Approaching One Year as President, Berger-Sweeney Holds State of the College Meeting

Campus Community Looks Back at Achievements and Anticipates Opportunities to Come

Hartford, CT, May 6, 2015 – Joanne Berger-Sweeney, President and Trinity College Professor of Neuroscience, began her first State of the College meeting in Mather Hall’s Washington Room by reflecting on the day she arrived in that room for the March 2014 announcement of her appointment as Trinity’s 22nd president. Approaching the end of her first year in office, she looked back on what Trinity has accomplished and the opportunities and challenges ahead.

“Trinity has tremendous momentum,” she said. “Our aim is to continue that momentum and upward trajectory.”

Berger-Sweeney began her remarks talking about the opportunity Trinity has to bring its reputation in line with its already high-quality academic experience, citing the U.S. News & World Report rankings.

“A top priority for me is improving Trinity’s standing, and matching our reputation with the high-quality academics that are offered here,” she said. “However, it doesn’t mean that I plan to run the College based on metrics that are set by a magazine.”

She then identified the areas where Trinity’s own goals and rankings factors overlap, including recruiting and retaining top professors and focusing on hiring full-time faculty members who will make Trinity their home.

Berger-Sweeney also discussed ways the College is reaching beyond its campus to increase its profile and improve its reputation. Among those steps is Trinity’s new partnership with edX, offering online courses to students around the world alongside other highly selective colleges and universities.

While the edX partnership will increase Trinity’s profile around the world and among our peer institutions, the College continues to maximize its relationship with and partnerships within the city of Hartford. Joining the Community Learning Initiative, Cities Program, Legislative Internship Program, and internship and volunteer opportunities throughout the city is Trinity’s acquisition of 200 Constitution Plaza, the College’s new downtown campus.

Joanne Berger-Sweeney holds her first
State of the College meeting.
 “This downtown campus makes more visible our commitment to our home city, and it offers many opportunities to deepen learning experiences and partner with others – including academic institutions – in the downtown area,” Berger-Sweeney added, looking forward to Hartford developing the college town feel that will make the downtown increasingly vibrant. “Hartford is in Trinity College’s DNA.”

Turning her focus inward, Berger-Sweeney discussed the forthcoming Campaign for Community, aimed at fostering a sense of respect, responsibility, and shared values on a diverse and inclusive campus. She also expects to build on the work of the Task Force for the Prevention of Sexual Misconduct, initiated last fall. She discussed the role of the forthcoming Bantam Network program in supporting incoming students and in shaping the Trinity community. The Bantam Network, recently born out of the Mentoring Networks Design Team Challenge, will be implemented for this fall’s arrival of the Class of 2019. The new student-designed network will support incoming students in a wide variety of ways as they arrive on campus and immerse themselves in the Trinity community.

Berger-Sweeney also discussed the ongoing effort to achieve long-term fiscal sustainability for the College, a priority since her first days on campus. She announced that she has submitted a balanced budget for the coming academic year, thanks to the effort of the Planning and Budget Council and the Financial Affairs Committee, as well as strong returns on the endowment. In the long term, however, Berger-Sweeney cited the lack of sufficient funds for financial aid and maintaining Trinity’s historic campus, anticipating that cutting expenses and/or increasing revenues will be necessary in the coming years.

On the subject of financial aid, Berger-Sweeney had encouraging news to share. Upon taking office in 2014, she and Jack Fracasso, vice president for advancement, launched an ambitious two-year challenge to raise $10 million for financial aid. Less than one year into that effort, Berger-Sweeney announced that the College has already raised $9.265 million. Additionally, an anonymous donor has endowed a full scholarship for a student from the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy.

Berger-Sweeney closed by recalling many of Trinity’s points of pride this year, including the number of awards won by faculty members, the academic achievements of our students, and the championships won by hockey and squash teams.

“Each and every person in this room can contribute by speaking well of Trinity,” she said. “What you say about this College makes a difference. This is a phenomenal institution; we’ve been here for almost 200 years. Join with me in showing your Bantam pride!”