March 24, 2015

Dear Trinity Faculty, Staff, and Students,

students with the president
​Winning team members, from left: Molly Thoms ’17, Sarah Beckmann ’18, Madison Ochs ’18, Dylan Spagnuolo ’17, (President Berger-Sweeney,) Hannah Adams ’17, Monica Mhina ’17, and Colin MacKichan ’15. Missing: Mark Ferreira ’17.

In the fall, I promised to keep you updated following each meeting of the Board of Trustees. The Trustees met on March 5, 6, and 7, and I will share highlights of that meeting below.  But before I do, I want to make special mention of an event that took place on campus that same weekend, namely the selection of the winning student team for the best overall design of the new mentoring networks. On Sunday, March 8, a panel of judges heard presentations from all five student teams over the course of the day.  At 6:00 p.m., the panel and all the students gathered at the President’s House for the announcement of the winning overall design. My congratulations go to the members of Group 4, the “Bantam Network,” named in the photo caption at right.

My congratulations go as well to all the students of the other four teams for their hard work, remarkable creativity, collegiality, and excellent ideas. (See the teams’ posters displayed in Mather Hall.)  As we finalize the mentoring network plan for next fall, we will draw on elements of all the groups’ designs. In addition to our student participants, I thank the members of the President’s Cabinet who worked with the teams, as well as the panel of judges.  Go here for more coverage of Sunday’s competition, including the names of all the students and judges.  For a short video featuring this and four other terrific Trinity highlights from the first weekend in March, go here.

Here are several highlights of the Board of Trustees meeting:

  • 200 Constitution Plaza. In addition to touring the property, the Trustees learned more about the on-campus planning process for use of the space, led by our consultants, Rachel Bratt and Catherine Donaher, who met with faculty and staff in early March and will meet with students after spring break.  The Trustees support the acquisition as a strong linkage to Hartford for academic experiences, libraries, cultural resources, entertainment, internships, and research; as a sound financial investment, both for the purchase cost and for the lease income we expect it to generate; and as a strategic location within two blocks of UConn’s new downtown location, two blocks from the University of Saint Joseph’s School of Pharmacy, and next to UConn’s executive M.B.A. program also on Constitution Plaza. The Trinity downtown campus is located near major businesses, four major new or proposed apartment complexes, the Front Street Entertainment District, Riverfront Recapture, the Connecticut Science Center, Hartford Stage, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, and other attractions that make this area a vibrant urban center. Constitution Plaza serves as a differentiator for Trinity, making tangible our commitment to Hartford and to offering our students the kind of liberal arts education in a city that will prepare them for life after Trinity.
  • Our Faculty and Hartford.  We selected the Connecticut Historical Society as the site for the Trustees’ dinner, not simply because it is an iconic cultural institution but also to highlight the work of two faculty members involved there. Hartford Seen: Photographs by Pablo Delano is an exhibition of Hartford’s public and private buildings, street scenes, and storefronts by Professor of Fine Arts Pablo Delano. The exhibition (Re)Building Hartford: A City Captured by Artist Richard Welling chronicles Hartford’s evolving cityscape and was created with the assistance of Associate Professor of Fine Arts Kristin Triff, who also utilized the exhibit in Trinity’s Cities Program.
  • Campus Culture.  A strong social environment that fosters a robust intellectual atmosphere on campus is a priority for Trinity.  The mentoring networks program I referenced above will  support the co-curricular life of incoming students with networks of deans, faculty advisers, student leadership teams, staff wellness mentors, career development staff, and Trinity Fellows  — recent graduates who serve as advisers. I am very excited about the potential this program offers. The Crescent Street Townhouses community soon will include a new College bookstore and café, offering a complement to Vernon Social on the other side of campus.  We also reported that all of our Greek-letter organizations have met the 3.0 average GPA requirement for each house for both current and new members this year. The College continues to review progress toward the goals for these and other selective student organizations and we applaud efforts across all organizations to meet the new standards for academic achievement and community service that are essential to campus life.
  • Measuring Our Success.  While annual college rankings are not a perfect methodology by which to assess an institution, we recognize that rankings produced by U.S. News and World Report and others are viewed as a reputational measure by parents, prospective students, alumni, and others. The Trustees engaged along with members of the Faculty Conference in a review of the factors behind the rankings, their weights, and the ways in which each predicts a final score.   The College’s four short-term initiatives, designed as a guide to our strategic priorities, also are relevant to the rankings. These working goals for Trinity’s immediate future are strengthening our campus culture, ensuring academic excellence, fostering institutional pride, and reaching financial equilibrium. We are making sustained progress toward each goal.


Joanne Berger-Sweeney
President and Trinity College
Professor of Neuroscience