September 9, 2014

Dear Faculty, Staff, Students, and Alumni and Alumnae,

While rankings are but one way to assess a college, the better-known surveys frequently garner the attention of high-school students, parents, alumni and alumnae, and a college’s on-campus community. Today’s release of the U.S. News rankings warrants our collective attention.

Trinity is listed in the category “Best National Liberal Arts Colleges,” and this year the College dropped to number 45 from number 36, which was itself a considerably lower rank than Trinity had a decade before.  While I am a firm believer that college rankings provide only a small slice of information about an institution–and sometimes skewed information at that–I certainly take note when a ranking moves 23 points over a 10-year period, as ours has.  A decline of this magnitude is simply not acceptable, and I commit, with your support, to reverse this decline.

A college’s score in the U.S. News rankings is made up of such disparate elements as faculty salaries, the giving rate of alumni/ae, the standardized test scores of incoming first-year students, and a college’s reputation, to name but a few.  Four primary factors that contributed to Trinity’s lower rank this year included declining scores on faculty resources, student selectivity, alumni/ae giving, and the peer survey assessment by college administrators and high school guidance counselors.  In a competitive market, this news is worrisome.

The good news, from my perspective, is that the four areas of recruiting and retaining the best students, assuring excellent resources for faculty, conveying Trinity’s strengths to guidance counselors, and binding our alumni/ae ever closer to Trinity are priorities I have already identified for our College. These issues are vital to sustaining the high quality of a Trinity education, and inadequacies must be addressed.  Today, we as a college must look forward.

I invite you to roll up your sleeves and help elevate Trinity College to its highest potential.  Take pride in our excellent institution and help us meet this current challenge.  Focusing on students, faculty, staff, and alumni and alumnae secures the future of Trinity. I will keep you informed on how we are moving on these, as well as other priorities.  Together, we will achieve much.


Joanne Berger-Sweeney
President and Trinity College
Professor of Neuroscience