May 2, 2017

Dear Members of the Trinity Community,

The Board of Trustees meeting that concluded on Saturday afternoon was especially full of important actions and news of our continued progress. I’ll share some highlights here for the benefit of the broad Trinity community that includes alumni and parents. For those of you on campus, I encourage you to come to the town hall meeting I’m hosting today during Common Hour in the Washington Room, where I’ll be able to speak in more detail and answer any questions you might have.

One of the best pieces of news is just out – and still quite preliminary – and that’s the word on who’ll be joining us in the fall as the Class of 2021! The deadline for admitted students to accept our offers has just passed a few hours ago. While Angel B. Pérez, our vice president for enrollment and student success, is still analyzing data, he has shared with me the early returns.

I’m thrilled to report that this class is among the most academically talented and diverse in our history. The overall academic quality of the class has risen dramatically, as measured by a set of criteria including high school academic performance, rigor of curriculum, and test scores. We also are proud to announce that the class includes 15 Presidential Scholars, the largest number in Trinity’s history (the most we had in any previous years was 10). The Presidential Scholarship is the most prestigious academic scholarship we award to incoming students.

What’s even more amazing is that following last year’s 8 percent jump in our yield rate (the percentage of students who accept our offer of admission), it looks as if yield has held steady at 30 percent or even increased slightly, depending on how our final numbers shake out. Thanks to the work of the Admissions and Financial Aid team and the support of our trustees, faculty, and the College community broadly, we are bringing to campus students of extraordinary talent and promise who see Trinity as their college of choice and who want to engage in making the College the very best it can be.

We’ll share more details about the Class of 2021 in the coming days, as the enrollment data are finalized, but I couldn’t wait to share a little of the good news with you now.

As for the board meeting, here are some important highlights:


The Board of Trustees approved the operating and capital budgets for the coming fiscal year. While we continue to work on achieving long-term financial equilibrium, the operating budget of approximately $139 million for Fiscal Year 2018 is balanced, as it was for FY17. It includes a 3.8 percent increase in our comprehensive fee and a 2 percent salary increase for faculty and staff. We’ll spend about $5.2 million more on financial aid and $9.4 million in capital improvements in the coming year, on such necessary projects as replacing the roof on Mather and making structural and code-related repairs to College properties on Allen Place, Vernon Street, and New Britain Avenue. You can see more details online about the FY18 budget the trustees have approved.


The board engaged in a thoughtful discussion of strategic planning, continuing to consider the draft reports and recommendations from the Bicentennial Strategic Planning Commission​. We’ve spent much of the spring reaching out to the Trinity community for feedback on the ideas and recommendations in those reports. We want to take care to think collectively about the broad, overarching strategic goals for the College that will guide us toward and beyond our bicentennial in 2023. Therefore, rather than rush to approve a strategic plan in June, we’re going to use the summer and early fall to fully develop and get feedback on the plan. We expect to share a draft with you before long and to present a final document to the board for consideration at its October meeting.


We shared with the board the exciting news that Trinity and its partners in the state’s Innovation Places grant competition have advanced to the final round of consideration. One of seven finalists seeking funding in the initial phase of a five-year, $30 million initiative to support and stimulate local innovation, the Hartford/East Hartford collaboration would, among other things, develop a medical technology innovation zone in the area around Trinity and Hartford Hospital. There’s much more to learn about this proposal online. We’ll be sure to keep you updated as the proposal moves through the final consideration process. We will be making our pitch to the state on May 15, and grant winners will be announced in June.

As that process continues, we are playing a leading role in developing a master plan to foster opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship throughout the state. This initiative comes as a result of my co-chairing with Mark E. Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, a working group of public and private higher education institutions. The master plan is being submitted to CTNext, a statewide organization that works to support entrepreneurship. The creativity and innovation ecosystem that is proposed in this plan will support Connecticut students and faculty in myriad disciplines.


As is customary in the spring, the board approved plans to welcome several new faculty members to Trinity in the coming year and honored those faculty and staff who will be retiring this year. As the Dean of the Faculty’s Office has already announced, we will welcome six tenure-track faculty in 2017-18, a group that’s talented, accomplished, and diverse and that includes an alumnus, Kevin Huang ’12, an incoming assistant professor of engineering. We also thanked and celebrated three retiring trustees: Sophie Bell Ayres ’77, P ’12; Peter W. Espy ’00; and Luis Fernandez P ’11, ’13.

While there was much other work accomplished this weekend, this seems a fitting place to end my letter, highlighting some of the people who make up this extraordinary community. The trustees who serve with such devotion, the faculty who choose to make the teaching of Trinity students their life’s work, and the staff who support us in so many ways every day and all year long: you are what make Trinity the institution it is. It’s your work that is bringing such wonderful students to campus and providing them with an exceptional Trinity liberal arts education. Thank you.


Joanne Berger-Sweeney
President and Trinity College Professor of Neuroscience