Ask Trinity faculty and staff members what motivates them in their work, and at the very top of any “top ten” list of responses is “helping students achieve their hopes and dreams.” Regardless of the department, and no matter the role of the staff or faculty member, consistently you will hear it is the students who inspire those who work at the College.
In recent months, faculty and staff members have come together in a very visible way to demonstrate their support for Trinity students at a time when many students and their families are grappling with economic hardship.
Beginning in February, faculty and staff have been encouraging each other to make a gift to Trinity directed to student scholarships. Two new funds have been established at Trinity for the 2010 school year—a Faculty Scholarship Fund providing support to students experiencing unforeseen financial difficulties, and a Community Scholarship Fund to aid students from Connecticut.
As of mid-May, more than half of Trinity's faculty had contributed, and fundraising continues through June 30. "We set up the Faculty Scholarship Fund to encourage faculty to support students in need and we’re thrilled that we have already exceeded 50 percent faculty participation in the Fund," says Cheryl Greenberg, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of History and faculty secretary. “Faculty gifts keep coming and they have been generous, raising more than $11,000 so far."
Adding significant oomph to the campaign is a two-to-one match for every faculty or staff gift. The matching funds are made possible through members of Trinity’s governing boards and other leadership donors who collectively are known as Trinity’s Pacesetters. As of mid-May, the total raised through the faculty and staff fundraising effort is more than $14,700, and after adding the matching funds this total jumps to over $44,000.
Helping shepherd the faculty/staff initiative, in concert with the Trinity College Fund Office, are Walter Adamy, facilities and intramural coordinator; Debbie Cook, switchboard and Mather operations coordinator; Sarah Gerrett, budget manager; Cheryl Greenberg, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of History and faculty secretary; and Sarah Moriarty, director, enterprise applications. One of their favorite ways to illustrate the impact even a small gift can make is to point out that by writing a check for $33 (and thereby triggering a double match), a staff/faculty member makes a $100 contribution to help a student stay at Trinity.
The staff and faculty coordinators also point out that an institution’s faculty and staff giving percentage is weighed by corporations and foundations when awarding grants, so the most important part of their message to faculty and staff, they say, is simply to participate, because every gift counts and every gift will be matched.
Beth Notar, assistant professor of anthropology, says she was inspired to contribute to the Faculty Scholarship Fund in part because of the economic difficulties she knows students face. “In my economic anthropology class this semester, we have been discussing the current global economic crisis. In the U.S., the median household income as of 2007 was $50,000. It is difficult for many families to make ends meet if they face layoffs, debt, unexpected medical bills, etc.” She adds, “This also is my first year serving on the Admissions Committee, and I have been seeing how hard Kelly O’Brien [director, financial aid] has been working to meet additional family requests for financial aid.”
As Debbie Cook sums it up, “We’re here for the students—they’re why I love working here.” As Trinity’s switchboard and Mather operations coordinator, Cook has the opportunity to talk with students constantly throughout her day. About 150 students report to her for various work assignments through the Office of Campus Life. She hears firsthand from students worried about how to pay for their text books and even whether they can afford to come back to Trinity next year. Cook gives through payroll deduction because she wants to help students “in case somebody falls on hard times.”
In combination with Trinity Fund gifts from alumni, parents, and other supporters, donations from faculty and staff are making a huge difference at Trinity and are a point of pride for the entire campus community. Look for an update on the faculty and staff fundraising efforts in future issues of eQuad and the Reporter.