Friday, October 19, 2018

Trinity’s problem with transparency

by Peter Prendergast ’16

Editor in Chief

Several of the stories published in this edition of the Trinity Tripod piece together a pattern of how the administration has dealt with central issues in recent years.  In short, there has been a pattern of opacity in the way that Trinity leaders have kept members of not just the student body, but the faculty, staff and alumni, informed about key college dealings.

In my four years at Trinity, I have witnessed changes to the faculty, policy shifts regarding Greek Letter Organizations, numerous renovation and construction projects, and a decline in both the school’s financial stability and its reputation as a top liberal arts college.  In nearly all of these instances, the Trinity community, independent of college leadership, has been kept in the dark.

A professor recently explained to me that in his early years as a member of the faculty, the administration proudly worked in tandem with faculty, alumni, students and the City of Hartford, to make decisions about the future of Trinity.  They recognized Trinity’s responsibilities to its community and its role in the context of the surrounding Hartford area. However, when Jimmy Jones began his tenure as college president, this commitment to inclusivity dissipated.  Long standing plans to reinvigorate the campus’ urban setting were abandoned, annual donations diminished, tuition prices went up, enrollment went down and the Greek system has been all but dismantled.

Another member of the Trinity community informed me that under Jones’s leadership, faculty members were only allowed to communicate with Trustees with the express consent of the administration, and today, under the leadership of Joanne Berger-Sweeney, the same members of faculty that have been with the school for decades, have been forbidden from collaborating with Trustees, period.

Right now, our endowment is stagnant.  We are operating at a five million dollar budget deficit, our national rankings are at an all time low, we are receiving fewer applications, and are accepting fewer students.  The administration has offered little in the way of an explanation for any of these changes.

If Trinity is to ever retrieve its reputation as a top liberal arts college, it must revert to its pre-Jimmy Jones system of operations.  The administration should seek out student input.  They should promote faculty governance.  They should pride themselves on hearing the opinions of the entire community.

-PJP

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