January 22, 2018

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Happy first day of the spring semester! I hope classes are off to a terrific start and that all of you enjoyed a restful, restorative break. I’m excited to see everyone back and the campus abuzz with activity again. With this semester, our first cohort of J-Starts has arrived, and we will offer support and a temporary educational home to a small number of scholars and students from Puerto Rico, so I want to extend an especially warm welcome to all who are joining us for the first time. We are so glad you’re here!

This spring, we’ll take big steps forward together in our work to build Trinity’s future. The key word there is “together.” We often talk about shared governance; that’s not just about who holds particular authority or power. It’s about the responsibility we all share for deciding what we want Trinity to be and for working to make it so.

This semester, we will focus to a large degree on implementing Summit, our new strategic plan​. As you know, Summit establishes as its three broad goals that Trinity should:

Be a first-choice college for students, faculty, and staff;
Connect even more meaningfully to the Hartford region and the world beyond; and
Build on Trinity’s historic past to ensure a vibrant, sustainable future.

The development of Summit certainly was a collaborative process, and its implementation must be as well. We need your help, your ideas, and your energy to develop specific plans and to carry them forward to achieve our bold ambitions for Trinity. This is the essence of shared governance. The coordinating group overseeing Summit’s implementation is now supporting the work of nearly two dozen project leaders on individual pieces of the plan, and we’ll hear an update on their progress soon.

One significant component of the strategic plan concerns the community we want to be. This semester we have the important shared responsibility for choosing our next senior diversity officer, who will play a critical role in the multifaceted work to attract and retain the highest caliber of students, faculty, and staff and to foster an inclusive campus community. With a search committee appointed and a search firm named, we invite your continued participation in this process. The first open sessions for faculty and staff to provide input on the search are happening this week; there will be more opportunities, including for students, to ensure your voice is heard. Please take part.

I also ask for your help in continuing with another shared responsibility for creating the kind of community we want, and that is the Bridging Divides initiative we began in the fall. With this initiative, we want to support and promote programming that invites dialogue and advances understanding across differences. We’re aiming to do something that’s increasingly rare in society these days—engage in productive, respectful dialogue across very real, very deep differences of opinion and perspective. A college campus should be the ideal environment for such learning. But again, it requires the work of all of us. If you have programming you’d like to include as part of Bridging Divides, or if you have ideas to share, please be in touch directly with Anne Lambright ([email protected]) or Angela Paik Schaeffer ([email protected]).

My thanks to you for sharing in the support and growth of this college we love, and my best to you for a wonderful semester.


Joanne Berger-Sweeney
President and Trinity College Professor of Neuroscience