April 28, 2021
Dear Trinity College Community Members,
The April meeting of the Trinity College Board of Trustees is always jam-packed, as the academic year comes to a close. This April’s meeting was no different and included several consequential votes: awarding tenure and promotion to four outstanding faculty members, authorizing the voting of degrees for students who will graduate (largely in person) next month, setting a comprehensive fee for the coming year, and approving a capital budget that provides for several critical renovations, improvements, and deferred maintenance projects.
Members of the board continued their shared governance discussions in a session with campus leaders about the work of last year’s President’s Commission for Trinity’s Future. Also at this meeting, in recognition of the dedication and sacrifice of the college community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the trustees passed a resolution commending and extending their profound gratitude to the entire community.
As is customary for the April board meeting, we received annual reports from Faculty Secretary Mark Stater, Student Government Association President Giovanni Jones ’21, and Trinity College Alumni Association President Eric Estes ’91. We also celebrated and paid tribute to the trustees whose tenures on the board come to an end this June. This year, those trustees, who have been so dedicated to our community, are: Christine Elia ’96, Susannah Heschel ’73, H’10, Danny Meyer ’80, P ’20, Vice Chair Michael Kluger ’78, P’13, and our outstanding chair, Cornelia P. Thornburgh ’80.
The board also committed to anti-racism training at its upcoming retreat in June and voted unanimously in support of a recommendation to remove the name from Wheaton Hall, named for Nathaniel Sheldon Wheaton, and to rename it temporarily as Trinity Hall. The Committee on Named Facilities and Commemoratives will propose a new name for the building in due course.
With this decision, we acknowledge the complexity of our history. Our commitment to create an inclusive and welcoming community means we know that some students find it difficult to live in a building named for someone whose actions and words espoused the inferiority of one race to another. At the same time, Wheaton, an original trustee, former president, and professor, was integral to the college’s founding. He also made and secured a number of gifts—both during his lifetime and through his estate—that continue to benefit the college to this day. And as an academic institution, we recognize these complexities and seek not to simply erase or cancel individuals or events from our long history, but rather to make decisions that move our entire community forward.
I’m pleased to share below more details from the April meeting.
Tenure and Promotion
Faculty are at the heart of the academic enterprise, shaping the curriculum, advancing knowledge, and mentoring and teaching students. In awarding tenure and promotion to four professors, trustees carried out their part of the critical work of renewing and sustaining our educational mission, recognizing the outstanding work of this year’s cohort. The four faculty members awarded tenure and promoted to the rank of associate professor, effective July 1, 2021, are: Molly Helt, psychology and neuroscience; Peter Kyle, theater and dance; Timothy Landry, anthropology and religious studies; and Robert Outten, psychology.
Congratulations to these professors, each of whom is committed to the education of our students and the advancement of knowledge in their respective fields.
Comprehensive Fee and Budget Planning
As we reported previously, the board will consider the full FY22 operating budget later this spring, once details about the ongoing impact of the pandemic on college finances are clearer. What I can say now—with gratitude to faculty and staff whose work in myriad ways has attended to the financial health of the institution—is that while we may not be able to fully restore the reductions in operating expenses from this year, we do not anticipate any new employee furloughs, layoffs, or salary freezes in the coming year.
At this meeting, trustees did set a comprehensive fee for next year and did approve the capital budget.
The revenue the college collects in tuition, room and board, and fees is one of the primary sources of funding for providing a Trinity education. We consider carefully what we ask families to pay for a Trinity education; as you will recall, we did not raise the comprehensive fee for 2020–21, given the context of the global crisis. For 2021–22, the board has approved a 3.95 percent increase in the comprehensive fee, for a total of $77,270. Most Trinity families, of course, will not pay that full amount, thanks to the college’s robust financial aid program that meets the full determined need of all admitted students.
The board also approved an FY22 capital budget of $14.1 million, which we will fund through a combination of budgeted dollars, philanthropic support, and new bond financing. You can see the full list of approved projects here; among them are:
- Replacement of the steam line for the Life Science Center (bond financed)
- Extensive roof repairs to the Chapel (funded by philanthropy)
- Construction of the stadium project at Jessee/Miller Field and Robin L. Sheppard Field (funded by philanthropy)
- Renovations to cultural houses (funded by philanthropy)
- Construction of high-quality spaces for remote and hybrid teaching/learning
- Creation of gender-inclusive restrooms in Mather Hall
- Several deferred maintenance projects in academic buildings and performance spaces and across campus
The budget also includes philanthropy-funded renovations of Vernon Social, for which we will share more details in a separate communication soon.
As the semester and this very unusual academic year near an end, I want to reiterate my gratitude to a Trinity community that showed boundless resilience and care for one another. All of the decisions that the trustees made at this meeting and our continued march of progress were possible because all of you made it so.
President and Trinity College Professor of Neuroscience