Hampshire College names Edward Wingenbach eighth president

  • Edward Wingenbach was announced as Hampshire College’s eighth president on Wednesday. HAMPSHIRE COLLEGE

  • Hampshire College, Amherst

Staff Writer
Published: 7/17/2019 3:49:49 PM

AMHERST — Hampshire College has named a new president to lead the school during a time of financial uncertainty.

On Wednesday, the college announced that its board of trustees had unanimously voted to appoint Edward Wingenbach as Hampshire’s eighth president. Wingenbach has served for the last six months as acting president of Ripon College in Wisconsin, where he has worked since 2015 as a professor of politics and government, as well as vice president and dean of faculty. Prior to that, he held several academic and administrative roles at the University of Redlands in California for 15 years.

“For 50 years, Hampshire College has represented all that is best in higher education,” Wingenbach said in a statement after accepting the appointment. “I see my charge as helping to reinvigorate its proud legacy of innovation, because its example is too important, and there are too many students who need and want its high-impact, individualized, student-driven education. I believe in Hampshire and I’m excited to help lead it into its second half-century.”

The appointment comes after considerable turmoil at the iconoclastic college. In January, then-President Miriam “Mim” Nelson announced that Hampshire needed to partner with another institution in order to survive financially.

That decision, together with the board’s vote on Feb. 1 to admit only a bare-bones class this fall, caused unrest on campus, eventually leading to Nelson’s resignation. One of Hampshire’s founders, Ken Rosenthal, took over the role of interim president, and nine trustees resigned together with Nelson after the board decided to reverse course and fundraise in order to maintain the college’s independence.

The board of trustees recently voted to accept a full class in the fall of 2020.

The board decided to appoint Wingenbach after receiving a formal recommendation from a presidential search committee made up of trustees, faculty, students, staff, and alumni.

“We welcome Ed to Hampshire — he embodies the many ideals that our students, staff, faculty, and alumni bring to our community,” board Chairman Luis Hernandez said in a statement. “We are ready to support him in our important next steps forward and to work together with a sense of renewal and hope.”

In a press release, Hampshire touted Wingenbach’s teaching at the University of Redlands’ Johnston Center for Integrative Studies, where the college said he practiced an individualized learning model similar to Hampshire’s.

Hernandez elaborated in a separate email to campus, saying Wingenbach’s own trajectory has mirrored Hampshire’s example: “from his undergraduate years in a traditional academic environment where he forged an independent program of interdisciplinary study and completed an optional senior thesis; to his scholarship on political thought, radical democracy, and collaborative governance; to his passion for inclusion and support for experimentation as essential elements of academic leadership.”

Wingenbach will be introduced to the public during a press conference on Thursday. He is expected to start work early next month as Hampshire continues to pursue steep fundraising goals.

“It’s time to put Hampshire back on your college tour list,” he said in his statement. “Come visit this summer or fall.”

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


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