The new academic year is now well under way, and I am proud to say that, thanks to the efforts of many members of the faculty and staff, our students have exciting new options for both academic programs and facilities.
The first-year students were greeted by a series of new, Hartford-based pre-orientation programs that supplemented the traditional Quest and P.R.I.D.E. experiences. Students could choose from 10 programs, including “Hartford by Bike,” “Hartford Experienced through the Lens of Film,” and “Latino Hartford.” The topics helped acquaint the first-years with the Greater Hartford area, their new home away from home, and gave them added opportunities to meet other new students and to work closely with faculty. The convocation, an inspirational welcome to all first-years, served as the official opening of the academic year. We continued the wonderful tradition of the matriculation ceremony, the College’s oldest continuously observed custom where the new students confirmed their status as members of this historic community of scholars. For their first Trinity assignment, students were asked to read Eboo Patel’s Acts of Faith during the summer. Patel, one of the country’s most prominent faith leaders, founded and serves as president of the Interfaith Youth Core, a nonprofit organization that works internationally to promote religious pluralism. The author also joined our students during the opening days to speak to the entire class, an event that formed the basis of numerous discussions as we started the academic year.
Both the first-years and returning students found several substantial changes in the campus itself. The totally redesigned and renovated Vernon Social opened at the beginning of the semester as a new campus social center and had an immediate impact on the social environment of all students. With comfortable, informal seating arrangements and light food service provided by the popular Goldberg’s On Campus as well as Chartwells, Vernon Social is open throughout the day and late into the evening, providing spaces for students to relax, socialize, study, and meet informally with faculty. A direct outgrowth of the work of the Trustee Charter Committee for Building Social Community at Trinity, Vernon Social offers an inviting new space for students to gather.
On the other side of campus, some 200 sophomores, juniors, and seniors moved into the superb new Crescent Street Townhouses. This residential facility provides single bedrooms in suite-style apartments. Each suite is equipped with its own kitchen, as well as laundry facilities and other amenities. Built in concert with Kirchhoff Campus Properties of Pleasant Valley, New York, the townhouses provide a new type of housing option in a townhouse format for older students. Phase one of the complex opened this fall, with an additional 150 beds available in January 2014 as part of phase two.
Academically, we began the year offering two excellent new programs. The new urban studies major is the culmination of several years of work by the College’s Center for Urban and Global Studies. As the world has recently marked the milestone in which more people now live in cities than in rural areas and as we build on our urban focus, it is particularly fitting that Trinity offer its students an opportunity to major in urban studies. This interdisciplinary program draws on the strengths of faculty in many areas and prepares our graduates for careers in city government, urban planning, sustainability, urban markets, and academia. Also building on the College’s existing strengths is the new five-year B.A./M.A. program in neuroscience. Open exclusively to Trinity neuroscience students, the program offers the opportunity to gain an additional year’s worth of research, capped by a master’s degree. Our neuroscience students frequently go on to careers in further research or medicine, and this program strengthens their ability to apply to highly competitive graduate programs.
We also began the academic year with a much-strengthened campus safety program, under the directorship of Francisco Ortiz, who joined us one year ago. We have added new security officers and new high-visibility uniforms, improved lighting throughout campus, and installed new security cameras, among many other improvements. As we continue to strengthen our working relationship with the Hartford Police Department, I am also pleased to report that a new Hartford Police Department/Trinity College substation opened this summer at Broad Street and New Britain Avenue on the southeast border of campus, benefiting both the College and the surrounding community.
Over the course of my life, the opening of school has always been one of the most gratifying and exciting days of the year. With new facilities and programs in place, this academic year was no different. We welcome both the Class of 2017 as well as our returning students to the Trinity campus.
Very truly yours,
James F. Jones, Jr.
President and Trinity College
Professor in the Humanities