President’s Report: Trinity 2004 to Trinity 2010
Women with hearts as wide as the world!
“Sisters of Notre Dame, women with hearts as wide as the world, make known God’s goodness and love of the poor through a Gospel way of life, community and prayer. Continuing a strong educational tradition, we take our stand with poor people, especially women and children, in the most abandoned places. Each of us commits her one and only life to work with others to create justice and peace for all.”
This mission statement of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur eloquently captures their 200-year-old tradition that began on February 2, 1804, when St. Julie Billiart founded the Sisters of Notre Dame in Amiens, France. Together with her co-founder Francoise Blin de Bourdon, Julie started a religious order of women whose mission was to educate the poor girls orphaned by the French Revolution. Their mission soon grew beyond France, eventually reaching out to women and educational needs throughout the world.
This year, Trinity will be observing the 200th Anniversary of the Sisters of Notre Dame with a series of programs designed to engage all students, faculty, staff, alumnae and friends in celebrating their heritage while learning more about the ongoing mission and charisma of the Sisters. We are also planning a major symposium and convocation on SND history, mission and charisma for September 10-11, 2004. At that time, the five members of the Congregational Leadership Team, led by Sr. Camilla Burns, SND, a member of Trinity’s Class of 1960, will be at Trinity to participate in the symposium and to get to know our students, alumnae, faculty and staff. I extend a warm welcome to our alumnae to participate in these celebrations.
Sisters Julia McGroarty, Mary Euphrasia Taylor and the other SND founders of Trinity College were inspired by the great example of St. Julie Billiart when they embarked on an inspired and challenging journey to establish one of the nation’s first Catholic colleges for women, a place in the nation’s capital where women could obtain a higher education that would rival the best education that was accessible only to men at that time in Washington. They faced opposition and challenges, but they were always single-minded in the pursuit of their vision. We stand today as their heirs as we continue their mission into the 21st century.
The vision, courage and faith of St. Julie, Sisters Julia and Mary Euphrasia, and the Sisters who have followed in her footsteps, are an inspiration to so many of us today. At Trinity, we are guided by the SND commitment to education as a powerful, transformative experience. Each day, we carry out the SND mission by providing access to a high quality education that is the foundation for lifelong learning, personal and spiritual growth, faith formation and professional achievement.
In this bicentennial Jubilee Year of the Sisters of Notre Dame, I am especially mindful of their legacy and the responsibility that those of us who are here today must be good stewards of their mission and vision. In that spirit I am honored to share this report of the College.
Trinity Exceeds Centennial Campaign Goal!
Thanks to the spectacular generosity of more than 1,600 alumnae and benefactors, and many corporations and foundations, Trinity successfully completed the Centennial Campaign for the Trinity Center for Women and Girls in Sports in 2003. As part of that success, Trinity also met the Kresge Challenge, one of the nation’s most prestigious fundraising challenges, proving once again that Trinity is able to compete successfully in the “big leagues” of higher education today. In total, Trinity received more than $12.2 million in gifts and pledges to the Campaign, a record fundraising effort in the history of Trinity.
Words cannot begin to express my tremendous gratitude to each donor who reached out to help ensure Trinity’s success in completing the Centennial Campaign and meeting the Kresge Challenge. In every gift category, individuals increased their gifts over prior giving levels considerably. Because of the strong record of giving from the Trinity family, corporations and foundations also chose to contribute significantly as well.
The success of the Centennial Campaign and the Kresge Challenge is a tribute to the great affection that Trinity graduates and families have for our alma mater. We express our gratitude to you not only in words, but by our efforts to continue to strengthen Trinity for generations to come. Through the Centennial Campaign, the Kresge Challenge and the construction of the Trinity Center for Women and Girls in Sports, Trinity has realized these important achievements:
The Trinity Center is the first new building constructed on the campus in nearly 40 years, and is the first project in a visionary campus master plan that will eventually upgrade and renovate all facilities on campus.
- Construction of the Trinity Center was financed through a $19.3 million bond issue through the D.C. Revenue Bond program. A decade or more ago, Trinity could not imagine engaging in any form of debt financing because its reserves were so thin. The bond issue reflects Trinity’s significant improvement in fiscal strength and long-term prognosis for continuing growth.
- Related, Trinity earned a credit-grade bond rating for the first time, from Standard & Poors. Achieving a bond rating is a great accomplishment for Trinity; the process is rigorous and puts Trinity in the mainstream of college and university fiscal management.
- As a result of the development of the Trinity Center, Trinity’s overall enrollment is growing, particularly in the historic women’s college, the College of Arts and Sciences, and Trinity’s visibility and acclaim in the Washington region is at an all-time high.
These milestones are important as Trinity looks to the future, continues to grow, and continues to tackle the facilities projects on the campus master plan.
Trinity Center for Women and Girls in Sports
The first year of operation of the Trinity Center for Women and Girls in Sports has revolutionized Trinity’s campus. From 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day, students, staff, members of the health club, visiting teams and other visitors stream in and out of the locker rooms, fitness center, pool, gymnasium and other athletic and fitness venues at the Center. Walking clubs, body conditioning, stress busters, water aerobics, or spending ‘quality time’ in the spa – all of these activities and more are making health and fitness centerpieces of daily life on Trinity’s campus today.
Since the opening of the Trinity Center in January 2003, Trinity has been able to add three new intercollegiate sports – volleyball, swimming and softball. They join a roster of NCAA Division III sports that already included soccer, field hockey, lacrosse, basketball, tennis, crew and track. All of these sports, new and continuing, have improved dramatically with the addition of the new athletic facilities and the new atmosphere of fitness and wellness on Trinity’s campus.
A competitive athletics program, along with excellent fitness facilities, is an important part of presenting a total collegiate package today when it comes to recruiting new students. Women’s colleges, in particular, must be able to demonstrate solid competitive programs in athletics when competing for excellent students who expect excellence both in the classroom as well as in their co-curricular programs. The quality of the athletics and recreational facilities and programs becomes a yardstick for measuring total institutional quality for today’s collegiate consumers.
Trinity is already seeing the dramatic effect of this reality on the size of the student body. In the College of Arts and Sciences, 564 students enrolled in Fall 2003, with 204 new students (including 169 first years and 35 upper class transfers). The last time we had this many students enrolled in our historic women’s college was 1983, twenty years ago. Additionally, we have seen a rise in the number of residential students by more than 40 percent, to 220 residents, filling Cuvilly and Kerby Halls. We have also seen an improvement in student retention, due in large part to the vibrant campus life that the Trinity Center creates.
Trinity’s other student populations are growing as well, thanks in part to the increased visibility and vitality that the Trinity Center lends to the campus. We are seeing considerable growth in our graduate programs, especially the MBA. In the Fall, we enrolled more than 400 students in the School of Education, and more than 675 students in the School of Professional Studies, for a total enrollment of more than 1,600 students.
The Trinity Center is already fulfilling Trinity’s commitment to serve the Washington community, and particularly the Brookland area and the city’s youth: more than 15,000 people have participated in programs in the Trinity Center since it opened – from senior citizens taking aerobics and yoga to families from the surrounding neighborhood enjoying a swim, from D.C. schoolchildren participating in the DC Scores soccer festival to Girl Scouts earning their swimming badges. High school girls have participated in basketball and volleyball tournaments, and an adult co-ed soccer league has found a home on our beautiful new field. The Trinity Center is part of the economic renaissance in the Brookland community in Northeast Washington; it is a vibrant addition to the campus and to the Washington community.
Looking to the Future: Trinity 2010
I often marvel at the Sisters of Notre Dame who founded Trinity: every decision they made, every step they took, was strategic. Strategic planning continues to guide Trinity today, as we use the current strategic plan, Beyond Trinity 2000, to shape our future. We are beginning to look to Trinity 2010, and asking ourselves what kind of institution Trinity will be by that moment in time. Our strategic vision includes these important considerations for the future:
- Trinity will continue as one of the few institutions of higher education in the nation with a distinctive emphasis on educating women to be successful leaders in business and the public sectors.
- Trinity will also continue to promote educational access in the Washington region, as well as nationally and internationally, for working women and men from a broad range of experiences and backgrounds who seek to earn degrees and supplementary credentials at many different life stages*
Trinity’s distinction will continue to arise from its strong mission commitment to social justice and equality as a result of its institutional heritage and the charisma of the Sisters of Notre Dame and the Catholic faith tradition.
Trinity’s success in the last 15 years augurs well for her future, but many challenges remain. Moody’s, the financial rating agency recognized as one of the toughest for all corporations, regularly publishes “indicators” for private colleges and universities. Moody’s, along with other organizations that track higher education data and conditions, identifies these significant factors affecting our sector today:
- Institutions of higher education with fewer than 3,000 students are generally too small to have the financial power necessary to keep investing in facilities, technology and human capital.
- Endowments of less than $25 to $50 million put institutions at grave risk because financial reserves are key to the ability to borrow money for capital improvements.
- Women’s colleges, small private colleges, and Catholic institutions generally have the largest financial risk and are on “watch” lists of bond rating agencies because of low enrollments and meager endowments.
- Facilities and amenities are a significant competitive factor in attracting middle-class and upper-class students to a campus.
- Middle class families are experiencing declining income and tuition price resistance, leading to a dramatic reversal in who attends public and private higher education; more middle class and wealthier families today are choosing public institutions as a result of price considerations, while many more first generation and low income students choose private colleges because these institutions have high credibility as gateways to success for the students they serve.
- Nearly 85 percent of all students today attend public universities, with only about 15 percent in private institutions of higher education.
- Fewer than 4 percent of college-bound women choose women’s colleges.
Only 27 percent of all college students today can be classified as “traditional” students, meaning that they attend and complete in four years, depend on parents to pay their tuitions, and largely do not work for more than an incidental number of hours; the vast majority of college students today commute to their campuses, work a significant number of hours to pay for college, because – perhaps the biggest change – the majority of students are paying for college themselves because their families cannot or will not pay.
The list above does not even begin to get into the challenges posed by new forms of education, particularly online learning and the aggressive presence of for-profit institutions of higher education who are becoming serious competitors for students and funding. Higher education is an intensely competitive industry, and new forms of higher education, new technologies and new delivery systems are rapidly changing the nature of our work. Trinity must have the facilities, the technologies, the human capital and the strategic wisdom necessary to continue to meet these challenges well and successfully for many years to come.
Developing Trinity’s Campus and Financial Resources for the Future
Facilities and technology are critical factors in sustaining institutional quality and competitiveness. With the completion of the Trinity Center and the growth in our student body, we are now turning attention to the next set of projects to improve the campus. We must update the 1993 Campus Master Plan, and we know that several projects will emerge at the top of the list for the next phase of capital development.
While many facilities are competing for attention – residence halls, the completion of the Campus Center concept through the renovation of the remainder of Alumnae Hall, the awesome challenge of Main Hall – we have reached a point where two major academic facilities cannot go long into the future without significant renovation: the Science Building, and the Library. These facilities are essential for the academic life of the college. Both buildings have served Trinity well, but are long past their prime. While the Library is considered “new” by Trinity’s campus standards, in fact, the building is 41 years old and needs a complete overhaul of all of its mechanical systems. The Science Building is 63 years old, with no air conditioning or modern electrical capacity.
Thanks to terrific scientists and librarians, who have risen above the age and condition of these facilities, Trinity’s academic programs have continued undaunted in these buildings. But we cannot continue to demand such fortitude and inventiveness from highly skilled professionals, nor should we expect our students to accept less than the most modern laboratories and research facilities.
In thinking about this challenge, and mindful of our continuing growth which is putting a great strain on the limited number of classrooms in Main Hall as well, we are looking at the development of the concept of the “learning commons” and “academic center” that other universities have undertaken in the last decade. If Trinity could develop the financial capacity to undertake an academic facilities project of great scope, then we would consider the redevelopment of the Science and Library facilities in tandem, with the creation of a “learning commons” along the 100-yard path between them. The project would add new laboratories appropriate for the contemporary teaching of the sciences, and renovate the existing envelope of the Science Building as a state-of-the-art instructional center with all appropriate technologies. The Library facility would be enlarged, perhaps underground, for new and improved collection storage, with appropriate climate controls, archival space, and also additional instructional space with all appropriate technologies. Creation of such a ” University Academic Center” would then provide the “swing space” we must have for the eventual renovation of Main Hall itself.
Ambitious? Of course. But no more audacious in its reach than the whole idea of founding Trinity College in 1897 in a world that had hardly ever heard of an educated woman. Educated women must think big, because only big thoughts can have an impact to create true change.
Big thoughts have large price tags, of course. “I am looking at Vassar and Wellesley, all asking for unlimited means.” Sr. Julia McGroarty wrote that in 1897. So it continues. To be a competitive institution of higher education today requires tremendous investment. What kind of investment would a University Academic Center require? Probably no less than $50 million in today’s dollars. So, there’s no time to lose. We must begin to plan for a future that will be even more exciting than the past we have enjoyed.
A University and a College
The challenges facing Trinity demand strategic thinking and action in greater measure than ever. One of the important factors in our strategic thinking today is the fact that the public image of the institution, while more contemporary and more well known than in recent decades, continues to be narrow and somewhat obscure. While Trinity has earned respect and even acclaim in many quarters in the Washington region, Trinity continues to struggle for a place at the table, on the important lists and in the minds of individuals who equate higher education with the word “university.” In the Washington region, Trinity is the only institution of any size with the word “College” still in its formal name. Unfortunately, this fact sometimes leads decision-makers to overlook Trinity when they reach out to universities for a broad range of programs, engagements and benefits.
We are giving serious thought to the question of whether the time has come to recognize in our name what Trinity has been for quite some time: Trinity. Three years ago, as part of our strategic planning process for Beyond Trinity 2000, Trinity adopted a mission statement that clearly says that Trinity is a comprehensive university. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classified Trinity as a Masters Comprehensive I institution in 1993 because Trinity awards a significant number of master’s degrees – in fact, in some years, we award more master’s degrees than baccalaureates. Trinity today has three schools: the College of Arts and Sciences (the undergraduate college for women), the School of Education and the School of Professional Studies. In the future, we may well add new degree levels, and perhaps additional schools.
Market research shows that 60 percent of college-bound students today prefer a university over a college and 90 percent prefer an institution that has more than 1,500 students; only 4 percent of the adults surveyed preferred a “private liberal arts college” for their children. Several women’s colleges have recently made the change from college to university after a careful evaluation, including Immaculata, Hollins, Lesley, Seton Hill and Georgian Court. Many other colleges are considering name changes in the immediate future.
To meet its strategic goals for enrollment growth, and to compete successfully in today’s competitive marketplace, Trinity believes that a change to Trinity would be a positive step for the institution. We are in the process of carefully evaluating a name change, from analyzing additional market research to assessing the impact throughout the institution. As part of this process, we are surveying all alumnae, as well as students, faculty and staff, to seek feedback and comments.
If we make the change to Trinity, two key characteristics will remain: we will preserve the name Trinity College as our historic women’s college (the College of Arts and Sciences) in much the same way that other universities have continued their original college names (e.g., Georgetown College continues to be strong!). More important, Trinity will certainly continue to do what John Henry Cardinal Newman said was the true “Idea of a University,” to be an alma mater, “knowing her children one by one.” Trinity will always be a place that puts a premium on personal attention and individual growth for each student.
In the year ahead, I hope to visit alumnae around the nation to discuss all of these issues and more. I welcome your ideas and input, and please do not wait for me to visit. You can always reach me on email (email@example.com), by phone (202/884-9050), or regular mail. If you are in Washington, please stop by – and bring your bathing suit, since we might enjoy a few laps in the new pool or a dip in the spa while sharing dreams of Trinity 2010!
Thanks so much for your generosity, loyalty and enthusiasm for Trinity.
Patricia A. McGuire ’74