On a day “filled with the hope of spring,” as Board of Trustees Chair Lisa Bisaccia ’78 described it, a crowd of Trinity College faculty, staff, and students as well as members of the extended Borges family and alums, many who had come from across the country to witness the event, gathered to celebrate the dedication of the Manuel and Maria Luisa Lopes Borges Admissions Center. Reflecting upon the significance of the moment, President Joanne Berger-Sweeney described the dedication as “both personal and communal, historic and symbolic, and a strong statement of the importance of inclusion.”
For Francisco “Frank” L. Borges ’74, H’20 and his siblings, it was all of those things. The dedication followed a $10 million gift made by the family to establish a financial aid endowment that would ensure future generations would have access to a Trinity education. The gift was inspired by the commitment of their parents who traveled to the United States from the Cape Verdean Islands to provide better opportunities for their children and saw education as key to seizing those opportunities.
With that in mind, Frank, brother Peter L. Borges ’80, and sisters Francesca Borges Gordon ’82, Maria Borges Correia ’85, and Joaquina Borges King, who attended Wesleyan University, all took to heart their parents’ encouragement to “studa ku empenhu,” a Cape Verdean phrase that means “study with earnestness.”
Prior to the dedication, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Matthew Hyde moderated a symposium titled “Affordability & Action: Financial Aid as Fuel for Admission, Access & Belonging.” A panel of experts examined the role of financial aid in providing access to a college education and the importance of making students and families aware of the resources available to them. “People won’t apply if they think they can’t afford it,” said panelist Phillip Levine, the Katharine Coman and A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Economics at Wellesley College.
Jeffrey K. Coleman ’01, vice president for diversity, inclusion and community engagement at Framingham State University, spoke also about the importance of building a culture of belonging for these students while underscoring the particular significance of the Borges Center to the Trinity community. “This is the first building at Trinity named after [people] of color,” said Coleman. “This is a statement to BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and people of color] students that ‘you matter.’ ” Speaking to the crowd gathered outside the center prior to the unveiling of the sign over the doorway and the portraits of his parents inside, Frank noted that “this gift is not about a legacy, because a legacy is behind you. This gift is really about the future,” adding that, “whatever modicum of success we have had, Trinity College was the foundation.”
Frank L. Borges ’74, H’20, in his own words
Affordability & Action: Financial Aid as Fuel for Admission, Access & Belonging
About the Artist
Artist Luis Levy Lima, of half-Cape Verdean descent, was born in Lisbon, Portugal. He said he felt a personal connection to the portraits he was asked to create of Manuel and Maria Luisa Lopes Borges. “I met Frank and Luisa a long time ago. We’ve become friends and family,” said Levy Lima. “My Cape Verdean family is similar to Frank’s parents. I know the struggle.” In painting the portraits, Levy Lima noted that he drew inspiration from traditional Cape Verdean musicians like Bana and Cesária Évora, but also singer David Bowie. “‘Heroes, just for one day.’ They have to be remembered as heroes, because of the path they made from Cape Verde,” said Levy Lima. “I feel honored to be chosen to do this . . . and I hope you can get to know the Borges family’s parents the way that Frank introduced me to them.”