In recognition of its work engaging with the Hartford community, Trinity College has been awarded Campus Compact’s Richard Guarasci Award for Institutional Transformation.

The award celebrates Trinity’s work to enact institution-wide efforts by aligning teaching, research, practice, and values in service of the common good, according to Campus Compact, a national coalition of colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education.

“Trinity is incredibly fortunate to be in the vibrant, diverse city of Hartford. Our students, staff, and faculty benefit from the rich possibilities for partnership in Hartford and we hope to continue to reflect on and strengthen our connections,” said Abigail Fisher Williamson, director of Trinity’s Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) and associate professor of political science and public policy.

Two-thirds of Trinity students participate in at least one community-engaged course during their time at college, said Williamson. The College’s work has been intentional. Trinity refocused its attention on Hartford a few years ago under President Joanne Berger-Sweeney’s Summit Strategic Plan.

“Our 2016 revised mission statement articulates Trinity’s role as ‘the preeminent liberal arts college in an urban setting,’ and emphasizes the opportunities that our location offers to engage students in deeper learning that fosters local and global citizenship,” said President Berger-Sweeney,  professor of neuroscience.

By the Numbers
Fall 2022

610   Students participated in 52 community service events.

267   Students enrolled in 17 Community Learning courses.

15   Trinity mentors met twice weekly with 15 high school students at Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy.

15   Students on three Liberal Arts Action Lab teams conducted semester-long research on questions posed by Hartford partners.

$12,517 Raised by student groups to be donated to Hartford partner organizations serving the community.

Also, in Spring 2023:

461   Tax returns were filed for low-income households by Trinity students and faculty through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

CHER was founded in 2018 with the goal of synthesizing  community engagement efforts. Through interviews and dialogues with various constituencies, CHER subsequently identified four goals: enhance a culture of mutually beneficial community partnerships; celebrate Hartford and combat harmful stereotypes; advance principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion on our team, on our campus, and in our partnerships with Hartford; and seek fewer boundaries between our campus and community.

Several of the ideas that emerged from the planning process generated results this year. In an effort to advance mutually beneficial partnerships, CHER worked with Library & Information Technology Services to revamp the CHER research archive, where student and faculty community engagement projects can be stored in a searchable format that is publicly accessible to Hartford community members.

To celebrate Hartford and advance principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion, CHER launched a community learning faculty toolkit, which provides resources for faculty on teaching about Hartford and anti-racist community learning. In addition, CHER worked with offices across campus to develop a bilingual community access flier that explains how Hartford residents can access various campus resources.

Finally, to reduce barriers between campus and the community, CHER significantly expanded the partnership with the neighboring grade 6-12 inter-district magnet school, Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy. A new committee comprising senior leaders at both institutions is guiding that work.

The Richard Guarasci Award for Institutional Transformation is presented as part of Campus Compact’s Impact Awards, which recognize the outstanding work of individuals and institutions in pursuit of the public purposes of higher education.

“We appreciate being recognized for our participatory planning efforts, and we’re excited to be advancing some of the shared goals we identified. That said, the planning process made clear the need to continually reflect on Trinity’s role in Hartford and there’s always more that can be done,” said Williamson.

Awardees will be recognized during a summer event series hosted by Campus Compact and the International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement to celebrate the recipients of each organization’s annual awards.

The recognition coincides with the College’s Bicentennial year.

President Berger-Sweeney noted, “as Trinity approaches its bicentennial, we will build on these focused efforts to continue to celebrate and seek to strengthen our most distinctive quality: the College’s relationship with Hartford.”