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Ahlburg takes Trinity Campus Community by Storm

By Sharon Jones Schweitzer ’75

Trinity’s President-elect plans a series of campus visits prior to taking office

Photo | Dennis Ahlburg talks about the opportunities Trinity & San Antonio.
President-elect Dennis Ahlburg visits with faculty and staff
at a San Antonio-style taco breakfast.
Left to right: Professors Carolyn Becker, Jean Childers
and President-elect Ahlburg

Less than a week after the announcement that Dennis A. Ahlburg, an internationally renowned economist, would become Trinity University’s 18th president in January 2010, he and his wife, Penelope Harley, came to campus to introduce themselves to faculty, staff, and students. Their visit on Oct. 2 began with a San Antonio-style taco breakfast where more than 400 faculty and staff queued up for an opportunity to greet the incoming president and his wife. “It was extremely special to be welcomed to Trinity so warmly; it was a pleasure to begin to get to know so many people on the campus,” they said in follow-up e-mails to the Trinity community.

Dr. Ahlburg also hosted an open forum with faculty and staff in the Ruth Taylor Recital Hall fielding questions on a wide range of topics. During the forum he outlined some priorities for his presidency, including initiating a strategic planning process, taking a critical look at financial aid, and extending Trinity’s brand image nationally. “There is a strong desire for Trinity to be recognized as best in the nation, not just ‘Best in the West,’” he said. “The hard work is how to get there, but I’m looking forward to working with the entire Trinity community to move this great institution forward.”

Photo | Dennis Ahlburg talks about the opportunities Trinity & San Antonio.
Dennis Ahlburg talks about the opportunities Trinity’s diverse and dynamic host city offer its students and the importance of University involvement in San Antonio. View this clip here

Claudia Stokes, associate professor of English and member of the Faculty Senate, was one of more than 150 faculty and staff in attendance. “I was impressed with his knowledge of the institution at every level and his insightful remarks about raising Trinity’s national profile.”

Meeting with students was also high on the president-elect’s campus visit, so Dennis and Penelope sat down with leaders of the Association of Student Representatives (ASR). Emily Faber, ASR president, said they had an open and candid conversation about student interests. “His initiative to meet with ASR so soon after his selection was a strong indication that he has student interests on his mind and is willing to spend some of his time engaging them.”  In a taped interview with the Trinitonian’s Ariel Barkhurst and TigerTV’s Mike Guerra, Ahlburg was asked what kind of relationship students should expect to have with the incoming president. “Trinity exists for students, we have to know how students are experiencing their time here,” he said

Throughout the day, the Australian native and his British-born wife charmed everyone they encountered with their references to establishing a new tradition of  Sunday afternoon teas with scones and jests about building a cricket pitch on the campus “They just seemed to radiate friendliness and relaxation,” said Faber.

Photo | The Real Inspector Hound
To view the full TigerTV interview with President-elect Ahlburg, click here…

The couple plans to return to the campus to visit with more faculty and staff prior to taking office on Jan. 5, 2010. In between, the president-elect plans to launch a blog to widen the circle of communication with members of the Trinity community. “This is a fabulous opportunity for me and my family,” he said. I still have a lot to learn about Trinity, and we plan to do a lot of listening.”


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