ANNELISE GILBERT ’17
On Monday, Mar. 14, Peter Espy ’00 introduced himself to the Facebook page “Alumni for a Better Trinity College,” as both the President of Trinity’s National Alumni Association and a member of the Board of Trustees.
Espy articulated his openness to the Trinity alumni, and provided his email address as a new line of communication to engage with alumni. The post received an outpouring of responses thanking Espy for his commitment to alumni.
The Tripod interviewed Espy to learn about the motivations behind his decision to share the email, and to see how alumni have taken advantage of the new form of communication.
Annelise Gilbert: What motivated you to share your email on the Alumni for a Better Trinity College Facebook page?
Peter Espy: In my role as President of Trinity College’s National Alumni Association (NAA) I feel that it is important for me to engage with as many alumni as possible in as many ways possible. In instances where I can leverage existing platforms, channels, and forums, I am keen to do so, however, sometimes nothing beats direct lines of communication, which is why I was happy to offer up my e-mail.
AG: Since the Facebook post, how much communication have you received?
PE: While not entirely new to Facebook and certainly no stranger to e-mail, I was surprised by the level of what I will call “reverse inquiry” that came as a result of my joining the “Alumni for a Better Trinity College” Facebook group. In just two or three short weeks, I have received no less than 20 e-mails/posts from alumni or alumni groups, and fielded or hosted about half as many phone and conference calls. Topics have obviously ranged, but in virtually every instance I found I was engaging with alumni that care deeply about the College and its future. And from that standpoint, I have been very encouraged by what I have heard and thankful to have joined the group.
AG: Have the correspondences addressed you more as the President of Trinity College’s National Alumni Association or as a member of the Board of Trustees?
PE: I think that it’s fair to say that the majority of folks have approached me in my capacity as a member of the Board of Trustees, rather than as the President of their Alumni Association. This has been, admittedly, somewhat disappointing, but only suggests to me that I/we, as members of the NAA Executive Committee, need to do a better job of raising the profile of our organization and clearly articulating our mission and our goals.
AG: Do you believe that the email will help bridge some of the gaps in communication between the Trinity community and Board of Trustees?
PE: If you are referring to whether or not my participation in this Facebook group, or the subsequent posting of my e-mail on it, will help to bridge the so-called “gaps” in communication between the Board and the Trinity Community, on the margin, sure. But to be clear, I joined first and foremost as a passionate alumnus and as the President of the National Alumni Association with the goal of raising the profile of the NAA Executive Committee and improving the lines of communication between our organization and our constituency – the nearly 25,000 alumni living around the globe today.
AG: Are other members of the Board of Trustees making themselves available to alumni?
PE: In short, though hopefully none more so than I. I say that because I view the Executive Committee of the NAA and not the Board of Trustees as the body primarily responsible for availing themselves and maintaining the lines of communication between the College and its Alumni. Admittedly, a great source of frustration for me comes when I learn of alumni or groups of alumni operating independently and outside the purview of the NAA and their fellow alumni. There are over 30 alumni on the NAA ExCo who give tirelessly of themselves on behalf of their fellow Alumni. I would like to see them featured more prominently in all matters Alumni.