A Campaign for Hampshire College



Founding Documents


The Original Vision For Hampshire College

The New College Plan:
A Proposal for a Major Departure
in Higher Education, 1958

C.L. Barber, Amherst College
Donald Sheehan, Smith College
Stuart M. Stoke, Mt. Holyoke College
Shannon McClune, University of Massachusetts

It is acknowledged on all sides that American higher education is facing a crisis, and that if we are to continue ‘the pursuit of excellence’ on which our society’s growth, health, and safety depend, we shall have to bring to bear both great resources and great imagination. Many things will need to be done to meet the rapidly mounting demand which is the result not only of a drastic increase in the college age population, but also of the steadily rising proportion of our young people who are seeking a college education. Amherst, Mount Holyoke, Smith, and the University of Massachusetts are already engaged in exploring and carrying out measures which each can take individually to meet the coming challenge. This report proposes that the four institutions also make a contribution cooperatively by sponsoring a new departure in liberal education of the highest quality.

The Making of a College:
A New Departure in
Higher Education, 1966

Franklin Patterson and Charles R. Longsworth

As the summer began, I found that the question of making a college, in the case of Hampshire, must be asked in three different, principal ways. One needed to ask again, even though eight years earlier the New College Plan had given an answer: what should Hampshire College be as an undergraduate institution? One needed to ask further: what should the Connecticut River Valley complex of Massachusetts institutions be, and what role should Hampshire College play within the complex? And because the new college would inevitably affect and be affected by its non- academic environment, one needed to ask: how should Hampshire College participate in the changing community life around it? “The Working Paper seeks to answer the basic question as it is asked in these three ways. It recommends that undergraduate liberal education at Hampshire College be even more thoroughly restructured, in terms of ends as well as means, than the New College Plan of 1958 suggested. It recommends that, as Hampshire College is established, the four sponsoring institutions and Hampshire take a giant step forward in interinstitutional cooperation, so the Valley complex may become one of the great coordinated centers of higher education in America. And it recommends that Hampshire College, hopefully in close collaboration with its sister institutions, play an active part as a corporate citizen in helping shape the rapid, inevitable urbanization of the Valley.
— Franklin Patterson, First President of Hampshire College
Taken together, these recommendations of the Working Paper present a model for a total enterprise in higher education. They are designed not only to enlarge and strengthen higher education in the Valley, but to provide a major demonstration which would contribute to educational development in the New England region and the nation as a whole.
— Charles R. Longsworth, Second President of Hampshire College
The previous crisis in liberal education mustered the imagination and idealism that created Hampshire College and served as its wellspring for nearly 50 years. More than 11,000 students have graduated from Hampshire since the year I joined its first class, in 1970. Among them are entrepreneurs, scientists, composers, writers, filmmakers, artists, musicians, doctors, lawyers, social activists, inventors, architects, actors, and educators of remarkable achievement. (Some two-thirds of Hampshire graduates have gone on to earn advanced degrees.) They have surely put to rest the worry harbored by their progenitors that young people in the late 20th century would no longer find preparation for a useful life and engaged citizenship in a liberal-arts education. It turns out that the ideas that launched Hampshire’s distinctive approach to learning and that have flourished there remain as true and evergreen as that verdant landscape I looked over a half century ago.
— Ellen Fitzpatrick 70F, Presidential Professor of History, University of New Hampshire