Hiring initiatives that promoted greater diversity at Trinity College were a factor in the school’s latest recognition as a leader in advancing the core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Trinity is among 110 higher education institutions nationwide—and the only one from Connecticut—to receive the 2023 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award.
“This is a remarkable achievement that underscores and celebrates our community’s commitment to the core values of diversity and inclusion,” said Trinity President Joanne Berger-Sweeney. “I’m extremely grateful for the progress we’ve been able to make to foster a more welcoming and representative environment, and for the effort that so many have given to champion this work. This recognition is certainly a moment of pride for the College.”
The publishers of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, which issues the award, noted the honor is a tribute to higher education institutions that successfully encourage and inspire a new generation of diverse students to succeed.
The recognition arrives exactly five years after Trinity launched its Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and named Anita Davis its inaugural vice president. “Through multi-year interventions, we are creating an inclusive environment,” said Davis. “Partnerships throughout the College ensure we all own this as an important goal.”
In applying for the HEED Award, Trinity provided a rigorous accounting of policies, strategies, programs, initiatives, demographics, and protocols.
They included efforts that united the campus. The Task Force on Campus Climate created an Action Plan for Racial Justice, which captured more than 250 actions identified by departments, programs, and groups to move the campus along the path to becoming a more racially and socially just community.
Trinity integrated DEI principles into faculty and staff search processes. A recent Special Opportunity Hire initiative increased the percent of faculty of color from 21 percent in 2019 to 35 percent in 2023.
At the same time, Trinity is strengthening diversity and inclusion through modifications to the employee application process, which now asks about candidates’ commitments to diversity, through the onboarding process and through continuing staff development, according to Michelle Cabral, associate vice president for human resources.
In the past few years, several campus divisions hired new senior-level administrators who identify as people of color. The College increased staff of color from 20 percent in 2019 to 30 percent in 2023.
For students, Trinity faculty approved a new curricular requirement focused on identity, power, and equity. The College also expanded gender-inclusive housing options and recently earned a rating of 5 out of 5 stars on the Campus Pride Index, an independent national database on LGBTQ inclusiveness.
In the past decade, the college has increased by 50 percent financial aid for undergraduate students, enriching the socioeconomic, racial, and international diversity of the student body. Student retention rates –91 percent–have increased, as have post graduation career outcome success rates, with 97 percent of the Class of 2021 employed, in graduate school, or engaged in full-time military or public service within six months of graduating.
At Trinity, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, is comprised of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Queer Resource Center, the Title IX Office, and the Women and Gender Resource Action Center. In her role, Davis also co-directs the Office of Human Resources and the senior administrative liaison to the Board of Trustees DEI subcommittee, the Task Force on the Status of Women, and the Non-Exempt Staff Council.
“The Board of Trustees was instrumental in enabling us to achieve our goals,” said Davis. “This award would not have been possible without their support.”
All HEED Award winners will be announced in the November/December issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity.