24 More Staff Laid Off At Hampshire College, With Dozens Of Faculty Also Affected

Apr 30, 2019

Updated 4:47 p.m. 

Two dozen staff at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, are losing their jobs, and about 60 faculty will also be impacted. 

This comes as Hampshire faces a financial crunch and a student body next fall of about half its current size. 

Hampshire said in an announcement on Monday that reductions in the school's professor ranks will add up to a 45 percent savings in faculty salaries.

"A lot of faculty members volunteered to go down to 75 percent time or 50 percent time -- some of those offers were accepted and others weren't," Christoph Cox -- a Hampshire professor who will stay on full-time at the school next year -- told NEPR Tuesday.

In addition to the faculty accepting reduced hours, some are retiring. But the largest group will take voluntary leaves of absence to teach at other schools. That includes some finding positions with nearby colleges.

"Five College colleagues and institutions stepped in and were very generous in offering Hampshire folks visiting positions," Cox said. "Which is wonderful in a lot of ways, because it allows [them] to remain in the valley, to teach courses that Hampshire students -- in principle -- could take, while also a lot of those faculty will be available for the advising that's really central to a Hampshire education."

The job cuts at Hampshire also include 12 visiting faculty who will not see their contracts renewed, a spokesperson said.

Further, the college said 24 staff members will be laid off at the end of June, all of whom are eligible for severance pay. That's on top of the nine who lost their jobs earlier this month, and is separate from the layoffs of a large group of food-service workers employed by another company.

"Hampshire is a lean institution that doesn't have an overabundance of staff," Cox said. "All the staff members on campus are really dedicated to Hampshire and really care about the place, and so any staff layoffs are a real detriment to the college."

Hampshire has said the school could see as few as 550 students next year, as it accepted a tiny freshman class, and some current students decided to transfer.

"Securing our finances is essential as we begin to restructure Hampshire and lead a major fundraising campaign," interim President Ken Rosenthal said in a letter to the campus. "I’m optimistic we’ll be a stronger institution for our 50th anniversary in 2020 and our next half-century."

This all comes as school administrators face the threat of Hampshire losing its accreditation or going on probation. They make their case to accreditors late next month.