Implementation Committee for Building Community at Trinity College

November 20, 2013

Dear Members of the Trinity Community:

 I want to bring you up to date on one of the College’s most important initiatives, the creation of a House System, scheduled to begin next fall. In order to allow the time for proper planning and implementation, the Board of Trustees on Friday voted to accept the recommendation of the College’s senior administration to extend the start date of the House System by one year, to the fall of 2015. This new program will enable everyone at Trinity to have the chance to be a part of a smaller community that will engage students and mentors through a variety of House activities, shared meals, and leadership opportunities. We are committed to this program as a key element in our plan to positively shape social and academic life. It is therefore critical to be sure we have all of the program’s elements firmly in place.

This additional year will enable us to do several things. First, it will ensure that faculty involvement in the House System can be folded into the academic planning process currently taking place under the direction of the Dean of Faculty. Second, it will allow my successor to have a hand in shaping what I strongly believe will become one of Trinity’s signature programs, an option that would not be possible were we to launch next fall, only two months into the new president’s term. Third, it will provide more time for planning to take place in earnest, allowing us to be fully prepared to launch the new House System for the incoming class in the fall of 2015.

The House System, in which two to three residence halls are clustered into a “House,” not only offers a way for incoming students to feel they belong upon their arrival on campus but also offers opportunities for faculty, staff, and all students to interact outside the classroom. Students will have the opportunity to help shape the life of the House with their own ideas, to exercise leadership, and to bring forward new ideas for social and intellectual life that will be exciting not just for their own House but for the entire campus. Each of the five Houses will be led by a Faculty Head of House, a House Dean, and a House Coordinator, and each will have its own name, governance style, and array of programs—largely determined by students themselves. The House System will particularly benefit incoming first-year students who will be assigned to Houses by their first-year seminar. Students will live within their Houses during their first and second years, and will continue to be affiliated with their House during their final two years even if they live elsewhere.

It is my belief and the Board’s that allowing ourselves an additional year to begin the House System is a prudent decision to ensure the program’s success. I want to emphasize that the change in the House System implementation date does not affect the deadlines and rules for changes to the College’s social organizations. Specifically, we expect that fraternities, sororities, and other selective social organizations will achieve gender parity by 2016, as previously outlined.

We will ask all of you—faculty, staff, and students—for your best ideas and your participation in the coming months as we prepare for this exciting new program.

Yours very truly,

James F. Jones, Jr.
President and Trinity College
Professor in the Humanities