Welcome to the 2017–2018 school year. You can feel the energy and excitement around Trinity and sense it is stronger than ever. At the same time, many of you are juggling mixed emotions. As human beings, we have an ability to hold in our awareness contradictory emotions and thoughts. Alongside the excitement for a new academic year in the presence of friends and faculty, many of you are concerned by the unrest we see in national and international headlines. Charlottesville, Virginia and Barcelona, Spain immediately come to mind.

Our Trinity University values call us to respect the dignity and worthiness of every individual. They also celebrate the diversity and inclusivity that connect us all within a community. Put into actions, these values sustain the open, engaged and civil dialogue that characterizes Trinity University.

We strive to create learning spaces where you can experience uncomfortable conversations about challenging topics. At Trinity, we want you to explore for yourself how our core institutional values call us to promote diversity and inclusivity. We model the active listening and critical thinking that allow us to understand points of view that may be different from our own. Understanding and empathy can achieve the unity that racism, bigotry, hatred and violence cannot.

This year, free speech may be challenged on university campuses. Competing forces may seek to pull us toward extremes and increase divisions. In this context, we must remain deeply rooted in our values. When forces test us, our roots give us strength. We must be proactive in our choices, rather than reactive in our responses. I have great confidence in you and have admiration for the role you will play as you become the leaders in our world.

The experiences of the year ahead are a journey. At Trinity, faculty and staff serve as guides along the pathway as you discover and grow through your choices. I take pride in the words of wisdom by our faculty inscribed on banners around campus. There is one that I use as the screen on my phone, by Carolyn True in the music department, and it is great advice for the start of an academic year: “Plan the route; be open to the journey.”