January 26, 2011
To Members of the Trinity College Community:
As has been my custom in recent years, I am
writing to provide a mid-term update on our present academic year. This
report comes with my continuing gratitude to our faculty and staff for
the abundant ways in which you enrich our community. On a daily basis,
you help nurture Trinity’s excellence and its vitality. As I hope my
narrative will demonstrate, your contributions and efforts are yielding
The Board of Trustees met in New York on
January 21, with its principal focus on discussing and approving the
College’s budget for fiscal year 2012, which begins July 1, 2011.
Before I offer highlights on that budget, I want to express my
appreciation, and that of the Board, to the Planning and Budget Council
(PBC) that prepared next year’s budget proposal for presentation first
to me, then for review by the Trustee Finance Committee, and ultimately,
the full Board. The PBC has played a critical role in the budget
process, has sought and welcomed constructive opinions from other
standing faculty and staff committees, and has worked diligently, not
just to produce a balanced budget proposal but also to weigh carefully
the balance of ambitions and needs that characterize each new budget
preparation. Rena Fraden, Paul Mutone, and I are grateful to the
members of the PBC for their professionalism.
The Trustees approved the proposed balanced
operation budget of $115.65 million for fiscal year 2012. This is a
3.01% increase over the fiscal year 2011 budget. Included in this 2012
budget is a comprehensive fee increase of 3.88%, which will set next
year’s charges for tuition, room, board, and fees at $55,450. At the
same time, the Board approved a financial aid budget of $34.3 million,
an addition of $2.8 million, so that we can continue to sustain a level
of 36% of the student body receiving need-based aid from Trinity. I
will comment later on our financial aid issues.
The approved budget includes a compensation
increase of 3.5%. One half of one percent of this increase will be used
to restore the College’s contribution rate to employee pension accounts
to 9% of base salary. The remaining 3% of the compensation increase
will be used to increase the salaries and wages of all employees except
for those covered under a collective bargaining unit. As noted during
the fall enrollment period, health insurance premiums will rise just
under 10%. The premium cost sharing between the College and employees
will remain unchanged.
I am especially grateful to our faculty and
staff for your understanding and acceptance of this current year’s
freeze in compensation. I am pleased that we are now able to restore
next year’s compensation increase at a rate significantly higher than
was originally modeled for fiscal year 2011 in last January’s 5-year
Beyond this important budget information, I
also have other news to report. At the Trustee meeting, Larry Dow, our
dean of admissions and financial aid, told the Board that the applicant
pool for the Class of 2015 has risen nearly 45% to a record level of
almost 7,000 young women and men. This is stunning news, indeed, and a
compliment to the hard work of our admissions team, as well as a
testament to Trinity’s national reputation. While we are aware of other
peer colleges reporting increases in their applicant pools (and some
others reporting declines), we are not aware of any other institution
whose application increase is of this magnitude. This is extraordinary,
to say the least. When you see Larry and his staff, please thank them
for their effective promotion of the College, and share your sympathetic
understanding of the work that must now ensue to evaluate this year’s
applicant pool while building the Class of 2015. Nearly 200 early
decision candidates have already been accepted. Our class target for
next fall is 590 students, comparable to the 591 students who enrolled
in the Class of 2014.
Encouraged as I am by these unprecedented
admissions results, I am similarly pleased that the Cornerstone and
Legacy campaigns continue to make progress. The Cornerstone Campaign
has now exceeded $220 million in gifts and pledges, towards a June 30,
2012 target of $300 million. The period from September to December 2010
was the fourth highest quarter for gifts and pledges since we launched
this campaign in 2006. This recent progress reflects, we believe, an
improved philanthropic attitude among prospective donors, as well as an
increased level of solicitation activity by volunteers and staff now
that the national economic climate seems to be improving. We have $80
million more to raise in the next 17 months, and we remain optimistic
about closing on time and on target.
The Legacy Campaign, encouraging donors to
include Trinity in their estate plans, is now over $58 million towards
its current goal of $60 million. We will surely exceed that goal (which
was initially $50 million). Indeed, it is my long-term hope that we
can record $100 million or more in these future estate gifts by 2015.
This is a future pipeline of enormous value to Trinity in the decades
Earlier I referred to our financial aid
budget for fiscal year 2012, targeting 36% of our students on need-based
aid. While it is too early to know specifically the financial aid
profiles of our nearly 7,000 applicants this year, I think we can safely
anticipate a high demand for our limited resources. As I have
indicated regularly, improving the level of financial aid resources must
be one of Trinity’s highest priorities. Among a peer college list of
25 institutions, Trinity is near the bottom for the percentage of
students receiving institutional aid. Many of our peers have rates of
50% or higher. We are losing excellent students with demonstrated need
to some of those institutions with richer resources for scholarships.
I am pleased that three current Trustees,
Emily Bogle ’79, Jeff Kelter ’76, and Tim Walsh ’85, have agreed to lead
a focused campaign to raise $100 million more in financial aid
endowments by 2015. Approximately half of that ambition is already part
of the Cornerstone Campaign goal by 2012. When we are successful with
this initiative, we hope that we can support up to 45% of each class on
Trinity aid. Achieving that outcome is essential for our excellence and
our competitiveness, at the highest levels, in student recruitment.
While financial aid is a key priority, so, too, is continued attention
to academic excellence. I have several pieces of news to report in this
very important area.
Dean Xiangming Chen and I have just returned
from a visit to China, where I met with growing constituencies of
alumni in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Most importantly, I met with the
President of Fudan University in Shanghai and came to the agreement in
principle that our respective institutions would exchange faculty and
students beginning in 2012. Fudan is China’s second most prestigious
university. At present, it has educational relationships with just four
distinguished American research universities: Yale, Penn, Washington
University, and Georgetown. We can now add Trinity to that impressive
list. I invited President Yang to visit Trinity in April as we continue
our planning conversations. I look forward to introducing him to the
Trinity community at that time.
As another commitment to academic
excellence, I am pleased to report that a donor, at present anonymous,
has stepped forward to endow completely the College’s Center for
Teaching and Learning (CTL), so ably headed by Professors Dina Anselmi
and Gary Reger. You may recall that the Mellon Foundation provided seed
money to launch the CTL, while we made a promise to find the resources
to endow it permanently. The donor’s $1.5 million gift commitment is
especially generous and a very encouraging investment in the centrality
of teaching and learning to our community. This is a very satisfying
As you know, we have welcomed 24 new faculty
colleagues in the past three years, and have active searches for three
more in anticipation of hiring for fiscal year 2011. Our new faculty
have brought impressive credentials and new intellectual vitality to our
academic community. They have come to us at a time when other colleges
and universities have been freezing searches. I have been impressed by
our new faculty and their intellectual and professional vigor, just as I
have been heartened by the genuine welcome offered by our senior
faculty to their new colleagues. Further, it was pleasing to read the
November article in the Chronicle of Higher Education that included
Trinity College among a list of only 30 institutions saluted for being
especially supportive of recent faculty hires. We will continue to do
everything in our power to create a nurturing environment to help launch
new faculty for successful careers at Trinity.
I will close with two additional reports, and a brief expression about a hopeful future.
At last week’s Board meeting, Paul Mutone
reported that the December 31, 2010, value of the endowment had risen to
approximately $386 million in market value. This is more than a $110
million increase from our nadir of $275 million, in March, 2009. But it
is still below our highest value of over $441 million on June 30,
2007. While we can take some comfort in the growth I just referenced,
we continue to trail all but two NESCAC peers in this category. Even as
the financial markets seem to be showing positive signs, we must
continue to press hard in fundraising and stay disciplined with a
prudent level of spending from our endowment. We are not in a race we
can win in surpassing NESCAC rivals in endowment values. Our true race
is against our own ambitions, for endowed chairs, in financial aid
resources, and for other key areas of the College. We need to expand
our endowment to meet our aspirations for excellence in academics and
for greater access for students of promise, as two primary examples.
Just as we are focused on growing that
endowment, we are equally intent on ways to improve the campus and its
facilities. We have recently completed a renovation and expansion to
the Sculpture Studio on campus, a $500,000 project funded by the
College’s operating budget allocation for strategic initiatives. Work is
under way, with completion expected shortly, to develop our first
dedicated neurosciences teaching laboratory in Jacobs. Funded by a
generous gift from Trustee Michael Loberg ’69, P’00 and his wife,
Melinda, this new lab is phase I of providing modern science facilities
for this growing discipline. Phase II involves a second suite of labs
and offices for neuroscience and psychology, projected to cost
approximately $3.5 million, to be built as an addition to Jacobs.
Michael Loberg will chair this new fundraising initiative just being
Even more progress has been made on a new
music performance and rehearsal center that will be co-located with the
proposed new neurosciences suite. A very generous donor, who for the
present wishes to remain anonymous, has committed $2.5 million towards
this $5 million project. Another donor has committed $250,000.
Fundraising will continue until the full amount is secured.
An additional donor has come forward with a
strong interest in improving the landscaping and other features of the
Mather Quad. Plans are in the development stage to enhance the
lighting, the walkways, and the landscaping in that part of campus,
while improving exterior features of the Cave and creating a small,
natural outdoor amphitheatre for performances from the front of Austin.
We will offer a public opportunity to see and discuss those plans in
either February or March.
Finally, speaking of Austin, that building
has been receiving considerable attention since this summer. A new roof
has been installed. Issues of mold have received remedial work, and
moldy costumes and art have been sent out for cleaning and restoration.
At the same time, now that Austin has seen several areas of
improvement, we are in the early stages of contemplating how
philanthropic dollars could expand and improve Austin for greater use by
those interested in the visual and performing arts. I will report
further as new ideas and plans become more defined.
I hope you will agree there is success and
progress at Trinity on many fronts. I am encouraged by this year’s
admissions results, not just because they offer a highly competitive
selection process but also because they signal a strong national
interest in Trinity and its programs. Alumni, parents, and others
continue to invest in Trinity because of their commitment to our core
mission and their acknowledgement of how we have carefully stewarded our
resources during these past two challenging economic years. These
donors share our vision for Trinity and our pursuit of excellence.
Our physical plant continues to offer
challenges and opportunities. We are not standing still. Our budgeting
for plant renewal has increased. Dialogues with donors are leading to
some real improvements. We have a better sense of our needs than at any
time in my presidency. The renovation and restoration of the Long Walk
was a major first step. The new steps I have outlined will make a
qualitative difference, too.
nassailed strength is you, our faculty
and staff. I will never be able to thank you adequately for the
countless (and often unrecognized) ways you manifest our educational
mission. As I travel the nation and world for Trinity, I hear story
after story about how a faculty member, or a coach, or a staff member
has mentored and supported our students. Your impact is truly
legendary. You are the face of Trinity.
Together, we have survived troubling times
with grace and a sense of purpose. Trinity’s future is bright, both
because its mission is noble and because people on and off this campus
care deeply about its health and vitality.
I am proud to serve as your President and even prouder to share in our service to Trinity together.
Yours very truly,
James F. Jones, Jr.
President and Trinity College
Professor in the Humanities
P.S. I have learned in the past 24 hours
that five Trinity students have reached the finalist level for possible
Fulbright awards. While the ultimate decisions on their candidacies
still remain, this encouraging opportunity is yet another reflection on
the talent of our students and the influences of their Trinity mentors.