The Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs often sends messages to the Trinity community. Below is a recent listing of these messages.

Academic Year 2020-21

Dear Trinity Faculty, Staff, and Students,

Outstanding teacher-scholars are at the heart of an outstanding liberal arts education. It is my pleasure to recognize five exceptional professors who will be appointed named chairs or hold research professorships. Together, they work across academic divisions and intellectual traditions, modeling what it is to be “bold, independent thinkers.”

To hold a named chair is one of the highest achievements a faculty member can attain, constituting recognition of sustained scholarly or artistic excellence. I am honored to report that the following two professors will join the ranks of Trinity’s distinguished named chairs, effective July 1, 2021:

Shafqat Hussain, George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian Studies
As Professor of Anthropology, Prof. Hussain’s research focuses on social and political ecology in South and Central Asia, in particular on how local marginal communities and outside players interact with the environment of the region and on the region’s role in world history. He is the author of The Snow Leopard and the Goat: Politics of Conservation in the Western Himalayas (University of Washington Press, 2019) and Remoteness and Modernity: Transformation and Continuity in Northern Pakistan (Yale University Press, 2015). He recently returned from a research leave in Pakistan, having conducted fieldwork for a book on the first trophy hunting program in Pakistan. Prof. Hussain is also the creator of Project Snow Leopard, and in 2009 he won the National Geographic Emerging Explorer award for his path-breaking work in the region.

Gail Woldu, Charles A. Dana Professor of Music
Professor Woldu of the Music Department has been at Trinity since 1987. Her scholarly work focuses on the disparate fields of American popular music in the late twentieth century and music in France between 1870 and 1930. She is the author of The Words and Music of Ice Cube (Praeger, 2008) and an annotated translation, with introduction, of Vincent d’Indy’s Course de composition musicale (University of Oklahoma Press, 2010). She has also published numerous articles and essays on Gabriel Fauré, Maurice Ravel, French schools of music, and hip-hop culture. She has held fellowships at Amherst, Berkeley, and Yale; and her research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Prof. Woldu received the Hughes Award for Teaching Achievement in 2004. Her current book project is titled The Musical Artistry of Black American Women, 1920-2020.

Additionally, three accomplished scholars will be appointed Charles A. Dana Research Professorships for two academic years, beginning in July 2021.

Dario Euraque, Charles A. Dana Research Professor of History and International Studies
Professor Euraque has been at Trinity since 1990, and he is the co-director of Trinity’s Center for Caribbean Studies. He is a world-renowned expert on Central America, especially Honduras, where he served as the Director of the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History in 2006-09. In addition to being a prolific scholar, he is a regular expert witness in high-profile trials and a consultant for international organizations. He is in the process of completing the second volume of a two-volume biography of Rafael Lopez Padilla (1875-1963).

Kifah Hanna, Charles A. Dana Research Associate Professor of Language and Culture Studies
Professor Hanna has been at Trinity since 2009. Her research focuses on twentieth and twenty-first century Arabic literature, especially the writings of Arab women and questions of gender and sexuality. She was the recipient of the Arthur H. Hughes Award for Teaching in 2014; and she currently holds a prestigious Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies at Columbia University.

Laura Holt, Charles A. Dana Research Associate Professor of Psychology
A Trinity alumna, Professor Holt joined the Psychology Department faculty in 2008. She has over two dozen publications, many of them with student co-authors; and she is the principal investigator for a major grant from the National Institutes for Health/National Institute on Drug Abuse. Her current research is on prescription drug misuse and electronic nicotine delivery system use. She also won the Hughes Award for Teaching in 2011.

The Dana research professorships were established to support one full professor and two associate professors with a period of reduced teaching responsibilities to complete an important piece of research. Past recipients of the Dana professorships can be found here.

Thank you to those who support and inspire these faculty, and to the faculty advisory committee — representing each academic division, the Appointments and Promotions Committee, and other named chairs — who reviewed and recommended the candidates.

Please join me in congratulating these five faculty members, whose work exemplifies the transformative impact that Trinity’s professors have on both their students and society.


Sonia Cardenas
Acting Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Professor of Political Science

Dear Students,

As we move through the spring semester, I wanted to share with you a recent update to academic policies, as well as a number of opportunities we are offering this summer.

Academic Policy Changes

Trinity’s faculty has voted to make the following COVID-related adjustments to better support students:

  • Students who have an incomplete from spring 2020 may receive a late withdrawal with the approval of both their adviser and instructor.
  • For the spring 2021 semester only, students on Academic Probation will not be required to take all courses for a grade; they will be able to take a course on a Pass/Low Pass/Fail basis.

Summer Opportunities

Looking ahead to summer, here are several interesting opportunities to prepare you for future successes:

  • Tech-Edge.  Running June 7-25, this is the latest program developed as part of the Trinity-Infosys Applied Learning Initiative and is designed for liberal arts undergraduate students and recent graduates to acquire core skills in technology and business innovation, while networking with industry leaders and Trinity alumni. Applications are still being accepting on a rolling basis, and no STEM background is necessary.
  • Summer Session II.  These courses offer you the chance to catch up on credits and core requirements or explore new interests, while engaging in small, focused classes. Register for Session II courses via TCOnline beginning Monday, March 29, 2021.
  • Summer Research Program (SRP).  Work closely with a faculty supervisor in a research setting for 8-10 weeks during the summer. Applications are prepared by students in consultation with a faculty supervisor and are due by the end of the day on March 23, 2021.
  • Public Humanities Collaborative (PHC). This summer research opportunity brings together students, faculty, and individuals and organizations in Hartford to work on public humanities: the study of how people interpret stories of our human experience. Application deadline is April 5, 2021.
  • Pre-College Programs.  In these new offerings, high school students develop college-level academic skills in a seminar environment, taught by Trinity faculty from across our liberal arts curriculum. Programs run June through August. Enrollment is open now, so please share with high school students who may be interested in exploring Trinity.

Good luck on midterms, enjoy the warmer weather, and be confident that a world of new experiences and opportunities lies ahead!

Sonia Cardenas
Acting Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Professor of Political Science

Dear Trinity Student,

I hope this finds you well, anticipating the spring semester and its possibilities.  In an ongoing effort to support you during this year, the Faculty voted today to approve two important measures brought to it by the Academic Affairs Committee:

  • Second-semester seniors who are on track to graduate can earn a minimum of 3 credits in the spring to remain in good academic standing.  If you are currently over-enrolled in courses that you do not plan to take, we ask that you drop them by this Friday, February 5, so other students have access to them.
  • Students who incur academic probation in the spring semester will not have this noted on their official transcript.

We hope these changes in academic policy will support your success this spring, contributing to an outstanding semester back on campus!

Sincerely yours,

Sonia Cardenas
Acting Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Professor of Political Science

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

The first days of 2021 have compounded the challenges already facing the country and the world, shaking us all. As an academic community, we should take this as an opportunity to affirm our mission and values, as well as our role in a democratic society. Whether in our classes, conversations with students and colleagues, research projects, or meetings with community members outside of Trinity, we have an obligation to grapple with the meaning and implications of last week’s insurrection at the Capitol.

At a minimum, we should affirm the democratizing power of education, especially of a liberal arts education such as ours that values both humanism and science. We must insist that the quality of democratic deliberation and debate varies and has consequences. And we must continue to embrace the free exchange of ideas and academic freedom, while protecting the equal worth and treatment of all people. It’s our obligation as members of the academic profession to strive for a more just and humane society — premised on civic engagement not disorder, and accountability rather than silence.

We can’t detach from last Wednesday’s assault on the nation’s democracy. On the contrary, we have a responsibility to reflect deeply on its meaning and impact. How should we and others respond? What is our role as individuals and as educators? As a college, are we doing everything we can to prepare students to engage in civic discourse and act ethically and responsibly in the world? Are we preparing them to connect rather than to divide? To heal those who have been harmed, and to sow understanding in the place of ignorance?

The stresses of this academic year have been substantial, and some of us may be feeling despondent and overwhelmed. To repeat my message from December, the work we do matters. Later this week, the Dean of Faculty’s Office will share news of faculty achievements, reminding us of the strengths and opportunities we have to impact the world in positive ways, which are needed now more than ever.

Don’t forget as we get through the challenges of the next few weeks and months that we are a place that studies the problems of the world, finds solutions through research, gives expression to our humanity, offers needed context and perspective, and guides and supports those in our care, preparing them to engage with purpose in the world. As we transform the world through the students we educate, let’s be sure to stand together to model the very best principles of a democratic society. That’s our best hope for the future.


Sonia Cardenas
Acting Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Professor of Political Science

Dear Students,

As we reach the end of an extraordinary semester, on behalf of faculty, I would like to share news of a few academic policy changes and remind you of academic resources that are available to you.

Academic Policy Changes

Trinity’s faculty voted this week to change certain policies to better support you academically and personally, reflecting our holistic values as a liberal arts college.  These include:

  • Whereas in the past, students needing to take time away from Trinity for a medical or mental health emergency have had to request a Voluntary Withdrawal, they will now be able to take a Leave of Absence. The transcript will show “Leave of Absence” not “Withdrawal” (or W).
  • Any student who needs to take a leave of absence will be able to do so regardless of their academic performance and without penalty. They will not be placed on academic probation as a result of having to leave mid-semester.

These changes originated in the Academic Affairs Committee, which is a multi-constituent committee of faculty, staff, and students, dedicated to the academic success of all students.

End-of-Semester Academic Resources

You’re all to be commended for getting through this semester and pulling together.  Stay focused and do your best work academically, knowing that we’re all here to support you.

Very best wishes for a successful end of the semester!

Sonia Cardenas
Acting Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Professor of Political Science

Dear Trinity Students,

Global study and engagement are key aspects of a Trinity education. As the pandemic restricts our travel this year, it likely will come as no surprise that we have decided to suspend study away programs for spring 2021. This will apply to both Trinity-administered programs and those offered through approved external programs, domestic and abroad.

In making this decision, we are prioritizing your health and safety, guided by ongoing global advisories and travel restrictions. Please know that as soon as we can, we will resume study-away experiences, including short-term global programs. In the meantime, Trinity’s Office of Study Away will contact and support any affected students.

As disappointing as this news is, we hope that you will continue taking globally engaged courses this spring, including by studying other languages and cultures. Our faculty in Rome will also be offering courses remotely this year, which may interest some of you as you register for classes.

Thank you for your ongoing resilience, and please do contact the Office of Study Away with any questions.

Stay engaged and stay positive,

Sonia Cardenas
Acting Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Professor of Political Science

Dear Members of the Trinity College Community:

Excellence in teaching is at the core of a liberal arts education and Trinity’s mission of preparing bold, independent thinkers who lead transformative lives.

It is therefore with great pleasure that I write to announce the recipients of the 2020 teaching excellence awards:

  • The Arthur H. Hughes Award for Teaching Achievement, which recognizes outstanding teaching by a faculty member in their 3rd – 9th year at Trinity College, is awarded to Michael Grubb, Assistant Professor of Psychology; and
  • The Thomas Church Brownell Prize for Teaching Excellence, which recognizes outstanding teaching by a senior faculty member, is awarded to Cheryl Greenberg, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of History.

Both of these exceptional teacher-scholars are known for fostering inclusive classrooms, connecting students to research experiences, and taking interest in their students’ lives beyond the classroom.  We will celebrate their achievements during Commencement in 2021, including with formal citations.  For now, please join me in congratulating them!

I would also like to thank the selection committee, which included several key representatives:  from the Appointments & Promotions Committee (Gail Woldu), two teaching award recipients from the past 5 years (Dan Blackburn and Jennifer Regan-Lefebvre), a co-director of the Center for Teaching and Learning (Dina Anselmi), the associate dean for faculty development (Taku Miyazaki), and a student representative who has recently served on the Curriculum Committee (Adyanna Odom ’23).  Thanks also to all of you who submitted nominations and wrote letters of support.  The volume of interest is a measure of our engagement as a community of learners.

The call for nominations by students and alumni for the 2021 teaching awards is now open, until March 5, 2021.  Please see the list of eligible faculty, then nominate Trinity professors whose exceptional teaching should be recognized:

If you have any questions about these prizes, please contact Sylvia DeMore, Special Assistant to the Dean of the Faculty.

Congratulations again to Professor Cheryl Greenberg and Professor Michael Grubb, whose inspired teaching helps to define the caliber of a Trinity College education.


Sonia Cardenas
Acting Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Professor of Political Science

Dear Trinity Students,

Fall semester courses are about to begin, and I wanted to share two important items with you.

One is a statement of the rights and responsibilities that all of us have in an inclusive learning environment, both students and faculty.  It’s a reminder of our values and standards as an academic community, and I encourage all of you to read it before classes begin.  The other document is a fact sheet that outlines expectations around remote learning this year.  Have a look before you begin your courses next week.

On behalf of the faculty, have a great start of the semester, knowing—now, more than ever—that we’re all here to support your intellectual growth and academic success!

Best wishes,

Sonia Cardenas

Acting Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Professor of Political Science

Dear Trinity Students:

I hope this finds you and your families well, as we approach the start of the fall semester. I am very pleased to share with you several changes to academic policy, which Trinity’s Faculty voted yesterday to approve. These changes are intended to provide you with as much flexibility as possible during the upcoming academic year.

Credits Required for Graduation.  All enrolled students will be able to graduate with a minimum of 34.5 credits, provided that all other graduation requirements have been fulfilled. This means that if you take 8 credits this academic year, you can still stay on track to graduate.  If you’re enrolled in 6 or more credits for fall and J-Term, we encourage you to un-enroll in some courses so that other students can access them.

Good Academic Standing.  For the 2020-21 academic year, good academic standing and satisfactory academic progress will be defined as follows:

  • Passing at least 4 credits over the fall semester and J-Term combined (a passing grade consists of a C- or higher);
  • Passing at least 4 credits over the spring semester and June summer session combined.

Converting a Course to Pass/Low Pass/Fail (L/LP/F).  For the 2020-21 academic year, the date to convert a class to P/LP/F will be extended from 6 days after the semester begins to October 23, which is the midpoint of the semester.  This date will provide you with more time to assess your performance in a course before deciding on the grading basis.

Incomplete.  For the 2020-21 academic year, during which students may encounter various extenuating circumstances, students will not need to petition to receive an Incomplete. Faculty will be able to enter a grade of Incomplete at their discretion. The Incomplete can remain the official grade up to the last day of the following semester, at which time the work must be completed and a letter grade entered. Extensions beyond this deadline will require petitioning the Academic Affairs Committee.

Many thanks to Trinity’s faculty, especially our Curriculum Committee and the Academic Affairs Committee (and their student representatives) for making these important changes proactively.  These steps demonstrate our forward-looking commitment to supporting you and your academic success.

On behalf of our faculty and academic staff, please accept my best wishes for a fall semester of exceptional learning and growth.

Sincerely yours,

Sonia Cardenas
Acting Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Professor of Political Science

Dear Colleagues,

As you know, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced on Monday a set of xenophobic measures, which target international students and reflect an ongoing assault on higher education.  We won’t stand by and let the announced changes to the Student and Visitor Exchange Program (SEVP) harm Trinity’s international students or the fabric of our education.

Though this directive is still likely to be revised, there are two important things that we can do for our international students right now during advising week.

First, we should advise international students who will be in Hartford to enroll in one in-person class in the fall, including the in-person section of a hybrid course.  We should reassure them that, no matter what, we will see to it that this happens.  International students already know this but still need our support.

Second, because this is a complex fall logistically with numerous unknown variables, we urge you to let registration unfold on its own.  After advance registration, we will move to accommodate every international student who has not gotten into an in-person class.  This is the fairest way to proceed, with the lowest likelihood of unintended consequences.

We will also remain vigilant against other risks to our international students, including whether seniors who study in their home countries would lose their OPT eligibility.  As other institutions are emphasizing, however, we should push back vigorously against these measures and not assume that they will stand as currently defined.  I had a call earlier today with my counterparts at peer institutions, and we are not alone in this stance.

For more information, which our international students are also receiving, please see this FAQ from our Office of International Students and Scholars.

As we all know, international students help to make our classrooms and campus an intellectually vibrant and diverse learning environment, essential to all of our students and our commitment to educating globally engaged citizens. We stand with and for our international students and firmly against everything that Monday’s directive represents—bigotry, chauvinism, and intimidation.  Thank you for your overwhelming support on behalf of our students and their right to learn freely.

Best regards,

Sonia Cardenas
Acting Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Professor of Political Science

Dear Trinity Students,

In anticipation of the fall semester, it’s almost time to register for your Trinity courses.  Before you do so, we want to make sure you understand all the options, which are designed to maximize flexibility, as well as the major deadlines and resources available to you.

Our faculty and staff have been working hard to prepare for the 2020-21 academic year. New courses are being designed, and new formats such as tutorials are being adopted. The offerings are creative and flexible, preparing you with the lifelong skills and mentoring networks you will need to thrive in a post-pandemic world.

We are writing now with the registration plans for the fall semester and January Term (J-Term). These plans include multiple course options and the flexibility to spread your courses across the fall semester and the J-Term. The Registrar will be in touch shortly with further logistical details, and the course schedule can be accessed here.

Advising week is scheduled for July 6-10. Because of the new options, we have reinstated advising holds on all returning student accounts. We therefore encourage you to be in touch with your advisers to discuss your course selection. Many departments will also be contacting their majors.


You will be registering for both fall semester courses and, if you choose to do so, the 5-week remote J-Term. To maintain full-time student status and remain in good standing at the college, you must enroll in at least 4 credits in the fall and J-Term combined. For increased flexibility in the fall semester, note that you can now take up to 2 credits during J-Term with 1-credit courses being offered by many departments. The Advance Registration schedule will be as follows:

  • July 13: Advance Registration begins for Senior Class
  • July 15: Advance Registration begins for Junior Class
  • July 17: Advance Registration begins for Sophomore Class
  • July 20: Advance Registration begins for First-Year Students
  • Graduate Students: Advising week begins on July 6 and course registration on July 13

We have staggered the days that each class can begin to register by two days to compensate for any unexpected challenges related to a remote registration process. We are especially mindful of the needs of our international students.


You will notice that, to maintain both social distancing for in-person learning and the highest quality remote instruction, class sizes will generally be smaller in the fall. We believe that these smaller classes, combined with flexible course offerings, will provide for an outstanding liberal arts experience.

Courses in the fall semester will be either 10- or 13-weeks long, depending on the topic, and they will fall into one of three modes of instruction:

  • In-Person:In these courses, the professor will be in the classroom with students.
  • Remote: Forthese courses, both students and professors will work remotely.
  • Hybrid: While the professor will be in the classroom, these courses will include both in-personand remote students. Hybrid courses will appear as two cross-listed sections in the schedule of classes, one labeled ‘in-person’ and the other labeled ‘remote’.

Regardless of the format, all courses will meet at their designated times; and as it gets closer to the fall opening, we will provide more detailed expectations about remote learning. In all types of courses, close interaction with professors and peers will define your Trinity academic experience.


Whatever your class year, we want to be sure that you’re making progress towards your Trinity degree, now more than ever. Seniors should be completing advanced work in the major and all degree requirements, while juniors should be making good progress in their majors. Sophomores and first-year students might choose to take a lighter load in the fall, remembering that the combined total between fall and J-Term must equal at least 4 credits. In addition to their first-year seminar, incoming students might take a distribution requirement or entry course into a major. In general, select your courses with an eye to designing a fall semester and J-Term in which you are most likely to succeed academically.


We know that you will have questions, and we want to be sure to answer them. Here is an FAQ about academic course registration for fall 2020 and J-Term 2021, which you can bookmark. Be sure also to reach out to your academic adviser. The Center for Academic Advising can likewise provide you with valuable support, while the chairs of departments and programs will be essential resources for those considering a major or minor. And the Registrar’s Office can answer questions relating to the registration process.

The Center for Academic Advising will host information sessions about Course Registration for returning students on Wednesday, July 8, 7:00 PM and for first-year students on Thursday, July 9, 7:00 PM.  Stay tuned for a Zoom invite.

As you select your courses, remember that your Trinity liberal arts education is so much greater than any physical distancing in classrooms:  the courses you take are about engaging and connecting with others, preparing for a future that needs bold independent thinkers who lead transformative lives!

Have a great summer,

Sonia Cardenas
Acting Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Professor of Political Science