Reading most news accounts at the end of 2009, we might wonder how civilization ever survived the terrible Aughts — the first decade of the 21st Century. The writers compete with each other to “name that tragic decade” that history will mark as the time of terrorism, recession, political polarization and the triumph of bad cultural taste known as reality television.
I have a different point of view. For Trinity, the years 2000-2009 have been a decade of remarkable growth and achievements once thought impossible. We end this decade with our all-time largest enrollment of 2,030 students, more than 800 students in our historic women’s college that we once thought could not make it, and a strong financial posture. We have set our sights squarely on continued growth, so that the development of the new Trinity Academic Center is the imperative for 2010 and beyond.
Looking back on the last ten years, we can take collective pride in some remarkable Trinity acheivements:
- 2000: Trinity’s Centennial Celebration is in full swing, with the $12.2 million Centennial Campaign underway; in November 2000, exactly 100 years after the first 19 pioneer women made their academic home in the then-unfinished South Hall, the Trinity community gathered to break ground for the Trinity Center for Women and Girls in Sports, the first new building on the campus in nearly 40 years; the new strategic plan, Beyond Trinity 2000, anticipates Trinity’s emergence as a multi-dimensional university;
- 2001: A prestigious Kresge Challenge Grant stimulates completion of the Centennial Campaign; also in 2001, Trinity receives major technology grants from AmericaOnline, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Labor, and with these grants Trinity is able to create the first “smart” classrooms and expand computer labs;
- 2002: Two years after groundbreaking, the Trinity community gathers on the plaza of the new Trinity Center for the dedication of this new facility, the largest athletic complex in the nation with a specific focus on sports for women and girls;
- 2003: The Trinity Center opens and welcomes members and patrons from throughout the Washington region; by the end of the decade, more than 30,000 visitors annually enjoy the Trinity Center field, pool, gymnasium, fitness center, tennis courts and related amenities;
- 2004: Once again, the Trinity community gathers in September to celebrate the bicentennial of the founding of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, and during this celebration of women’s global leadership in education, Trinity announces its new identity as a university;
- 2005-2006: The Trinity community becomes deeply engaged with the serious work of self-study in anticipation of the Middle States ten-year reaccreditation moment; the visiting team report in Spring 2006 hails Trinity for its creative adaption to changing educational needs of the city while remaining devoted to the founding mission; through the self-study process, the new strategic plan Achieving Trinity 2010 emerges to guide the next phase of Trinity’s development;
- 2007: We started the year with a grand celebration of the remarkable achievement of our alumna Nancy Pelosi, Class of 1962, as she became the first woman ever to be the Speaker of the House of the United States; the faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences create a remarkable new general education curriculum that soon receives national attention; the D.C. Zoning Commission approves Trinity’s new campus master plan that anticipates significant expansion of academic facilities;
- 2008: Trinity’s new Nursing Program is booming, helping to drive enrollment to new levels; the first students in Trinity’s new program at THEARC in Southeast Washington receive their AA degrees; in spite of the recession, Trinity balances the budget and maintains economic equilibrium; many students become actively involved with the presidential campaign, and the campus community marks the historic election of Barack Obama;
- 2009: The year begins with the many members of the Trinity community braving bitter cold to witness the inauguration of Barack Obama, while 400 National Guard troops camp out at the Trinity Center and Trinity students share the inaugural moment with sisters from Spelman College; by the fall, enrollment surges past 2,000 students, and more than 300 new students enroll in the College of Arts & Sciences; residence halls are full, sparking a renewed sense of urgency to move ahead with plans for new housing as well as the new academic center.
Well, that’s just a very brief list, not including many personal achievements for students, faculty, staff and alumnae.
Some data points also tell a very interesting story of Trinity’s growth in the last decade:
- Total revenues FY2000-2009: $229 million
- Total expanses FY2000-2009: $217 million (so, we mostly balanced out, but barely!)
- Total gifts and private grants: $28 million
- Total unduplicated headcount enrollment: 20,000 students
- Total degrees awarded: 3,500
Trinity is not an insignificant institution! Those numbers tell a story of an institution that lives modestly (divide those financial numbers by 10, the number of years in the decade, and you’ll see that our budgets are not large) but has a great impact on thousands of students. Those students go on to influence hundreds of thousands of children and families, co-workers and corporations, the federal government and nonprofit agencies, local governments and schools, arts organizations and communications outlets and social service centers. Trinity graduates in the last ten years have become Speaker of the House, Secretary of Health and Human Services, federal and state judges, elected members of state and local legislatures and school boards, college presidents and faculty members, leaders of public and private schools and lawyers by the dozens. Our graduates take their Trinity degrees to some of the most elite corporate and civic board rooms in the nation, and to some of the most impoverished communities of need on the face of the earth. In all of their work, Trinity’s mission lives well, and their great and good work inspires new generations to follow them.
So, when we add it all up, the years 2000-2009 were a great decade for Trinity. Yes, the world witnessed much sorrow in this time, and we shared that sorrow even as we vowed to find ways to make change for the future. Trinity has always been a counter-cultural institution, founded by change agents who would not accept the status quo for women in 1897, still empowered by their vision and determination to make this powerful education accessible to those who can profit most from Trinity’s mission.
Great as the last decade has been, the best is yet to come! In the new year ahead, we will have wonderful new opportunities. In my next blog, I’ll offer a brief sketch of the next chapter that we will write together in Trinity’s marvelous history.