A decision on whether Hampshire College will be placed on probation or lose accreditation will wait until November, because the regional accreditor for the New England states decided it doesn't yet have enough information to make a determination.
The New England Commission of Higher Education decided to issue a public notation stating that Hampshire, a private college in Massachusetts, is in danger of not meeting standards on institutional resources and on organization and governance. A notation signals that the college's accreditation could be pulled if its current state continues or grows worse.
When the accreditor met at the end of May, Hampshire had appointed an interim president, started a search for a new president, installed several new board members and put a new board chair in place. Offering more time will allow the college to report on hiring a new president, improving board governance practices and developing plans for fund-raising, enrollment, tuition discounting and long-term sustainability, the accreditor said in a news release Friday.
Hampshire anticipates enrolling 600 students this fall after reporting enrollment of 1,120 this year. It has publicly wavered on whether to admit a new freshmen class this fall, saying in February that it would only be admitting new students in the upcoming fall who had previously deferred enrollment or who had signed up for early admission.
The accreditation action comes after Hampshire's previous administration sought to merge the college and in the face of stiff financial and enrollment challenges. An alumni revolt led to Hampshire's president and board chair departing, and new leaders pledged to keep the college open and independent. The turmoil drew the accreditor's scrutiny.
Hampshire leaders say they are starting up admissions operations so that they can recruit a class for the fall of 2020 and that they have raised $7 million in cash and pledges over three months.