Hampden–Sydney College

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Hampden–Sydney College
Former names
Hampden—Sidney College
MottoHuc venite iuvenes ut exeatis viri
Γνώσεσθε τὴν αλήθειαν
Gnôsesthe tên Alêtheian
Motto in English
Latin: Come here as boys so you may leave as men
Greek: Ye Shall Know the Truth
TypePrivate liberal arts college
Men's college
EstablishedNovember 10, 1775 (1775-11-10)
Religious affiliation
Presbyterian Church (USA) [1]
Academic affiliations
Annapolis Group
Endowment$154.6 million[2]
PresidentLarry Stimpert
ProvostDennis G. Stevens[3]
Academic staff
Location, ,
United States

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)
ColorsGarnet and Gray[5]
Sporting affiliations

Hampden–Sydney College (H-SC) is a men's liberal arts college in Hampden Sydney, Virginia. Founded in 1775, Hampden–Sydney is the oldest privately chartered college in the southern United States, the tenth-oldest college in the nation, the last college founded before the American Declaration of Independence, and one of only three four-year, all-male liberal arts colleges remaining in the United States. Hampden–Sydney College is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register. It is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA).


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

Founding and early years[edit]

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 June 28, 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 September 1, 1775 as "an Academy in Prince Edward...distinguished by the Name of HAMPDEN–SIDNEY".[6] 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.[7]

As the college history indicates on its web site, "The first president, at the suggestion of Dr. John Witherspoon, the Scottish president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), chose the name Hampden–Sydney to symbolize devotion to the principles of representative government and full civil and religious freedom which John Hampden (1594–1643) and Algernon Sydney (1622–1683) had outspokenly supported, and for which they had given their lives, in England's two great constitutional crises of the previous century. They 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 well-known but equally vigorous patriots who composed the College's first Board of Trustees."

Samuel Stanhope Smith, the Founding President

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 five times: for a Civil War skirmish on campus, for a hurricane that knocked a tree into a dormitory building, twice due to snowstorms, and once for an outbreak of norovirus. 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.[8]

"The Birthplace" (circa 1750) — outbuilding in which H–SC was founded at Slate Hill Plantation.

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 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.

19th century[edit]

Cushing and Memorial Halls, 1894

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 Presbyterian Seminary. 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. Among the early nineteenth-century leaders were John Holt Rice, who founded the seminary, Jonathan P. Cushing, and Reverend James Marsh. In those years the intellectual culture at HSC spanned from leading southern, anti-slavery writers like Jesse Burton Harrison and Lucian Minor to leading proslavery writers, such as George A. Baxter and Landon Garland.[9] During this time, the college constructed new buildings using Federal-style architecture with Georgian accents. 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]

20th century[edit]

Bagby Hall at Hampden–Sydney

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. Bruce Springsteen, the Temptations, Ben E. King, The Platters, The Lettermen, Dionne Warwick, the Allman Brothers, Dave Matthews Band, Widespread Panic, Bruce Hornsby, Pretty Lights, and Government Mule were 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] and U.S. Vice President George H.W. Bush gave the May 1985 commencement address.


Under the influence of his mentor and father-in-law Witherspoon,[13] 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 following is a list of the Presidents of Hampden–Sydney College from its opening in 1775 until the present.[14]

The College Seal. Approved by the board in 1783[15]
# Name Term begin Term end Notes
1 Samuel Stanhope Smith 1775 1779
2 John Blair Smith 1779 1789
* Drury Lacy 1789 1797 Vice President and Acting President
3 Archibald Alexander 1797 1806
* William S. Reid 1807 1807 Vice President and Acting President
4 Moses Hoge 1807 1820
5 Jonathan P. Cushing 1821 1835 Acting President (1820–1821)
* George A. Baxter 1835 1835 Acting President
6 Daniel Lynn Carroll 1835 1838
7 William Maxwell 1838 1845
8 Patrick J. Sparrow 1845 1847
* S. B. Wilson 1847 1847 Acting President
* F. S. Sampson 1847 1848 Acting President
* Charles Martin 1848 1849 Acting President
9 Lewis W. Green 1849 1856
* Albert L. Holladay 1856 1856 Died before taking office
* Charles Martin 1856 1857 Acting President
10 John M. P. Atkinson 1857 1883
11 Richard McIlwaine 1883 1904
* James R. Thornton 1904 1904 Acting President
* W. H. Whiting, Jr. 1904 1905 Acting President
* J. H. C. Bagby 1905 1905 Acting President
12 James G. McAllister 1905 1908
* W. H. Whiting, Jr. 1908 1909 Acting President
13 Henry T. Graham 1909 1917
* Ashton W. McWhorter 1917 1919 Acting President
14 Joseph DuPuy Eggleston 1919 1939
15 Edgar Graham Gammon 1939 1955
16 Joseph Clarke Robert 1955 1960
17 Thomas Edward Gilmer 1960 1963
18 W. Taylor Reveley II 1963 1977
19 Josiah Bunting III 1977 1987
20 James Richard Leutze 1987 1990
* John Scott Colley 1990 1991 Acting President
21 Ralph Arthur Rossum 1991 1992 Resigned after nine months
22 Samuel V. Wilson 1992 2000
23 Walter M. Bortz III 2000 2009
24 Christopher B. Howard 2009 2016
* Dennis G. Stevens 2016 2016 Acting President
25 John Lawrence Stimpert 2016 Sitting


Hampden–Sydney enrolls approximately 1,100 students from 30 states and several foreign countries and emphasizes a rigorous, traditional liberal arts curriculum.[16]


H-SC Tigers logo
  • Forbes awarded Hampden–Sydney with an "A" grade in its 2016 Forbes College Financial Grades; an evaluation methodology designed to "measure the fiscal soundness of nearly 900 four-year, private, not-for-profit colleges with at least 500 students".[17]
  • The Princeton Review ranked Hampden–Sydney #8 in its 2016 rankings of Best Alumni Network.[18]
  • U.S. News & World Report ranked Hampden–Sydney #96 in its 2018 rankings of the top National Liberal Arts Colleges.[19]

Honor Code[edit]

In addition to 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.[20] The school's mission is to "form good men and good citizens in an atmosphere of sound learning". Hampden–Sydney has one of the strictest honor codes of any college or university. Upon entering as a student, each man pledges for life that he will not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate those who do. 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 and off campus. The Honor Code system is student-run, allowing for a trial by peers, adjudicated by a court of students. Students convicted of an honor offense face anywhere between 1 and 3 semesters of suspension or expulsion. A separate Code of Student Conduct covers "behavioral" infractions e.g. attempting to drink underage, and other offenses 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) is 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.

Western Culture Program[edit]

Venable Hall, original home of the Union Theological Seminary

All Hampden–Sydney students must take a three-course Western culture sequence, introducing them to some of the great works and historical events from Greece and Rome through present times. There are few dedicated instructors of western culture. Instead the program draws on professors from all disciplines. This program is "the bedrock of Hampden–Sydney's liberal arts program and one of the most important of its core academic requirements."[21]

Rhetoric Program[edit]

Every student must prepare for and pass the Rhetoric Proficiency Exam, which consists of a three-hour essay that is graded for grammatical correctness and the coherence, quality, and style of the argument.[22]


Hampden-Sydney College Historic District
Cushing Hall at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia.JPG
The grounds of Hampden–Sydney
Hampden–Sydney College is located in Virginia
Hampden–Sydney College
Hampden–Sydney College is located in the United States
Hampden–Sydney College
LocationBounded approximately by the Hampden–Sydney College campus, Hampden Sydney, Virginia
Area270 acres (110 ha)
Architectural styleGreek Revival, Federal
NRHP reference #70000822[23]
VLR #073-0058
Significant dates
Added to NRHPFebruary 26, 1970
Designated VLRDecember 2, 1969[24]

The college 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.[25]

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,[26] 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.[27] Tailgating is central to Hampden–Sydney's culture each fall and has been featured in Town and Country.[28]

Clubs and organizations[edit]

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 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 Farmville fire department at fires within the town limits. 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.[29]

Union-Philanthropic Literary Society (UPLS) is the oldest student organization at Hampden–Sydney College. Established on September 22, 1789, UPLS is the nation's oldest literary and debating society still in existence today without interruption.

Greek life[edit]

Morton Hall, front facade

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 47% of the student body is involved in Greek life.[30] 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. However, the first fraternity house built on campus would be the Chi Phi fraternity (Epsilon Chapter) founded in 1867 at H-SC. Chi Psi is widely believed to have created the first fraternity house in 1845 at the University of Michigan.[31][32]

The following Greek groups were active on campus as of December 2014:

In addition to the social and professional fraternities listed above, Hampden–Sydney also has chapters of Phi Beta Kappa, the Academic Honor Society;[37] Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society;[38] Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor Society;[39] Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership honor society[40] and Alpha Psi Omega, a national honors society for theatre arts.[41]


Kirk Athletic Center at Hampden–Sydney

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,[42] 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".[43]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "H-SC – College Presbyterian Church – Hampden–Sydney College". Hampden–Sydney College. Archived from the original on December 22, 2014. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  2. ^ As of June 30, 2015. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2015 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2014 to FY 2015" (PDF). 2015 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 31, 2016. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  3. ^ "H-SC – Dennis G. Stevens – Hampden–Sydney College". Hampden–Sydney College. Retrieved February 6, 2017.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ As of 2014–2015 academic year. "Good news presented at a recent Richmond alumni meeting". Hampden–Sydney College. Hampden–Sydney College. October 8, 2014. Archived from the original on October 16, 2014. Retrieved October 10, 2014.
  5. ^ Hampden–Sydney College 2015 Style Manual (PDF).
  6. ^ Virginia Gazette, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1 September 1775.
  7. ^ Brinkley, 5 and Appendix I, 847–50
  8. ^ "H-SC – Coat of Arms – Hampden–Sydney College". Hampden–Sydney College. Archived from the original on November 16, 2014. Retrieved December 17, 2014.
  9. ^ A.J. Morrison ed., Six Addresses on the State of Letters and Science in Virginia 3–4 (Roanoke, 1917).
  10. ^ http://www2.hsc.edu/hschistory/ Archived September 1, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "An army of good men". Hampden Sydney, Virginia: Hampden–Sydney College. 2011. Archived from the original on January 11, 2012. Retrieved September 26, 2011.
  12. ^ Louis Briel '66 Remembers Kennedy on YouTube
  13. ^ Brinkley, 15
  14. ^ "H-SC – Presidents of the College – Hampden–Sydney College". Hampden–Sydney College. Archived from the original on March 14, 2012. Retrieved December 17, 2014.
  15. ^ "H-SC – Coat of Arms – Hampden–Sydney College". Hampden–Sydney College. Archived from the original on November 16, 2014. Retrieved December 17, 2014.
  16. ^ http://www.hsc.edu/admissions/depts.html Archived February 27, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Matt Schifrin (July 6, 2016). "2016 Forbes College Financial Grades: E Through M". Forbes. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  18. ^ "Best Alumni Network". The Princeton Review. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  19. ^ "National Liberal Arts Colleges". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  20. ^ Whitman, David. Wabash College, One of a Dying Breed, U.S. News & World Report, January 31, 1999.
  21. ^ "H–SC | H–SC Receives Mellon Grant for Western Culture | Hampden–Sydney College". Hsc.edu. October 1, 2014. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  22. ^ "H–SC – Rhetoric Proficiency Exam – Hampden–Sydney College". Hampden–Sydney College. Archived from the original on November 13, 2014. Retrieved December 17, 2014.
  23. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  24. ^ "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved June 5, 2013.
  25. ^ http://www.nationalregisterofhistoricplaces.com/va/Prince+Edward/districts.html Archived November 13, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ Thomas Shomo, 'To Manner Born, To Manners Bred: A Hip-pocket Guide to Etiquette for the Hampden–Sydney Man', 1978, Hampden–Sydney College.
  27. ^ "Hampden–Sydney College Booklet" (PDF). Hsc.edu. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 25, 2013. Retrieved December 17, 2014.
  28. ^ English, Micaela. "Hampden Sydney Football – Tailgating Photos". Townandcountrymag.com. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  29. ^ "UIȒPo^h". Hsvfd.org. Retrieved December 17, 2014.
  30. ^ "College Profile : Hampden–Sydney College". Collegedata.com. Retrieved December 17, 2014.
  31. ^ http://www.betathetapi.org/about-beta/history/1850-1900 Archived August 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ "Hampden Sydney College: Student Life". Museumstuff.com. Retrieved December 17, 2014.
  33. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "H-SC – Social Fraternities – Hampden–Sydney College". Hampden–Sydney College. Archived from the original on December 28, 2014. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  34. ^ "H-SC – Alpha Chi Sigma – Hampden–Sydney College". Hampden–Sydney College. Archived from the original on December 3, 2012. Retrieved December 17, 2014.
  35. ^ "Hampden–Sydney Colony of Delta Kappa Epsilon at Hampden–Sydney College - Hampden–Sydney Colony, Delta Kappa Epsilon, Hampden–Sydney College, chapterspot fraternity websites, chapterspot sorority websites, chapterspot.com". Hsc.dekeunited.org. Retrieved December 17, 2014.
  36. ^ http://www.hsc.edu/Student-Life/Activities/Social-Fraternities/Beta-Theta-Pi.html Archived July 19, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  37. ^ http://hsc.edu/Student-Life/Activities/Honor-Fraternities/Phi-Beta-Kappa.html Archived October 5, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  38. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 29, 2016. Retrieved January 23, 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  39. ^ http://www.apsanet.org/~psa/ Archived June 27, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  40. ^ "H-SC – Omicron Delta Kappa – Hampden–Sydney College". Hampden–Sydney College. Archived from the original on November 16, 2014. Retrieved December 17, 2014.
  41. ^ http://hsc.edu/Student-Life/Activities/Honor-Fraternities/Alpha-Psi-Omega.html Archived October 5, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  42. ^ "Oldest small-school football rivalry in the south now 'goes across all sports' – College Sports – ESPN". ESPN.com. Retrieved December 17, 2014.
  43. ^ Editor. "HSC Tigers Football: Beat Macon Week". Hsctigerfootball.blogspot.com. Retrieved December 17, 2014.


  • Brinkley, John Luster. On This Hill: A narrative history of Hampden Sydney College, 1774–1994. Hampden–Sydney: 1994. ISBN 1-886356-06-8

External links[edit]