ANNELISE GILBERT ’17
This past week I sat down with Trinity’s new Dean of Campus Life and Vice President for Student Affairs Joe DiChristina to ask him a few questions about his time here so far and his plans for Trinity’s future.
Talking to Dean DiChristina was like talking to a friend’s dad, kind and warm. I have no doubt he’s a great addition to Trinity and can’t wait to see his plans unfold.
Annelise Gilbert: Why Trinity?
Joseph DiChristina: I was at Allegheny College for 15 years. While I was there I led the Center for Experiential Learning, so the idea of implementing the Bantam Network and first year experience made me excited to build something new.
AG: What is your one, most important goal as Dean of Campus Life and Vice President of Student Affairs?
JD: The Bantam Network and the implementation of Trinity’s new sexual assault policy are my main priorities right now. The long-term goal is to have a strong student community inside and outside of the classroom. My responsibility is to ensure that students are having a successful time here.
AG: Do you think Trinity’s under enrollment and debt will have an effect on any of your plans like the Bantam Network?
JD: Many of the parts of the Bantam Network are already in place – the faculty, the academics, etc. From a budgetory perspective, we may have to slow things down eventually, but we’re already six weeks into the school year. After a while, student and faculty interactions should be happening more frequently and will not add any costs.
AG: Many students have mentioned seeing you in frats on the weekend. Are there any certain reasons you do this?
JD: I decided to live on Veron Street because I knew that’s where a majority of social life takes place, and as Dean of Campus Life and Vice President of Student Affairs it’s important that I’m familiar with what goes on. I’ve heard the myths about Greek life and the social scene, so I want to know the stories; I want to be there. I have to see what’s going on. For long term planning, I need to see what the Greek Life Council is doing for Trinity. I’m a very experiential person. I’ve been told as time goes on, students find social life less appealing, and it’s impossible to bring about change without interacting with the students. In addition to going to the fraternities, I’ve held late night hours in Vernon Social to see an interact with students more during the weekends.
AG: What are your thoughts on how Trinity’s Greek system is run?
JD: It’s too early to say if I have concerns. My desire is to work with those in Greek life to plan their future role at Trinity.
AG: Other than going to AD on Saturday nights, what are your hobbies?
JD: Well, I have one daughter and one son, and I love being a dad. Being a father makes me better at the job I have. My passion is being very, very attentive to what it means to be the best dad. I’m going to use my experience as a dad to try and draw the best out of Trinity as a community.
As for other hobbies, I work really hard at being healthy by swimming and running. Coming from Allegheny, which is more rural, my family has taken advantage of Trinity’s location by driving to Rhode Island to swim in the ocean and going on hikes in the area. We haven’t been to New York City yet, but that’s on our list!
AG: Does your family like Trinity so far?
JD: I have to say I’m very impressed by my kids’ transition. They grew up at Allegheny, so they’re used to being around college students. Both of them attend a catholic school in Hartford for now.
AG: What do you think will be your biggest challenge at Trinity?
JD: Ask me again in six months. If I answered now, it would be based on the “myths” I’ve heard. What I’ve discovered is that when you sit down with people there are always great interactions. I want to pull the best out of people. If there’s a problem with Trinity’s social life, I want to find the problem and try to remove it. Due to the many important conversations about sexual assault on college campuses, I’ve put a lot of my energy towards working on Trinity’s new policy. I am, as all college administrators should be across the country, attentive to climate on campus that results in sexual or physical assaults that take place.
ANNELISE GILBERT ’17