April 6, 2016

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,

In my recap of the trustee meeting last month, I announced the first steps toward strategic planning through a Bicentennial Planning Commission.  The more than 50 members of the Trinity community who participated in the focus groups were energized by the discussions.  During the remaining time we have this academic year, we want to engage our broader campus community with a focus on the College’s mission statement:

Trinity College is a community united in a quest for excellence in liberal arts education.  Our purpose is to foster critical thinking, free the mind of parochialism and prejudice, and prepare students to lead examined lives that are personally satisfying, civically responsible, and socially useful.

Four elements are central to the success of that quest:

An outstanding and diverse faculty who excel in their roles as teachers and scholars, bringing to the classroom the insight and enthusiasm of people actively engaged in intellectual inquiry.  Working closely with students in relationships of mutual respect, they share a vision of teaching as discussion – a face-to-face exchange linking professor and student in the search for knowledge and understanding.

A rigorous curriculum firmly rooted in the traditional liberal arts while also integrating new fields of study and interdisciplinary approaches to learning.  Trinity encourages a blend of general education and specialized areas of study and takes imaginative advantage of the many educational resources inherent in Trinity’s urban location and international ties.

A talented, motivated, and diverse body of students who are challenged to the limits of their abilities and are fully engaged with their studies, their professors, and one another.  Our students take increasing responsibility for shaping their education as they progress through the curriculum and recognize that becoming liberally educated is a lifelong process of learning and discovery.

An attractive, secure, and supportive campus community that provides students with myriad opportunities for interaction with their peers as well as with the faculty. The College sustains a full array of cultural, recreational, and volunteer activities and embodies the philosophy that students’ experiences in the residence halls, dining halls, and extracurricular organizations are an important and powerful complement to their formal learning in the classroom.

This mission statement should serve as a guidepost for our strategic planning, and there is growing consensus that the current mission statement does not articulate our vision or capture our institutional aspirations.

We have scheduled time on April 13 and 14 for members of our campus community to participate in focus groups on the College’s mission.  Participants will explore the following questions:

  1. Does our mission statement reflect our current aspirations and values at Trinity College?
  2. Does our mission statement inspire our community and present a guide and framework for decision making for the kind of community that we want to be?
  3. Is the mission statement something our community can easily remember and really rally around, and does it induce institutional pride?

These important campus discussions will shape the foundation of both our strategic planning initiative and self-study review for reaccreditation by NEASC.  Each session will be limited to the first 15 people who sign up so that all attendees will have a chance to participate in the conversation.  Please use this form to sign up for one of the 11 sessions:  https://trinity.az1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_7UuEzohq6fN4k29.

Additionally, the campus community will have another opportunity to come together for a town hall meeting on May 4 at 10:30 a.m. in the Washington Room.  I will begin the event with my annual state of the College address and will report back to you some of the ideas generated during the focus group sessions.

I encourage you to participate in the focus groups and to attend the town hall meeting.  Your input is critical as we work together to plan for Trinity’s bright future.


Joanne Berger-Sweeney
President and Trinity College
Professor of Neuroscience