Jack P. Carroll ’24
President of the College Joanne Berger-Sweeney provided an update on the Board of Trustees’ February meeting in an email addressed to Trinity College community members on Thursday, Feb. 11. The topics that were discussed among the Trustees include the first report of the Board’s new Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; as well updates on tuition and Trinity’s cap on the size of tenure-track faculty.
According to the email, Trustee Michael Gary ’86 delivered the first report of the Board’s new Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, “recapping its meeting with the Umoja Coalition and work to create a DEI dashboard.” Also, it was noted that the committee “shared its recommendations for trustee education and self-awareness in support of creating a more inclusive community.”
Gary, who chairs the DEI Committee, informed the Tripod via email that the meeting was an “opportunity to review again the concerns that were raised last summer.” Regarding Trinity’s efforts to fill faculty seats with Special Opportunity Hires, Gary stated that “The DEI Subcommittee would not have a direct role in the College’s effort to fulfill the goal of recruiting Special Opportunity Hires.” In addition, Gary confirmed that the committee did not discuss the proposed renaming of certain buildings on campus; nor did the subcommittee consider investigative work into the claims associated with the Instagram account @blackattrin.
As previously reported in the Tripod, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee was created following “racial unrest and the College’s delayed response to the demands of @trinsurvivors” this past summer. On July 1, Joanne Berger-Sweeney issued an online statement to the Trinity community in which she indicated that the Board of Trustees “unanimously” endorsed the renaming of Wheaton and Seabury Halls, as well as hosting multiple meetings with “senior administrators and trustees and Black students and alumni,” among a list of other efforts promoting diversity on campus.
When asked if the Trustees plan to implement any of the initiatives that were proposed to the DEI Committee by the UMOJA Coalition during the fall, Gary stated that “these recommendations are operational in nature and therefore the responsibility of the administration to act, review, and implement.” In a separate response, Gary noted that the DEI Committee will soon be meeting with the College’s Multicultural Affairs Committee.
Regarding the cost of tuition, Berger-Sweeney shared with Trustees that Trinity’s decision to “hold flat” the comprehensive fee for the 2020-21 academic year “had the effect of moving the college from last year’s position of most expensive NESCAC institution to seventh among the 11 schools this year.” Berger-Sweeney described this change as “good news as we work hard to continue to appeal to prospective families across the economic spectrum.”
In September, CBS News ranked Trinity College as the 15th most expensive college in the country (ahead of its peer NESCAC institutions) based on data from the National Center for Education Statistics. In addition, a 2017 New York Times study reported that 6% of Trinity’s student population came from families in the top 0.1% of income earners in the country. Berger-Sweeney then proceeded to note that the Trustees will vote on a comprehensive fee for the 2021-22 academic year during the Board’s April meeting. In addition, the Trustees agreed to delay a vote on the FY22 operating and capital budgets citing “continued uncertainty related to the pandemic.”
Berger-Sweeney also reported in the email the Trustees’ positive reception to the faculty’s vote to eliminate the “long-standing” cap on the size of the tenure-track faculty; as well as to replace the cap with a “flexible process” that permits faculty committees to work with the Dean of Faculty to recommend new positions to the President and Board of Trustees.