August 25, 2014

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,

As we embark on the start of this new academic year, I send my warmest welcome to you all. Since my arrival at Trinity on July 1, I have met many faculty, staff, and students.   It is with excitement that I look forward to the arrival of our new first-year class this week and all our returning sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and our graduate students.  I know from my visit to Trinity in March how alive the campus will become when all the students arrive and classes are in session.

On Thursday we will welcome more than 600 new students and their parents.  People throughout campus have been busy preparing for their arrival.  I encourage all of you to participate in these three important gatherings to mark our welcome to the Class of 2018:

Convocation will take place at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 28 on the Main Quad.  The ceremony begins with an academic procession, and faculty and staff, parents, and student leaders will be seated on all four sides of the first-year class, forming a symbolic matrix of support as the class begins its years at Trinity.  I encourage supervisors to allow staff to attend this special event.

Matriculation will take place on Friday, August 29. Because of space considerations in the Chapel, we will hold two Matriculation ceremonies: half of the first-year class will attend a 9:00 a.m. ceremony, and the other half will attend a 10:00 a.m. ceremony.  This is one of Trinity’s oldest traditions, when students take the oath of matriculation and sign the book.

The First-Year Reading Initiative will take place on Friday, August 29 at 4:00 p.m. in Koeppel Community Sports Center. The Class of 2018 has read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, and Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience Sarah Raskin will moderate a discussion and question/answer period with two members of the Lacks family: Victoria Baptiste, Henrietta Lacks’s great granddaughter, and Shirley Lacks, Henrietta Lacks’s daughter-in-law.

As I’ve talked with many of you during the summer, I’ve heard ideas, thoughts, and questions that have helped shaped my early thinking.  Shortly, I will send to you a list of what I see as the College’s priorities in the next 12-18 months, and I will invite your comments.  Today, I want to mention two important priorities that have already emerged.

First, we will search for a new Dean of Admissions and a new Dean of Students following the announcement of the impending retirement of Larry Dow and Fred Alford.   I am currently forming a search committee composed of faculty, staff, and students to work with a professional search firm to identify a new Dean of Admissions, and I expect to be able to announce the members of this team before the start of classes.  The Dean of Students search is on a slightly longer time line because of the necessity to involve the campus broadly as we develop search criteria. In both cases, my goal is to complete the searches by the end of the 2014-15 academic year.

Another key priority for me is to comply with both the spirit and the letter of the new Title IX laws related to gender equity and sexual misconduct.  We must do all that we can both to prevent sexual misconduct in all its forms and to provide the best possible support for any victim of it.  To that end, I will form a Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Misconduct that I will chair myself.  I will provide more details on this task force later this week and invite all of you to support this effort.

I look forward to meeting as many of you as soon as I can. Stop and say hello when you see me walking around campus.  I am confident we will accomplish great things together this year.


Joanne Berger-Sweeney
President and Trinity College
Professor of Neuroscience

P.S.   Follow me on Twitter @JBergerSweeney