Hampden–Sydney College

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Hampden–Sydney College
Seal of Hampden–Sydney College
MottoHuc venite iuvenes ut exeatis viri (Latin: Come here as boys so you may leave as men), You can do anything with a degree from H-SC
TypePrivate men's college
EndowmentUS $150.9 million[1]
PresidentChristopher B. Howard
ProvostDennis G. Stevens
Academic staff128
LocationHampden Sydney, Virginia, USA
37°14′31″N 78°27′37″W / 37.242041°N 78.460279°W / 37.242041; -78.460279Coordinates: 37°14′31″N 78°27′37″W / 37.242041°N 78.460279°W / 37.242041; -78.460279
CampusRural, 1,200 acres (4.86 km2)
Former namesHampden—Sidney College
ColorsGarnet and Grey          
AthleticsNCAA Division III, Old Dominion Athletic Conference, eight varsity teams
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Hampden–Sydney College
Seal of Hampden–Sydney College
MottoHuc venite iuvenes ut exeatis viri (Latin: Come here as boys so you may leave as men), You can do anything with a degree from H-SC
TypePrivate men's college
EndowmentUS $150.9 million[1]
PresidentChristopher B. Howard
ProvostDennis G. Stevens
Academic staff128
LocationHampden Sydney, Virginia, USA
37°14′31″N 78°27′37″W / 37.242041°N 78.460279°W / 37.242041; -78.460279Coordinates: 37°14′31″N 78°27′37″W / 37.242041°N 78.460279°W / 37.242041; -78.460279
CampusRural, 1,200 acres (4.86 km2)
Former namesHampden—Sidney College
ColorsGarnet and Grey          
AthleticsNCAA Division III, Old Dominion Athletic Conference, eight varsity teams

Hampden–Sydney College is a liberal arts college for men located in Hampden Sydney, Virginia, United States. Founded in 1775, Hampden–Sydney is the oldest private charter college in the Southern U.S., the last college founded before the American Revolution, and one of only three four-year, all-men's liberal arts colleges in the United States.


Hampden–Sydney enrolls 1,106 students from 30 states and several foreign countries, and emphasizes a rigorous and traditional liberal arts curriculum.[3]

Along with Wabash College and Morehouse College, Hampden–Sydney is one of only three remaining traditional all-male colleges in the United States and is noted as a highly regarded all-male institution of higher education in North America.[4] The school's mission is to "form good men and good citizens in an atmosphere of sound learning". As such, Hampden–Sydney has one of the strictest honor codes of any college or university. Upon entering as a student, each man pledges that he will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do; this pledge is binding for life. The pledge takes place during a ceremony in which the entering class sits in absolute silence while each man, when his name is called, comes forward and signs the pledge. This simply worded code of behavior applies to the students on or off campus. The Honor Code system is student-run, allowing for a trial of peers, adjudicated by a court of students. Students convicted of an honor offense face anywhere between 1 to 3 semesters of suspension or expulsion. Notably, a separate Code of Student Conduct covers "behavioral" infractions such as attempting to drink underage that do not rise to the level of an honor offense (which only arise if deception or theft is involved). Thus, in effect, a two-tier system of student discipline is maintained; the Code of Student Conduct (regarding policies on parking or drinking) are enforced by the Dean of Students' Office with the help of the Student Court while the Honor Code system (with more serious penalties for lying, cheating, or stealing) is maintained exclusively by the students themselves. Though grievous violation of the Code of Student Conduct may result in expulsion, it is rare that any student is expelled except by sentencing of the Honor Court.

Every student must prepare for and pass the Rhetoric Proficiency Exam, which requires passing a three-hour essay that is graded upon coherence of argument, quality of argument, style in which the argument is presented, and grammatical correctness. To prepare, the college requires each student to pass two rhetoric classes that are usually taken during the first two semesters. The rhetoric requirement is the same for students who decide to major in the humanities as those who follow a course of studies in economics. After graduating, many alumni[who?] have stated that the Rhetoric Program was the most valuable aspect in the Hampden–Sydney education.


Letter from the board of Hampden–Sydney to George Washington, April 6, 1796

The college's founder and first president, Samuel Stanhope Smith, was born in Pequea, Pennsylvania. He graduated as a valedictorian from the College of New Jersey in 1769, and he went on to study theology and philosophy under John Witherspoon, whose daughter he married on 28 June 1775. In his mid-twenties, working as a missionary in Virginia, Smith persuaded the Hanover Presbytery to found a school east of the Blue Ridge, which he referred to in his advertisement of 1 September 1775 as “an Academy in Prince Edward...distinguished by the Name of HAMPDEN-SIDNEY".[5] The school, not then named, was always intended to be a college-level institution; later in the same advertisement, Smith explicitly likens its curriculum to that of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). “Academy” was a technical term used for college-level schools not run by the established church.[6]

Classes at Hampden–Sydney began in temporary wooden structures on November 10, 1775, on the eve of American Independence, moving into its three-story brick building early in 1776. The college has been in continuous operation since that date, operating under the British, Confederate, and United States flags. In fact, classes have only been canceled three times: for a Civil War skirmish on campus, for a hurricane that knocked a tree into a dormitory building, and for a snowstorm. Since the college was founded before the proclamation of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, it was eligible for an official coat of arms and armorial bearings from the College of Arms of the Royal Household of the United Kingdom. Through gifts from the F. M. Kirby Foundation, Professor John Brinkley ('59), in whose honor the "achievement of arms" was given, liaised with Mr. John Brooke-Little, then the Richmond Herald, in designing the arms for the college. The Latin text of the "letters patent" conferring the arms is dated July 4, 1976; Mr. Brooke-Little—who with the Queen's special permission appeared in full herald's uniform—made the presentation on Yorktown Day, October 19, 1976, at the college.[7]

Despite the difficult and financially strapped first years resulting from the Revolutionary War, the college survived with sufficient viability to be granted a charter by the Virginia General Assembly in 1783—the oldest private charter in the South. Patrick Henry, then Governor of Virginia, encouraged the passage of the charter, and wrote into it an oath of allegiance to the new republic, required of all professors.

The College Seal. Approved by the board in 1783[8]

Presumably under the influence of his mentor and father-in-law Witherspoon,[9] Smith named the college for two English champions of liberty, John Hampden (1594–1643) and Algernon Sydney (1622–1683). Hampden lost his life in the battle of Chalgrove Field during the English Civil War. Sydney, who wrote "Discourses Concerning Government", was beheaded by order of Charles II following his (unproven) implication in a failed attempt to overthrow the king. These proponents of religious and civil liberties were much admired by the founders of the college, all of whom were active supporters of the cause of American independence.

The college was founded by alumni of Princeton University. Both Patrick Henry, who did not attend any college, and James Madison, a Princeton alumnus, were elected trustees in the founding period before classes began. Smith hired his brother, John Blair Smith, and two other recent Princeton graduates to teach. Samuel Stanhope Smith would later become president of Princeton University. John Blair Smith would become the second president of Hampden–Sydney and later the first president of Union College.

Hampden–Sydney became a thriving college while located in southside Virginia, which led to expansion. In 1812, the Union Theological Seminary was founded at Hampden–Sydney College. The seminary was later moved to Richmond, Virginia and is currently the Union Theological Seminary & Presbyterian School of Christian Education. In 1838, the medical department of Hampden–Sydney College was founded—the Medical College of Virginia, which is now the MCV Campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. During this time, the college constructed new buildings using Federal-style architecture with Georgian touches. This is the style of architecture still used on the campus.

At the onset of the American Civil War, Hampden–Sydney students formed a company in the Virginia Militia. The Hampden–Sydney students did not see much action but rather were “captured, and...paroled by General George B. McClellan on the condition that they return to their studies".[10]

During World War II, Hampden–Sydney College was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a commission.[11]

The college has hosted a wide array of noteworthy musicians over the years. Bruce Springsteen, the Allman Brothers, Dave Matthews Band, Widespread Panic, Bruce Hornsby, Pretty Lights, and Government Mule are among the popular visitors to Hampden–Sydney throughout the latter half of the twentieth century.

On May 11, 1964, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy visited Hampden–Sydney College to speak with students.[12]

In 1988, then Vice President, George H. W. Bush, gave the commencement address.


Hampden-Sydney College Historic District
Cushing Hall at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia.JPG
The grounds of Hampden–Sydney
LocationBounded approximately by the Hampden-Sydney College campus, Hampden-Sydney, Virginia
Area270 acres (110 ha)
Architectural styleGreek Revival, Federal
Governing bodyPrivate
NRHP Reference #70000822[13]
VLR #073-0058
Significant dates
Added to NRHPFebruary 26, 1970
Designated VLRDecember 2, 1969[14]

The College has expanded from its original small cluster of buildings on 100 acres (0.4 km²) to a campus of over 1300 acres (5.25 km²). Before 2006, the college owned 660 acres (2.7 km²). In February 2006, the college purchased 400 acres (1.6 km²) which include a lake and Slate Hill Plantation, the historic location of the college’s founding. The campus is host to numerous federal style buildings. Part of the campus has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district.[15]

Student life[edit]


As one of only a few higher educational institutions for men, and being older than the nation in which it is located, Hampden–Sydney College has a unique culture. Students are also issued a copy of To Manner Born, To Manners Bred: A Hip-pocket Guide to Etiquette for the Hampden–Sydney Man,[16] which covers everything from basic manners, how to greet and introduce people, how to respond to invitations, how to dress, the difference between a black-tie and white-tie event, how to choose a wine, etc. The college publishes the book as a useful tool for existing successfully in a variety of social settings.[17]

Clubs and organizations[edit]

According to the Hampden–Sydney College website, there are over 40 clubs on campus. Each club is run by the students. There are political clubs, sports clubs, religious clubs, a student-run radio station, a pep band, and multiple social fraternities. There are also volunteer groups such as Habitat for Humanity and Rotaract.

The college campus is home to a unique volunteer fire department, The Hampden–Sydney Volunteer Fire Department, which provides fire suppression service and non-transport basic life support EMS to Prince Edward County and the college, as well as assisting the town of Farmville Fire Department with fire suppression at nearly all working fires within the town limits on a regular basis. HSVFD, Company 2, is located on the south end of campus near the water tower and the physical plant. Contrary to popular belief, and despite its location and the fact that 90% of the membership comes from college faculty, staff, and students, the fire department is, in fact, not affiliated with the college.[18]

Union-Philanthropic Literary Society (UPLS) is the oldest student organization at Hampden–Sydney College. Established on September 22, 1789, it is the nation's second oldest literary and debating society still in existence today.

Greek life[edit]

For freshmen, rush begins in the first semester and pledging takes place in the spring. If a student chooses not to rush and/or pledge as a freshman, sophomores and juniors may pledge in the fall or spring. Roughly 34% of the student body is involved in Greek life.[19] Beta Theta Pi used Atkinson Hall (built 1834) as a fraternity house when it came to campus in 1850 possibly making it one of the first fraternity houses in North America. Chi Psi is widely believed to have created the first fraternity house in 1845 at the University of Michigan.[20][21]

In addition to the social and professional fraternities listed above, Hampden–Sydney also has chapters of Phi Beta Kappa, the Academic Honor Society;[32] Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society;[33] Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership honor society[34] and Alpha Psi Omega, a national honors society for theatre arts.[35]


Freshmen are required to live in one of three dorms that are set aside for freshmen. These dorms are Cushing Hall, the Carpenter Dormitories (X and Y), and the Whitehouse Quadrangle. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors have the option of living in any of the other dorms that they choose (these additional residences include Carpenter Z, the Hampden House Units, Venable Hall, Alphabet Dormitories B through F, and the Blake Apartments). Fraternity houses are available for members and the chapter president and several specialty houses—usually organized around a club, sports team, or other student group—are available. The Elliott House is reserved for Honor Students who choose to live there. Although an overwhelming majority of students live on campus or in campus-owned housing, the school does permit a small number of students (usually upperclassmen) to live off-campus. In addition, some students also rent rooms in local campus homes.



H-SC Tigers logo

Hampden–Sydney College teams participate as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division III. The Tigers are a member of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC). Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, swimming & diving and tennis.

Hampden–Sydney's rivalry with Randolph-Macon College is one of the longest-running college rivalries in the United States. "The Game" is often referred to as the oldest small-school football rivalry in the South,[36] with the first match up having been played in 1893. Athletic events involving the two schools are fiercely competitive, and the week prior to "The Game" between Hampden–Sydney and Randolph-Macon is known as "Beat Macon Week".[37]

Football results by year[edit]

Presidents of Hampden–Sydney College[edit]

Jonathan P. Cushing, fifth president of the college

The following is a list of the Presidents of Hampden–Sydney College from its opening in 1775 until the present.[38]

#NameTerm beginTerm endNotes
1Samuel Stanhope Smith17751779
2John Blair Smith17791789
*Drury Lacy17891797Vice President and Acting President
3Archibald Alexander17971806
*William S. Reid18071807Vice President and Acting President
4Moses Hoge18071820
5Jonathan P. Cushing18211835Acting President (1820–1821)
*George A. Baxter18351835Acting President
6Daniel Lynn Carroll18351838
7William Maxwell18381845

8Patrick J. Sparrow18451847
*S. B. Wilson18471847Acting President
*F. S. Sampson18471848Acting President
*Charles Martin18481849Acting President
9Lewis W. Green18491856
*Albert L. Holladay18561856Died before taking office
*Charles Martin18561857Acting President
10John M. P. Atkinson18571883
11Richard McIlwaine18831904
*James R. Thornton19041904Acting President
*W. H. Whiting, Jr.19041905Acting President
*J. H. C. Bagby19051905
12James G. McAllister19051908
*W. H. Whiting, Jr.19081909Acting President
13Henry T. Graham19091917
*Ashton W. McWhorter19171919Acting President
14Joseph DuPuy Eggleston19191939
15Edgar Graham Gammon19391955
16Joseph Clarke Robert19551960
17Thomas Edward Gilmer19601963
18Walter Taylor Reveley II19631977
19Josiah Bunting III19771987
20James Richard Leutze19871990
*John Scott Colley19901991Acting President
21Ralph Arthur Rossum19911992Resigned after one year
22Samuel V. Wilson19922000
23Walter M. Bortz III20002009
24Christopher B. Howard2009Present

Notable alumni[edit]



Forbes ranked Hampden–Sydney #4 in its 2010 ranking of the best private colleges in the South. It ranked #6 among Forbes 20 best colleges in the South.[39]

See also[edit]

Category:Hampden–Sydney College alumni


  1. ^ As of October 8, 2014. "Good news presented at a recent Richmond alumni meeting.". Hampden–Sydney College. Hampden–Sydney College. October 8, 2014. Retrieved October 10, 2014. 
  2. ^ As of 2014–2015 academic year. "Good news presented at a recent Richmond alumni meeting.". Hampden–Sydney College. Hampden–Sydney College. October 8, 2014. Retrieved October 10, 2014. 
  3. ^ Programs of Study and Academic Catalogue
  4. ^ Whitman, David. Wabash College, One of a Dying Breed, US News and World Report, 31 January 1999.
  5. ^ Virginia Gazette, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1 September 1775.
  6. ^ Brinkley, 5 and Appendix I, 847–50
  7. ^ [1], Accessed October 15, 2013.
  8. ^ http://www.hsc.edu/About-H-SC/History-of-H-SC/Coat-of-Arms.html
  9. ^ Brinkley, 15
  10. ^ History of HSC at the college's official website
  11. ^ "An army of good men". Hampden Sydney, Virginia: Hampden–Sydney College. 2011. Retrieved September 26, 2011. 
  12. ^ Louis Briel '66 Remembers Kennedy on YouTube
  13. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  14. ^ "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  15. ^ "Prince Edward County Historic Districts" "National Registry of Historic Districts," Retrieved on December 6, 2010.
  16. ^ Thomas Shomo, 'To Manner Born, To Manners Bred: A Hip-pocket Guide to Etiquette for the Hampden–Sydney Man', 1978, Hampden-Sydney College.
  17. ^ http://www.hsc.edu/Documents/AboutHSC/InformationalPackets/Recruitment%20Book.pdf
  18. ^ http://www.hsvfd.org/
  19. ^ "Hampden–Sydney College Campus Life" "Collegedate.com" Retrieved on December 3, 2010.
  20. ^ "Beta Theta Pi" "Beta Theta Pi", Date Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  21. ^ "Hampden-Sydney College Student Life" "Museum of Knowledge", Date Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  22. ^ "Kappa Sigma" "H-SC Kappa Sigma", Date Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  23. ^ "Sigma Alpha Epsilon" "H-SC Sigma Alpha Epsilon", Date Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  24. ^ "Phi Gamma Delta" "H-SC Phi Gamma Delta", Date Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  25. ^ "Kappa Alpha" "H-SC Kappa Alpha", Date Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  26. ^ "Sigma Nu" "H-SC Sigma Nu", Date Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  27. ^ "Beta Theta Pi" "H-SC Beta Theta Pi", Date Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  28. ^ "Theta Chi" "H-SC Theta Chi", Date Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  29. ^ "Sigma Chi" "H-SC Sigma Chi", Date Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  30. ^ "Lambda Chi Alpha" "H-SC Lambda Chi Alpha", Date Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  31. ^ "Alpha Chi Sigma", Date Retrieved December 4, 2010.
  32. ^ "Phi Beta Kappa", Date retrieved December 4, 2010
  33. ^ "Pi Sigma Alpha", Date retrieved December 4, 2010.
  34. ^ "Omicron Delta Kappa", Date retrieved December 4, 2010
  35. ^ "Alpha Psi Omega", Date retrieved December 4, 2010
  36. ^ "Oldest small-school football rivalry in the south now 'goes across all sports'". ESPN.com. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  37. ^ [2], "Beat Macon Week," accessed Nov. 13, 2013
  38. ^ "Presidents of Hampden Sydney College". Hampden–Sydney College. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  39. ^ "The Best Colleges in the South". Forbes. Retrieved January 23, 2010.


External links[edit]