President’s Newsletter, Fall 2006
September 25, 2006
As the Gold Class of 2007 prepares for Cap and Gown Weekend, there is so much great news to share about the new academic year at Trinity! The achievements detailed in this newsletter reflect the extraordinary work and support of the entire Trinity community: our wonderful students, faculty and staff, and our generous alumnae and friends. I am very grateful for your continued support of Trinity.
Trinity Welcomes Largest Freshman Class in More than Three Decades!
Trinity began the fall semester with the largest freshman class in more than 35 years. Trinity greeted 231 new students in the College of Arts and Sciences – a dramatic 54% increase over last year. This number includes nearly 200 freshmen and a large group of upperclass transfer students. Trinity received more than 700 applications for our women’s college this year – we haven’t seen such numbers since the late 1960s!
Trinity also enrolled more than 300 new students in the School of Professional Studies and School of Education, bringing the total new student enrollment this fall to 537. Overall enrollment stands at about 1650 for the Fall 2006 semester.
Trinity’s new full-time undergraduate students hail from 17 states and nations around the world – from D.C. to Korea, Hawaii to Sierra Leone, Maryland to Nicaragua, Texas to Trinidad. They are remarkably diverse by ethnic and cultural experience, languages and academic interests. They share a passionate desire to obtain the best possible higher education so that they can improve the lives of their families, children and communities. The majority indicate that they will probably major in psychology, business, criminal justice, biology or political science, with nursing coming up fast as a group preference now that we are starting that program (we intend to have the full BSN ready to start in the weekday in Fall 2007).
Why have we seen such a significant growth in enrollment? Increased visibility, new academic programs, improved facilities – the Trinity Center ! -, strong community partnerships and the achievements of our graduates have generated a positive aura for Trinity. We have a great Admissions Team under the leadership of Director of Admissions Renee Orlick, and this team is relentless in telling Trinity’s remarkable story to new generations of prospective students and their families.
Results matter a great deal in Trinity’s ability to attract ambitious young women today. Such results are evident in the remarkable list of achievements of the Class of 2006: admission to outstanding graduate and professional schools such as Cornell, Columbia, Penn, the University of Virginia Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, and others; and Michele Mitchell’s achievement of a Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship for her studies at Georgetown Law, one of the most prestigious graduate school scholarships in the nation. Other results emerge in more broad-based studies. Like other women’s colleges, Trinity demonstrates superior results on the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE, or ‘Nessie’), scoring well above coeducational peer institutions on a large number of important educational indicators. Compared with all other students nationwide who took the NSSE survey in Spring 2006, Trinity students:
- Asked more questions in class;
- Made more class presentations and wrote more complex papers;
- Included more diverse perspectives in class discussions;
- Were more satisfied with the promptness of feedback from faculty;
- Reported a higher incidence of working harder than they thought they could to meet faculty expectations;
- Achieved significantly better performance results in developing oral and written skills and critical thinking abilities;
- Reported significantly stronger experience with developing a personal code of values and ethics, contributing to the welfare of the community and developing a deepened sense of spirituality.
Alumnae can take great pride in Trinity’s continuing strength in what matters most – the sustained, critical engagement of faculty and students in a rigorous teaching and learning process.
Reinventing and Reaffirming the Women’s College
Trinity’s terrific enrollment news comes at a time when two colleges announced their decision to ‘go co-ed’: Regis College in Massachusetts and Randolph-Macon Women’s College in Virginia. By contrast, Trinity has reaffirmed the importance of our women’s college at the heart of Trinity’s institutional mission. As part of our Middle States Self-Study and strategic planning research, Trinity took a look at the broad picture of former women’s colleges who became coeducational. In this group of 210 colleges that once were women-only, 91 disappeared entirely through closing or merger, while 119 continue as coeducational institutions. Of those 119 colleges and universities, the overwhelming enrollment remains female – the average female enrollment is 69% at these institutions, and nearly half of them have female enrollment of more than 70%. Moreover, 78% enroll fewer than 2,000 students in their total headcount, so in general, they remain not only predominantly female but also relatively small institutions.
With a few notable exceptions, many of these former women’s colleges do not seem to be very different in size or economic capacity than a number of the remaining women’s colleges, particularly the Catholic women’s colleges in urban centers. In fact, economically, the remaining 50+ women’s colleges as a group emerge as significantly stronger when ranked by endowments and net assets.
Looking at all of these factors, and understanding Trinity’s unique history and continuing role as the only woman-centered university in the nation’s capital, Trinity concluded that the potential benefits of full coeducation (in most cases, coeducation sparks an increase in female undergraduate enrollment) would not outweigh the potential diminishment of Trinity’s distinctive sense of purpose and commitment to the education and advancement of women.
Every institution must make this kind of profound mission decision for itself, considering history and tradition, geography and regional competition, founding vision and contemporary willpower. Most women’s colleges today, including Trinity, do include men in graduate and professional studies programs, and as new forms of education emerge (e.g., online, corporate sites, etc.) we will have even more men in our student bodies. The woman’s college of the 21 st Century can not afford to be isolated from mainstream education, or perceived as naively ignoring ‘real world’ experience. Rather, successful women’s colleges and universities in this century will develop increasingly inclusive models of education that continue to emphasize the best of our pedagogy and purpose: developing women’s intellectual capacity and leadership skills, serving as advocates and exemplars of educational opportunity for women.
New Nursing Program Launched in the School of Professional Studies
Trinity launched its newest academic program, the RN-to-BSN degree, this fall in the School of Professional Studies. Drawing nurses from the nearby hospitals, Trinity’s degree program will help advance their careers in the health field. By increasing the number of qualified nurse managers, Trinity will help address the nursing shortage this region faces. In 2007 Trinity will add a second degree nursing program for career changers who already have baccalaureate degrees, and a full baccalaureate program that will have options for enrollment in the weekday or evening/weekend formats. Trinity also plans to add the MSN in the year ahead. Interestingly, we are seeing an increasing number of students wanting to major in biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, which reflects a growing interest in the allied health fields.
Main Hall Renovations Continue
Thanks to the generosity of so many alumnae and friends, the first year of our progressive effort to upgrade Main Hall was very successful. We were able to accomplish quite a few projects: electrical upgrades in parts of the building, roof repairs in a number of places, gutters and flashing, replacement of broken clay tiles. Major projects in Main also included moving the ‘IT hub’ with all of our servers for phones and computers from a damp and hot crawl space under the front steps (the old Rat Lab!) to a vastly improved, climate-controlled room in the basement of Main.
Additionally, because of chronic roof leaks and HVAC system deterioration, we accomplished a complete renovation of the old Music and Art wing of Main, now the home of our Nursing Program. As this project demonstrated, however, what started out as a $150,000 repair soon grew to a nearly $500,000 project because, once we start opening up walls and ceilings and systems in Main, the extent of replacement needs becomes clear. Most of the infrastructure defies repair; replacement is necessary throughout the building, and so the costs escalate.
So, the upgrade of Main Hall will continue, and we continue to ask your generosity for this project. A new elevator is high on our list, but the cost will be at least $2 million since we must build an entirely new elevator shaft to accommodate a modern elevator. Once we have a new elevator in place, we will then be able to upgrade the existing elevator so that this massive building will have two working elevators. Other projects include continuing roof and drainage upgrades, more electrical work and soon, depending on resources, plumbing upgrades, restroom modernization and life safety improvements.
This list is long, our resources are scarce, your generosity means so much to Trinity! Thank you.