Strategic planning committee releases blueprint for Trinity’s future

On Sept. 3, the Trinity Tomorrow co-chairs released a draft of the Trinity Tomorrow strategic plan to the university community.

The plan looks at enhancing the Trinity experience by changing the Trinity brand and preparing the university and its community for the future.

One of the primary focuses of the plan is preparing students for their lives once they graduate from Trinity.

“We recognize our responsibility to you to help you after Trinity as well as while you’re a student here. Alumni can be a great resource in terms of networking, actual employment opportunities and also advice. I think it’s really helpful to talk to somebody who is doing something that you want to do,” said Michael Fischer, vice president for faculty and student affairs. “The idea is that the education that you get here can be enriched by trying it out, practicing it and applying it to situations. It helps your education and better prepares you for life after Trinity. We don’t see it as a choice between you preparing for your future or getting your education. We are trying to make both reinforce each other.”

Along with the use of alumni and other ways of enhancing career preparation at the university, the strategic plan also proposes ways of easily making students more globally minded.

“The biggest and most dramatic change is that we will start a transition where we move from a primarily vendor-led study abroad program to a program in which Trinity faculty take students abroad for an extended length of time. We’re modeling that on some really successful summer programs that we have like the Trinity in Madrid program that’s been going for the last seven summers and a new summer program that we launched in Shanghai that we just started this year,” said  Lisa Jasinski, special projects coordinator. “It means that students get to go with a group of other Trinity students and go with a faculty member, so when you lead up to the trip and when you return there is a greater sense of continuity and a cohort mentality. It’s a different way to make internationalization a real part of your Trinity experience as opposed to something you did by yourself for a semester or a year.”

Parallel to the strategic plan, the recently proposed curriculum changes may also reinforce the ideas of an interdisciplinary education.

Depending on the edits which will be in process until the final presentation to the Board of Trustees in February, the strategic plan will also include a new center for students to address their needs. The Center for Engaged and Experiential Learning will aid students in combining their classroom education with things such as study abroad, volunteer work, leadership training, internships and work experience. This center highlights the main concerns addressed in the strategic plan: making a Trinity education more personal and cohesive with the rest of life.

“I think that some research shows that students do succeed in college if and when they make a personal connection with their professors. That’s something that we [Trinity] can do because of our small classes, because our faculty are committed to teaching as well as research. One example would be these reflection workshops modeled off of similar programs of Harvard and Stanford, and the idea is for faculty and staff team to meet with students and talk with them about larger questions. What they feel they’ve accomplished, what they want to accomplish, just broader concerns that faculty and staff would raise with students and put in perspective what they are doing. We want to make sure that our administrative and staff structure supports the education we want our students to have,” Fischer said.

These improvements also act as incentives for prospective students to consider a Trinity education. Making the university unique and continuing to push the definition of a liberal arts university is a big way in which the plan highlights the benefits and prestige that accompany attending Trinity.

“[Connecting faculty and students personally] is something that we can do that many other places don’t have the option of doing. I think that at a  place like UT, because of their size, it wouldn’t be reasonable. As students think about Trinity as a place they may want to go to college, that is something they will very quickly see. They know that if they come to Trinity they will get that personal attention. They are not a number in a book. This is a place where the faculty are extremely dedicated. We have a very committed staff, and we are here to support that. We are here. I think we can go down the hill and make something like that happen,” Jasinski said.

The plan has been presented to the Association of Student Representatives for discussion and will continue to be revised until the initial implementation next fall.