Hampshire College’s accreditation in jeopardy

Staff Writer
Published: 4/19/2019 11:19:26 AM

AMHERST — The accreditation agency for the region’s colleges and universities has asked Hampshire College “to show cause why it should not be placed on probation or have its accreditation withdrawn.”

The New England Commission of Higher Education, or NECHE, voted on April 12 to ask the college for that information because it “had reason to believe that Hampshire College is not meeting the Commission’s Standards on Organization and Governance and Institutional Resources,” according to a joint press release from the agency and the college. NECHE will consider the submitted information at its meeting on May 30.

“Hampshire is taking important steps to operate as a smaller college and to fundraise in support of our mission, guided by our Board of Trustees,” Hampshire’s interim President Ken Rosenthal said in the statement. “We welcome this opportunity to come before the Commission to present our plans as we restructure and financially reinvigorate the College, and to demonstrate that we remain in full compliance with the Commission’s standards.”

Hampshire was re-accredited last March following NECHE’s evaluation, which takes place every 10 years. Rosenthal added that college is “confident that we will continue to uphold NECHE’s standards.”

If NECHE finds that Hampshire College is now meeting its standards, it will maintain the college’s accreditation and consider future monitoring, according to the press release.

“Decisions to place an institution on probation or withdraw accreditation are appealable,” the statement reads. “Institutions placed on probation remain accredited and eligible for federal funding, including student aid.”

Hampshire College is in the midst of a major fundraising campaign after its trustees voted recently to pursue independence, changing course after several months of exploring “strategic partnerships” with other institutions.

In a letter to campus on Friday, Rosenthal said that Hampshire and two alumni-led fundraising efforts have already received commitments of close to $4.7 million. The school hopes to raise $20 million this year and as much as $100 million within the next five years. Rosenthal announced in his message that filmmaker Ken Burns, a graduate of the school, has agreed to serve as a campaign chair, and has himself made “a significant pledge.”

“Our trustees, working with our administrators and many campus stakeholders from the Re-envisioning Coalition and beyond, have developed a five-year financial plan to leverage the campaign’s funding and restructure the College,” Rosenthal wrote. “I’m confident in the plan. We will finalize it soon and, when the Board approves it, we’ll share it with our community.”

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.


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