January 5, 2021

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Welcome to 2021 and the start of Trinity’s January Term! I am excited to be among the faculty who are teaching this term; tomorrow, I’ll convene the first meeting of a seminar called “Neurons, Learning, and Memory.” This is my first opportunity to teach a full course at Trinity, and I’m really looking forward to being in the classroom—albeit remotely—with Trinity students!

For so many people, these continue to be challenging times, and this year is starting out much differently than we would’ve ever imagined. Last year at this time, I was traversing Asia and Europe on behalf of Trinity, meeting with enthusiastically supportive Trinity alumni and families, and visiting our partners at Infosys in India. And we were eagerly anticipating a spring semester filled with milestone events, including the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Trinity in Rome.

Today, as we reflect on how much has changed in a year, I am grateful for the ways in which our community—on campus and off—adapted amid a shifting landscape, showing the resilience, determination, and boldness that are so characteristic of Bantams. Those pivots included exceptional efforts by our entire student success ecosystem throughout the fall to provide our students with support and resources. This work helped students to persist—and Trinity to achieve a 90 percent retention rate among first-year students. I also want to extend my heartfelt thanks to all who remembered Trinity in their year-end giving in 2020 and to those who’ve joined our growing team of fundraising volunteers for the college. We have much to be proud of and grateful for as we begin the new year together.

The year ahead promises more challenges, to be sure, but it also holds hope for an end to the pandemic and meaningful progress toward a more equitable society. The work we do at Trinity can play a role in achieving both of those ambitious and critical aims. I’m inspired by that fact, and I hope that you are, too.


Joanne Berger-Sweeney
President and Trinity College Professor of Neuroscience