Hampshire College president resigns

Trustee Ken Rosenthal to serve as interim-president


(Courtesy of Hampshire College official Facebook page)

By Will Mallas, Assistant News Editor

Hampshire College President Miriam Nelson announced her resignation from her position Friday as the school continues its search for a strategic partner.

According to a press release from Hampshire College Media Relations, Nelson submitted a letter of resignation to the college’s board of trustees two days earlier and the resignation was effective as of 4 p.m. Friday.

Nelson, in a letter sent out to Hampshire on Friday, said that the college’s search for a strategic partner “pulled our community apart,” ultimately leading to her decision to resign.

“So long as I were to remain president of Hampshire, the community’s feelings about me would be a distraction from the necessary work,” Nelson wrote. “I am confident a new leader will work within a more favorable environment and find the path to daylight that has eluded me.”

Trustee Ken Rosenthal will serve as interim-president until the board selects a permanent replacement. The process for selecting a replacement may take “many months,” Rosenthal said at the Red Barn at Hampshire, one of the college’s many buildings.

As president, Rosenthal said he hopes to “help the college think of what it will become.”

“It is a great time to re-envision the college,” he added.

Additionally, Rosenthal urged that “retention was very important for the college.”

“The most important students we have now are our current students, and we encourage as many of our present students as we can to come back next year,” he said.

Serving as a part of the college’s inception in 1970, Rosenthal has been working with the college throughout its nearly 50-year existence and has also served as the college historian.

Regarding Nelson, who has been president since April 2018, Rosenthal said she “worked very hard” but that he is “a different person” and wants to bring the college together. He also noted that as of Friday, he did not know all of the options being considered for Hampshire.

Vice Chair of the Board Kim Saal also announced his resignation Friday.

“My love for Hampshire has never wavered, and I will always cherish being a member of the Hampshire community,” Saal said in the press release.

The two resignations come one week after Chair of the Board Gaye Hill announced her resignation. Hill cited “vitriol, slanderous attacks and the questioning of motives that have been leveled at not only me but at colleagues” as reason for her resignation.

“I’ve become a lightning rod for criticism and felt it was time to step away,” Hill said.

Nelson, in her letter, said Hill’s resignation was “distressing for me.”

As the college has searched for a strategic partner, Hampshire’s leadership faces increasing scrutiny from students, faculty and local officials. The college has been conducting this search since January and announced in February it would be accepting a limited freshman class for the fall semester.

Luis Hernandez, the current interim chair of the Board of Trustees who replaced Hill, said he was “dismayed at what [Nelson] has had to endure.”

“What [Nelson] tried to do was emphasize that Hampshire’s long-term viability is an existential question,” Hernandez said in Friday’s press release. “I hope we can now move toward actually addressing that issue together.”

Will Mallas can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @willmallas.