On any given day, Trinity’s campus seems to be bursting at the seams. Several thousand students, faculty, staff and visitors come to Trinity’s campus daily to teach, study, learn and live in buildings designed in the late-19th and early-to-mid-20th centuries for a relatively small, primarily residential women’s college of about 500 students studying the liberal arts. Main Hall’s design reflects the grand vision and cultural parameters of Trinity’s founding days: a building designed for female students only, with a convent for the Sisters of Notre Dame and a very few modest offices for faculty and administrators.
Main Hall, now 113 years old, remains Trinity’s primary academic and administrative center, an immensely busy place accommodating thousands of women and men of all ages and diverse characteristics – students, faculty and staff whose needs are vastly different from prior generations. While Main’s electrical capacity, plumbing and basic systems are well-maintained and upgraded as possible, and the new elevators and restrooms will be significant improvements, Main Hall is no longer able to accommodate the myriad demands of the highly diverse academic enterprise that is Trinity today.
When Trinity’s Science Building opened 70 years ago, in 1941, it reflected the latest advancements in undergraduate scientific education, and the fact that it was for women was remarkable, indeed. But the design of science laboratories has changed dramatically, along with the need for pervasive technologies, large electrical capacity, and modern heating/cooling/ventilation systems. The addition of nursing and health professions programs places demands on the Science Building that it simply was not designed to accommodate.
In the same way, Trinity’s “new” Sr. Helen Sheehan Library was state-of-the-art for undergraduate academic libraries in 1963, but the entire idea of the library has transformed in the last decade to become a thriving knowledge and information hub infused with the latest technology.
Trinity has always had ambition to “be the best” in each generation, setting high expectations for curricula and programs, student and faculty work to embody the ideal of excellence in Trinity’s academic life. While such excellence surely resides primarily in the quality of the faculty and the success of the students, in fact, the ability of the university to sustain excellence in teaching, research, service and administrative support for the academic enterprise depends heavily on the physical infrastructure – the modernity, accessibility, functionality and flexibility of the academic buildings and the pervasive availability of the technologies that are essential for contemporary university academic work.