BEN GAMBUZZA ’20
The Strategic Initiatives for Trinity’s Summit Bicentennial plan have at their core a focus on relevant liberal arts education, Trinity as a first-choice school, and an emphasis on experiential learning, particularly regarding experiences in Hartford. The Tripod sat down with Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor of Political Science Sonia Cardenas to discuss what the plan means for students. Although some students have expressed concerns about the plan seeming too broad or ambiguous, Cardenas says the initiatives are much more nuanced, that there are “concrete” plans to implement the initiatives. Students are an integral part of this implementation for Cardenas. They take part in the “shared governance” of the school and thus can make a difference.
To show how important students are to Summit’s implementation, a celebration of the plan took place today in the Cave. All members of the Trinity community were welcome to ask questions about the plan in the company of President Berger-Sweeney and her cabinet. They could also suggest ideas with sticky notes. Tables marked with the three focuses of Summit were open for Trinity community members to engage in meaningful conversation: “A First-choice College,” “Hartford and the World,” and “A Sustainable Future.” Cardenas emphasized the “celebration” component of this gathering, that Trinity’s 200-year history, as well as its future, is something of which to be proud.
The Strategic Initiatives, Cardenas says, “privilege changes over the new” by “building on (Trinity’s) strengths.” There are a few new changes already complete or in the works. A new mission statement, an articulation of new learning goals, and fewer credits to graduate are some of these initiatives.
Trinity’s new mission statement has already been implemented as part of the preliminary steps leading to Summit and can be found on the College’s website. Adopted on Oct. 15, 2016, the new mission statement stresses the advantages of Trinity’s urban setting and experiential learning. The plan will also initiate a rewriting of Trinity’s learning goals.
According to Cardenas, the present learning goals were written over 10 years ago and only focused on the “academic.” In line with Summit’s vision for a 21st century liberal arts college, the new learning goals will “look at curricular and co-curricular” aspects of students’ experience. The inclusion of co-curricular goals further Trinity’s larger goal of liberally educating the whole person.
Lastly, though an initiative that “remains to be developed in detail”, a faculty committee is working on requiring “32- plus” credits to graduate instead of the present 36. According to Cardenas and other members of the committee, Trinity is an extremely active school where students participate in a plethora of activities. 36 credits to graduate, then, for some students, may take away from their potential success in other areas as well as limit their opportunities for experiential learning and internships. A 32-plus system would create time for co-curricular focus and more integrated learning. Although there are concerns over what the change means for distribution requirements and requirements for individual majors, the committee is working with each individual department to find the most viable solution. By moving to this 32-plus system, Trinity would join many other peers in the NESCAC such as Bates, Wesleyan, and Williams.
The Summit Bicentennial plan includes strategic initiatives that embody a focus on Trinity as a first-choice college, increased interaction with Hartford and the world, and the College’s sustainability, both financially and environmentally. As Cardenas heavily emphasized, students are integral to a successful implementation. This common hour event, as well as Summit’s microsite (summit.trincoll.edu) and email-update service, were designed to include students in the process. Summit encompasses all aspects of Trinity’s community to make sure the College remains relevant as it approaches its 200th anniversary.