Message to the Trinity Community on Organizational Changes

February 10, 2015

Dear Trinity Faculty, Staff, and Students,

Trinity College is on solid footing, and we’re also determined to seize the opportunities that strengthen our position as a top institution of higher education.  Over the last year, with your participation, we have begun to shape a vision for moving Trinity forward boldly.  This vision is reflected in the four short-term working goals we recently defined — strengthening our campus culture, ensuring academic excellence, fostering institutional pride, and reaching financial equilibrium — goals that will serve as a foundation for a comprehensive strategic planning process for Trinity and a related fundraising campaign to provide financial support for our ambitions.  Today I am announcing organizational restructuring that will better align our people and resources with our priorities.  In doing so, I bring to bear my own experience in higher education, the conversations and thoughtful input I have received from many of you, and my assessment during the better part of the last year of the best and most efficient organizational structure to advance our goals.  These organizational adjustments reflect more interconnected functions and networks to support the growing complexities of our College’s workings. 

Restructuring of the Office of the College Secretary.  I have asked Mary Jo Keating ‘74, who currently serves as Secretary of the College and Vice President for College Relations, to transition to a new role at Trinity, as Communications Consultant reporting to me.  In this role, Mary Jo would be able to contribute her communications expertise to specific strategic projects here on campus and to advise me in key communications efforts, while having more flexibility to spend time with her growing family.

Deke Mathieu has recently joined us as General Counsel, bringing to Trinity senior-level legal experience in higher education, private law firm practice, and the public sector. Deke’s experience is particularly important to Trinity at this time to help the College comply with the increasing number of laws and regulations affecting higher education.  Legal expertise is also required to support the College’s Board of Trustees in the execution of its fiduciary responsibilities and governance functions.  For this reason, I have asked Deke to take on the additional responsibilities of Secretary of the College, serving as the primary point of contact for the Board of Trustees.

Jenny Holland, Director of Communications, will report directly to me in the upcoming months as we work together to assess the College’s opportunities for achieving our ambitious communications goals. Marketing and communications are high priorities in building Trinity’s reputation, and we want to be sure our efforts are well defined and properly resourced as we go forward.

The College Events and Conferences Office headed by Megan Fitzsimmons will report to Paul Mutone, Vice President for Finance and Operations and Treasurer.  Located in Smith House, this key office manages the use of all College spaces and the online space and event management system, in addition to overseeing all campus events.

These reporting changes will take place beginning March 1.

Restructuring of the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.  As I announced earlier, we are extremely pleased that Angel Perez will join us on June 1 to oversee our admissions and financial aid functions.  Angel’s title of Vice President of Enrollment and Student Success reflects the emphasis we place not just on recruiting the most talented students but also on ensuring their success academically, outside the classroom, and in preparation for fulfilling professional and personal lives after graduation.  Angel will be responsible for the offices of Admissions, Financial Aid, Institutional Research and Planning, and Career Development; student retention also will be in his portfolio.  Adding the Career Development Center to Angel’s purview underscores our conviction that preparing students for their post-graduation lives begins from their first days at Trinity, and that this preparation has a major impact on their ability to create a satisfying and successful college experience – all key factors for retention.  To ensure that Career Development efforts are planned in conjunction with academic programs, Career Development Director Violet Gannon will have a dotted-line reporting relationship to the Vice President for Academic Affairs, Tom Mitzel.  Until Angel’s start on June 1, Career Development will report to Tom.  Adding Institutional Research to the portfolio ensures that all of these functions are highly data driven.    

Restructuring of the Office of the Dean of the Faculty.  Trinity’s faculty is at the heart of the College, and the Office of the Dean of the Faculty is pivotal in channeling faculty input and in ensuring academic excellence.  Tom Mitzel heads this office, working closely with two Associate Academic Deans drawn from the faculty.  Currently, Tom has 48 direct reports, including 32 academic department and program chairs and 16 other directors of academic-related functions; the current reporting structure is untenable and not serving our academic and faculty needs.  To better serve individual faculty members and academic departments, the two Associate Academic Deans – currently Sonia Cardenas and Rich Prigodich – will be promoted to Deans of Faculty Affairs (or with the possible titles of Deans of Academic Affairs).  With Rich’s upcoming return to the faculty, we will search for another Dean of Faculty Affairs this spring to partner with Sonia in the next academic year.  All academic departments and programs will report to one of the two Deans of Faculty Affairs, each with a mixed portfolio of arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences departments and programs.  Each Dean also will have broader responsibility for departmental functions, including curriculum, budget, and academic planning for their respective departments, as well as other campus-wide faculty-related functions.  The elevation of these positions both recognizes their importance and allows the voices of faculty members to be heard more readily in the administration.  The two positions will continue to be held by faculty members serving on a three-year rotation, with the assumption of a second three-year term, and they will be members of the President’s Cabinet and participate in Board of Trustees meetings.  The two Deans of Faculty Affairs will report to Tom Mitzel, Vice President for Academic Affairs, who will continue to have responsibility for overall academic policies and planning, as well as supervision of directors of academic-affiliated programs during his term.  Here, as with the other modifications, we are realigning our current resources in an efficient way to better support academic excellence and define clearer roles for faculty advocacy.  Tom will provide a detailed description of the reorganization to the faculty over the next month.

Restructuring of Information Services and the Library.  With the decision of Richard Ross, College Librarian, to retire at the end of the current academic year, the library will be merged with Information Technology Services (effective immediately), resulting in a combined Information Services (IS) Division to be headed by Sue Aber, with the new title of Vice President for Information Services and Chief Information Officer.  Sue will report to me.  The merging of these two divisions underscores the importance of capturing, organizing, and delivering information in its many forms.  The new blended organization will provide opportunities for resource and operational synergies.  Many of our peer institutions have moved to blended organizations, including Bates, Connecticut, Hamilton, Mount Holyoke, St. Olaf, and Wellesley colleges, to name a few.  A new head librarian will report to Sue, with a dotted-line reporting relationship to the Vice President for Academic Affairs to ensure continuity between the library and our academic mission.

Update on Dean of Students Search.  Last summer, I announced the search for a new Dean of Students following Fred Alford’s decision to retire.  This search is on schedule, and we hope to make an announcement later this spring.  The Dean of Students is a key position at Trinity, particularly as it relates to our priority of strengthening our campus culture.  To further support achievement of this campus culture goal, Allison Read, College Chaplain, will serve on the President’s Cabinet as an added resource in this area.

These organizational changes are designed to support the increasingly networked world of higher education and to provide Trinity with strength and flexibility as we move into the future.  They also align our personnel to more effectively support our institutional priorities.  I believe we have every reason to be confident in this great College, and I invite you to join me in going boldly, and being engaged, in Trinity’s future.

Sincerely,
Joanne Berger-Sweeney
President and Trinity College
   Professor of Neuroscience