This Saturday is Founders' Day, a day that honors the pioneering spirit of a group of Cumberland Presbyterian ministers who sought to establish "a University of the highest order." On April 20, 1869, they selected Tehuacana, Texas, as the site of a school that would train students in body, mind, and spirit: Trinity University.
While the Founders' Day tradition of picnics and singalongs may have fallen by the wayside, I feel its spirit every day on campus. The energy and excitement of innovation and change is alive—and thriving. A new program recognizes international senior students and seniors who have studied abroad. More than two dozen students spent spring break in three cities giving more than 1,000 hours of service to communities in need. And Trinity's come-from-behind debate team has broken onto the national scene, beating Harvard and Michigan and securing a spot in the Elite 8 in the American Debate Association National Championship Tournament.
Of course, the Founders' Day spirit is noticeably visible in Trinity's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. While we have proudly supported entrepreneurs since its founding, our current entrepreneurship program has solidified the University's commitment to today's budding founders. Three weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the seed round of the University's Louis H. Stumberg Venture Competition. Now in its fifth year, the Stumberg Competition has awarded $240,000 in seed money to 26 startups—and counting.
It was hard not to feel the energy as students practiced last-minute pitches and repeatedly smoothed their lapels. Excitement filled the Innovation Cube as student teams delivered ideas on new products, business plans, and nonprofits. In a room full of smart, critical thinkers and creative problem solvers, I felt the spirit of Founders' Day in each and every Tiger there. What are the liberal arts, if not a blueprint for developing thoughtful, meaningful solutions for some of the world's greatest challenges?
Two days after the Stumberg Competition, I had the profound honor of introducing Doris Kearns Goodwin for the Flora Cameron Lecture on Politics and Public Affairs. Goodwin spoke on "Leadership in Turbulent Times," and while her entire lecture was more than deserving of the standing ovation she received, one quote especially stood out to me. "Resilience," she said, "is a critical leadership quality. The ability to sustain ambition through the face of loss and adversity is at the heart of leadership growth."
On April 6, I listened to health care administration professor Amer Kaissi speak on exactly that: leadership and the importance of perseverance in times of uncertainty and change. Kaissi was one of several Trinity faculty who took "Trinity on Tour" to Dallas, where alumni, parents, and friends connected with the University through "classes without quizzes" and more. Participating in these classes, I was inspired by the passion, storytelling, curiosity, and humor they brought to their presentations, pulling alumni into fascinating topics and reminding our community of the variety and stature of our faculty and their research.
Educators, inventors, engineers, entrepreneurs, artists, activists, architects, developers—founders equipped with a Trinity education have demonstrated an unwavering resilience and drive toward transforming the world around them. If our founders could see Trinity University today, they would undoubtedly see their legacy alive and well in the integrated delivery of liberal arts and professional programs and in the way our students learn deeply and think meaningfully. Enduring excellence, intentional inclusion, perpetual discovery: These are their gifts to the Trinity of today. #TigerPride!
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. Also, follow me on Twitter @TU_President19 or follow conversations on my website at president.trinity.edu.