Vanessa Beasley’s first year maintains new momentum

Trinity’s 20th president and the administration reflect on the progress of the past year


Photo Courtesy of SGA

President Vanessa Beasley engages in volunteer activities with other students in honor of her inauguration.

“Fun, busy and energizing.”

These were the words that Vanessa Beasley, president of Trinity, used to describe her first year on campus. Beasley accepted the position in 2022, and her arrival on campus marked the first time Trinity had a female president and the onset of its first year reclassified as a Baccalaureate Arts & Sciences institution (Liberal Arts) in the National Liberal Arts category in the U.S. News & World Report rankings.

Since her entrance, Beasley has divided the university’s academic structure into four schools with four deans, planned to introduce 20 new tenured faculty and aimed to shoot Trinity’s National Liberal Arts Colleges’ ranking from number 55 to something higher. Melody Meyer, chair of the board of trustees, outlined the steps Beasley has taken.

“As a key part of our aspiration to be a top national liberal arts university, in this first year she has already engaged broadly with key stakeholders … and has been very warmly received,” Meyer wrote in an email.

Beasley also emphasizes student success, which she describes as students’ ability to learn and study while also having realistic opportunities to research with faculty members and participate in fun, student-led organizations. Danny Nguyen, student body president and junior marketing and communication double-major, noted how Beasley’s support and pursuit of student success shines through all of her interactions as president.

“[President] Beasley … has shown and continues to have stated the idea that a successful university is influenced by a meaningful and equitable student experience,” Nguyen wrote in an email. “Whether it is the little things such as going to different plays, lectures and basketball games … to even larger-scale things such as traveling around the country and meeting alumni clubs to advocate for student success and support, [President] Beasley has affirmed that statement.”

Alongside her direct actions this year, Beasley has worked with the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) to choose and perfect policies to achieve her objectives, like expanding the number of academic schools and participating more in student life. Megan Mustain, provost and vice president of academic affairs, mentioned in an email that their efforts ensure that “we are who we say we are.”

“In everything we’ve worked on together during her first year, big and small, we’ve been really intentional about building our partnership by reflecting on what we’re doing and how we’re doing it,” Mustain wrote.

Beasley echoed a similar sentiment about her first year at Trinity. Since August, she has tried to ensure that Trinity provides students with a meaningful experience and prepares them for careers. The next step, Beasley proposed, is a matter of means.

“Ok, how do we do that, right? Who are the right people to have around tables as we’re making decisions? How can I be the storyteller-in-chief and get out to different communities and alumni groups and make sure they understand what’s happening in Trinity and why it’s such an exciting time to be here,” Beasley said.

Beasley’s tactics for answering the “how’s” of her goals derive from her ability to hone in on key details. Mustain described how Beasley pushed ELT to “sharpen” their focus.

“President Beasley’s favorite verb is ‘sharpen.’ She pushes us to sharpen our priorities — to state them more clearly and to pursue them more aggressively,” Mustain wrote. “Beasley urges us every day to be willing to say ‘no,’ even to good ideas, if that allows us to say ‘yes’ and better follow through on that ‘yes’ for ideas that are more central to who we are.”

Sheryl Tynes, vice president of student life and professor of sociology, talked about Beasley’s fervor. Beasley combines her administrative work with her enthusiasm to make her goals happen.

“President Beasley has boundless energy — meeting with students, faculty, staff and alumni to hear their perspectives in a mere nine months,” Tynes wrote.

Her husband, Trey Beasley, as well as administrators, can see her eagerness to be involved and make a lasting impact.

“She has jumped both feet into the position — into the job — with a great deal of enthusiasm,” Trey Beasley said. “I think her passion for undergraduate education really shines through in her conversations with all cohorts.”

Her enthusiasm throughout the past year is reflected in what she’s done to achieve and work toward her goals. In short, the president has adjusted to a new environment while traveling and listening to further her impact. Listening to the Trinity community has been the best part, as Beasley said. She’s even been hosting faculty breakfasts.

“It’s a cliché, but [my favorite part is] honestly just getting to know people and listening. I love listening to people talk about what Trinity means to them,” Beasley said. “I’ve invited faculty to breakfast almost on a weekly basis — small groups of faculty — and there’s no agenda. I just want to introduce myself and listen to what is on their mind.”

All of Beasley’s work with adding new schools, interacting with students and seeking out methods for how to achieve her goals was inspired by Trinity’s sense of community, and Trey Beasley noted the strong sense of community that Trinity has.

“I think the sense of community here is very palpable,” Trey Beasley said.

Beasley said herself that she feels the tangibility of Trinity’s community. The president said she admires the geniality and felt that the process of implementing change at Trinity is a two-way street.

“I’ve been delighted to be on a campus where people care about each other the way people do here and people care about the quality of the education that we’re offering. … It’s been affirming,” Beasley said. “It’s been thrilling to get to meet so many people, and it’s been humbling to very frequently admit — as I always will — there’s a lot I’m still learning and a lot I don’t know.”

For some, President Beasley’s achievements, hardships and effort since August have strengthened hopes for the future of her performance. Meyer affirmed that the listening, passion and work since August have brought and will bring only good.

“Trinity has a bright future ahead under her leadership,” Meyer said.