Trinity welcomes new hires to multiple departments


Photo credit: Matthew Claybrook

Along with a record 695 first-years, Trinity University welcomed many new staff members this fall, including the first ever in-house general counsel, a new executive director of institutional research, new staff throughout the Tiger Learning Commons (TLC) and the long awaited director of residential life, Deb Tyson.

Tyson joins Trinity from Dartmouth, where she had held a similar role.

“I don’t think [Trinity] will be too different from [Dartmouth],” Tyson said. “Trinity has world class faculty and smart students who are committed to academics.”

Tyson believes that the role of the resident hall is to support academics.

“There are three goals of res-life,” Tyson said. “First is facilities. I will work with custodial and really look at how summer impacts facilities prep. We have the South reno[vation] next summer, and the McLean reno[vation] down the line. Students want to come home to buildings and facilities that work, so facilities are very important.”

Tyson will also continue the educational programming run by residential life, as well as support the training and experience of resident assistants.

While she hails from the north, Tyson has enjoyed her time in San Antonio thus far.

“I love the San Antonio vibe, and the humanity, and how people treat each other in a polite manner, you know, so I’ll have to adjust. I’m from Philadelphia, and I’m direct, but not as direct as Tuttle,” Tyson said.

Rachel Rolf, who previously worked at the University of Kansas, joins Trinity to serve as the university’s first in-house general counsel.

“I was drawn to Trinity’s commitment to excellence and the value that Trinity places on each member of its community,” Rolf said. “Right now, I am focused on building relationships, learning the culture at Trinity and understanding the history and scope of Trinity’s utilization of outside counsel.”

Oversight of legal services at Trinity was previously handled wholly by outside counsel. Rolf will be a partner to faculty and administrators to assist in legal strategy and resources.

“Once these building blocks are in place, I will be in a better position to evaluate and implement changes in a way that will ensure continuity of operations and the effective provision of legal services to the university,” Rolf said.

Kara Larkan-Skinner has been designated Trinity’s executive director for institutional research and effectiveness. In this new role, she deciphers data to understand how programs and issues need to be handled to continue Trinity’s improvement and maintain Trinity’s status.

“The role of executive director for institutional research and effectiveness entails oversight and responsibility for the university’s regional accreditation, institutional research, institutional assessment [and] institutional effectiveness,” Larkan-Skinner said.

Trinity is currently undergoing reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, a process that occurs every 10 years.

“Accreditation, institutional research and assessment all work together to form a broader concept known as institutional effectiveness. That is the goal of our unit, to help Trinity become even more amazing,” Larkan-Skinner said.

After Stacy Davidson left in June, Betty Curry, formerly Trinity’s academic coach, was appointed interim director for academic support and interim co-director of the student success center. Curry will help coordinate the work of the three departments in the TLC and work with Gary Neal, director of counseling in health and wellness services, on the student success center.

“My goal is to continue the excellent model set in motion by Stacy Davidson that includes collaborating with other functional areas and providing support and access to Trinity students to encourage their academic success,” Curry said.

Becca Burt, a 2016 Trinity alumna, is succeeding Betty Curry as the academic coach and will serve for the 2018-2019 school year. An academic coach supplies students with advice to help improve academic performance, and Burt and Curry will be leading workshops this fall in the TLC to help students with study tactics, time management and learning strategies.

“I absolutely loved my time as a student at Trinity. I couldn’t stay away for long,” Burt said. “I hope to reach as many students as I can through individual coaching and continue learning about the best ways to improve the student experience. I’d encourage students to meet with me early in the semester, so we can focus on time management and learning strategies to set them up for success early.”

Along with Burt and Curry, other new faculty members have joined the TLC. Myeisha Smith joins Trinity as interim assistant director of student accessibility services, where she will find and implement the best accommodations to students with disabilities. Jessica Reyes, a Trinity alumna and previously a Trinity admissions counselor, joins academic support as a student accessibility specialist to communicate with Smith.

In Academic Affairs, Lapétra Bowman is welcomed as the new advising coordinator, working on strategies to improve advising sessions between faculty and students. Bowman has been an academic advisor for 15 years and joined Trinity this summer. She is temporarily located in the TLC in Coates Library in room 308 along with the rest of the TLC faculty.

“We are excited about the new semester, seeing returning students and meeting new students. The study space in the TLC is ready for you, so please come by. We are here to help,” Curry said.