You are here

Trinity’s Experiential Learning Tradition Reaches New Heights

As I walk across campus each day this summer, I am thankful for the canopy of shade offered by Trinity's towering oak trees. I can't help but think of that May day in 1952 when students, faculty, and community members moved Trinity to its new Skyline campus. These grand oaks would have been no more than seedlings, with the barest promise of shade.

Magic stones on campus

The oaks have always been part of the physical experience of Trinity, steadily growing in stature and depth. So, too, has our commitment to help students develop knowledge, skills, and values through direct experiences inside and outside the classroom. Today, we call that practice "experiential learning." In fact, that pragmatic approach to applied learning in the arts and sciences has always been part of Trinity's tradition. This summer, that practice is in full bloom, as more than 12 percent of our student body is actively engaged in the pursuit of meaningful undergraduate research, internships, and study abroad around the world.

Construction around campus as well as moving of trees
In the spirit of "red bricks, green campus," Trinity was known around San Antonio for saving living trees and providing them new homes. In the 1950s and 60s, the University transplanted a set of live oak trees that were removed from the Sears-Roebuck building site in downtown San Antonio (currently the site of the Central Library).

The breadth of activities is inspiring. Here are just a few highlights:

  • Geosciences professor Ben Surpless led a team of students in the study of fault line evolution in southern Utah.
  • Psychology professor Bill Ellison and Alec Trahan '20 developed an app to help mental health patients stay connected to their clinicians between sessions.
  • A group of undergraduate researchers is working with Christine Drennon, director of the urban studies program, to study the impact of public housing developments on surrounding neighborhoods for the federal government and the San Antonio Housing Authority.
  • Ciara McDaniel '20 nabbed a coveted internship with the Youth Orchestra of San Antonio (YOSA) through Trinity's Arts, Letters, and Enterprise (ALE) summer internship program.
  • Eighteen Trinity Tigers are interning for companies in Spain this summer, and came together recently to speak to a commercial delegation in Madrid.

Faculty and students in Utah under a tree
Geosciences professor Ben Surpless with students from Trinity University, Wooster College, Mount Holyoke College, and the Keck Geology Consortium studied fault line evolution in southern Utah.

From China to Central America, from San Antonio to St. Louis, 240 Tigers are spending their summers making meaningful contributions to their fields of study and communities. We look forward to the culmination of all of their experiences during the Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium on Tuesday, July 24, from noon to 5 p.m. in the Center for the Sciences and Innovation.

Such engagement would not be possible without Trinity's exceptional faculty, whose commitment to furthering Trinity's tradition of experiential learning is as steady as the oak trees that grace our campus. While there is still plenty of summer ahead of us, I look forward to the enthusiasm and excitement that these students and faculty will bring back with them as we begin a new semester. Until then, I encourage you to learn more about these and other exceptional Tigers in this recent blog post.

Best regards,

Danny Anderson
Trinity President

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

You can also follow my Trinity conversations on:
Twitter: @TU_President19