Cornerstone Grants Showing Results

The first round of “seed” projects related to the goals of the Cornerstone planning initiative and supported by a Mellon Foundation grant have begun to have an impact around campus. The President’s Cornerstone Planning Group (PCPG) approved six proposals for funding, totaling approximately half of the $50,000 grant. The successful proposals, received from a variety of College constituencies, were selected based on their ability or potential ability to:

·        help achieve one or more of the Cornerstone goals

·        model or seed other initiatives

·        increase intellectual vibrancy or campus life

·        foster a diverse education community

·        bring Trinity College distinction through urban-global

·        enhance teaching and intellectual life

Here is an update on the progress of some of the initiatives:  

Eat, Drink, and Be Festive: More than 100 students attended the “Eat, Drink, and Be Festive” forum on November 3 in the Washington Room. According to College Chaplain Dan Heischman, it was an opportunity for students to learn about the various religious festivals which were being observed during that particular week—Diwali (Hindu and Sikh); Eid-al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan (Muslim); Reformation Day, All Saints Day and All Souls Day (Christian)—as well as to understand the links between those holidays and food. Speakers highlighted both the particular features of those festivals along with the foods that are traditionally eaten at those times. “It was a terrific success,” Heischman says. “Thanks to the work of Jordan Fisher ’08 and Amy DeBaun, director of campus life, who are coordinating the project. It was an opportunity to learn about particular celebrations as well as appreciate the unity which was inherent in the act of coming together to learn and eat—two essential features of college life!”  

The City and the Sites: Designed to extend programs at study-abroad sites by linking them to each other through comparable documentary work and to the College’s Hartford campus through a documentary training course, organizers of this initiative traveled to Trinidad in August. Eric Galm, assistant professor of music, re-organized the music track and, as a result, there will be one student from Colorado studying in Trinidad this spring and one from Indiana State University. Luis Figueroa, associate professor of history, also recently traveled to Trinidad in order to re-organize his track as well as to do some documentary work there, as provided in the grant. Joan Morrison, associate professor of biology, will go for the ecology track in January.

Milla Riggio, James J. Goodwin Professor of English, notes that her original proposal emphasized co-sponsorship as a key element for many aspects of the initiative and that the approach is working quite well. “My research funds and the global site paid for my trip in August; the Cornerstone Fund paid for Eric, in accordance with our plan,” she explains. “I have just gotten back from Barcelona, where I worked on ‘documenting culture,’ and have gotten excellent ideas and a good sense of what they do there. The trip was paid for by the Barcelona Global Learning Site as part of the cooperative venture. I hasten to point out that the Barcelona trip was only possible because I was invited to give the keynote address at a calypso conference in Leeds, England, and was able for very little money to slip down to Barcelona from London for two days. This is the kind of cooperative venture we’re working hard to achieve—capitalizing on opportunities offered when we can.”   

Retention of Intellectual Students through Enhancing the Living and Cultural Environment at Trinity: Launched by Laura Lockwood, director of the Women’s Center, and a group of students, the goal of this initiative is to “retain students by addressing student dissatisfaction with the campus social life by building a community based on mutual respect, decreasing all forms of violence and increasing formal notice of these events.”  As part of the program, more than 400 students attended comedienne Maria Falzone’s “Sex Rules” show, which addressed in a humorous manner such issues as safe sex, STDs, and alcohol use. The group also created 500 emery boards displaying telephone numbers where students can receive safe rides home. “These initiatives all stem from student decisions about ways to promote safety and increase victim response and reporting on campus to insure that student retention increases,” Lockwood explains. “We see a direct tie to those students who choose to leave Trinity because of the campus culture. These efforts are an attempt to alter that culture.”     

Enhancing the Workplace through Improving Management: Developed by the President’s Special Council on Women, the first initiative from this proposal was the October 11 supervisory-skills workshops. Held in two, filled-to-capacity half-day sessions, the workshops focused on improving communication between supervisors and administrative staff in order to create a work environment in which everyone can perform to the best of their abilities. The PSCW is in the process of planning another event to be held in the near future. An announcement will be forthcoming.       

Student Wall of Honor: This initiative began as a collaboration between Linda Gilbert, associate registrar, and Rita Law, manager of creative services, when both attended a Cornerstones information session last spring. The result, so far, is two poster-sized plaques in Mather Dining Hall bearing the names of students who have achieved faculty honors. Conceived as a way to give greater credit to students for their scholarly achievements, there are currently plaques recognizing students from the fall semester of 2004 and the spring semester of 2005. Plans are in place to continue the project each semester. “We envision an entire wall of plaques promoting the academic excellence of our students,” says Gilbert. “The Student Wall of Honor is designed to be permanent, something students can share with their families during family weekend, at Commencement or, in later years, as alums returning to campus to celebrate their academic achievements with their own children!”

The Cornerstone Fund is intended to support projects that require small amounts of initial funding and that have the potential to help the College to achieve one or more of the Cornerstone goals. In some cases, the projects will be short-term ones that lay the foundation for innovative ways of achieving the Cornerstone goals. Other projects may be pilots for potentially larger or continuing implementations. If the pilots prove successful, a priority will be placed on finding additional funding.

A second call for proposals will be forthcoming.


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