Throughout its 200 years Trinity has created an exceptional experience that provides a powerful and relevant liberal arts education. There is an action orientation to our version of the liberal arts that produces critical thinkers with the intellectual desire and talents to effect positive change in our world. Trinity imbues its Bantams with confidence in their abilities to communicate, to think relationally, to be creative in thought and action, and to build connection, consensus, and community when and where possible.

Reflecting on the Trinity I have come to know and appreciate as the College’s primary enrollment leader, I see a simple lesson from our past that can instruct action at the dawn of our third century. Trinity has substantial grounding to take pride in what was and what we continue to do best, but at this bicentennial moment, there is opportunity to more confidently state and celebrate what makes Trinity distinct. So, the simple lesson: be bold and strategically noisy about what makes Trinity, Trinity.

While many liberal arts colleges are situated in  bucolic campus confines, Trinity is in the midst of the constant action and innovation of an urban center. Our Bantams have a front row seat to the reality of the world and the goings-on of a dynamic capital city; we see both the Hartford’s challenges and its opportunities, and our 100-acre patch of the city is one of its gems. Hartford offers meaningful internships and compelling research opportunities. Trinity can crack the “ivory tower” and engage the community where we live. Bantams can not only gain knowledge, but also create knowledge while serving a greater purpose.

Trinity’s professor-mentors engage, inspire, and support students in a fashion that shapes bold, independent thinking and fosters a mindset for taking action. The ‘Bantam-bold’ rallying cry is not just something to shout and plaster on a view book; it is a reality that is enhanced by the Trinity Plus pathways. It is put into practice by Trinity cornerstones such as the Career & Life Design team, the Entrepreneurship Center, and the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research.

Simply put, Trinity fosters in students a willpower to do more with what they learn. Trinity’s outcomes speak for themselves, making our value proposition strong. Trinity students amass a blend of intelligences that make them sharp leaders and prolific producers. Our increasingly diverse, globally engaged and professionally successful alumni body is an absolute point of institutional pride and a spotlight conversation with all prospective families.

In general, higher education has done a poor job at articulating and celebrating the societal good that it serves. The national conversation has devolved and now appears stuck and confined by an uninspired focus on vocational preparation and a one-dimensional return on investment metric. While a “return on investment” matters and the practical application of a college degree is relevant, no doubt, is that all an education and a college experience is worth? After all, our alumni are impressive by more than just their slate of jobs after college. The relationships and networks our Bantams build, the identities they explore, the creations they bring to market, and the meaning they make professionally and personally coalesce into a purposeful existence beyond their job title and a salary.

Trinity can play a role in elevating the national conversation and can brighten the spotlight on the power and importance of diverse experiences, dynamic relationships, and broadened world views. The Trinity experience can become nationally known for its real-world experiences, the connections it exposes between the liberal arts and the acts of “doing” in the world, and its medium for building an active network of lifelong relationships.

As I write this line (while taking a quick break from the task of finalizing the build of Trinity Class of 2028), I am fully aware that each enrollment cycle carries with it opportunity to add energy, talent and dimension to our community. The attributes of the Bantams we enroll help define the shape and the future of Trinity. Academic talent and intellectual verve exist at the core of admissions decisions, but the Admissions Committee is increasingly comfortable shaping admitted cohorts based on more subjective qualities related to character and personality. Lifelong Trinity fans and enthused extroverts always get attention and are certainly welcome. However, in looking to craft a connected community where relationships matter and differences are celebrated, we become acutely aware of the less apparent traits embedded in the voice, presence and experiences that candidates elevate in their applications.  We are always excited to find students who lead with an empathetic nature in our applicant pool. We like seeing how our applicants invest their time and what their involvements suggest about their priorities. We appreciate demonstrated gratitude, self-exploration, and positive energy. Increasingly, this generation of students is more comfortable with identity exploration and claiming identities with greater fluidity and individuality. A broad and exciting spectrum of lived experiences are reflected in each applicant pool, accordingly, our approach has become more nimble and in tune with evolving definitions of “merit.”

Trinity seeks open minds and open hearts—this fact does not diminish our eagerness to attract, enroll and empower high-achieving, goal-oriented students that ardently reach for success. When we broaden what is consider meritorious, we enhance our ability to shape new classes that are specifically great for Trinity. Learning and experiences that are rooted beyond the classroom provide clues to applicants’ character development and personality strengths. When seeking those who humbly engage life with grace, joy, and a sense of purpose, a high school transcript is of little help. To find Bantams who will truly enliven and enrich the Trinity community, we will look to non-academic involvements, and the energy with which interests are explored and peers are engaged.

The hyper-selective college admissions process is not a meritocracy based on academic achievement. The Supreme Court and countless media outlets have mulled over the impact of privilege and legacy in how we shape our classes. Yet for Trinity, looking beyond a GPA or legacy status is nothing new. We simply need to lean in further into taking the opportunity to redefine what “merit” means.

Bantams in our third century will cultivate careers at a time when the demographics of the U.S. are shifting. Those from historically underrepresented backgrounds today will be the majority in our country in a few short years. Accordingly, Trinity and other liberal arts colleges have not just opportunity, but an obligation to craft and support communities that more accurately reflect the larger world. This means tightening an institutional focus on developing intercultural awareness, care, and cultural competency. It is now more important than ever to recruit and enroll students who demonstrate an open-hearted desire to engage in a diverse community and to learn eagerly with and from their peers.

For 200 years the Trinity community has been shaped, molded, and reshaped by each successive enrollment cycle. We aim to craft classes that are full of students who embrace opportunity and eagerly reach for the unending learning moments that can be found in a diverse and energized community of young people. The confluence of Trinity’s history of academic excellence, its emerging platforms for applied learning, and an enrollment front that prioritizes character, voice, presence, and personality, sets the stage beautifully for the College’s third century.