March 23, 2020

Dear Trinity Community,

Today, we begin a new phase together. We are doing something that we would have never imagined even two months ago; we are completing our spring semester remotely. This extraordinary action is required in this extraordinary time.

Everyone is being called on to make rapid changes and adjust quickly in response to the spread of COVID-19. Faculty members have organized, with the help of the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, to uphold our academic mission by offering courses remotely. Mark Stater, the Faculty Secretary, has been extremely collaborative in partnering with colleagues and supporting this transition for faculty.

Students are adjusting to the fact that their liberal arts experience has changed this semester, and they are now living and learning in a different manner. The Student Government Association (SGA), led by SGA President Trinna Larsen, mobilized immediately and brilliantly to help students in need over the last weeks.

Staff are being called on to help in so many ways, both large and small, and they are doing so with tireless dedication. Although I cannot mention everyone by name, I recognize that Jason Jones and the Research, Instruction, and Technology group are doing an extraordinary job in coordinating remote learning and providing training to our faculty. Also, I appreciate the incredible work that the leaders of the Bantam Network Learning Community have done to support students in housing, travel, and other logistics as students’ semester on campus was disrupted.

There are so many people that I could thank individually. But if I did, this letter would go on longer than anyone would want to read. Most importantly, I want to share with you that so many of our community members are stepping up to the plate to keep the college moving forward, and you all have my heartfelt thanks.

At this point, I cannot answer all of your questions, because no one knows exactly what tomorrow will bring with regard to this pandemic. What I can tell you now is that we’re in this together, and we will continue strong together. Our spirits are not dampened; we are strong in a crisis. Our work will change for now, but have no fear, our work – the work of Trinity College, specifically, and higher education, more generally – will continue.

As we look toward the future, it’s never been clearer that the mission of higher education is vital to be prepared for what follows this pandemic. We educate those who will lead the change after a pandemic, and we create the knowledge that will be the basis for how we should recover after a pandemic. Trinity College – and the kind of education that we provide – is made for times such as these.

Over the next days, weeks and months, you will be hearing a lot from me and from the senior administration. We understand that times of crises make exceptional demands on all of us and you need to hear from us regularly.

Thank you for your understanding as we work through this together and for being ready to do extraordinary things on behalf of the Trinity community.


Joanne Berger-Sweeney
President and Professor of Neuroscience