Joanne Berger-Sweeney

President and Trinity College Professor of Neuroscience

Joanne Berger-Sweeney became the 22nd president of Trinity College in July 2014.

During Berger-Sweeney's first 18 months at Trinity, the College has realized several accomplishments. The first of these, in advance of a larger strategic planning process to come, was the development of Trinity’s working goals, which focus on strengthening campus culture, ensuring academic excellence, fostering institutional pride, and reaching financial equilibrium. Additional achievements under Berger-Sweeney’s leadership include the creation of the Bantam Network mentoring program for first-year students; expanding Trinity’s footprint to Constitution Plaza in downtown Hartford and demonstrating its ongoing commitment to the city; the launch of the Campaign for Community, a campuswide initiative promoting inclusiveness and respect; the establishment of Trinity’s Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Misconduct; and the announcement of a new partnership with edX, one of the world’s premier online course platforms.

Before coming to Trinity, Berger-Sweeney served as dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts University (2010-2014), creating the vision and setting the strategic direction for the university’s largest school. She managed a broad set of responsibilities, including oversight of undergraduate admissions, athletics, undergraduate and graduate students, the graduate school, communications, and academic and administrative deans. Berger-Sweeney made significant strides in enhancing the strength of the school’s faculty and in expanding interdisciplinary programs, including the creation of the Center for Race and Democracy at Tufts, which studies the impact of race on the lives of individuals around the world. In addition, she was deeply involved in the creation of the Bridge to Liberal Arts Success at Tufts (BLAST) program, which aims to provide support for college students from underserved high schools.

Before Tufts, Berger-Sweeney was a member of the Wellesley College faculty, which she joined in 1991 as an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, and rose through the ranks to become the Allene Lummis Russell Professor in Neuroscience. Her teaching and research career at Wellesley spanned 13 years prior to being named associate dean in 2004. In that role, she oversaw 20 academic departments and programs in addition to her teaching and research and led initiatives relating to faculty diversity, interdisciplinary programs, and non-tenure-track faculty. She also served as director of Wellesley’s Neuroscience Program.

Berger-Sweeney received her undergraduate degree in psychobiology from Wellesley College, her M.P.H. in environmental health sciences from the University of California, Berkeley, and her Ph.D. in neurotoxicology from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. She completed her postdoctoral training at the National Institute of Health (INSERM) in Paris, France. Berger-Sweeney has authored more than 60 scientific publications and has held grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and numerous private foundations.

Berger-Sweeney serves on many boards in the Hartford region, including MetroHartford Alliance; Hartford HealthCare; the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges; the Hartford Consortium for Higher Education; and the Capital Region Development Authority, an appointment for which she was nominated by Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy. She also is a corporator of Hartford Hospital and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and she is a member of the Committee on Committees of the Society for Neuroscience. She serves as the president of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), through June 2017.

Berger-Sweeney is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a Lifetime Mentoring Award from the Society for Neuroscience (2006) and the National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award.

Her husband, Urs V. Berger, Ph.D., is a neuroscientist and a computer scientist. They are the proud parents of two children.