams, while transfer students were usually waived one project requirement. In fall of 2002, the new first-year program was started in response to high numbers of second and third year students who had not completed Division I.[citation needed] The subsequent program 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 up to 10 courses could be required under the older system.[citation needed]

Academics and resources


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

  • 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 4 year model by requiring three semesters be spent in Division I, three semesters be spent in Division II, and that Division III be completed in a year.[citation needed]

  • Division I, the distribution stage, requires students to complete one course in each of the five "Schools of Thought" and three other courses, either on or off campus. (Until fall 2002, Division I required student-directed independent projects; the new system, designed with the goal of quicker and smoother student progress, has caused a great deal of controversy on campus.)
  • Division II requires students to complete "two full 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, but perhaps the minority, complete an in depth concentration in one field only. Each student is responsible for designing his or her own Division II in cooperation with a committee of at least two faculty members (who must give their approval). Many students choose a faculty committee whose members represent their own interdisciplinary interests. The Division II requirements also include a community service project and a multicultural perspectives requirement.
  • Division III, the advanced project, requires students to complete an in-depth project in their field of choice (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.

Schools and programs

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 there have always been between three and five of them.[citation needed] As of 2005, 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.
  • Social Science (SS): 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.[5]

Five College Consortium

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.[6]

Students at each of the schools may take classes and borrow books, generally without paying additional fees, and incorporate all of the resources available at each of the schools, including internet access, dining halls, and so forth. Among the five colleges, there are over 5,300 courses available, and over 8 million volumes between the five libraries.[7] The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) operates bus services between the schools and the greater Pioneer Valley area.[8]

There are two joint departments in the 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


In the spring of 2004, a student group calling itself the 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 which 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]

The Yurt is home to Hampshire's student radio station

The Re-Radicalization movement is responding in part to a new "First-Year Plan" entailing changes to the structure of the first year of study in the curriculum. Beginning in the Fall of 2002, the requirements for passing Division I were changed so that first-year students would no longer be required to complete independent projects (see Curriculum above). Though presently a major source of contention, this change is rapidly fading from memory as most of the students who entered into the old plan have graduated or are in their final year. Re-Rad submitted its own counter-proposal in both 2006 and 2007; however, these proposals were not followed, 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'. In it, ten third semester students were paired with Division III students with similar academic interests to complete a small study, all under the observation of, 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 on which the institution was founded and challenge the administration to honor them. Unsurprisingly, then, Re-Rad was not the first student push of its type. Efforts like it have sprung up at Hampshire with some regularity throughout the years, with varying degrees of impact. 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.[9] The most durable legacy of the Radical Departure was EPEC, a series of student-led non-credit courses.[10] A more detailed account of movements such as these can be found in a history of Hampshire student activities, a Division III thesis written by alumnus Timothy Shary, subsequently a faculty member at Clark University of Worcester, Massachusetts, and University of Oklahoma[11]

2009 Socially responsible investment policy and Israel

In February 2009, students part of the Hampshire chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine announced that Hampshire College divested from companies that do business with Israel in response to a petition earlier circulated on campus. The trustees of Hampshire College were quick to deny assertions by the Hampshire chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine that the investment decision made Hampshire the first American college to sell stock in companies specifically because they do business with Israel.[12] Sigmund Roos, chairman of the Hampshire board of trustees, told the Boston Globe that the trustees never reviewed the group's petition.[12] "We never took it up," he said. "Students know that." The trustees' actual decision was to transfer shares out of a fund which was invested in more than 200 companies, including some with business practices that the college defines as not "socially responsible."[12] These practices include manufacturing military weapons, unsafe workplaces, and poor environmental practices.[12][13][14] After the board's action, Hampshire continued to hold stock in at least three Israeli companies, two companies included in the Students for Justice in Palestine petition. [15]

In the media

Despite its relatively small size and short history, Hampshire has made a mark on pop culture and political activism. Its annual Halloween party, referred to by some as "Trip or Treat" for its historically widespread use of psychedelic drugs, was once profiled by Rolling Stone magazine.[16]

Hampshire was the first college in the nation to decide to divest from apartheid South Africa, in 1979 (with the nearby University of Massachusetts Amherst second).[17] 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 which 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 grossly inaccurate, referring 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 featuring yearbooks, tests, seniors, fraternities, 3-person dorm rooms, and a football team, none of which have ever existed at the school (although in the Fall 2005, 2006, and 2007 semesters the college experienced a higher than expected number of freshmen and temporarily had to convert some of the common spaces into 3-person dorms). The sketch further seemed to think that the college was 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

Notable alumni

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

Notable past and present faculty

Presidents of the college

See also


  1. ^ Outcomes
  2. ^ Making of a College pp. 307-310.
  3. ^ 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. Fain, Paul. "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.
  4. ^ [1]. A new edition is rumored to be in progress.
  5. ^ Five College Program in Peace and World Security Studies
  6. ^ Five Colleges Corporation.
  7. ^ Five Colleges, Incorporated: Libraries.
  8. ^ Pioneer Valley Transit Authority PVTA
  9. ^ The Experimental Program In Education and Community Peter Christopher Document Archive
  10. ^ The Experimental Program in Education and Community
  11. ^ http://www.ou.edu/fvs/faculty/shary.htm 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.
  12. ^ a b c d Schworm, Peter. Hampshire College cuts ties with fund invested in Israel, Peter Schworm, Boston Globe, February 12, 2009.
  13. ^ Mass. college denies Israel divestment, February 15, 2009, NEW YORK (JTA) http://jta.org/news/article/2009/02/15/1002973/hampshire-college-divests-from-firms
  14. ^ Feb 12, 2009, College denies divesting over IDF ties. HAVIV RETTIG GUR , Jerusalem Post [2]
  15. ^ "Open Letter to Alan Dershowitz" President Ralph Hexter, Hampshire Office of Communications [3]
  16. ^ Roth, Melissa, "Party Mix", Rolling Stone 719 (October 19, 1995).
  17. ^ Volume 2, 1975-1985, Chapter 6: Divestment Hampshire College Archives


  • 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

Simple English

Hampshire College is a private college located in Amherst, Massachusetts. The current president of the college is Ralph Hexter. The motto of the college is Non Satis Scire, which is Latin for "to know is not enough".



Hampshire was created in 1965 by four other colleges as an experiment in higher education. The campus opened and the first class of students arrived in 1970. The Presidents of Amherst College, Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, and the University of Massachusetts got together in the 1950s and early 1960s and realized that there were things their own schools did not do very well. They also thought that the world was changing a lot and needed a college where students would have a lot of responsibility for their own education to be successful in the future.

Franklin Patterson and Charles Longsworth were chosen by these schools and wrote a book called The Making of a College that said how Hampshire was to be run and what kind of programs it would offer. Today, this book is considered an inspirational document by Hampshire students and faculty who try to live up to its ideals.


Hampshire College describes itself as an experimenting college because it is always changing and improving how it does things, rather than doing the same thing as other colleges. Students usually do individual projects in order to move towards graduation. There is some required coursework, but it is not the main point of the school. Students also do not receive grades for completing their work. Instead, they get something called a narrative evaluation, which is a long written explanation of what they did right and what they did wrong. There are also no specific required classes for graduation, but students must take classes in different areas depending on where they are in their studies.

The program is divided into three "Divisions" rather than four years, and students complete each Division as they show that they are capable of harder work. Most students graduate in four years, but not everyone takes the same amount of time for each Division.

  • Division I, requires students to complete one course in each of the five "Schools of Thought" (see below) and three other courses, either on or off campus. Students are allowed to take classes at any of the other four founding schools.
  • Division II, the concentration or "major," requires students to learn about a single subject in detail. Each student is responsible for designing their own Division II. They work with a committee of at least two faculty members. Many students choose a faculty committee whose members have the same interests as they do. Division II also has a community service project and a multicultural perspectives requirement (all students must show some study in a culture different then their own).
  • Division III, the advanced project, requires students to complete a complex project in their field of choice. Division III usually lasts one year and is completed while taking few or no classes. A Division III topic can be a long written paper (it is something like a traditional college's "bachelor's" or "honors" thesis, or, for the very best students, 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 project, or invention.

The Hampshire College faculty are not organized in traditional departments but in loosely collected Schools. The Schools' names and subjects have changed over the years, but there have always been between three and five of them. Since 2005, the Schools are:

Alumni and faculty

Notable Hampshire College alumni

  • Ken Burns, documentary filmmaker, The Civil War, Baseball and Jazz
  • Chuck Collins, political activist, co-founder of United For a Fair Economy
  • John Dwork, famously received a bachelor's degree in Frisbee (technically, "Flying Disc Entertainment and Education") from Hampshire in January 1984
  • John Falsey, television writer and producer, co-creator of St. Elsewhere and Northern Exposure
  • Daniel Horowitz, noted criminal-defense attorney.
  • Emily Hubley, award-winning animator, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
  • Will Killingsworth, musician, Orchid (band), Bucket Full of Teeth and Ampere (band) recording engineer, Dead Air Studios
  • Toby Driver, musician and artist, Kayo Dot and maudlin of the Well
  • Jon Krakauer, mountain climber and author, Into Thin Air and Into the Wild
  • Josiah Litant, Hampshire Assistant Dean of Student Services
  • Jeff Maguire, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter, In the Line of Fire
  • Eugene Mirman, comedian
  • Liev Schreiber, stage and screen actor, The Manchurian Candidate, director, Everything is Illuminated
  • Elliott Smith, singer and songwriter
  • Lee Smolin, theoretical physicist at the Perimeter Institute
  • Danny Tamberelli, actor, The Mighty Ducks and television series All That and The Adventures of Pete and Pete
  • Barry Sonnenfeld, director, Men in Black
  • Naomi Wallace, playwright, One Flea Spare, Slaugher City
  • Mike Ladd, Hip Hop MC and member of the Anti-Pop Consortium
  • Gary Hirshberg, Founder of Stonyfield Farm Yogurt
  • Joshua Wesson, Founder of Best Cellars, a national chain of affordable wine shops
  • Evan B. Brandes, Attorney / Author

Notable past and present faculty

  • Eqbal Ahmad, post-colonial political scholar
  • Leonard Baskin, artist
  • James Baldwin, writer
  • Herbert J. Bernstein, theoretical physicist, philosopher and educator
  • Bill Brand, experimental filmmaker
  • Susan Douglas, sociologist, writer
  • Mark Dresser, jazz musician, contrabass virtuoso
  • Marty Ehrlich, jazz musician
  • Lynne Hanley, literary critic
  • Norton Juster, architect and writer
  • Michael Klare, expert on U.S. defense policy
  • Yusef Lateef, musician
  • Michael Lesy, writer
  • Jerome Liebling, filmmaker and photographer
  • Lester Mazor, legal scholar, former law clerk to former Chief Justice Warren E. Burger
  • Abraham Ravett, filmmaker
  • Eric Schocket, American studies scholar
  • Frank Holmquist, political scientist focusing on Africa and Kenya specifically
  • Vivek Bhandari, subaltern studies political scholar
  • Laurie Nisonoff, feminist economist
  • Annie G. Rogers, clinical psychologist, writer, poet
  • Andrew Salkey, writer

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