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  • Congratulations, Red Class of 2016!

    May 21, 2016

    Rain is pouring down on Commencement Day for the Red Class of 2016, so perhaps it is fitting to recall the day 116 years ago when the very first students arrived on Trinity’s campus, the young women who went on to become the very first Red Class, the Class of 1904:

    ss11132009p01phb.img_assist_custom-500x150(Trinity College Red Class of 1904, the First Graduates!)

    “And this is how Trinity first opened its doors to its students.  It was Saturday noon, November 3, 1900, when amidst a depressing downpour of rain four students and one Sister wended their muddy way from the car track to the front door… Once safely inside, our welcome was warm….and we began, under its beneficent influence, to feel our zeal for learning and our responsibility as pioneers grow and increase within us.”  (Elsie Parsons, Class of 1904, in the Trinity College Record, as quoted by Sister Columba Mullaly in Trinity College: The First Eighty Years)

    south hall original cutout(Above, South Hall, the only building that existed at Trinity on November 3, 1900 when the first Red Class arrived on campus — and even that part of the building was incomplete!  Photo from Trinity Archives)

    Generations of Trinity graduates — Red classes, Gold, Green and Blue — have experienced similar moments of trepidation and triumph across the years.  And each graduation day is a moment of considerable triumph, the celebration of fulfillment of once-daunting requirements for degrees, and the true commencement of the next stage of the lives of Trinity graduates.

    IMG_20160519_172055676Fast forward to the Red Class of 2016:  these are Trinity students who have accomplished much in their student days here, and now are going to take on the world that will be so much better for their influence and leadership.  Congratulations, Class of 2016!  Some of the highlights of this class include:

    • Sandra Reyes, Biochemistry major, will enter the Ph.D. program in Biochemistry at Howard University
    • Anna Roland, Luce Scholar, Rotterman Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa, will take a master’s in Physiology in preparation for later doctoral work
    • Naya Eady, Biology major, will be at Virginia Tech in the Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program
    • Duyania Cephas, Biology, will be in a summer program at the National Institutes of Health
    • Patrice Dixon, Biochemistry, will participate in the MCAT immersion program at Quinnipiac University
    • Sana Sumbals, Sociology, will be in the MSW program at George Mason University
    • Diamond Green, Nursing, will be a nurse at Innova Hospital in the med/surg unit
    • Michele Lee, Nursing, will be a Community Health Nurse at Christ House
    • Martece Yates, Nursing, accepted into the highly competitive New Nurse Residency Program at Georgetown Hospital
    • Aviya Maverick, Nursing, will be working at Children’s National Medical Center

    Another graduate, Genette Comfort who is earning her M.B.A. today, received her Trinity B.A. in 1993 while she was a working mom.  She came back to school when she found that doors were increasingly difficult to open on her career path into management.  With her M.B.A. she has now secured a position as a Vice President at NeighborWorks America.

    Congratulations to these and so many other students!

    I will be adding to this achievement list all week, so if you have an announcement about graduate school or a new career position, please send it along and I will add you to the list!


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    The List that Trumps All Others!!

    May 15, 2016

    THE LIST is back!  The LIST THAT KEEPS ON LIVING, the blog that keeps on writing itself.  But now, this may be the LIST that TRUMPS all others!  Why?  Read on…

    I’ve been writing about the LIST since at least 2010.  This is a periodic roundup of men who just think they are so special that the normal rules of respectful conduct involving women do not seem to apply to them.  This is bi-partisan, non-partisan, totally about observing what goes on in the public eye.  What goes on outside of the public eye must be even worse, if this is what we see.

    My last blog about this was The List: Huxtable Hoax Edition concerning the dozens of women accusing Bill Cosby of sexual harassment.  That blog featured a cover story in New York Magazine with the first person stories of the accusers.  Cosby is now disgraced and trials are ensuing about some of the allegations where the statutes of limitations have not run.

    Today, the New York Times has published a story with interviews of many women who have been the objects (and I use the word deliberately) of Donald Trump’s attention, sometimes welcome, sometimes unwanted.  The story is scandalous.  A person with any kind of moral conscience, any remaining shred of decency, would at least slink away for a while.  But not The Donald.  Heck, this is a person who, allegedly, pretended he was his own publicist to call reporters to brag about his sexual conquests.  Geez.

    Ok, so nobody’s surprised about a story detailing Trump’s misogynist behavior toward women.  Duh, right?  That seems to be the official position of Reince Priebus, head of the Republican National Committee, who said on Fox News today that “people just don’t care” about Trump’s disgraceful treatment of women.

    Hello, Reince?  Last I looked in the mirror I was a people, too, and I do care.  I know a lot of people who actually do care.  Many of them are women, yes.  But quite a few are also men.

    PEOPLE DO CARE, REINCE!  This callous, dismissive attitude toward the shameful behavior of the presumptive Republican nominee for president is evidence of the utterly amoral pit into which some politicians and their handlers have fallen.

    Was/Is Trump’s behavior toward women worse than others on THE LIST?  Relative badness is not the point.  The man is likely to become president of the United States. (OK, cue the Bill Clinton & Monica, Jennifer, Paula, etc. rebuttal.  Point taken. Bill is definitely featured on THE LIST.  But using the Bill Clinton scandal to explain away Trump’s ugly behavior seems a bit self-defeating.  But let’s stay with the current story and not the old news…)

    THE PEOPLE (that’s us!) have a right and obligation to question whether his track record on women will become his policy inclination.  We have a right and obligation to know about his moral character, his respect for human dignity, whether he has violated the law or normal expectations for behaviors toward others that tell us the kind of leader he might be.  (In the same vein, we have a right to know his financial dealings and to see his tax returns, just as we expect for all candidates, and his brush-off of that issue is further indication of serious concerns about truthfulness and character),

    People can vote for whomever they want, but people must know the facts.  The record on Trump’s treatment of women is of grave concern.  His handlers should take it very, very seriously.  People do care about the moral quality of their leaders.

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    Playing the Hands We’re Dealt

    May 1, 2016


    So this really big bully guy called the girl names and said mean things hoping she’d slink away crying, and instead, the girl schooled the bully into how to turn cheap insults into motivating forces.

    Hillary has nothing going for her except “the woman card,” said Donald with a sneer.

    Well, if standing up for better health care and women’s rights is playing that card, “Deal me in!” retorted Hillary.

    She’s even selling a bright pink “woman card” and a deck of “women cards” on her website.  Surely more delicious than a Trump steak.

    People have to make their own choices about who to vote for in this election year, and certainly it’s not my place to endorse a particular candidate publicly.  But that does not mean remaining silent about the critical social, intellectual and moral issues playing out in this ugliest of all political seasons.  We all have a responsibility to call out candidates whose tactics and discourse are insults to the general public and our shared American values.

    Trashing women, who are more than half of the electorate, is a dumb idea for any politician, but it also reveals a profoundly misogynist character that has no place in any position of public trust.  The president of the United States is president for all of us, not just a favored group of business pals.  Dismissing the accomplishments of a woman who has not only held numerous public positions — First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State — but engaged a remarkably broad spectrum of political, economic, diplomatic and business issues for many years is simply a gross lie.  Disagree with her, fine, but do not dismiss her!  Hillary Clinton’s track record in public life may be controversial in places, but it surely trumps Trump’s whose main claims to fame were manufactured through real estate deals and reality television shows.

    Central to Trump’s insult against Hillary’s gender is some inchoate idea that being a woman, all by itself, conveys a mantle of privilege that is inaccessible to a less experienced white male.  Really??  Wow.

    Only those of us who are card-carrying women know what that woman’s card really means.

    It means having the boss tell you that, no, you can’t have a secretary like the other (male) managers have in your office because, “You type faster than anyone here.” (All of these tales are real from my own experience.)

    It means having that same boss tell you, in the middle of an intense discussion about a work issue, “You know, there are times when you seem especially touchy about everything.”  Yeah, right.

    It means being told by another boss that while you’re really good at what you do, he would rather have a “graybeard” in your job — as I was told many years ago as a reason for being passed over for a promotion.

    It means that when that “graybeard” fails and the boss comes back to beg you to take over the job, he still offers you only 60% of what the graybeard earned in the same position. It means being told, “Well, he has a family, you don’t.”

    That woman’s card means you are constantly asking yourself whether, this time, you should stand up and fight, or sit down and swallow your anger once more.  Sometimes you do have to play the hand you’re dealt in order to move ahead.  I had to learn that early in my career, choosing not to fight but, instead, learning the truth of the advice that says, “Don’t get mad, get even.”

    I took that advice to heart, and in many ways, I’ve won the argument.  I’ve had a far more privileged life than most women — a college president is a position well up on the career ladder.  And yet, sometimes, being high up on the ladder simply means that we can see through the glass ceiling even more clearly.  The barrier is still there, and the harder we push, the more exhausting it can seem on many days.

    Even at my advanced stage of life, I still sit in meetings where I am the only or one of very few women at the table.  I still have the experience of listening to the men talk and talk and talk, and when I venture to say one thing, I get interrupted.  I’ve had men say to me, gee, you seemed pretty aggressive in that meeting when, in fact, I spoke only once.  Yes, that actually has happened more than once.  In one group where I was the only woman on a particular board, one of the men made a habit of going after me in a publicly humiliating way every time I spoke up.  “There she goes again,” was the actual phrase. The other men at the table studied their notes.

    It’s no secret that even while women are nearly 60% of the students in higher education, women are just about 25% of the presidents — and that’s good compared to the dreadful stats on women editors-in-chief, chief medical officers, law firm partners, CEOs of major companies, members of boards of directors.  All less than 20%.  And no, you cannot attribute that to women choosing to stay on the sidelines, having babies and deferring to male careers.

    The fact remains that too many men in positions of power do not support women moving into similar positions, and the tone they set — the tone that Donald Trump has established for his campaign — adds diamond-hard layers to the glass ceiling.  Sadly, there are women who actually buy into that shameful kind of sexist ideology — it’s no secret that women can be the worst critics of women who aspire to leadership and power. Guys like The Donald love to watch us fight.  Let’s stop it!

    Hillary Clinton’s blithe retort of “Deal me in!” is the best possible response.  We surely have to know what we’re up against, but we have to play the hands we’re dealt.  Let’s play them well — winning is surely the best revenge!



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    Harriet Tubman: Justice At Last!

    April 21, 2016

    harriet-tubman-quoteHarriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill! This is great news!  A woman who stood for justice and freedom at last gets her due, an honored place in American history and culture.

    And, predictably, the announcement by U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew evoked a torrent of hatred from the usual wingnut quarters.  Donald Trump, ever pandering to the haters, demeaned the decision as “pure political correctness” rather than simple justice.  A conservative media personality who should know better — Greta Van Sustern — called the decision “stupid.”  These are some of the nasty comments I can actually write about on this blog.  The deeper corners of Internet Hatred Syndrome pulsed with despicable racist venom.  What has happened to our country that even something wonderful — honoring a great, heroic historic woman — becomes a cause for so much ugly commentary?

    Harriet Tubman would not be afraid or deterred by such an ugly display of some of the worst traits of American culture.  She suffered worse, far worse, as a slave.  We cannot imagine the courage, fortitude and sheer willpower it took for her to escape slavery and then risk her freedom to help others do the same.  She facilitated the Underground Railroad, that extraordinarily dangerous pathway to freedom for thousands of slaves.  She worked tirelessly for the cause of abolition, and fearlessly spoke out in favor of women’s suffrage.  Her example of courage in the face of grave personal danger, triumph over slavery and racial hatred, and devotion to the fundamental cause of human freedom and justice is something we Americans need to remember as a vital part of our history — and every $20 bill will remind us!

    Americans have long been used to images of men on currency and coins — Washington, Lincoln, Hamilton, Jackson, and other “dead presidents” have looked upon our spending habits for generations.  Getting equal status for women on coins and currency has been fraught with controversy.

    I know something about this because for a brief period of time, in 1998, I was a member of something called the Dollar Coin Design Advisory Committee appointed by then-Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin.  Our group of 8 citizen leaders included artists, politicians, public officials, coin experts, and me as the representative not only of higher education but a women’s institution.   At that time, near the end of the Clinton Administration, the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin was fading, considered a failure in some quarters (no pun intended) because it resembled a quarter and was not widely used by consumers.  The Clinton Administration had a strong bias in favor of keeping a woman on the dollar coin, but wanted to find a way to make the coin more popular.

    The U.S. Mint made some choices at that time to try to stimulate public acceptance:  they made the coin gold in color, and with a different feel from quarters.  But most important, they asked our committee to recommend an image of an important woman in American history.

    The process was fascinating, but politically quite fraught.  I quickly learned that one of the greatest of all women in American History — Eleanor Roosevelt — had little chance because of the persistent rumors about her personal life.  No matter that history had already revealed the infidelity of her husband Franklin whose profile is on the dime.  Women must be perfect in all ways to be elevated to the status of national heroes.

    After listening to a great many suggestions in public testimony, and discussion among the cognoscenti on the committee, it became clear that an image was already a favorite — Sacagawea, the heroic Shoshone woman whose guidance of Lewis & Clark opened the American West.  A good choice, but eminently safe because the story of Sacagawea had been burnished by the length of history.  And so, the Sacagawea dollar coin was born, and then quickly faded into obscurity along with Susan B. Anthony.

    Part of the problem with both dollar coins — Sacagawea and Susan B. Anthony — is the simple fact that we don’t use dollar coins very much, preferring the lighter weight and feel of paper money.  The Treasury even played with the idea of retiring dollar bills, but the paper lobby would not hear of it.  It’s always interesting to know what interests are behind promoting or blocking public policy concepts!  (See this good analysis: Why the Sacajawea dollar coin was a failure)

    The Tubman 20 should have a much better fate — $20 bills are the standard currency these days, they’re what ATM machines deliver with too much frequency, and who doesn’t delight in finding one or two stuck in coat pockets or tumbling around the dryer?  A $20 bill has gravity, a value that’s high enough that we really care about it, a frequent companion for groceries, dinner, drinks or cab fare.

    Will it make any difference in America’s tortured culture wars about race and gender to have Tubman on the currency?  I like to think that the more we mainstream our history, the more likely it is that future generations will be less contentious about these issues and more accepting of race, class, gender, language, religion, and other differences as normal and not anomalous.  Making our daily encounters of historic figures on currency may seem like a small step, but every symbol is important, and every image helps to create a “new normal” for the nation.  Our diversity is normal, and embracing diversity is a matter of justice.

    Hooray for Harriet!  We should celebrate this small but mighty step forward in the long arc of seeking justice for all people in this nation.

    Note:  I’m very excited about the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitors Center that is  under construction on the edge of the fabulous Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Dorchester County, Maryland, near Cambridge.  The co-location of the Tubman historic site with this great environmental location also provides rich opportunities for research, teaching and learning in many disciplines.  I do a lot of wildlife photography at Blackwater and through exploring that area I’ve also come to understand how remote and treacherous the work of the Underground Railroad really was.  I urge members of the Trinity community to add these sites to your own explorations — perhaps take a detour on your way to the beach in the summer, or a long weekend drive to the Eastern Shore where you can consume history, environmental science and some excellent blue crabs!

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    Remembering Maurice “Mo” Drake

    April 7, 2016

    MauriceToday the Trinity family lost a beloved member of our Food Service team. Maurice “Mo” Drake passed away unexpectedly.  He was a staunch pillar of the Sodexho group, leader of the Utilities Team and a union representative.  He was unfailingly proud of his work at Trinity, congenial and deeply dedicated to excellence in all that he did.  My favorite photo of Mo is above, his face reflecting the joy we all shared during a Founders Day barbecue a year or two ago.  I know I will miss seeing him in the dining hall and around campus, he was part of the essential fabric of Trinity life.  Godspeed, Mo, and know that we will be remembering you fondly in the days to come.  Our condolences are with his family, Sodexho colleagues, and all friends who cherished his company.

    Please add your memories of Mo using the comment link below.

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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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