To Trinity alumni, parents, and friends of the University:
I thank you for your unwavering support as we recognized the Class of 2020. On Saturday, more than 515 new Tiger alumni received their Trinity degrees in unprecedented fashion: through a livestream on the Tiger Network. Trinity University’s Conferral of Degrees ceremonies for graduate students, Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music students, and Bachelor of Science students were broadcast live from Laurie Auditorium, but individual celebrations took place in homes across the world. I was honored to be able to address the Class of 2020, albeit from afar. Oddly enough, it felt comforting to don my regalia. What I normally anticipate to be hot and itchy was instead a nod to the safe formality of much-missed routine and tradition.
But nothing about this was traditional. I stood almost completely alone—save my colleagues who also took to the lectern, and the dedicated crew capturing the video footage—in an auditorium that typically holds more than 2,500 people for commencement weekend every May. Nothing about this was traditional for our graduates, either. Spread across the world, there were no last-minute mortar board adjustments, no anxious jitters while crossing the stage to receive diplomas, no “Tunnel of Love” or hugs from professors.
I was proud to see so many families celebrating their graduates during the live events. Kimberly and I followed along with the #2020TUgether hashtag and saw countless parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, and Trinity faculty and staff members honoring the extraordinary accomplishments of these new alumni. The Alumni Association’s Kudoboard lit up with notes of encouragement and warm Tiger welcomes (you still have time to leave a message!). May 16 was still a day to celebrate.
But I also know that some graduates found themselves in circumstances where celebrating just wasn’t possible. Even those who could celebrate certainly felt a twinge of sadness, a sense of what was lost. These graduates, and current students who are in similar situations, need our support. Alongside their teammates, their roommates, their fraternity brothers and sorority sisters, their club leaders, and their friends, our new graduates are already tackling economic and social challenges head-on. As the Trinity community, it is our job to reassure them: They are not alone.
On Saturday, the Class of 2020 became part of a Trinity network that is more than 29,000 alumni strong. They have the advocacy and encouragement of faculty mentors and friends. They have the support of a community dedicated to their success. And they need it now more than ever.
Just like our students who are graduating into a world of uncertainty, so too is Trinity entering a time of uncertainty. While we announced Fall 2020 semester plans earlier this month, it pains me to know that even these aren’t set in stone. We still have world news to follow, medical trends to evaluate, important milestones to achieve—all in keeping the health and safety of our students and employees our utmost priority.
We will remain flexible, learn from our spring experiences, and anticipate ways to make Fall 2020 better. But clearly not all factors are within our control. Projections indicate that the economic headwinds are bound to become greater before they lessen. Trinity is not alone in this. Many institutions of higher education across the country are suffering dire circumstances that involve disruptive program cuts, layoffs, and more. Because of careful stewardship, Trinity has the opportunity to plan and make adjustments in a more strategic manner.
With shared governance comes shared sacrifice. We must act decisively, yet thoughtfully, to adapt to new financial realities. The choices we make will be painful at times, for ourselves and for others. I am taking a voluntary 15% reduction in my salary for FY 2021, and I am grateful to the vice presidents who have all committed to voluntary reductions between 5 and 10%. I sincerely appreciate their personal sacrifices. I ask us all to work together as we embark on this difficult but necessary journey to ensure the long-term prosperity of our University.
As I recalled in my email to you last month, during our 150th Anniversary in 2019, we looked back at some of the defining moments in Trinity’s history. One phrase continues to resonate with me: Trinity transforms challenges into opportunities. We’ve survived three moves, two world wars, the Great Depression, and numerous other financial, economic, and social crises—and we did all this, as One Trinity, by confronting the status quo.
In true Trinity tradition, we will learn from these current challenges, not be defeated by them. The Trinity that we know and love will endure, but it will look very different. I am confident that through it all, we will remain a force in motion.
As always, if you have any questions you’d like to ask or thoughts you’d like to share, do not hesitate to reach out. I truly enjoy hearing from the Trinity community. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay strong.
Danny J. Anderson
President, Trinity University
As Trinity's chief storyteller, I love to share news about the University. But I also love hearing from you. Please feel free to contact me at TUPresident@trinity.edu. Also, follow me on Twitter @TU_President19 or follow conversations on my website at president.trinity.edu.