FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Sharon Jones Schweitzer
April 22, 2010
Trustees Uphold Wording on Trinity Diplomas
'Year of our Lord' reflects University’s heritage, reaffirms commitment to diversity
SAN ANTONIO – Trinity University’s Board of Trustees today voted to retain the words “in the year of our Lord” on the University’s diplomas. Trinity’s Trustees approved a resolution acknowledging the institution’s heritage and culture, and affirmed a campus environment that fosters respect for differing opinions, including differences in religious beliefs and practices.
“The Board’s decision reflects its desire to continue a Trinity tradition, and the words ‘in the year of our Lord’ are appropriate for the diploma given Trinity’s history and heritage,” said Walter R. Huntley ’71, ’73, vice chairman of the Trinity Board of Trustees and an Atlanta businessman. The Board also affirmed the University’s mission as a liberal arts and sciences institution, where future leaders are prepared for life in a global society and are informed and fortified by diversity.
In the fall of 2009, students from the Trinity Diversity Connection respectfully requested a change in the wording on Trinity diplomas to remove the phrase “in the year of our Lord” so that the document better reflected the University’s inclusive campus spirit. The request opened up a campus conversation about culture, faith, traditions, and new ways of embracing different viewpoints. “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,” said David Tuttle, interim vice president for Student Affairs and Dean of Students.
“Trinity is very proud of its 141-year history and religious heritage. It defines our values and informs our future,” said Trinity President Dennis A. Ahlburg. “But this is really an internal issue regarding the University’s diploma, not a test case for a national debate on religion.” He added that the media coverage, in some circles, attempted to frame the story as a Muslim vs. Christian debate, which was not the case on the Trinity campus as students of the same faith took different sides of the issue.
Hundreds of individuals contacted the University to express their opinions on the diploma issue. Some of the messages were particularly derisive of students involved in the issue and prompted the Board in its resolution to call upon the larger community “to respect, honor, and embrace all members of the Trinity family.” Other messages were more respectful of Trinity’s encouragement of freedom of expression among its students. In a letter written on behalf of the Trinity University Alumni Association, the National Alumni Board urged Trustees to retain the words “of our Lord” on diplomas. “They [the words] are not intended to offend or disenfranchise, rather they are consistent with the history of Trinity.”
Many Trinity students posted comments in response to online media coverage and reader reaction. Among the entries: “Acceptance and toleration is part of this country’s foundation. The same goes for Trinity.” Another student wrote, “In the end, I guess it is a tribute to Trinity’s respecting the First Amendment to allow such talks to even occur.”
Trinity University, founded in 1869, is one of the nation’s top private undergraduate institutions. Noted for its superior academic quality, outstanding faculty, and exceptional academic and residential resources, Trinity is committed to the intellectual, civic, and professional preparation of its students.