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  • Remarkable Achievements!

    May 12, 2015

    commencement1414-602x400(2014 May Trinity Commencement)

    Saturday, May 16 — the happiest day of the year for the Class of 2015!  I can’t wait to see our graduates arrayed across the front lawn, to hear the cheers of families and friends, and to see the pride in the eyes of each graduate as I hand out the diplomas.  Yes!  Commencement Day is also my favorite day of the year!

    IMG_20140928_111641(From Cap & Gown Weekend to Commencement Day!)

    Trinity students work so hard to enjoy the pride, honor and sense of fulfillment on graduation day.  Beyond achieving the diploma, we also have a very impressive list of student achievements in many different disciplines and at many academic levels, not just those who are graduating.  I am so pleased to share some of the highlights of our very long list of student achievements this year:

    Achievements in the Sciences

    Trinity students in the sciences continue to blaze bright trails in undergraduate research endeavors during the academic year and in competitive summer internship placements. Some of the distinguished science research internships and graduate fellowships include:

    • Asya Tucker ’15, Clare Boothe Luce Scholar in Chemistry, has received a Graduate Assistantship in the Department of Chemistry at American University.
    • Anna Roland ’16, Rotterman Scholar and a Biochemistry major, will participate in the summer program in Biological Sciences in Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health.
    • Charlene Valdez ’17, a Biology major, will participate in the 2015 Life Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research Program at the University of Minnesota.
    • Sandra Reyes ’16, a Biochemistry major, will participate in the National Cancer Institute Summer Research Interns Program.
    • Patrice Dixon ’16, a Biochemistry major, will participate in the National Institutes of Health NIDDK (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) summer research program STEP UP.
    • Audrey Tseumie ’18, a Biochemistry major, will participate in the 2015 Student Innovators Summer Program at the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National Medical Center. She will participate in research with noted pediatric anesthesiologist Dr. Julia Finkel.
    • Duyania Cephas ’16, a Biology major, will conduct research at Children’s National Medical Center with Dr. Cynthia DeBoy of Trinity’s faculty.
    • Naya Eady ‘16, a rising senior Biology major, will participate in an NSF sponsored undergraduate research experience in Radioecology hosted by the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory.
    • Karen Hernandez ’15, Clare Boothe Luce Scholar in Biochemistry, will have a summer internship at the Baylor School of Medicine.
    • Sonia Garcia ’15, Clare Boothe Luce Scholar in Biology, has received acceptances to post-baccalaureate programs at Baylor University, the University of Chicago, Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Massachusetts.
    • Michelle Jaldin ‘15 has acceptances to the post-baccalaureate program at the Ohio State University School of Medicine PREP Program, and the United Medical Center in D.C.

    STEM 2

    Achievements in the Social Sciences and Counseling

    Not to be outdone by their classmates in the sciences, students in many other academic programs also have achieved remarkable recognition, research internships and marvelous post-graduate opportunities. Some of these include:

    • Jessica Lopez ‘15, a senior Psychology major, is one of only 8 students out of 150 applicants selected to participate in the Western Kentucky University Psychological Science Department’s Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates Program (REU) funded by the National Science Foundation.
    • Jenay Younger ’14, a cum laude Sociology major with a Psychology minor, has been accepted to Loyola Law School.
    • Jelissa Glanton ‘14, a cum laude Psychology major, has secured a position as an American Psychology Association site coordinator.
    • Ashley Santiago Pittman ’15, a Psychology major, has been accepted into the New York University School of Social Work.
    • Ebony Abraham ’13, a Psychology major, has been accepted into the Master’s Program in Industrial/Organizational Psychology at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
    • Felipe Urquilla ’15, Master of Arts in Counseling, secured a full-time position with the College Park Youth Services Bureau where he was a trailblazer creating the first student internship at this site.
    • Nergis Lemus ’17, a Political Science major, has also received the competitive Frank Karel Fellowship in Public Communication, and she will spend her summer working with Special Olympics.
    • Tresa Welch ’13, a Human Relations major, received a Graduate Assistantship at American University for the MA in Sociology/Ph.D. in Anthropology program.

    Achievements in Business and Health Professions

    • Kindra Nicol ’16, a Business major with an Economics minor, has received a prestigious Frank Karel Fellowship in Public Interest Communication. This competitive fellowship will make it possible for Kindra to spend the summer working with Save the Children, an organization dedicated to making sure that every child has the best chance for success.
    • Shelby Swann ’15, an Exercise Science major and recipient of the Director’s Award as Trinity’s top athlete in 2014-2015, has been accepted to the Master’s in Athletic Training program at the University of Montana at Billings.
    • Gina Thompson ’15, a Nursing major, has been accepted to the Nurse Residency Program in the Intermediate Care Unit for Cardiac Services at the Washington Hospital Center where she joins four other Trinity nursing graduates in that unit.

    More to come!  If you have an achievement worthy of listing here, please send a message to


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    Voices of Trinity: Baltimore Burning

    April 29, 2015

    Baltimore-protests(Photo credit from

    Rage, frustration, anger, horror, exhaustion — all emotions evident on our screens filled with images from the riots in Baltimore, all emotions we might feel individually as yet another American community shatters in the aftermath of lethal police brutality perpetrated against another young black man.  Freddie Gray is the latest name in the tragic necrology that includes Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and so many more we may never know.

    Watching the news from Baltimore this week — riveting, alarming, deeply disturbing — I found myself wondering, once again, when this country will ever come to grips with its Original Sin of racism, rooted so deeply in our long history of slavery, segregation, prejudice and deep divides along political and ideological lines.  I also find myself thinking about the irony — or is it the inevitable reaction — of these events occurring in the waning days of the administration of the nation’s first African American president.

    Six years ago, when millions gathered on the national Mall in Washington to witness the history of Barack Obama’s inauguration, we heard repeated exhortations to enter the “post-racial” era of American life.   Now we know better.  President Obama’s presence in the Oval Office is a symbol of progress, yes, but also became a cause for the darker forces in American life to gather strength, to act in subversive ways to reject racial justice, to mobilize for disruption and civil unrest.  Civil unrest plays into the hands of potential dictators on all sides; it’s much harder to divide and conquer a people united in the quest for a common good that includes all.

    America cannot be a force for peace and justice in the world when we don’t know the meaning of those words here at home.  We have a long way to go as a nation to achieve the promise of our founding as a nation devoted to “liberty and justice for all.”

    Here at Trinity, we will continue to find ways to promote educational responses to what often seems like irrational behavior — on the part of police who keep acting with extreme violence in an age when they should know how to deal with street confrontations more effectively, and on the part of certain “protestors” who seem to think that burning down neighborhoods is an effective way to achieve justice.   No one wins when extremists commit violence.  We must educate the majority of people to be advocates for justice and leaders for peaceful communities.

    I invited members of the Trinity community to offer thoughts on the Baltimore protests and some comments are below.  If you would like tpresident@trinitydc.o add comments please do so using the comment link or email me at

    From Kevin A. Bouknight, SPS Student:

    “Thank you for the opportunity to reply. I purposely did not watch the news or read the newspapers when the violence first happened. When I heard about it, I continued to wait before forming an opinion. Now, after having read tweets, Facebook posts, news articles, as well as your blog, I agree with you that the entire debacle is horrific. However, it has become so commonplace that I fear it will continue.

    “As an African American man, it hurts my heart for so many of my brothers’ lives to be cut down or snuffed out far too soon. The violence that follows does not hurt my heart; it infuriates me. I’m angry because violence generally does not solve anything and it makes all of us look bad, regardless of the skin color. I’m angry because we as African Americans still have not realized the media perpetrates much of the erroneous images the world sees and we, like idiots, continue to feed into it. I’m angry that out collective voice STILL has not been heard. And, as a friend of mine says, “That burns my butter!”

    “There is no denying the situation is critical. Something has to be done and quickly. It has become a very serious concern that it will be my son one day that gets shot. And, the only reason why he’d be killed will be because he’s a young black man.”

    From Glenn Hames, Adjunct Faculty:

    “What’s happening in Baltimore is saddening and I hope that there is some resolution soon. Most importantly, I pray that what America has been witnessing over the last five years and more recently within the last year, as it relates to police violence against citizens, injustice within the judicial system and the rage of the unheard voices, will bring a level of awareness of what’s been taken place in urban and desolate communities throughout our country for quite some time. Growing up in rural NC, I’ve witnessed that injustice is not isolated to only a few communities but all communities that don’t have the means or economic means and education to have their voice heard. This pent-up frustration unfortunately rears its ugliness when bottled up for too long….I welcome open dialogue that may bring a level of peace, understanding and healing to all that may be effected emotionally from both sides of the spectrum.”

    From Idania Arteaga, CAS Student:

    “You are young and energetic.. Instead of using that energy to destroy people’s businesses and homes use it to protest in a non-violent act! Destroying your own neighborhood solves absolutely nothing.”

    From Dowan McNair-Lee, Reading Specialist:

    “A student from my CRS 101 class emailed to see if I was watching the news about Baltimore. I told her that I was and did it all sound familiar. I in turn posted this excerpt from Dr. King’s “The Other America” speech to my FB page:

    “It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”
    Martin Luther King 1968 from his speech “The Other America”




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    Founders and Builders

    April 22, 2015

    MAIN FRONT 1905 MICH AVE VIEW(Photo above from Trinity Archives:  Michigan Avenue was just a dirt road in 1905,
    and Main Hall was not yet finished)

    Founders Day 2015

    The great women who founded Trinity started with big visions, confronted great doubts, and managed to buy land and build Main Hall with very little money.  Those Sisters of Notre Dame were truly heroic figures not only in Trinity’s history but in the history of women’s education.  They believed with great fervor that women had a right to a higher education equal to that of men in 1897.   The Catholic University of America was just ten years old at that time, and women were denied admission to Catholic University.  Cardinal Gibbons, the great leader of the Church’s social justice movement, thanked the SNDs for relieving the Church of the “embarrassment” of denying women admission to Catholic U., and supported the work of the SNDs to establish Trinity.   But not all priests were so enamored, and some tried to stop the project, claiming it was part of the heresy known as “Americanism” which was simply a preference for modern life back then.  Eventually, the controversy reached Pope Leo XIII and after some consideration he decided not to stop Trinity’s founding — not exactly a ringing endorsement, but in those days, a great victory for the nuns and for all future generations of Trinity students!

    aerial c 1922(Aerial view c. 1922 — Notre Dame Chapel building just starting on left)

    Establishing Trinity was not just a lovely academic concept — buildings had to be planned and erected, money raised and students recruited.  The SNDs in 1897 faced all of the same management issues we face today — but they wore habits and were somewhat cloistered and did not have the large and loyal body of alumnae and friends that Trinity can count on today for support.   But the idea of a Catholic college for women in Washington captivated the imagination of many in the political and social world of that day, so the SNDs were able to organize the first building project to raise Main Hall, a massive building assembled over more than a decade with the oversight of Architect Edwin Durang who planned other massive Catholic buildings on the east coast.

    aerial early 1930s(Trinity in the early 1930s — no Franklin Street yet, Lincoln Road was a mud path bisecting the property behind Alumnae Hall; up Michigan Avenue, the Shrine did not exist yet)

    In 1922, the SNDs retained the architects Maginnis & Walsh of Boston to create the magnificent Notre Dame Chapel, dedicated in 1924.   In 1927, Maginnis & Walsh also created Alumnae Hall, the first separate dining hall and dormitory for students — a place of great luxury in that day!  Alumnae Hal symbolized Trinity’s maturity as a women’s college that believed that young women could live in their own suites with less oversight than in the great corridors of Main.

    In the photo above, it’s also important to note Trinity’s relative isolation in a location that was then considered to be more countryside than city.   The SNDs had to petition Congress to get Michigan Avenue cut through from North Capitol Street up to 4th Street.   In those days, Lincoln Road was a dirt path that ran straight through  to Harewood Road; Trinity bought the property on the other side of Lincoln Road and then in the late 1930’s got the city to agree to close Lincoln Road and, instead, to build Franklin Street which did not exist until 1939.

    aerial c 1940s science done(Trinity in the 1940’s)

    In 1940, with World War II looming and the need for more scientists, the SNDs decided to move ahead with the long-planned Science Building, a project that moved ahead with speed so that Trinity Women could have more laboratories for learning and study, and then they were able to graduate into work with government laboratories and research agencies.

    aerial c 1965 showing kerby from back side of campus(Trinity in the 1960’s)

    By the 1960’s, Trinity’s growth was straining all of the older buildings on campus — the Baby Boomers had arrived and Trinity’s enrollment grew rapidly.  Cuvilly Hall came along in 1958. With the great Sister Margaret Claydon, SND as President starting in 1959, Trinity added the “Music and Art” wing of Main Hall, the Library, and Kerby Hall.   The campus was complete — but Sister Margaret had even bigger dreams to add a sports center, to renovate or replace the Science Building what was out of date in the age of the space race, to add more modern housing.  Unfortunately, the wave of coeducation that swept across higher education in the late 1960’s put those plans on hold as Trinity’s enrollment declined and the vision for a bigger future dimmed.

    2014 satellite view(Trinity’s Campus 2014, Google Earth View)

    In 2000, 35 years after Kerby Hall opened in 1965, Trinity finally broke ground again for the Trinity Center for Women and Girls in Sports.  The new athletic complex symbolized Trinity’s renaissance in the 21st Century, and gave Trinity more capacity for large group programming and events.  But building Trinity’s future required more than a gym and playing field; to be fully ready for the 21st Century and beyond, Trinity also had to create new academic facilities, modern classrooms, state-of-the-art science laboratories and labs for new programs in Nursing and healthcare.

    satellite photo march 2015 second view(March 2015 Satellite Photo)

    On May 31, 2014, Trinity broke ground for the new Trinity Academic Center, a project that became possible thanks to the great generosity of many alumnae and donors who have contributed millions to make this new academic building possible.  The Academic Center will be ready for classes in Fall 2016.

    site plan for blog(Site Plan for New Academic Center Completed)

    Today, on Founders Day 2015, we will celebrate the “Topping Out” of the new academic center, the time when the steel framework is completed before the facade starts going up.  By the summer, the roof and walls will be on the building and the work will begin on the interiors.

    4515 1_edited-1 (Medium)


    As we celebrate today, let’s remember our Founders, the great women who had this marvelous idea for Trinity.  Without their courage and fortitude, we would not have this great university today.   We remember and give thanks to the SNDs and all of the alumnae and benefactors who helped to build Trinity through its great first century.   Today we are building for the second century and beyond, paying tribute to our Founders in the best way possible, by making sure that Trinity’s mission still thrives for generations to come.

    Thanks to our Founders!!

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    Remembering Dr. Floretta McKenzie

    April 7, 2015

    McKenzie_Floretta_wm(photo credit)

    Floretta McKenzie was remarkably consistent.  Whether leading the D.C. Public Schools or sitting on corporate boards or being a wise friend to a young person just getting into school leadership, her hallmarks were great patience, kind but firm correction when needed, deep pragmatism, high ethics, and an ability to spread joy and good humor even in difficult moments.  I miss my friend Flo, from whom I learned a great deal simply by observing her move through the corridors of power and influence in the educational, political and corporate sectors she inhabited.

    When Dr. Floretta Dukes McKenzie died on March 23, the city and nation lost a truly great leader and educator.  But many of us who knew her also lost a terrific friend and wise counselor.  While we can read about and remember her public life and achievements in the many articles that have appeared about her, I like to remember her as being the friend and colleague who sat next to me and whispered in my ear on the several boards we shared.  We were board members together on the venerable local company known as the Acacia Mutual Life Insurance Company, later merged with Ameritas Life in Lincoln, Nebraska.   We also served together briefly on the board of the D.C. College Success Foundation before she retired.  She was sought-after for many other boards and served on many, including Pepco and Howard University’s board, and she was the first African American elected to the Marriott Corporation board.

    For many years, we were the only two women on the life insurance company board, a terrific group of business leaders intensely focused on industry issues.  When I first joined the board, I had to learn how to be a good corporate board member, and Flo taught me much about what was really going on, when and how to agree or disagree, and when to hold my tongue — a look, a gentle pat on my arm would remind me to sit back rather than leap into one bonfire or another.  She could speak with eloquence and conviction about issues of diversity and gender equity and social justice, and when she did I could tell that the other directors in the room were paying very close attention to her.  She could also speak with equal eloquence on issues of corporate governance and financial responsibility, and she was so respected for her acumen that for a period of time she was our lead director.

    Her passion for the education of the children of the District of Columbia never waned.  I actually first met Dr. McKenzie when she became the D.C. Superintendent of Schools in 1981.  At that time, I was the project director for the Street Law Program at Georgetown Law Center, and I had occasion to meet with her to discuss the program.  She was open, supportive and genuinely interested in innovative approaches to improving student outcomes.  Like her predecessor the great Vincent Reed, she was eager to find solutions to the many problems that plagued the school system, and she was always a champion for hope in achieving greatness in D.C. education.  Before Chancellor Kaya Henderson’s remarkable tenure, it’s safe to say that Dr. McKenzie was the last truly successful superintendent in D.C.

    Trinity recognized Dr. McKenzie’s leadership in education with the award of an honorary degree in 1982.  I know that she cherished that recognition in the ways that she would remind me of her Trinity “honorary alumna” status from time to time, and she took particular interest in the ways in which Trinity engaged with the students and teachers of the D.C. Public Schools.  I also knew that I could always seek her good advice on how to navigate the local political landscape — she always knew so much more than what she would say in public!

    Flo McKenzie’s legacy is the model she created for the steady, committed, discrete school leader who focused on the right things — teaching and learning — and avoids the pitfalls of politics.  Her example should be a case study in school leadership programs for how to lead with integrity, durability and respect.

    Farewell, Flo!  We will remember you each day as we strive to improve education for the sake of the children in D.C.



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    Women Make History Every Day At Trinity!

    March 19, 2015

    LEADER JUSTICE TRINITY STUDENTS 3 18 2015 (Medium)(Photos by Ann Pauley:  Trinity students and faculty with Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan (blue jacket) and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi ’62 in Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol at event honoring women on the Supreme Court as part of Women’s History Month, March 18, 2015)

    The photo says it all:  WHY women’s colleges matter, WHY Trinity sisterhood is powerful, HOW the “Old Girls’ Network” connects women across generations and positions to lift as we climb, to foster leadership and courage in each succeeding generation.   Trinity Alumna Nancy Pelosi, Class of 1962, the Democratic Leader in the House of Representatives and first and only woman to be Speaker of the house always takes care of her Trinity Sisters.  To mark Women’s History Month, Leader Pelosi threw a party to honor the women justices on the Supreme Court:  Justice Elena Kagan (blue jacket, above), Justice Sonya Sotomayor (photo below, with Trinity students Anna Roland and Hareth Andrade) and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  Leader Pelosi invited Trinity students to be part of the event — a great example of a role model, a powerful woman reaching out to help other women set their sights on high achievement.

    LEADER JUSTICE STUDENTS (Medium)Fostering leadership ability, self-confidence and the intellectual prowess to be outstanding leaders in the community and across many professions is the historic and still-urgent mission of Trinity and other women’s colleges.  Trinity leaders in all communities and walks of life have been hugely successful for 118 years — and Trinity aims to keep that ball rolling for at least another century or more!  Looking at our students seizing the moment at the podium in Statuary Hall, below, I have no doubt that they will succeed, and so will Trinity!



    Women’s colleges have been in the news recently because of the sad announcement from Sweet Briar College in Virginia that the trustees of that venerable women’s college have decided to close after this academic year.  That’s very sad for Sweet Briar, but not at all indicative of the future for Trinity or other historic women’s colleges that are thriving.  Trinity took steps years ago to diversify programming, creating the university model, and refocusing our historic mission on the women who could benefit most from this powerful mission.  Trinity’s women’s college (the College of Arts & Sciences) has more than tripled in size since I became president in 1989, from 300 students then to nearly 1100 today.   The entire institution has more than doubled in size with the addition of many graduate and professional programs.  We’re building that beautiful new academic center next because we’ve outgrown our old buildings and truly need 21st Century learning environments, especially for the sciences and health professions.

    Facts are important, but often overlooked in the current popular discussion of women’s colleges.  One college closes, and the pundits say it spells doom for all.  Not true!! Of the 40+ women’s colleges operating today nearly 65% have actually grown in the last 10 years, defying the naysayers who say this sector is declining.  Of the original 230 women’s colleges in 1960, about 90 closed or merged — most of them very small Catholic women’s colleges that not only had large populations of religious sisters as students, but also who relied on the free labor (“contributed services”) of the nuns on the staff.   The economic model for the Catholic institutions was always unusual.  When the Church went through progressive changes as a result of Vatican II in the 1960’s, many sisters left their orders, leaving the schools without the free labor.  This affected not only the Catholic women’s colleges, but also the Catholic schools in cities — the Church could not afford to replace the nuns with paid staff in all of those schools.  Trinity is one of the Catholic institutions that weathered the economic downturn and rebuilt its financial model without reliance on contributed services.  Trinity experienced some very lean years but, in the end, the model we built in the 1990’s is strong and durable.  Our balance sheet now exceeds $100 million in worth, and we operate in the black.

    For the larger group of historic women’s colleges, of the original 230, about 140 remain, with about 40 of those maintaining women’s colleges and the others being fully coeducational.  However, even those that are fully coed are about 70% female.  The mission to educate women remains central for all of these historic schools.  Additionally, sustaining a strong central mission in women’s education does not need to be hostile to men, and as we do at Trinity, many of the 40+ women’s colleges today enroll men in some programs.   The focus on equity and justice that is inherent in the women’s college mission proclaims values that also work for male students who understand and respect this mission.

    I’ve had more to say about these issues recently in a blog I wrote on the Huffington Post, Disrupting the Daisy Chain: What Modern Women’s Colleges Really Do  and also a recent interview with Molly Greenberg in an online magazine called DCInno “The Sweet Briar Story Could have been Trinity’s”

    We’re also building a web page with resources about women’s colleges and institutional innovation

    What does Trinity’s mission as a women’s college mean to you?  Make a comment by clicking below or send me an email and I will publish your thoughts…

    1107.carey_article(White House Photo of “The Trinity Sisters” in the Washington Monthly)

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    Patricia A. McGuire, President, Trinity, 125 Michigan Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20017
    Phone: 202.884.9050   Email:



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