Strategic Planning Updates Shared by Subcommittee Chairs

Planning Process Will Help Determine Priorities for Trinity’s Future

Subcommittee chairs, from left: Jason Rojas, Kathy Curran,
Kevin McMahon, Chris Hager, and Anne Lambright

Hartford, Connecticut, November 2, 2016 – In early 2016, President Joanne Berger-Sweeney announced the beginning of Trinity’s strategic planning process, which is being guided by the Bicentennial Strategic Planning Commission, to shepherd the College toward its 200th anniversary in 2023. The Bicentennial Strategic Planning Commission is made up of a steering committee and five subcommittees that are working to assess current strengths and the critical challenges and opportunities that face Trinity. 

Chairs of the five subcommittees sat on a panel on Saturday, October 22, before Trinity’s Presidential Advisers. Once a year, these advisers are invited to campus to receive updates on the state of the College, as well as various timely and crucial initiatives. Each chair provided an overview of the aim of his or her subcommittee and updates as to its progress. A summary of the subcommittee chairs’ reports follows.

A Global College
Anne Lambright P’09, ’10, ’14, Charles A. Dana Research Professor of Language and Culture Studies (Co-Chair with Tim Cresswell, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty)

Anne Lambright shared her subcommittee’s process of thinking critically on what it means for Trinity to be considered a “global college,” which is to say a college that is increasingly interconnected to the broader world, and to provide students with a cross-cultural understanding that will serve them well at Trinity and beyond. The high quality of Trinity’s study-away programs is foremost in serving this vision for a global college. Study away can be enriched with additions of J-Term and summer study-away programs; there is the opportunity for further support of these programs because financial aid is generally not offered during these terms. Other important programs identified include the Center for Urban and Global Studies, which is unique among Trinity’s peer institutions, and the Center for Caribbean Studies, which takes on special significance considering Hartford’s large Caribbean population. Lambright also cited the McGill International Studies Fund as being particularly successful in enabling Trinity to bring outstanding scholars to campus as McGill Visiting Assistant Professors and Distinguished Lecturers in International Studies. While Trinity is distinguished from its peer institutions in that 11-12 percent of its students each year are international, the College can further facilitate more student exchanges. The subcommittee is also exploring ways to implement more international internships, to encourage more students to apply for international fellowships, and to connect better with international alumni.

Learning and Skill Development Inside and Outside of the Classroom
Chris Hager, Associate Professor of English (Co-Chair with Melanie Stein, Dean of Academic Affairs)

By examining educational experiences both inside and outside of the classroom, Chris Hager reported that his subcommittee seeks to ensure that a Trinity College education becomes the foundation for lifelong learning. The subcommittee is focusing on promoting intellectual reflection, creating opportunities for collaborative learning, and developing leadership skills. Hager also reinforced the need to encourage students to take command of their own learning. The environment of a student’s learning and the diversity of that environment — being able to intellectually confront new people and new ideas — are all significant factors to consider. The subcommittee is dedicated to determining how best to lay a foundation for intellectually curious students who pursue learning beyond Trinity.

Kevin McMahon, John R. Reitemeyer Professor of Political Science (Co-Chair with Dan Hitchell, Vice President of Finance and Chief Operating Officer)

Kevin McMahon cited preliminary work undertaken during 2015-16, involving multiple constituencies, to explore new avenues for increasing revenues. The Resources subcommittee continues to build on those efforts to identify new sources of revenue that can be implemented most successfully. In particular, the subcommittee is very interested in exploring the idea of a January cohort at Trinity. These students would be offered enrollment beginning after the fall semester. The cohort would be much smaller than a traditional incoming class but would provide a “bump” in revenue each January. The subcommittee continues to examine how this would be successfully implemented and what kind of resources would be required to maintain it. Further, the subcommittee is interested in the elevation of Trinity’s small Graduate Studies Program. A downtown presence for Trinity would provide an opportunity to expand programming and to capture the interest of professionals already working in Hartford. Finally, the subcommittee is examining faculty government for any possible revisions to make it more effective with regard to planning.

Facilities and Environmental Sustainability
Kathy Curran, Professor of Fine Arts (Co-Chair with Deke Mathieu, General Counsel and Secretary of the College)

Kathy Curran indicated that the charge of her subcommittee is twofold. Its first purpose is the assessment of Trinity’s facilities, as well as examining the best practices for maintaining them. This is a broad spectrum from archival work to examining Trinity’s ongoing and recent capital projects. Further, the subcommittee will work to determine the most effective governments to handle these facility concerns. The second purpose of this subcommittee is to address the following question: what role should Trinity play in shaping an environmentally sustainable future? Curran cited that this is a global concern, and Trinity must consider how best to plan for an environmentally mindful infrastructure and community. The subcommittee identified that there may be room for philanthropic endeavors related to environmental sustainability at Trinity.

Partnering with Hartford
Jason Rojas M’12, President’s Chief of Staff (Co-Chair with Susan Masino, Vernon Roosa Professor of Applied Science)

Jason Rojas shared his subcommittee’s investigation into how best to further engage Trinity’s campus community with Hartford. A significant part of the subcommittee’s conversations have centered on recognition of the existing partnerships with the city. Currently, there are many formal and informal interactions happening between students, faculty, and staff and the Hartford community. An inventory of these relationships, and how they work, is vital to understanding Trinity’s role in its neighborhood, city, and region. The subcommittee hopes to find ways to encourage the community to take advantage of programming at the College while encouraging students to step off campus. Community service is an existing value at Trinity that the subcommittee hopes to find ways to further cultivate. Further, the subcommittee would like to explore ways to keep young alumni who reside in the Hartford area engaged with campus.

 The panel concluded with a few remarks from President Berger-Sweeney. The president shared the “cross-cutting themes” that influence all subcommittees of the Bicentennial Strategic Planning Commission. These themes include: diversity and inclusion, trends in higher education, self-evaluation and metrics to measure progress, financial sustainability, and professional development and leadership.

 For more information about Trinity’s strategic planning efforts, visit the Bicentennial Strategic Planning Commission website here.

 Written by Kelsey E. Moore
Photo by John Atashian