Hampden-Sydney College (hereafter referred to as "the College") is a liberal arts institution with an enrollment of approximately 1000 men. The College has been in continuous operation since November 1775, is one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the United States and is the oldest of the country's few remaining colleges for men. It is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and is a member of the Association of Virginia Colleges, the Association of American Colleges, the College Entrance Examination Board, the American Chemical Society, and the College Scholarship Service.

The 1350-acre campus sits in Virginia's historic Southside, 70 miles southwest of Richmond and four miles south of Farmville. Part of the campus has been designated an historic preservation zone.


Hampden-Sydney's first president, Samuel Stanhope Smith, described the mission of the College as the formation of good men and good citizens in an atmosphere of sound learning. In pursuit of this mission, Hampden-Sydney aims, through a comprehensive study of the liberal arts, to instill in selected students of ability a commitment to excellence and sound scholarship; to cultivate qualities of character rooted in ethical and religious values; to engender clear thinking and expression; to develop a broad understanding of the world and our place in it; to impart a comprehension of social institutions as a basis for the exercise of intelligent citizenship and community leadership; to prepare those with special interests and capacities for graduate study and research; and to equip graduates with the fundamental skills for a rewarding and productive life.


The College was first proposed in 1771 and was formally organized in February 1775, when the Presbytery of Hanover, meeting at Slate Hill Plantation, about two miles from the site of the present campus, accepted the gift of the site for the campus, elected Trustees (most of whom were Episcopalian), and named as Rector (later styled President) the Reverend Samuel Stanhope Smith. The small frame building in which the Presbytery's meeting was held has since been placed on campus near Atkinson Hall.  Mr. Smith, Valedictorian of the Princeton class of 1769, had been actively promoting the idea of establishing a college in the heavily Scotch-Irish area of south-central Virginia since he began his ministry there in 1772. The College's first classes began on November 10, 1775.

The name Hampden-Sydney was chosen to symbolize the devotion of the founders of the College to the principles of representative government and full civil and religious freedom which John Hampden (1594-1643) and Algernon Sydney (1622-1678) had outspokenly supported, and for which they had given their lives, in England's two great constitutional crises of the previous century. Hampden and Sydney were widely invoked as hero-martyrs by American colonial patriots, and their names immediately associated the College with the cause of independence championed by James Madison, Patrick Henry, and other less famous, but equally vigorous, patriots who were among the College's early Board of Trustees. Indeed, the original students eagerly committed themselves to the revolutionary effort, organized a militia company, drilled regularly, and went off to the defenses of Williamsburg and of Petersburg in 1777 and 1778 respectively. Their uniform of a garnet hunting shirt (a color obtained by dyeing the shirt in pokeberry juice) and gray trousers gives the College its traditional colors.

During the first one hundred years, the College prospered and grew to maturity, gaining the respect of the public and of the educational world. However, religious controversy, the nation's and Virginia's economic troubles, and the Civil War and its aftermath were for the next two generations the testing-fires of Hampden-Sydney as a stronghold of academic quality. Once again, at the outset of the Civil War the student body organized a company with the President as Captain. These men, officially named the "Hampden-Sydney Boys," saw action in the disaster of Rich Mountain (July 10, 1861), were captured, and were paroled by General George B. McClellan on the condition that they return to their studies.

The twentieth century saw considerable expansion and construction, all as part of the general enhancement of an already distinguished college. The Campus has grown steadily through purchase and gift and is surrounded largely by farms, small residences, and woodland.

For more detail on the College's development and some of those who had a part in it, please refer to the Academic Catalogue for the current year, or to On This Hill: A Narrative History of Hampden-Sydney College 1774-1994, by John Luster Brinkley.


The College was incorporated by the grant of a Charter from the General Assembly of Virginia in June 1783. The Chief Executive officer of the College is the President. All lines of authority and responsibility flow to him. For internal matters, however, these lines flow to the President through his Senior Cabinet Officers. The President is responsible to the Board of Trustees, of which he is an ex-officio member. The other 40 members are elected for 4-year terms. The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees reviews the recommendations of the President and may act on behalf of the full Board of Trustees, which is responsible for the overall policies of the College.

The College has seven administrators who assist the President in managing the College. These officers, known as the Senior Cabinet Officers, are:

  • Dean of Admissions
  • Provost
  • Dean of the Faculty
  • Dean of Students
  • Vice President for Business Affairs and Finance
  • Vice President for Institutional Advancement
  • Director of Communications & Marketing

The line of organization consists of the President, the Senior Cabinet Officers, and the department supervisors. All day-to-day authority rests ultimately with the President, who delegates to the Senior Cabinet Officers. Responsibility for the operation of each department lies with the appropriate Senior Cabinet Officer, who reports directly to the President.

Each Senior Cabinet Officer keeps the President and other Senior Cabinet Officers informed of the plans, activities, and concerns of his or her area of responsibility. Even though each Senior Cabinet Officer has direct control over his or her area of responsibility, the President is consulted before major policy changes are made.

In the absence of, or during the disability of the President, the Dean of the Faculty acts for the President in all routine matters. Administrative staff members report directly to the Senior Cabinet Officer responsible for their area; faculty members should consult first with the Dean of the Faculty on matters concerning academic and faculty affairs. In general, any problem or matter of concern should be taken up with the administrator responsible for that area.

The Key and the Faculty Handbook define the areas of faculty responsibility. Normally, a faculty issue or policy matter is studied by a committee of the faculty that reports to the whole faculty for decision. Except under exceptional circumstances, as outlined by the College bylaws, a faculty decision within the faculty's sphere of responsibility is final. However, operational details are not the proper responsibility of the faculty.

The faculty may appropriately request an explanation or question any decision made by an administrator, but executive authority remains with the President and his staff. While the President, as Chief Executive Officer, has veto power over any official action proposed by the officers or committees of the College, the normal pattern of governance is that of seeking consensus through consultation. If the difference of opinion is particularly severe, the issue may be referred to the Executive Committee of the Board or to the full Board of Trustees. However, since the President is directly responsible to the Board of Trustees for the conduct of the College, all official communications of faculty, administrative personnel or students are to be sent to the Board through the President or with his full knowledge.


The Employee Handbook has been prepared for use by the College employees to provide answers to frequently asked questions and summarize College policies. Employees must abide by these policies and procedures. As an employer, the College reserves the right to determine whether and how to apply policies in particular cases. The College also reserves the right to change policies and employee benefits as necessary and appropriate.

The Employee Handbook and the policies it includes are not contracts with any employee. Nothing in this handbook creates, or is intended to create, a promise or representation of continued employment for any employee.

The Employee Handbook outlines various policies, services, facilities, and resources to help employees become familiar with the College community. The handbook is current as of the publication date. When operational procedures or policies are updated or changed, future editions of the handbook will include the changes, or updates will be sent out by campus mail or e-mail. The Employee Handbook is not intended to supersede any College policies. If, at any time, conflicts arise between statements in the handbook and existing policies, official policy statements will override handbook statements.

Employees who feel there are differences between the information in this handbook and information given to them by their supervisor should discuss the matter with the supervisor. Employees who need specific information about human resource policies not covered in this handbook should talk to their immediate supervisor, Senior Cabinet Officer, or appropriate staff member in the Human Resources Office.

This Handbook is communicated electronically via public website access.  Revisions to the Handbook will be communicated via College email.  New employees will be provided guidance on accessing the Handbook and asked to sign an Acknowledgement Form to acknowledge receipt of this information.  This form acknowledges that he or she has read, or will read, the Handbook in its entirety.  Questions concerning the contents of the Handbook should be addressed with Human Resources at any time.

Hard copies of the Employee Handbook are available in the Human Resources Office for individuals without computer access.


The management of Hampden-Sydney College reserves the right to exercise all the customary and ordinary functions of management, including, but not limited to, the right to manage and control the premises and equipment; to select, hire, promote, suspend, dismiss, assign, supervise, and discipline employees; to determine and change work schedules and shifts; to transfer employees within departments or into other departments and other classifications; to determine and change the size, composition, and qualifications of the work force; to establish, change and abolish policies, practices, procedures, rules, and regulations; to determine and modify job descriptions and job classifications; to determine and change the methods and means by which College operations are to be carried out; and to assign duties to employees in accordance with the College's needs and requirements.