Statement of Mission
Trinity is a comprehensive university offering a broad range of educational programs that prepare students across the lifespan for the intellectual, ethical and spiritual dimensions of contemporary work, civic and family life. Trinity’s core mission values and characteristics emphasize:
Commitment to the Education of Women in a particular way through the design and pedagogy of the historic undergraduate women’s college, and by advancing principles of equity, justice and honor in the education of women and men in all other programs;
Foundation for Learning in the Liberal Arts through the curriculum design in all undergraduate degree programs and through emphasis on the knowledge, skills and values of liberal learning in all graduate and professional programs;
Integration of Liberal Learning with Professional Preparation through applied and experiential learning opportunities in all programs;
Grounding in the mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and the Catholic tradition, welcoming persons of all faiths, in order to achieve the larger purposes of learning in the human search for meaning and fulfillment.
Adopted May, 2000
Leading Trinity 2025 is Trinity’s current Strategic Plan.
Trinity History, Trinity Today and Key Facts
Founded in 1897 as Trinity College in Washington, D.C. by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Trinity was the nation’s first Catholic liberal arts college for women. Trinity opened its doors to its first students in 1900 – the Red Class of 1904. Trinity’s first building, Main Hall, was built in stages, with the cornerstone set in 1899, the south wing open to students in 1900 and the building completed with the addition of the north wing in 1909 – when electricity was installed. In the early years, Main Hall included all of the classrooms, student rooms, dining hall, library, chapel and convent for the Sisters of Notre Dame.
Trinity offered graduate programs for a brief time in the 1920s and then launched graduate programs more significantly in the 1960s, primarily in education. In the 1980s, Trinity launched the innovative Weekend College program, aimed at working women to earn their college degrees, with classes on Friday evenings and Saturdays. Trinity has expanded its programs for adults substantially with classes offered every weekday evening and Saturdays; the Weekend College expanded and transformed into what is today Trinity’s School of Professional Studies, open to women and men.
Trinity became Trinity Washington University in 2004. Trinity today enrolls about 2,000 students in three academic schools: College of Arts and Sciences (Trinity’s undergraduate liberal arts college for women), School of Nursing and Health Professions and School of Professional and Graduate Studies. Trinity’s top majors include nursing, biology and biochemistry, health services, education, counseling, psychology, business, communication and criminal justice.
Trinity enrolls more D.C. residents and more graduates of D.C. Public Schools than any other private university in the city. Trinity’s student body is 55% Black and 30% Hispanic. Trinity is one of only three private institutions of higher education to have U.S. Department of Education classification as both a Predominantly Black and Hispanic Serving Institution. About 70% of the undergraduate students are eligible for Pell Grants, and about 10% of the undergraduate women are Dreamers, undocumented students with DACA status. About 5% of Trinity students are men enrolled in coed programs in the graduate and professional schools. In 2020, Trinity created Trinity DARE: Driving Actions for Racial Equity, a signature program designed to widen career opportunities for students of color who have been historically excluded from many professional pipelines.
Trinity has gained prominence in recent years for success in the education of low-income students of color, and has received recognition for this work including the Carnegie Corporation Award for Academic Excellence, grants from the Mellon Foundation, and a major grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for the development of curricula and pedagogy to advance more women of color in the sciences. Trinity has also received significant grants from the Clark Foundation, Cafritz Foundation, Sloan Foundation and other major funders. In 2016 Trinity opened the Payden Academic Center with state-of-the-art laboratories for the sciences and nursing, and pervasive technologies available to all disciplines.
Learn more about Trinity’s transformation and the university’s leadership under President Patricia McGuire, who became president in 1989.
Transformation of Trinity – Chronicle of Higher Education Video: This engaging video gives a brief history of Trinity and chronicles its transformation and growth. Hear the stories of Trinity students, faculty and graduates and see a mission-driven campus community united around the goal of educating and empowering students.
Women’s Colleges and Institutional Innovation: Visit President McGuire’s resource page on Trinity’s transformation, challenges and opportunities in higher education today. Trinity’s story exemplifies the tensions between tradition and change in higher education. This page is a compendium of links to many articles in news media and President McGuire’s writing and speeches that chronicle the many dimensions of change, transformation and growth at Trinity.
Payden Academic Center Video: A Vision for New Generation of Trinity Students: This video is not only an amazing time lapse of the construction of the Payden Academic Center, from groundbreaking to dedication, it also highlights Trinity’s commitment to providing state-of-the-art labs and learning spaces to a new generation of students.
Washington Post Magazine Cover Story: “The Devoted: She spent her life transforming Trinity. So where does Pat McGuire – and the university she rebuilt – go from here?” Read the profile of President McGuire: accessible version online; a print version is also available.
President McGuire honored by Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities: Trinity President Pat McGuire received the Presidents’ Distinguished Service Award from Association in 2018. Watch the video that tells the story of the transformation of Trinity and her visionary leadership.