One of the many remarkable things about Trinity University is its strong sense of place. Arguably one of the most beautiful campuses in the Southwest, Trinity's distinctive red brick buildings – connected via spacious walkways and landscaped escarpment – provide the perfect setting for a transformational, residential liberal arts university.
A Trinity education is anchored in powerful touchstone experiences that define a student's identity, sense of self, and lasting relationship with the University. One of those touchstones is Trinity's student-focused residential community. In Remaking College: Innovation and the Liberal Arts, Rebecca Chopp, chancellor of the University of Denver, wrote, "This form of education transforms students through their engagement in the academic enterprise and also in an intense and stimulating life outside the classroom 24/7."
Trinity's residential life program supports students by providing a developmentally structured, challenging, and educationally stimulating environment that encourages individual growth. A network of 16 residence halls offers an environment for learning and community building. Trinity's living/learning communities, or themed halls, serve as incubators for "bold cultural experiences of how to live out democracy and educate leaders."
One example of this type of residential community is the Swashbucklers. Now more than 10 years old, Swashbucklers is a substance-free community where approximately 50 students from different majors "have found (Swashbucklers) a fit on a college campus." Their pirate theme, complete with maritime fashion and captain leaders, adds whimsy to their deep passion for a community that often helps students persist at Trinity and graduate.
In many ways, my own personal experience as a residential liberal arts student mirrors the experience many Trinity students have today. As an undergraduate at Austin College, the residential experience was a deep and daily connection between classroom and campus life. The residential experience linked me to the community. It was a framework for unplanned yet deeply passionate discussions related to classes, culture, and politics as we discovered the world and learned about ourselves. Trinity students often confirm a similar benefit to the residential experience: it offers them an opportunity to learn how to connect with each other and find their place in our community. For me, it was above all a time to open myself to the world in a new way. I observed how my classmates and friends saw the world, how they made life choices. I learned to see and think beyond the context I had inherited by birth and upbringing.
The Trinity Tomorrow strategic plan calls us to maximize the education and personal benefits of a residential liberal arts university. Trinity's student life professionals continually work to translate the University values into programs and activities that complement the learning that takes place elsewhere on campus. Award-winning programs such as "The Game of Life," recently awarded a grant to expand this financial literacy initiative to reach more students; H.O.P.E. Hall, a living learning community focused on service learning related to San Antonio's homeless population; and Sophomore College, which guides students past the dreaded "sophomore slump," are just a few examples of the programs designed to encourage individual growth and the development of community values.
Elements of the University's recently completed Campus Master Plan illustrate how we will adjust the residence hall space to respond to student interests. The plan re-imagines both housing and dining at Trinity and the need for strategic improvements to existing campus housing. This summer, the McFarlin complex – Isabel, Susanna, Myrtle, and Heidi Lounge, some of Trinity's oldest residence halls – are being refreshed with new exterior and interior paint, updated flooring and replacement of the built-in closets and storage. The newly acquired City Vista Apartment complex is being readied for student occupancy on Aug. 1 and will offer apartment-style living options for students ready for more independent living while maintaining the benefits of the residential campus experience.
Trinity works to develop a transformative experience for its students, enabling time spent on campus to be especially influential in their lives. The Trinity experience empowers a community of thinkers, creators, and doers and prepares them to make a tangible, positive difference wherever they go.
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 [at] trinity.edu.