Ralph J. Hexter

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Ralph Hexter
Ralph and Manfred.jpg

Ralph and Manfred
Contact Information


Office: Cole Science Center Room 110
Home Page: http://www.hampshire.edu/offices/497.htm
Academic Information
Position: Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature

School: HACU
Graduate Alma mater: Yale University

Ralph Hexter was the fifth president of Hampshire College. He announced his intention to step down from that position on August 2, 2010. He now serves as Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor at U.C. Davis.



Ralph J. Hexter, professor of classics and comparative literature, is the fifth president of Hampshire College. He holds a Ph.D. and M.Phil. from Yale University, B.A. and M.A. from Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and A.B. from Harvard College. President Hexter is the author of three books on medieval and ancient literature: Equivocal Oaths and Ordeals in Medieval Literature (1975); Ovid and Medieval Schooling: Studies in Medieval School Commentaries on Ovid's Ars Amatoria, Epistulae ex Ponto and Epistulae Heroidum (1986); and A Guide to the Odyssey: A Commentary on the English Translation of Robert Fitzgerald (1993). He is co-editor, with Daniel Selden, of Innovations of Antiquity (1992). His publications include articles on Vergil, Horace, Goethe, Verdi, and a variety of topics in Medieval Latin in such journals as Modern Language Notes, Helios, Classical Philology, Yale Journal of Criticism, and Cambridge Opera Journal.

President Hexter has served as Executive Dean of Letters and Sciences of the University of California at Berkeley as well as on its faculty. He was also professor of classics and comparative literature and director of the graduate program in comparative literature at the University of Colorado at Boulder and on the faculty of Yale University, where he was director of undergraduate studies in the humanities major. He has been a visiting lecturer at the Folger Institute in Washington, D.C., and a Fellow of the Villa I Tatti, Harvard Center for Studies in the Italian Renaissance in Florence.

Hexter was a 1974 magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. After studying in England at Oxford's Corpus Christi College, he entered graduate school at Yale University. He received his Masters of Philosophy in 1979 and his Ph.D. in 1982 both from Yale and taught there in Classics and Humanities for ten years.

Hexter assumed the Hampshire College presidency on August 1, 2005. As is required of a president by Hampshire's constitution, Hexter is technically a full-time professor with given specialties in Classics and Literature. He is one of the few openly gay college presidents in America.

On September 18, 2007, a "Critical Announcement" was released to the Hampshire College students by President Hexter. In it, he states:

As most of you know, many years ago Manfred and I made a lifelong commitment to one another. Today we are excited to share with you the news that we were married over the Labor Day weekend.

When we arrived at Hampshire College in August 2005, we were deeply touched by the warm reception we received from the community and continue to feel honored to be a part of a group that embraces and celebrates diversity. We appreciate that living in Massachusetts has afforded us the same rights as any other couple. By choosing to be legally married we want to send a strong message that we believe discrimination should end everywhere and that all couples who wish to marry should have the right to do so.

The message went on to invite the students to celebrate the happy occasion with President Hexter and Manfred Kollmeier in an on-campus reception.


The President has a blog, which can be found here.

Breakfast with the President

It has been a long-standing tradition at Hampshire College to give the community an open forum to meet with the President on a weekly basis. Traditionally, this has occurred every Monday at 8am in SAGA. However, the meeting times have been diversified, so they now differ from week to week. You can see the full schedule here.


  • The Faith of Achates: Finding Aeneas' Other, by Ralph J. Hexter, Berkeley, CA: Doe Library, University of California, 1997.
  • A Guide to the Odyssey: A Commentary on the English Translation of Robert Fitzgerald, by Ralph J. Hexter, New York: Vintage Books, 1993.
  • Innovations of Antiquity, edited by Ralph Hexter and Daniel Selden, New York: Routledge, 1992.
  • Ovid and Medieval Schooling: Studies in Medieval School Commentaries on Ovid's Ars Amatoria, Epistulae ex Ponto, and Epistulae Heroidum, by Ralph J. Hexter, Munich: Arbeo-Gesellschaft, 1986.
  • Equivocal Oaths and Ordeals in Medieval Literature, by Ralph J. Hexter, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1975.




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