ReEnvision Hampshire! A Coalition Teach-in

Tuesday, April 2 at 12 pm at FPH Main Lecture Hall

Join faculty, staff, and alumni to envision a new Hampshire that remains independent and true to our Mission!

The Future of Hampshire College: A Brown Bag Lunch Series

Tuesdays at noon at West Lecture Hall

Understanding and Controlling The Hampshire Narrative: Lessons from The Battle for Sweet Briar by Dr. Daniel Gottlieb, until recently Associate Professor of Psychology and Chair of Assessment at Sweet Briar College

March 26, 2019


There is likely a lot confusion as to what is happening at Hampshire College and what it means for the college and community. Although every situation is different, there are striking similarities with what happened at Sweet Briar College, and it is clear that the powers that be are using some of the same playbook. There are no easy answers, but an important starting point is taking control of the narrative, and this means understanding the situation as well as possible. To that end, I will address some of the tougher questions: How bad is our situation, really, and how would we know? What does it mean to not enroll a Fall 2019 class? Can we trust the Board and Administration to act in good faith? What can we do now?

Dan_Gottlieb_talk_March_26_2019 - SD

How Sweet Briar College was Saved in 2015 by Dr. Lilly Leonard, author of "Dedicated, Tireless, Unafraid: a case study of the effort that saved Sweet Briar College in 2015"

March 19, 2019

Dr. Leonard will speak about her research on Sweet Briar College, which famously avoided closure in 2015 through the efforts of alumni and its entire community. Her talk is based on her Ph.D. thesis: “DEDICATED, TIRELESS, UNAFRAID”: A CASE STUDY OF THE EFFORT THAT SAVED SWEET BRIAR COLLEGE IN 2015” (Frostsburg State University, 2018).

ABSTRACT: This explanatory case study investigated how members of the Sweet Briar College community formed and evolved to save the institution after it was announced in March 2015 that the class graduating in May 2015 would be its last.

Etienne Wenger’s (2015) communities of practice provided the theoretical lens through which the analysis of the effort to save Sweet Briar College was studied. This framework encompasses five levels of participation within a community: core, active, occasional, peripheral and transactional. This study applies the communities of practice framework as a problem-solving tool, not necessarily a knowledge-sharing tool, although knowledge is inevitably shared in the process of solving a problem within a community of practice. Thus, a key contribution from this study includes a better understanding of how a community of practice evolves in a time of need to solve a problem; this research can provide insight for participants, as well as leaders, into what a successful community of practice might entail.

The data for this study were collected in two ways: interviews of 16 members of the Sweet Briar College community; and document analysis of more than 400 newspaper articles, social media posts, emails and other communications beginning with the closure announcement on March 3, 2015 and ending with the legal settlement on June 20, 2015.

This study found that the effort to save Sweet Briar College was successful because of three primary factors: the motivation of participants to join and engage in the community of practice; the immediacy in which the core group organized and set a series of shared goals; and the multitude of engagement opportunities and high levels of participation throughout the community of practice.

A conversation with alums:

  • Steve Aronstein
  • Allison Brown, F96
  • Warren Goldstein F79
  • Catherine Smith F05