In the truest sense of the word, the 2020-21 academic year was a uniquely historic time in Trinity University’s trajectory—one that will be remembered as a time of great upheaval, transition, and transformation, but also hope. I am writing to you today to recount many of the reasons that I am as excited as ever about Trinity’s future.
First and foremost, it appears that we are finally emerging from the grips of COVID-19 and its impact on every aspect of life. I am proud of how our students, faculty, and staff have remained resilient during this past academic year.
Last week, Trinity leadership came together to outline a broad strategy for reopening our campus and returning to some sense of normalcy, which I will outline below. A great deal will depend on the positivity rate for COVID and the vaccination rate - both on campus and in the greater San Antonio area.
If trends continue, we plan to return to a more normal experience, including in-person classes, fully occupied Residence Halls, group social activities, and an easing of ProtecTU policies. Of course, we are developing a process for our community to seek exceptions as necessary, and our plan may be modified depending on current conditions.
Earlier this month, Trinity worked with a third party to deliver 800 first-dose Pfizer vaccinations to the Trinity community. This week, Trinity is hosting two additional voluntary vaccination clinics for students, faculty, staff, and their dependents. Please help us reach our goal of having at least 80 percent of our campus vaccinated.
We are confident enough in the improving conditions that we have scheduled in-person, socially-distanced commencement ceremonies on May 22. Our undergraduates will take part in one of two separate outdoor ceremonies that will take place at Trinity's newly renovated Multi-Purpose Stadium. Graduate students will attend a separate service in Laurie Auditorium. Our ProtecTU health protocols will remain in place, and attendance will be limited and voluntary. Those who choose not to attend may view the festivities virtually. Of course, this plan is subject to change, depending on health conditions both on- and off-campus.
Other changes are in store for the University as we say farewell to familiar faces and welcome new ones into the Trinity family. Vice President for Academic Affairs Deneese Jones, Ph.D., will retire on May 31, as will David Tuttle, Trinity’s Dean of Students. Dr. Dee and Dean Tuttle have had a profound impact on the lives of our students, and we are all indebted to them.
Replacing Dr. Dee will be Megan Mustain, Ph.D., who comes to us from Saint Mary’s College of California, where she serves as Chief Academic Officer, vice provost for Student Academics, and Dean of the Core. Stepping into our new Dean of Students role is Demitrius Brown, Ed.D. Dean Brown currently serves as the Dean of Students and Chief Diversity Officer at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. I’m counting on Megan and Demi to further strengthen ties between Academic Affairs and Student Life, in order to promote a seamless journey toward graduation for our students.
Meanwhile, our country continues to witness far too many social moments that have made visible the urgency of impactful work on diversity, equity, and inclusion. As I noted in last month’s message to you, we are working to live into the 29 recommendations and more than 140 different proposals put forth by Trinity’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. We continue to make progress, but we have much further to go. In fact, this is a journey without an end—one defined by perpetual and honest dialogue, listening, and learning.
It’s easy—perhaps even understandable—to assume that over the past year, Trinity has been in a “holding pattern” like so much of our world has been. But much has been happening, and much more is planned in the months to come. While I encourage everyone to take some time to rest, vacation, and recognize our accomplishments this summer after such a challenging period, we must not rest on our laurels. Now is our moment to keep forging ahead and continue the momentum that we’ve built.
You have heard me reference, time and again, Trinity’s values of enduring excellence, intentional inclusion, and perpetual discovery. I am happy to report that these ideals remain strong and vibrant. With your help, Trinity will continue to be a force in motion.