Kip Lynch ’22
A close relationship that constitutes a potential conflict of interest exists between search committee member Diante Dancy ’21 and the Rev. Y. Trevor Beauford, one of the finalist candidates and the current Interim College Chaplain and Interim Co-Director of Spiritual and Religious Life, a Tripod investigation has found. While close relationships are expected between college chaplains and students, a Tripod review of publicly available materials and a conversation regarding the concern by the College’s Human Resources department suggests that Dancy and Beauford’s relationship is a conflict given that it is significant and long-standing. Specifically, Beauford facilitated Dancy preaching his first sermon in Union Baptist Church in Hartford, an American Baptist Church USA (ABCUSA), of which Beauford has been pastor since 2016.
While the search for a new chaplain publicly began with the posting of the job description on Mar. 5, the membership of the search committee wasn’t confirmed to be finalized by Dean of Student Life and Director of The Bantam Network Jody Goodman, who is heading the search efforts, until Mar. 22. The names of search committee members were not disclosed to the Tripod until Mar. 27. Besides Dancy, the search committee headed by Goodman includes Professor of Music Gail Woldu, Professor of English Christopher Hager, Director of Campus Life Initiatives and Social Houses Kathryn Wojcik, Residential Learning Coordinator and TRINsition Fellow Yasmin Affey ’19, and Sara Barrett ’21. Kathryn Wojcik, however, is no longer employed by the College according to an emailed response, and it is unclear whether her place on the search committee will remain vacant or be replaced.
The deadline for applications was set for Apr. 9, which left applicants with about a month to apply. The last chaplain search, in which the search committee eventually chose the Rev. Allison Read, took around a year. As part of the search committee’s process, which included vetting and reviewing applications, Dancy had the opportunity to review and provide input on proposed candidates.
As previously reported by the Tripod, the search committee received over 40 applications for the position according to Goodman. When the Tripod interviewed Beauford for a Sunday Feature article published Apr. 4, he declined to comment as to whether he would apply for the position of College Chaplain, stating “because that’s a HR matter, I can’t discuss anything about the search of the role publicly.” Beauford would later be announced as one of three finalist candidates to the campus community advanced by the search committee, along with the Rev. Katrina E. Jenkins and the Rev. Marcus G. Halley.
In publicly available Instagram materials reviewed by the Tripod, Beauford briefly outlined his relationship with Diante Dancy in an Instagram post dated June 25, 2020. He noted how Dancy, a freshman at Trinity College at the time, came to him as a volunteer in the Union Baptist Church’s breakfast program. Beauford then described how “A kid from chicago [sic] told me he didn’t really ‘do’ God like that so wasn’t interested in Church and seeking his purpose. He has grown up so much three years later.” After listing the variety of groups Dancy is involved in both on and off campus, Beauford stated that Dancy is “a quiet leader who loves God. He had had great challenges in his life, more than most people will ever know, but he is stepping up. He recently told me that he is discerning his call to ministry! I am so proud of [Diante] and what God is doing in his life!”
In a second public Instagram post dated Jan. 4, 2021, Beauford stated “It is no greater joy or responsibility as a Pastor to those who walk in their calling to Ministry under your leadership. Yesterday [Diante] preached his initial sermon @unionbaptisthartford. Very proud!” In the picture posted, Dancy holds a certificate that states the holder is “Licensed to preach the Gospel as he may have opportunity, and to exercise his gifts in the work of the Ministry.” The service, including the sermon preached by Dancy, was livestreamed and posted to YouTube on Jan. 3.
An employee of the College told the Tripod that they had raised the relationship between Dancy and Beauford as a concern to a member of Trinity’s Human Resources Department and were told that it was indeed a conflict of interest and that the issue would in turn be raised to Goodman. It was not immediately clear if Human Resources raised the concern and how Goodman responded if it was raised. Separately, an affiliate with the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life told the Tripod that when OSRL staff members expressed interest in serving on the search committee, Goodman rejected these requests on the basis that staff members had conflicting interests. College officials have not publicly outlined Dancy’s relationship or admitted to having any knowledge of the relationship prior to appointing Dancy to the search committee.
The Tripod reached out on Thursday, May 27 to Goodman, Beauford, and Dancy for comment but did not receive a response from Dancy. Beauford requested that the Tripod refer all questions to Goodman. Goodman responded, stating only that “Our search process for the next Trinity College Chaplain and Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life is ongoing. We will communicate with the Trinity community once a decision is made.”