Hampden–Sydney College

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Hampden–Sydney College
Seal of Hampden–Sydney College
Former names
Hampden—Sidney College
Motto Huc venite iuvenes ut exeatis viri
Motto in English
Latin: Come here as boys so you may leave as men
Established 1775
Type Private liberal arts college
Men's college
Affiliation Presbyterian [1]
Endowment $150.9 million[2]
President Christopher B. Howard
Provost Dennis G. Stevens
Academic staff
Undergraduates 1,105[3]
Location Hampden Sydney, Virginia, United States
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Campus Rural, 1,200 acres (4.86 km2)
Colors Garnet and Grey          
Athletics NCAA Division IIIODAC
Sports 9 varsity teams
Nickname Tigers
Affiliations APCU
Annapolis Group
Website www.hsc.edu

Hampden–Sydney College, also known as H-SC, 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 10th oldest college in the 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 approximately 1,100 students from 30 states and several foreign countries and emphasizes a rigorous, traditional liberal arts curriculum.[4]

Honor Code

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.[5] 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 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 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) 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

All Hampden-Sydney students must take a three-course Western Culture sequence, which introduces 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." [6]

Rhetoric Program

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.[7] 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 for 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 of the Hampden–Sydney education.[citation needed]


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

Founding and Early Years

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".[8] 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.[9]

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."

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

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.[10]

File:Hampden-Sydney Seal.png
The College Seal. Approved by the board in 1783[11]

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.

Bagby Hall at Hampden–Sydney

19th Century

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".[12]

20th Century

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.[13]

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.

Morton Hall, front facade

On May 11, 1964, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy visited Hampden–Sydney College to speak with students.[14]

In May 1985, then Vice President, George H. W. Bush, gave the commencement address.


Presumably under the influence of his mentor and father-in-law Witherspoon,[15] 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.


Hampden–Sydney College Historic District
Cushing Hall at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia.JPG
The grounds of Hampden–Sydney
Location Bounded approximately by the Hampden-Sydney College campus, Hampden–Sydney, Virginia
Area 270 acres (110 ha)
Architectural style Greek Revival, Federal
NRHP Reference # 70000822[16]
VLR # 073-0058
Significant dates
Added to NRHP February 26, 1970
Designated VLR December 2, 1969[17]

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.[18]

Student life


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,[19] 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.[20] Tailgating is central to Hampden-Sydney's culture each fall and has been featured in Town and Country.[21]

Clubs and organizations

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.[22]

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

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.[23] 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.[24][25]

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;[30] Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society;[31] Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership honor society[32] and Alpha Psi Omega, a national honors society for theatre arts.[33]

Venable Hall, original home of the Union Theological Seminary


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.[citation needed]


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,[34] 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".[35]

Presidents of Hampden–Sydney College

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.[36]

# 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 Walter 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. Will serve from Dr. Howard's resignation to March 1, 2016
Kirk Athletic Center at Hampden–Sydney

Notable alumni



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.[37]

See also


  1. "H-SC - College Presbyterian Church - Hampden-Sydney College". Hampden-Sydney College. Retrieved 5 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. [1] Archived February 27, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  5. Whitman, David. Wabash College, One of a Dying Breed, U.S. News & World Report, 31 January 1999.
  6. "H-SC | H-SC Receives Mellon Grant for Western Culture | Hampden-Sydney College". Hsc.edu. 2014-10-01. Retrieved 2015-11-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "H-SC - Rhetoric Proficiency Exam - Hampden-Sydney College". Hampden-Sydney College. Retrieved 17 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Virginia Gazette, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1 September 1775.
  9. Brinkley, 5 and Appendix I, 847–50
  10. "H-SC - Coat of Arms - Hampden-Sydney College". Hampden-Sydney College. Retrieved 17 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "H-SC - Coat of Arms - Hampden-Sydney College". Hampden-Sydney College. Retrieved 17 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. [2] Archived September 1, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  13. "An army of good men". Hampden Sydney, Virginia: Hampden–Sydney College. 2011. Retrieved September 26, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Louis Briel '66 Remembers Kennedy on YouTube
  15. Brinkley, 15
  16. Staff (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 5 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. [3] Archived November 13, 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  19. Thomas Shomo, 'To Manner Born, To Manners Bred: A Hip-pocket Guide to Etiquette for the Hampden–Sydney Man', 1978, Hampden–Sydney College.
  20. "Hampden-Sydney College Booklet" (PDF). Hsc.edu. Retrieved 17 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. English, Micaela. "Hampden Sydney Football - Tailgating Photos". Townandcountrymag.com. Retrieved 2015-11-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "UIȒPo^h". Hsvfd.org. Retrieved 17 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "College Profile : Hampden-Sydney College". Collegedata.com. Retrieved 17 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. [4][dead link]
  25. "Hampden Sydney College: Student Life". Museumstuff.com. Retrieved 17 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 26.4 26.5 26.6 26.7 26.8 26.9 "H-SC - Social Fraternities - Hampden-Sydney College". Hampden-Sydney College. Retrieved 5 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. "H-SC - Alpha Chi Sigma - Hampden-Sydney College". Hampden-Sydney College. Retrieved 17 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. "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 17 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. [5] Archived July 19, 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  30. [6][dead link]
  31. [7][dead link]
  32. "H-SC - Omicron Delta Kappa - Hampden-Sydney College". Hampden-Sydney College. Retrieved 17 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. [8][dead link]
  34. "Oldest small-school football rivalry in the south now 'goes across all sports' - College Sports - ESPN". ESPN.com. Retrieved 17 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  35. Editor. "HSC Tigers Football: Beat Macon Week". Hsctigerfootball.blogspot.com. Retrieved 17 December 2014.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  36. "H-SC - Presidents of the College - Hampden-Sydney College". Hampden-Sydney College. Retrieved 17 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. Christina Ferro and Archana Rajan (19 January 2010). "The Best Colleges In The South". Forbes. Retrieved 17 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • 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