CREATING A ROAD MAP FOR TRINITY’S FUTURE
As I near my first anniversary as Trinity’s president, I continue to have great enthusiasm about the College and the ways in which we are moving forward boldly together. We are on the right track toward realizing Trinity’s fullest potential.
Key work we have started this year includes the four College-wide goals – strengthen campus culture, ensure academic excellence, foster institutional pride, and reach financial equilibrium – that we established last fall to guide us in laying the groundwork for broader strategic planning to come. We all recognize the importance of creating a road map for our future.
These goals are the result of much listening on my part; rather than arrive on the Long Walk with a preconceived plan, I wanted to learn what was important to those in the Trinity community and chart a course in tandem. So I asked questions. I listened, and I formed faculty-staff groups to move us forward. The goals are to some degree a mirror of our collective ideas.
It is clear that the four goals, by design, overlap in many ways; initiatives that fall mostly in one area may affect one or more of the other three areas. The examples given below for each goal are just the start; we will continue to fill out the goals, broadening their scope, as time progresses.
STRENGTHEN CAMPUS CULTURE: Five teams of student leaders accepted my challenge to help develop the new mentoring networks program, which will support incoming students from when they first arrive on campus, and we are quite pleased with the results that the teams presented in March and the winning team’s proposal to create the Bantam Network (see more on page 4). Implementation, again involving students, is set for the summer, with the network being rolled out for the entering class in September. The network also will support academic excellence outside of the classroom.
ENSURE ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE: Academic life is at the heart of everything we do. Our faculty members embody the teacher-scholar model and continue to distinguish themselves with outstanding research, new publications and projects, and prestigious grant and fellowship awards – on top of their primary roles as teachers. In January, the College offered innovative courses to an increased number of students enrolled in J-Term during the second year of our three-year pilot for this program. In addition, Trinity has reached a partnership with edX, which will offer online courses taught by Trinity faculty, providing an opportunity we can share with alumni and others.
FOSTER INSTITUTIONAL PRIDE: At the end of 2014, we completed our purchase of 200 Constitution Plaza, giving Trinity a more visible footprint in downtown Hartford and a home base for our students, faculty, and staff, as well as additional space for programs that will fit well there. This campus location also will provide potential for revenue through leasing spaces that we do not use. For those areas that Trinity will program, we announced a planning process for the property and secured the services of two individuals with substantial experience in urban and institutional planning in higher education settings to help guide us (see more on page 3). This new campus also will help us to strengthen our campus culture, ensure academic excellence, and reach financial equilibrium.
REACH FINANCIAL EQUILIBRIUM: We are on solid footing on the financial front; buoyed by strong endowment returns of 17 percent for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014, our endowment stood at $543 million as of November 30, 2014. This 17 percent return significantly outpaced our budget endowment model return of 7 percent. With these strong returns, we were able to propose a tight but balanced budget to the trustees this past winter for fiscal year 2016. Revenues from both edX fees and 200 Constitution Plaza, where we will lease unused space, will help us to reach financial equilibrium. We also must remain cautious and prudent in our financial planning.
Our alumni can help us reach our goals, particularly through what I call the “Speak Well of Trinity” campaign. We know that what our alumni say about their College and about how we are moving forward makes an important difference in Trinity’s reputation out in the world. Be our ambassadors; be our champions.
While we already have accomplished much, we know there is more work to be done. I look forward to our continued progress on these and other initiatives in the coming year.