Solidarity with DreamersDecember 4, 2016
Solidarity is a concept in Catholic social teaching that expects us to support each other as members of an interdependent community. Solidarity arises from the bedrock principle of respect for human life, and recognizes that part of upholding the dignity of human life is standing with those who suffer oppression and being advocates for justice for those who need our clear and strong voices.
Many students at Trinity need and deserve such advocacy. Every student here can tell a story of challenge, real hardship, triumph after a great struggle. Our jobs as teachers, administrators and school leaders compel us to stand in solidarity with our students in the face of whatever challenges they face. The spirit of solidarity helps Trinity to create a climate that makes it possible for students to find pathways to success despite occasional obstacles.
One group of students at Trinity that needs our advocacy and solidarity right now are our Dreamers. Trinity Dreamers are extraordinary women who have persisted and triumphed many times on their journeys through education, work and community life. The name “Dreamers” is used to designate young people who came to this country as infants but are otherwise undocumented; they have lived her their entire lives and are as American as anyone, but immigration policies tag them differently. The Obama Administration created a program called DACA — Deferred Action for Childhood Status — to permit Dreamers to work and attend school. However, federal financial aid policies prohibit these students from receiving federal financial aid like loans and Pell Grants. A generous group of benefactors organized a program several years ago called TheDream.US to underwrite scholarships that replace the missing federal aid for these students. Dreamer Scholarships are competitive; around the country about 1700 college students currently have scholarships from TheDream.US, and thousands more get different kinds of scholarships from their schools or some of their states.
President-elect Donald Trump has said at several times that he would end DACA along with deporting undocumented people. This would be a grave injustice to these fine students who have done nothing wrong. A generous and just nation welcomes and supports people who have fled poverty and oppression elsewhere. A narrow-minded and unjust nation threatens to expel people who have lived here since childhood simply for lack of a paper.
TheDream.US officials and I have assured our Trinity Dreamers that their scholarships are safe and that they will have every support they need to continue to thrive here. I have signed several statements with hundred of other college presidents who have pledged to do the same for their Dreamers on campuses across the country. These statements are linked below.
In this season of light, when we recall the Christmas story, we should remember that the birth of a child in a strange land, in a barn, in a time of political strife and uncertainty gave rise to one of the most enduring faith traditions in human history. That child’s message was one of peace, justice and hope. We must extend no less to all those who live among us, and we must insist that our national leaders respect human life including the lives of those who are encountering needless fear and uncertainty today.
Please join me in expressing solidarity with our Dreamers and all of our courageous, remarkable students at Trinity!
See my essay Transforming the Value Proposition for Higher Education in insidehighered.com
Follow me on Twitter @TrinityPrezRead comments (0) Add Comment
A Habit of GratitudeNovember 23, 2016
‘Tis the season of gratitude — Thanksgiving! Not a moment too soon for our politics-weary nation, we pause to spend some precious time with families and friends, stuffing ourselves with stuffing and secretly rooting for all turkeys to be pardoned so we can select from the alternative menu without feeling traitorous. Between the great Thursday feast and Friday’s mad rush to start Christmas shopping (really, do people do that, still? Everything’s online, but what else do we possibly need to buy?)…. between all of those rituals, we really do need to pause to think about the idea of gratitude, and to express thanks to those who have made so many lives so much better because of their presence, wisdom and generosity of spirit, talent and resources.
Few qualities are more important to develop from a young age forward than the habit of gratitude. We may have days, months and years when we have few tangible goods to share, but giving thanks costs nothing while reaping incredible rewards for those who deliver this great gift constantly. Gratitude is infectious — people on the receiving end of gratitude are usually so moved that they start giving thanks as well!
We have many reasons to cultivate a large habit of gratitude at Trinity. We should start with the many remarkable benefactors who make it possible for so many of our students to reap the benefits of this great education. The photo atop this blog shows our great benefactor Bill Conway and many of the 80 nursing students he currently supports through the Conway Scholars Program. Thank you, Bill and Joanne Conway!
Another group of students, our Trinity Dreamers, receive tremendous support from a scholarship organization founded by our friend Don Graham, pictured above with some of the Dreamers. Thank you, Don Graham!
This fall we are still marveling at/totally enjoying our beautiful new Payden Center, made possible through the great generosity of many alumnae and friends, and especially thanks to Joan Payden ’53 whose big gift made the whole project possible. Joan is pictured above at the dedication with members of her family and Shirley Salazar, recipient of a scholarship that Joan made possible. What tremendous generosity! Thank you, Joan Payden!
Many other alumnae and benefactors have given, quite literally, millions of dollars to support Trinity students and to support the academic center project. We are so grateful to all alumnae, benefactors and friends. Thank you!
We would not be here today to enjoy the wonderful benefits of a Trinity education without the vision and devotion of the Sisters of Notre Dame. The photo above includes many of our friends, faculty and supporters among the SNDs. Thank you, Sisters!
Our Trinity Trustees devote countless hours of volunteer service behind the scenes to make sure that Trinity is on the right track and well managed. The photo above shows our trustees proudly cutting the ribbon at the dedication of the Payden Center. Thank you, Trustees!
We are blessed with so many remarkable, devoted faculty — the photos above include some of our very talented STEM faculty — and the great work of our faculty with Trinity students is the entire reason for Trinity’s existence. Thank you, faculty!
We have so many hard-working staff who do so much every day to keep the campus in good shape and safe, who advise students and work out financial aid packages, who make sure our technology is great and our business affairs are well managed. The photo above shows our wonderful team leader Andres Marin taking care of business during a snowstorm last year — let’s hope we don’t need the plows too often this year. So many thanks to all of our great staff at Trinity for all of your tremendous work!
Finally, we are here for our students…. thank YOU, our students, for giving joy and meaning to our work each day! Here are some of the thousands of reasons why we are so grateful to have such wonderful students at Trinity:
Happy Thanksgiving to all!Read comments (1) Add Comment
Remembering Anne Marie McGovern ’50November 19, 2016
Friendship, loyalty, hospitality, compassion, wisdom and grace. Across the generations of Trinity Women, Anne Marie McGovern, Class of 1950, was unparalleled for the many ways in which she exemplified the values we share in and through Trinity. Whether remembering all of the names of all alumnae — married, maiden, nicknames and camp names — and their children and spouses and pets — or knowing the different preferences among alumnae in Naples, Cape Cod, Chicago or Napa Valley, Anne Marie had the remarkable gift of connecting immediately and personally with every single graduate of Trinity.
Anne Marie’s death last week was a great loss for her wonderful daughters Nancy ’79, Suzy and Sheila, their children and families, and also a source of sorrow for so many friends and classmates in 1950 and other classes who knew her well. And immediately, the stories began…. Anne Marie was well known for her inimitable style, love of social engagement of all kinds, lively interest in other people and seemingly endless capacity for discussing the news of the day and who among the vast Trinity family might be the protagonists.
I first met Anne Marie when I was a student at Trinity, and by my junior year I was one of the students she kept busy during Reunion with myriad assignments, and that’s how I got to know so many alumnae of all decades. I loved working at reunions, the friendships and endless talk well into the night proved fascinating and a real education into the lives of women —- in the 1970’s when I was a student, Trinity Women from the early 20th Century still attended reunion, and I loved getting to know the great women like Peg Blodgett ’19 whose sister was Sr. Helen Sheehan for whom the library was named. I had the privilege to know Marcella Seymour ’24 for whom Seymour Court is named, and Mary Field Goubeau ’27 whose great bequest has cared for Notre Dame Chapel. Anne Marie introduced me as a young alumna to all of these iconic women of Trinity, and over the years I treasured their wise advice and friendship.
Anne Marie became Trinity’s Alumnae Association Director in 1972, a position she held until 1994. After my student days, I still worked with Anne Marie as a volunteer, member of the Alumnae Board and later president of the Alumnae Association before becoming the college president. Along the way, Anne Marie was always gracious and eager to welcome alumnae to campus, to make sure that alma mater served their needs and interests well, and she was equally eager to share news from Trinity with all alumnae. We sometimes traveled together to visit alumnae chapters all over the country, and I was always amazed by the large network of friends she cultivated and how much she knew about every alumna in each region.
When Anne Marie retired in 1994, our great President Emerita Sr. Margaret Claydon ’45, SND, spoke at a celebratory Mass for Anne Marie in Notre Dame Chapel. Sr. Margaret’s words seem very fitting today as we mourn the loss of Anne Marie but also remember with gladness all that she meant to Trinity and our alumnae:
Sr. Margaret spoke of Anne Marie’s “…witty presence on the Marble Corridor where for twenty-two years she made every alumna feel at home and welcome, and from which emanated that inexhaustible creative energy that gave birth to Antiques & Uniques, Trinity at Lincoln Center, Winter Follies, Alumnae Book Sale, the Admissions Train, Faculty Follies, Trinity on the Cape and Trinity by the Sea. I suppose we could say [quoting Frost]…
“When to the heart of many was it ever less than treason
To go with the drift of things,
To say good-bye with a grace
To the end of a love or a season?”
We say good-bye to Anne Marie with reluctance, indeed, and with gratitude for the many gifts she shared with thousands of Trinity alumnae, students and faculty who reaped so many benefits from her presence at Trinity. She truly exemplified the values we sing about in the alma mater, paraphrasing here:
Trinity, her heart was loving you,
Trinity, her life was living you!
Our deepest condolences are with Nancy, Suzy, Sheila and their families. We will announce an occasion to remember Anne Marie at Trinity in the days to come.Read comments (6) Add Comment
Voices of Trinity: Post-Election Straw PollNovember 13, 2016
Two days after the 2016 Presidential Election, we took a straw poll of the Trinity campus community once more. As the graph above reveals, and consistent with earlier campus polls, when asked who the respondents hoped would win the election, nearly 90% favored Hillary Clinton. 5% favored Donald Trump, and 4% favored the third party candidates or wrote in Bernie Sanders. You can read the entire survey here: post-election-survey-2016
When asked about issues that would motivate their continued political engagement during the next four years, the top five responses of the Trinity campus respondents were:
- Civil rights and racial justice (64%)
- Women’s rights (59%)
- Police brutality (49%)
- Immigration reform and DACA protection (46%)
- Jobs and Economic Growth (41%)
Questions 4 and 5 asked respondents to write reasons why Hillary Clinton lost the election, and why Donald Trump won. Many wrote that Clinton lost because of sexism, alienation of voters from the Democrats, the FBI and the email scandal, and other issues well covered in national media. For Trump, many wrote that he won because of hatred, racism, bigotry, jobs, fear, Russian intervention, false promises, a lack of enthusiasm for Clinton. Read all of the responses in the poll report here post-election-survey-2016
Q 6: Write a paragraph of President Trump’s inauguration speech on an issue important to you
We got some interesting replies to the question that invited respondents to write a paragraph for President-elect Trump’s inauguration speech. Here is a selection of the best:
- With regard to international relations, I will make every effort to work cooperatively with every nation. I will listen to the leaders, I will dialogue with them, we will identify and issues between us, we will work collaboratively to resolve them, we will look to the best interests of all, and we will engage objective mediators to guide us when needed. I will be open and accepting of results that will bring peace to our country, our people, and the world’s peoples. I will recognize the agenda that others bring and treat others respectfully, just as I will treat all Americans from this day forward.
- I will ensure that there will be jobs and economic growth for our citizens. I will continue to protect women’s rights and let them make their own decisions with their bodies. I will improve the justice system in order to stop police brutality against our fellow African Americans by having a camera on every police officer. Even though I want the wall to be build I will protect the DACA program. I will only support traditional marriages because naturally human-beings are created from a woman and man. I will lower the college tuition for our college students.
- This race brought to light a number of social ills that we have to address. There will be swift and strong reaction if groups or individuals attack others because of social, religious, political, or gender differences. I do not support the KKK or any other group that has a mission of hate against others. I will work hard to gain the support of all Americans to make a difference in your lives, in your problems, and in your healing. I will work with all members of the House & Senate to bring about the changes necessary to move this country forward. We have to secure our boarders and be diligent in the screening process of foreigners we allow in this country but we must also be diligent in addressing social ills committed against our own citizens. We can not expect to invite strangers in our home and expect them to abide by our laws if the citizens who live here do not abide by the law. I will work hard to make the needed changes to bring jobs back to the US. I understand how it was beneficial for them to be sent overseas so I will work hard to make sure companies have the right laws & benefits to remain in the US (or bring their jobs back) to support American’s who have been disenfranchised. I will work to make the government run smarter & stronger and will not tear down without offering a better solution of how to move forward. I will make sure that the Affordable Care Act is amended to correct it’s deficiencies. I will not throw it out without having a stronger solution in place to support the citizens who need health insurance. We will work to find solutions to the mass incarceration of minorities who have been affected over the last 20+ years and put an end to the privatization of correctional facilities.
- Social justice and fighting for equal rights for all races should be important. Make America great by treating all races as equals. We need a more unified America where people are not judged by the color of their skin but their character.
- Dear Friends, I have had a change of heart. Instead of blaming the most vulnerable among us for our economic failures, we must strive to provide freedom from exploitation to all global citizens. The promise of America is a promise of liberty and justice for all. Minorities, women, religious minorities, the undocumented, and so many others have been living for 400+ years in conditions of disenfranchisement and alienation. They are just as deserving of justice and opportunity as we, the White men in power, are. I therefore propose to extend citizenship to all who currently live, work, raise families, and contribute to the engine of economic growth within our borders, to reform immigration law, and to ensure that the rights of all citizens are upheld. Also, to Trump nation, stop persecuting and bullying minorities and women. Stop it. Stop it right now.
- We are all America. We can make America even better if we come together and respect what each group brings to them table. Take some time to sit in a union meeting at GM and consider how the loss of work will impacts those workers’ families and communities. Watch children become part of a loving family at an adoption event and consider how many lives are saved through caring regardless of whether the parent or parents are gay, straight, or anywhere on the spectrum. Sit with a veteran navigating our health care system and consider all the ways to allow for universal healthcare for everyone. Attend an underfunded educational institution in the school-to-prison pipeline and consider the ways to increase the training, monies, and opportunities to break the cycle. After you have considered everything, reach across the aisle and work together to make the necessary changes happen. America IS great. Let’s make her even better, together.
- Dear Fellow Americans: Each and every one of you is important to me. Not one of you is more important that the next. I will fight for every American. As promised, I will address our southern border. The border is open to those who want to come into the U.S. for work or school, but we must know who is coming into our country. We will provide you with documentation so that you can cross freely. If you have been convicted of a violent crime in the U.S., don’t bother coming to the border. Law abiding working folks that are already here, we will have a program for you. To all people of color, I have heard your concerns and I will continue to support the advancement of all people. If you are currently unemployed or underemployed, prepare yourselves. More jobs are on the way and we need each and every one of you. I ask that you all give me a fair chance as your President. I will fight for you. This economy will grow. God Bless America.
- As I take this office I must first own up to my inadequacies. I must say that through out this campaign I have made some very uneducated assessments and I realize as President that I must stand for more than just my single mindset and position on issues. I must effectively consider the implication of both my words and actions and as Commander and Chief I am responsible for the welfare of all the people of this nation. Until you know the depth of issues this nation truly faces how can you properly and effectively address them. Division can not be addressed if it’s not first handled within each community. Strengthen the communities and you strengthen the nation. This Nation can not operate without the diverse population that offers both strength and stability.
- I am not a tyrant. I must obey the Constitution.
Some respondents replied that they could not imagine writing anything, others wrote more about their political positions. For the full set of replies see post-election-survey-2016
What’s ultimately clear from all of our straw polls taken throughout the election season (see others posted on this blog) and the comments of many members of the campus community, Trinity students, faculty and staff remain committed to the highest ideals of civic engagement, and are redoubling their efforts to stay involved and to work for justice every day. While many hoped for a different result, everyone at Trinity knows that this election reflects the results of democracy, that we must come together to support our new president, raising our voices without fear to advocate what’s right, confront what’s wrong, and uphold our shared values for the sake of all people.
If you have other thoughts please share them via the comment link below.
See this Chronicle of Higher Education video of Trinity students and faculty commenting on the day after the election.
Read my Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed Raising a Voice for Academe on what might happen for higher education in a Trump Administration.
Follow me on Twitter @TrinityPrez
For the results of earlier Trinity Straw Polls on the election:Read comments (0) Add Comment
A New Political Reality: Message to the Trinity CommunityNovember 9, 2016
Dear Trinity students, colleagues and friends,
We start today in a new political reality. A majority of Americans have chosen Donald J. Trump to be the next president. The beauty of the American political process is that the people have the power to choose their government, and our tacit agreement as a society is that regardless of our personal choices, every four years we come together as a unified nation to move forward to achieve the best possible goals for all the people regardless of political persuasion. It’s incumbent on all of us today and going forward to work for unity and peace in our country where so many factions and fault lines pose a real danger to our long-term interests. See my blog on what happens on November 9 and all the days thereafter… I wrote that last Saturday, before the election, and it’s still the message.
By the way, now sounding like the elder I’m fast becoming, I’ve lived long enough to know that the cycles of political history are quite inexorable — I was born into the Eisenhower Administration, grew up through Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Carter, worked my professional life through Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and Obama. If you look at the parties of those presidents, you will see a clear pattern: rarely does either party hold the presidency for more than two terms, and most often the pendulum of history swings back and forth somewhat relentlessly between Democratic and Republican holds on the White House. Sometimes it helps to understand a given moment by looking at the history and life cycle of movements — isn’t that part of what we learn here at Trinity? However you feel today, you will have a chance to work for a different result in 2020, 2024 and all the quadrennial elections thereafter.
While expressing a desire for unity as a manifestation of responsible citizenship, I also know that the election of Donald Trump poses some real concerns among members of the Trinity family who have spoken loud and clear through a series of straw polls and comments, as well as in active engagement in campaigning and commentary on your own blogs and social media.
Let me take this moment to remind all of us of the common values we share here at Trinity, and the commitment that I, as your college president, owe to each of you to continue working to ensure our values.
Trinity was founded by courageous religious women whose strong belief in the worth and dignity of women led them to create a great college as a manifestation of the SND mission in social justice. Nearly 120 years later, Trinity still stands for the dignity and worth of women, and we still promote the education and advancement of women’s leadership as our primary goal. We denounce any rhetoric or action or policy that denigrates women. We have welcomed men into our mission as well in our graduate and professional programs, and in so doing we make a clear statement that Trinity stands for equality and dignity of all people.
We affirm each day the driving force of social justice as the value imperative that animates our work. We learned that value from the Sisters of Notre Dame, a value rooted deeply in the Gospels and the Catholic faith tradition, a value shared across many faith traditions.
Respect for human dignity and defense of human life are the bedrock of social justice, and we affirm those values in the way we welcome students and colleagues of all races and faiths — our Trinity community welcomes everyone, white and black, African American and Latina and Asian and multi-racial. We welcome you if you have immigrated from another nation recently or through your family history. You are welcome and cherished here with whatever racial and ethnic identity and nationality and citizenship you embrace. We abhor racism and nationalism and oppression of people based on their personal characteristics, countries of origin, languages and customs.
In the same way, we welcome and cherish you if you are Catholic or Christian or Muslim or Methodist or Hindu or Lutheran or profess any other faith or no faith at all — religious bigotry has no place at Trinity. We stand against any targeting of individuals based on their religious beliefs, that is an offense to our national values and our moral beliefs.
We welcome you if you are gay or straight, lesbian or transgender, and we respect your right to choose how you will live in dignity and security. We do not tolerate discrimination or hatred against individuals based on who they love or how they choose to build families.
I am particularly mindful today of our Dreamers, some of the most remarkable and ambitious and accomplished students here, women whose contributions to their families, communities and society are already great and will grow with the years. You have my pledge that I will continue to do all that I can to make sure that you are safe and supported here at Trinity, and to keep working for policy change to support the realities of your families.
We will continue to do all that we can to make sure that Trinity is a place where everyone can thrive, where you are safe to be who you are, where you can engage the struggles and triumphs of great teaching and learning without fear and with as much support as we can give. Our goal is to make you powerful citizens of the world, armed with the best possible knowledge and skills to exert leadership in all of the communities and workplaces you will influence for decades to come. This election shows that we have a lot of work to do when it comes to advancing education in this nation. I remain firmly convinced, perhaps more so this morning, that in the end a great education is the most essential tool we have to create lasting change for good, for justice and peace to prevail. Let’s use the power of our education to work through this moment, to find the path forward to a better society for all people, including and especially those whose vote was a statement about feeling left out, angry and marginalized by a government that did not serve their needs as well as it should have.
Today and in the days to come, we’ll have plenty of time to analyze and discuss the specific implications of the election. For now, let us come together united in our pledge to work for unity and peace, to pray for our country and our leaders. May the wisdom — especially the wisdom — of the Trinity be with them.
With hope in the future together,
President Patricia McGuireRead comments (2) Add Comment