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May 29, 2007

College Presidents Decry UMass Reorganization


In the following letter, the presidents of Smith, Amherst, Hampshire and Mount Holyoke colleges express strong concerns about the reorganization of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and its potential impact on five college cooperation.

May 25, 2007


President Jack M. Wilson, University of Massachusetts
Governor Deval Patrick
State Representative Salvatore Dimasi, Massachusetts Speaker of the House
State Senator Therese Murray, Massachusetts Senate President
State Senator Robert O’Leary, Co-Chair, Committee on Higher Education
State Representative Kevin Murphy, Co-Chair, Committee on Higher Education

We are writing to express our strong concerns about the reorganization of the University of Massachusetts.  A quite critical matter, from our perspective, is the negative impact that this reorganization might have on the Five College Consortium.  For over forty years, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, and Smith College have developed a highly successful consortium, widely recognized as a national model for cooperation and collaboration among institutions of higher education.  The consortium is an outgrowth of a highly successful collaboration in the 1950’s among Amherst, Mount Holyoke, Smith, and the University, which resulted in the founding of a fifth institution, Hampshire College.  The consortium has grown and developed since that time; we have joint departments and programs, a joint automated library system, open cross registration for all of our students; where it makes sense, we seek ways to share administrative and operational functions, and we are making an increasing number of joint faculty appointments, hiring pre-eminent scholars who teach students from all of our institutions.  We recently completed a fiber-optic network connecting our campuses and providing valuable bandwidth to numerous municipalities and schools along the route.  To the benefit of all, we have become increasingly interdependent.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst is an essential partner in this consortium.  Its differences from the four private colleges—the scale of its operations, its graduate programs—bring a particular and unique value to us, as our differences bring to the university.  However, our success requires the full and active participation of the leaders of each of our institutions.  Put in the simplest of terms, we need a strong and independent chancellor from the University of Massachusetts Amherst at the table with us.  Organizational changes that compromise the university’s participation and independence will disrupt our working relationships and threaten the increasing collaboration that advances opportunities for students, faculty, and staff in the public and private sectors and strengthens the Commonwealth’s leadership position in higher education. 


Carol T. Christ                                                       
Smith College                                                                
President, Five Colleges, Incorporated               

Joanne V. Creighton

Mount Holyoke College   

Ralph J. Hexter
Hampshire College

Anthony W. Marx                                                
Amherst College                                                    


Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Marti Hobbes
News Assistant
T (413) 585-2190
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