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2018 President’s Dinner Remarks

Trinity University hosted the 2018 President's Dinner on Feb. 15, 2018 at the Weston Riverwalk Hotel. The event honored Trinity donors and celebrated the University's 75 years in San Antonio and the people who made it possible. Below is President's Anderson speech.

2018 Presidents dinner

Thank you for coming together tonight to honor Trinity University. I invite you to join me in gratitude as I share tales about three journeys.

First, let’s begin with the Trinity journey that inspires and empowers students. We celebrate your generosity for making this journey possible.

With your support, we provide the education needed for the 21st century: for a world that is changing, for complex situations that require creative thinking, and for new careers that are emerging in fields that so far may not even have a name.  In other words, we provide an education focused on flexibility for the future.

Will our Trinity students please rise and remain standing for a moment? 

Students, you are the answers to our world’s questions; you are the next generation of problem solvers, critical thinkers, and leaders. You are curious. You are confident. You are catalysts who will make the world a better place.

Everyone gathered here tonight, please join me in a round of applause to encourage them in their personal journeys. Thank you students for joining us this evening.

Liz, thank you for serving tonight as our MC and for sharing the rich experiences that make up your Trinity journey.

The Trinity alumna and current students featured in the video presentation are enthusiastic about their Trinity journeys. They are each unique travelers with tales of majors selected, mentors found, and missions discovered. You make these life-changing experiences possible.  Thank you!

As for the second journey, I am excited to be here with you as we celebrate Trinity University’s remarkable historical journey. This year we celebrate 75 years in San Antonio.

In 1941, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Chamber of Commerce voted to invite Trinity University to move to San Antonio. In a war-torn world with uncertain days ahead, San Antonio business leaders were planning for the future.

The Synod of Texas of the Presbyterian Church accepted the invitation, which allowed Trinity University to move from Waxahachie to San Antonio. Just a few months later, in the fall of 1942, Trinity held its first classes on the Woodlawn Campus.  I thank Valerie Young, Synod leader and stated clerk, for being present tonight representing the Synod of the Sun of the Presbyterian Church USA.

It was a bold decision to move here, a decision that set the University on a path of dramatic transformation. There are so many supporters who made the move a success, such as the business C.H. Guenther and Son, producers of Pioneer Flour, a company that made one of the early loans that was essential for Trinity. Tonight this business is represented by George Muller, Vice President for Information Technology, C.H. Guenther & Son, Inc. and Trinity alumnus.

Once established in San Antonio, Trinity University purchased an abandoned quarry, construction began, and in 1952 our Skyline Campus held its first classes. 

It is our good fortune to be part of this vibrant city, which is currently led by our own alumnus, Mayor Ron Nirenberg, class of 1999. 

I can think of no better way to commemorate this 75th anniversary than by remembering some of the individual families who have been instrumental in Trinity’s success.

First, let’s recall James Calvert, C.W. Miller and Robert Witt, the Chamber of Commerce leaders who made it possible for Trinity to call San Antonio its home. Calvert, Miller, and Witt—known as the three wise men of Trinity history— became long-serving members of Trinity’s Board of Trustees. They each served as Board chair and promoted Trinity among civic leaders. Their families continue with Trinity to this day.

  • James Calvert’s son, Richard Calvert, has continued the family tradition. He served 39 years as a member of Trinity’s Board of Trustees, including a term as Board chair during one of Trinity’s early capital campaigns. On retiring from the Board in 2014, he was designated Trustee Emeritus and awarded the Distinguished Service Award.
  • Similarly, C.W. Miller’s Trinity journey continues with his grandson – Marshall Miller, Jr. – who has been a member of Trinity’s board of Trustees for 37 years.
  • And Robert Witt’s daughter, Sally Witt Duncan, together with her husband Baker Duncan, have continued Mr. Witt’s Trinity ties as long-time supporters, including Baker’s service on the Board of Trustees. Thank you, Richard, Marshall, Sally, and Baker for keeping Trinity close to their hearts.

I’d also like to give special recognition to Jim Laurie, son of President James Laurie and Dorothy Laurie, accompanied by his wife Jane.  President James Laurie and architect O’Neil Ford made a shared vision become reality on the Skyline Campus. The result is a university setting unmatched in character among Texas universities and one of America’s first truly modern campuses. In a sense, Jim Laurie and our Skyline Campus grew up together, and I thank Jim for joining us tonight.

Laurie and Ford’s vision is so significant that Trinity University recently received endorsement from the Texas Historical Commission to establish a national historic district on our campus.  Trinity has the largest concentration of O’Neil Ford designed buildings anywhere in the world. The nomination now goes to the National Parks Service for final approval. It is exciting to see our architectural legacy enrolled on the National Register of Historic Places. 

While O’Neil Ford is the name most often associated with the architectural development of the Trinity campus, there were many artisans, builders, contractors, and designers who also helped to physically shape the Trinity campus of today. Also with us tonight are Ford’s partners, Boone Powell and Chris Carson. Thank you for your role in this amazing Trinity journey.

Many family names are essential to Trinity’s San Antonio’s success: Murchison, Northrup, Cowles, Halsell, Taylor, McLean, Coates, Stieren, Semmes, Smith, Dicke, Denman, Herndon, Parker, Crichton, and Brown, all lend their names to buildings, scholarships, and professorships and are part of the fabric of our campus.

Since the early days in Waxahachie, more than 100 Chapman family members have attended Trinity. In recognition of this family legacy, James and Leta Chapman established trusts that have provided vital financial resources to the University for more than a half century. The Chapman Trusts have supported operations, scholarships, and numerous building and renovation projects. 

By 2015, these trusts had provided almost $400 million dollars in support since 1950.

Our Bell Athletic Center is named in honor of the late Bill Bell, a trustee for the Chapman Trusts. In this role he advocated for Trinity and also spent many years as a Trinity Trustee. His daughter Sharon Bell has continued that tradition as a leader on Trinity’s board.

I express my appreciation for the generous support of the Chapman Trusts and for the careful stewardship provided by Bill Bell and then Sharon Bell. 

If I were to name all the families, organizations, and individuals who have who have been instrumental in Trinity's success, we might not get home this evening. The ones that come to mind are representative of the outpouring of support that Trinity has received during this era of our history.

However no recounting of Trinity’s San Antonio success is complete without mentioning the name of Calgaard. For 20 years, Ron and Genie Calgaard served at Trinity’s helm. Their vision and leadership have made a positive and permanent imprint on the University. It is fitting that their names have been placed on the renovated performance gym in the Bell Center.

I would also like to recognize the retired and former administrators, especially former president Dennis Ahlburg, and all the faculty, and staff who are with us tonight. Thank you for your service and leadership in making Trinity what it is today.

As I began tonight, I spoke about three journeys—that of our students and their journey through the Trinity experience, that of Trinity’s history of resilience and transformation in San Antonio. Now I turn to the third journey: Trinity University’s future.

As we look to the future, we cannot rest on our laurels. Trinity must excel beyond what we have already accomplished if we are to thrive in our journey toward a third century of excellence.

Earlier tonight you heard our Board Chair, Michael Neidorff, publicly recognize and thank individuals for significant gifts made this year. I am grateful for these investments that propel Trinity higher as we face new competition and new challenges. I am grateful for the dedicated Trustees who guide our Board and support me as I strive in every way to raise Trinity’s stature.

Everyone gathered here tonight: Your support does more than simply sustain us, it takes us farther along the road toward greater prominence, prestige, and performance.

In the journey ahead, our challenge is to be the very best at equipping Trinity graduates to succeed in an increasingly complex world.

Together we can ensure that Trinity meets this challenge and remains a “university of the first order.” Thank you for traveling this road with me.