Connected community

Sponsoring successes, building friendships

More than 1,500 of our proud alumni and guests streamed into Hartford to gather ’neath the elms for Trinity College’s Alumni Bicentennial Celebration (ABC), held in June during the traditional Reunion Weekend. The ABC, which brought together multiple Trinity classes and generations, underscored our community’s remarkably broad impact on the world as ordinary people who do extraordinary things. As leaders in all areas of expertise—including academia, arts and entertainment, business, health care, law, literature, politics, science, and sports—reunited for a historic weekend, I was reminded of how the Trinity community, for 200 years, has influenced almost every aspect of the human endeavor.

At the core of our collective accomplishments is a connected community committed to the future—and to one another. The Trinity community has withstood the test of time and continues to grow stronger. For generations, our alumni (now about 27,000 strong) have lived a creed of Bantams supporting Bantams and of paying forward our successes and lessons learned.

I believe that there is a difference between mentors and sponsors. Mentors give advice, while sponsors open their personal networks to encourage others. The Trinity community is chock-full of sponsors. These connections begin with our faculty, who are much more than educators, often becoming lifelong confidants and promoters for students who go on to live boldly. I imagine many of you still maintain close relationships with faculty members who left an indelible mark on your life. Our alumni also sponsor Trinity students, helping them to navigate an increasingly complex work environment. Just as importantly, Trinity is the place where lifetime friendships and connections form.

As president, I have the privilege of seeing so many examples of sponsorship—and of the resulting successes—in our own community. Sam Kennedy ’95, president and CEO of the Boston Red Sox, reminded us during the ABC that it was Thomas DiBenedetto ’71, P’08, ’12, ’13, ’15, ’17 who introduced him to the Red Sox organization. Today, borne through like-minded sponsors, Trinity’s power in the sports industry is felt globally. Frank Borges ’74, H’20, who served as Connecticut’s 79th treasurer, helped to pave the way for Shawn Wooden ’91 to follow as Connecticut’s 84th treasurer, underscoring our civic-mindedness. And I can never forget how Cornie Thornburgh ’80, then chair of the Board of Trustees, ushered me into the Trinity community and laid the groundwork for my success as I learned the complexities of this incredible, tight-knit community.

Sponsorship truly permeates the Bantam flock. At the start of the pandemic, staff, faculty, families, and alumni came together to care for students who were unable to complete the spring 2020 semester in a traditional way. Faculty pivoted, staff supported, and alumni and families made donations to the Student Emergency and Equity Fund to ensure that all of our students had whatever they needed to complete their Trinity educational experience. And with the Class of 2020’s final semester interrupted, members of the Class of 1980 sent the graduates notes of encouragement, reminding them of the closely connected alumni network they were about to join.

In our Bicentennial year, I look forward to seeing how we continue to grow and to sponsor one another’s successes and to build upon our friendships. You may have heard about the College’s recent alumni survey, completed in 2022. The depth and volume of responses were phenomenal, showing a profound level of care and pride for Trinity’s mission and its future. Despite considerable external headwinds, our alumni were more satisfied, more engaged, and more hopeful about the College’s future than they were in a survey done four years earlier. These results are a testament to our upward trajectory.

We don’t arrive at these moments individually. We arrive as a connected community. As we enter our third century of excellence, I’d encourage you to think of a time when someone from Trinity helped to sponsor an accomplishment of yours—a person who did more than just provide advice. Then, I encourage you to pass that sponsorship along to someone else. This is how our community honors its past and remains committed to the future.

What will each of us do to inspire future Bantams in our third century?