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Friday, July 3, 2015

Seventh Annual: The Year in Review - 2014-2015

The portrait of Dennis Ahlburg hangs in the Northrup Hall Presidential suite.
Another academic year is in the books, and as is tradition, I take a look back at the year that was. I try to think broadly, beyond the Student Affairs perspective. I have certainly missed some things and invite readers to post on those things in the comment section.

I will write a handful of posts between now and August, but look for more regular posting to occur when we begin the 2015-2016 academic year.

Top Stories

1. March Sadness
The Trinity University community was rocked by two very public tragedies. On March 4, Professor Mike Kearl passed away after suffering a heart attack while walking across campus. His students and faculty colleagues, were devastated. The community suffered another shock when five students were in a car crash on March 30, leaving one student dead and two in critical condition. The campus still mourns the loss of Dr. Kearl and young Corey Byrnes.

2. Presidential Transitions
President Dennis Ahlburg stepped down, finishing his four-year term in December. Michael Fischer took the institutional helm until Danny Anderson was selected and took over on May 29. Dr. Ahlburg came in with an agenda to affect change and he advanced several campus initiatives and connected to many in the community. President Anderson comes in at a time of exciting change, ready to advance the Trinity Tomorrow strategic plan and the Pathways curriculum.

3. Centers of Attention
The Trinity Tomorrow Strategic Plan is becoming a reality. Centers for Student Success, Experiential Learning/Career Success, and International Education are coming on line with soft openings this year. Hopefully a year from now these places will have more permanent homes and will be operating at full capacity and improving the student experience even more.

4. Coalition for Respect
While sexual assault continues to be a national and campus issue, the Trinity community has made great strides to address the issue head on as demonstrated by this annual report. It shows a commitment to effective policies and procedures and prevention and education.

5. Speakers in the house
Admittedly, the lectures that drew my attention were those in my areas of interest. Doris Kearns-Goodwin was really terrific. Tim Wise was a passionate and fiery MLK speaker - perhaps the best one yet. Keith Edwards gave an incredible talk on the culture of sexual assault. The top program was the Reading TUgether event that featured Diana Holt and Edward Elmore. What a treat!

6. Leveraging the faculty
The Trinity Diversity Connection and others hosted several faculty-led panels. Most notably, the discussion about race and Ferguson, co-sponsored with Black Student Union was insightful and impactful. Panels on ISIS as well as the transgender tipping point showcased the faculty for those unable to take their classes. These programs are a great reminder of the learning environment our students are immersed in.

7. Residency requirement
This issue was raised by the Student Government Association and was discussed by the SGA President, Sean McCutchen with the administration and Board of Trustees. It definitely received fair play. The institution remains committed to the residency requirement. It is part of our modern-day DNA. The staff and students will continue to look at ways to make the upper-class experience a better one. The North Hall renovation is a terrific start.

8. Pikes place
The fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha, was removed from campus following several tumultuous years and sanctions from the student-led Greek Council. The national fraternity experiment was relatively brief. Going forward, there are terrific opportunities for our young men to grow and bond in other fraternities with strong campus roots.

9. Smoking
The Student Government Association had a difficult time getting student survey responses related to the residency requirement. Conversely, the responses about smoking were abundant and pointed. Students want a healthy environment in so many regards, but having a smoke-free or tobacco-free culture imposed is less palatable. This is not uncommon when schools transition to smoke-free. It is likely inevitable, but the timing and phasing in will be important.

10. Urban Renewal
New football coach, Jerheme Urban, brought in a new philosophy, including morning practices, in an effort to reset the program after many successful years under Coach Mohr. In addition, #TigerPride is swelling up all over campus thanks to efforts of staff members such as John Jacobs, Michelle Bartonico and others. We have a new logo and a new fight song will be unveiled this fall.

- Tiger baseball nearly made the championship round in the College World Series!
- Coates Center refurbishment was well-received.
- Bell Center Bandit nabbed in refurbished Coates Center.
- Murchison dorm renovation (and elevator to upper campus)
- Standing item: Acabellas and Trinitones
- Honorable Mention: The Trinitonian is really good.

- Tyga... Probably the shortest Welcome Week concert ever, but at least it was horrible. American Authors in 2015 may allow us to go big, or go home.
- Hertz on Demand just didn't have the infrastructure to work well. But there is another (see On the Horizon, below).
- B-Cycle was set to launch in September, then January, then May, and now, hopefully September. Spokes still turning.
- Good2Go sexual assault was a creative approach to a vexing issue and was from a Trinity family. It never got traction, but it was a good idea.

Under the Radar
- Student Affairs kind of went away, but in style...
- TU Life app seems to have great promise, and hopefully will take off.
- Jim Cullum Jazz Band plays in the Skyline Room every first Saturday night of the month.
- The mayoral debate came to campus.
- Israel and Palestine is a huge topic for some on campus, and hosting speakers adds to the complexity.

Big Hurts
- In addition to the aforementioned Dr. Mike Kearl and student Corey Byrnes, retired professor John Donahue died as did recent retirees Reggie Lyro and Tom Nixon. The obituary page has brought other sad news to those of us who have been here awhile.
- Less extreme, the University has seen several employees retire, resign, or otherwise move on. We lost a president, a VP, John Greene Mary Denny, the Chapmans, Briana-Becka-Amelia from Student Life, and many more. Hate to see colleagues leave, though we sure attract great people.

On the Horizon
- While students were away... the Campus Carry gun debate heated up and it looks like we dodged a bullet, as private institutions can opt out, for now.
- We are wrapping up a five year complete re-do of our dining services and have some fun and positive changes in store for the year ahead.
- The First Year Experience will include a broad array of exciting new classes similar to the HUMA model. Game changer.
- Zip Car is coming to campus to replace the stalled Hertz on Demand program!

Year 6
Year 5
Year 4
Year 3
Year 2
Year 1

Bonus tracks
In case you missed it, here are some of the topics I got to write about this year. Trinity is rich with material:
On race
On advising
On YikYak
On drugs
On things students can do
On blogging

On nostalgia


mjesf said...

So, when is Zipcar coming to campus?

David Tuttle said...


The cars will be here late August. More will be distributed about sign-up, but there will be reps on campus that first week to direct people to the webpage registration.

Unknown said...

Someone from TU administration may want to contact the national Pi Kappa Alpha HQ, as they still show a chapter at Trinity on their website.