Seventy-five years ago, in September of 1942, Trinity University held its first classes in San Antonio. It was a bold decision to move here. The invitation to relocate from Waxahachie, Texas, came from the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. Accepting that invitation put the University on a path of dramatic transformation.
Trinity would not be what it is today if it were not for the vision of San Antonio business leaders who believed that miracles could happen even in a war-torn world. The Chamber's vote came on Dec. 8, 1941, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The decision was far reaching, and the University continues to be blessed with the good fortune to be part of a vibrant and supportive city.
San Antonio and Trinity's history are inextricably connected. The nation's 7th largest city serves as a diverse laboratory for Trinity students. San Antonio businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies have opened their doors to provide our students with experiential learning opportunities. Trinity's Students + Startups connects students to San Antonio's burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystem. Through internships, collaborative research projects, and volunteer activities, students contribute to the life of San Antonio. Increasingly, these high-impact educational experiences are becoming a popular way for students to broaden their Trinity journey.
The University's deep community connections include a longstanding investment in San Antonio public schools. Trinity’s nationally recognized teacher education program maintains ongoing partnerships with selected public schools. These partnerships not only produce some of the best teachers in the country, but improve schools in our own community. Recently, Trinity partnered with the San Antonio Independent School District to develop a new Pre-K-12 academy for students seeking advanced learning opportunities. The Advanced Learning Academy fills a critical need in this inner city school district and serves as a premier professional development school that trains the next generation of teachers and principals.
Trinity's urban studies program is a perfect example of the productive relationship between San Antonio and the University. Urban studies students are actively engaged in community-based research projects such as the Eastside Promise Initiative. Students provide field work and research for the annual assessment of this neighborhood revitalization project. Today's urban studies program builds upon Trinity's legacy of training many successful city planners and urban administrators whose careers unfolded in San Antonio as well as other cities across the country.
Trinity is also a cultural and civic hub for San Antonio. The University's prominent lecture series brings to campus nationally and internationally recognized artists, policymakers, and political leaders for presentations that are free and open to the community. This fall's Distinguished Lecture Series will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 1, and will feature broadcast journalist Ted Koppel on the “Brave New World: The Future of Journalism.”
As I look back, I can only imagine the challenges of the 1940s. A move, World War II, temporary quarters at the Woodlawn Campus, and tight budgets were daunting, but the dreams were inspired. The move from the Woodlawn Campus to the “hilltop overlooking downtown San Antonio” did not come with any guarantee of success. Yet, as the new Skyline Campus emerged on the site of an abandoned rock quarry, the “Miracle on Trinity Hill” transpired.
Renowned San Antonio architect O’Neil Ford joined forces with visionary Trinity President James Laurie. Their aspirations had an early and lasting impact on the Trinity campus. Our Skyline Campus is a treasure for future generations. For this reason, Trinity is seeking designation on the National Register of Historic Places. This initiative is part of the University’s recently completed Campus Master Plan. We are excited by the opportunities to recognize and celebrate our significant collection of mid-century modern buildings, while maintaining the flexibility needed to meet the needs of tomorrow’s students. This is a dramatic step forward. It will bring national attention to Trinity’s campus.
As San Antonio has prospered, so has Trinity. Our futures are closely linked. In a Feb. 28, 1942 editorial, the San Antonio Express-News heralded Trinity’s move to San Antonio, “Certainly, it will become a force for building a greater San Antonio.” In 2018, the City will mark its 300th anniversary. Trinity University looks forward to being part of the celebration as we demonstrate our deep roots and history of giving back to our generous home city.
P.S. Trinity was proud and humbled to be ranked No. 1 in the West for the 26th consecutive year by U.S. News & World Report. Equally gratifying, the 2018 edition of “America’s Best Colleges” guide also ranked Trinity No. 1 in the publication’s best value category, “Great Schools, Great Prices.”
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.