FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Susie P. Gonzalez
Trinity University Students Expand Discussion of Diploma Language
SAN ANTONIO – A request by some Trinity University students has opened up a conversation about culture, faith, traditions, and new ways of embracing different viewpoints. As a result, the initial desire by members of the Trinity Diversity Connection has become a national story.
In the fall of 2009, students from the diversity group asked administrators to remove the phrase “in the year of our Lord” from Trinity diplomas. The proposal has met with favor from the Association of Student Representatives and the University’s commencement committee.
In addition, a forum took place in February in the interest of free and open civil exchange about the request. The forum was moderated by Jarrod Atchison, Trinity’s debate coach, in a format featuring three-minute presentations from Trinity faculty in the disciplines of religion, philosophy, communication, history, and political science. Students asked questions and shared ideas. Among those voicing opinions were students who want to keep the phrase on future diplomas.
“A university is exactly the place for students to learn about others, stand up for their own viewpoints, and critically develop nuance and complexity in formulating and expressing opinions – all while respecting the rights of others to do so,” says David Tuttle, interim vice president for Student Affairs and Dean of Students.
Dean Tuttle also notes that Trinity promotes a diverse campus population and values the benefits of diversity in educating the next generation of global leaders. Students from varying cultures, religions, races, or gender identity enrich an academic setting and add depth to the discussions of “what life is like in America in the 21st century.”
Trinity President Dennis Ahlburg says that, as an institution, Trinity should not ignore its cultural and religious heritage and roots.
Founded in 1869, Trinity’s name reflects its Christian origins and the three regional Cumberland Presbyterian governing bodies that supported its institutional organization. In 1969, at the initiation of the Presbyterian Church, Trinity entered into a covenant agreement with the regional synod that affirmed historical connections, but transformed Trinity into a private, independent University with a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees.
The students request to remove the “our Lord” phrasing on diplomas was considered an on-campus issue until the news media turned the spotlight on the topic. The story was reported via radio, television, Internet, and newspaper outlets across Texas and reached national media, including Inside Higher Ed, USA Today online, Fox News, the Christian Broadcasting Network, and the Rush Limbaugh radio show. Campus offices have been deluged by people voicing views on the proposal.
Comments are being collected and will be presented to the Trinity University Board of Trustees, who will consider the issue at the next regularly scheduled meeting in May. To join the conversation, send thoughts to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.