Trinity University’s 20th president, Vanessa Beasley, Ph.D., made history by becoming the first-ever female president. Right alongside her is her husband, Trey Beasley, who has the distinction of being Trinity’s first “first gentleman” in the school’s 153-year history. It’s a title he proudly wears.
“Vanessa and I talked about it, and we both agreed on that title. It has a nice sound to it, and it’s professional and appropriate for what I want to do here,” Trey says. “I take pride in being the first first gentleman at Trinity.”
In fact, Trey Beasley is part of a growing trend of men who are husbands or partners to college presidents. According to the Council of Independent Colleges, this year, more than 40% of new college spouses and partners were male, whereas just a decade ago, fewer than 10% were men.
It’s likely those numbers were even lower when Trey and Vanessa met on Vanderbilt University’s campus during a summer orientation before their first semester back in the mid-1980s. “We met as friends first and then started dating,” Trey says. “Our first date was bowling.”
After graduating from Vanderbilt, the couple moved to Austin, Texas, where Trey earned his Master of Business Administration in finance, while Vanessa completed her master’s degree and doctorate in speech communication at the University of Texas.
Trey then began a successful 16-year career with JP Morgan Chase Bank and its predecessor banks, before deciding it was time to move in a different direction.
“As I worked longer at JP Morgan Chase, I sort of had the idea of wanting to apply finance to what I think is a broader mission,” Trey says. “And the other precipitous event was our younger son Charlie’s onset of his medical condition and disability. At that point, I said, ‘Ok, I’m ready to do something else.’”
In 2007, the couple returned to Vanderbilt, with Vanessa joining the faculty and Trey joining the finance team, ultimately becoming treasurer. The move also gave their son access to top care at the pediatric neurology program at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.
Trey says he’s proud of his accomplishments during his time at Vanderbilt, where he applied business acumen from the private sector to higher education. He sees a similar culture at Trinity. “At the end of the day, you're working to help the students, faculty, and staff with what you're doing.”
Today, Trinity’s first gentleman is enthusiastically embracing his role as a university ambassador. Trey says he views his role as being one who can be a visible extension of the President’s Office for Trinity students and the greater community.
He’s serving as a mentor at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and he’s been involved with Career Services. Off-campus, he’s serving on the boards of Kinetic Kids and CAMP (Children’s Association for Maximum Potential), two organizations that the Beasleys find personally meaningful.
Many days, he’s seen on campus attending sporting events, theater productions, and musical performances. A fan of sports, he recently attended the 50th-anniversary game of the San Antonio Spurs, along with several hundred Trinity students, sponsored by the Student Government Association (SGA).
“The students here are so engaged and bright. They’re so involved, I’m not sure how they ever get any sleep,” Trey says. “They are acting on their passions, whether it’s art, music, or sports. And they’re able to cross those boundaries in a way that is unique here. You don’t get that at a lot of larger institutions.”
Trey is excited that, as the first first gentleman, he has the freedom to define his own role, and support his university—and his spouse—in any way necessary.
“I’ve never been in this role, but I’m really enjoying it,” he says. “There’s no real roadmap, so it’s kind of learning and doing it on the fly. But it’s been fun, and immensely gratifying because everyone has been so welcoming to us.”