Happy New Year Tiger Nation!
Greetings from the Trinity campus, where the spring 2018 semester is officially underway. Classes have begun, but the Trinity community took time out Monday to honor the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. by participating in the city of San Antonio's MLK Jr. March, one of the largest in the country now in its 50th year. Hundreds of Trinity faculty, staff, and students joined more than 300,000 members of the San Antonio community in paying tribute to King's legacy of justice, peace, and equity for all.
As Trinity's president, I often reflect on the legacy we shape for our graduates. When I consider the amazing achievements of our students and alumni, it is sometimes hard to fathom the growing skepticism of the value of a college education. In a recent Huffington Post blog post, former Bucknell University president Brian Mitchell said much of this misperception of higher education is due to how "politics has intruded into the public mindset about value." There's no question, all of us in higher education need to do a better job of communicating the value of a college education, especially that of the liberal arts experience, and how it translates into a successful life and career path after graduation. We see the results every day. Eighty-three percent of Trinity students graduate within six years. More than 80 percent have obtained a job or entered graduate school at graduation. Our commitment is to deliver the best value in higher education and to make the investment as affordable as possible. Trinity's high quality education and affordability were recently recognized in the 2018 Kiplinger's Best College Values, which ranked the University No. 27 among all private colleges, and the second best value in Texas.
A Trinity education offers a diverse selection of international programs and activities designed to help students develop the necessary knowledge and skills to be effective global citizens. The Trinity Tomorrow strategic plan drives our efforts to enhance students' international awareness and engagement. In November, I traveled to China to participate in the 2017 International Liberal Arts Forum, hosted by the United International College of Zhuhai, where I was invited to speak on the liberal arts in the age of globalism. While in Zhuhai, I signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the UIC. We have been running a summer study abroad ecology and Chinese civilization program in Zhuhai for two years (the students in summer 2016 posted a great blog with photos). The signed MOU allows us to further develop collaboration opportunities for our students in the area of research and teaching, as well as student exchange. Trinity Trustee Oliver Lee '93 also participated in the forum and signing, and he was a great guide as we visited alumni in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Combined with my trip to Mexico and Monterrey Tec in February 2017, we are solidifying the importance of a strategic goal to enable Trinity students to communicate, understand, and do business in an increasingly diverse and interconnected world.
Trinity's endowment is essential to the University's margin of excellence and tremendous value. Our endowment currently underwrites 35 percent of operating revenues, providing support for student financial aid, faculty salaries and research, and other operating costs. The endowment has allowed the University to develop quality programs, recruit eminent faculty, maintain the best facilities, and deliver greater value to students than would be possible with tuition dollars alone.
Students are the key beneficiaries of Trinity's endowment. We remain committed to making Trinity accessible to all qualified students without regard for financial circumstances. Endowment-funded student scholarships and financial aid are priority items for Trinity. I am pleased to share with you our inaugural endowment report. I hope you will gain a deeper understanding about how the endowment functions and the important role it serves for the University.
Thank you for your continued engagement and support of Trinity University. You make it possible for Trinity to offer the high quality experience that cultivates the confidence and curiosity that make our graduates catalysts for the progress and changes our world most needs.
Happy New Year and best of everything in 2018.
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.