Thanksgiving Gratitude

Thanksgiving Gratitude

Thanksgiving 2021 arrives in a time of deep social, economic and political concerns in America and globally.  The pandemic era remains relentless; we long to “return to normal” but ongoing virus surges keep us distanced, masked and worried about infection.  We mourn nearly 800,000 American lives lost to Covid-19 so far.  The economy is in a bad place with inflation driving up food and gas prices, supply chain woes causing shortages of everything including Christmas trees, and labor conditions making it difficult to fill vacancies in many industries.  Despite many positive political actions — passage of the infrastructure bill, progress on Build Back Better — the political environment remains turgid with too many extremist politicos dominating headlines.  In some states, governors and leading politicians mock the quest for racial justice, taking actions that repress academic freedom and the ability of teachers at all levels to teach the truth of American history.

With so much bad news, for what can we be thankful in this season that is all about gratitude?  At Trinity, we have so much for which we can be thankful, and these many blessings give us strength and resilience to meet the challenges of the world we engage each day.

So, let us give thanks for what makes our lives together at Trinity so fulfilling each day:

Thanks to everyone in the Trinity campus community for cooperating in our efforts to keep everyone safe and healthy.  We can take pride in knowing that we have had NO cases of Covid-19 transmission on campus, and 97% of the campus community have complied with our vaccine mandate.  I am so grateful to you for being part of this life-giving public health effort!

We give thanks for the gifts of so many remarkable students in our lives, women and men who know so much about life’s challenges and yet you bring so much ambition and vision to your quest for higher learning.  We know something of your  struggles — certainly not all — and many days are very hard.  But in the end, you, our students are the real meaning of our mission, the whole purpose of our lives at Trinity.  Thank you!

I give thanks each day for the dedication and talent of our faculty and staff, each one contributing so much to the success of our students.  I am so grateful that you chose Trinity for your life’s work when you have many other options — this work is often hard and complicated, but in the end, you are making a great difference for our students.  Thank you!

Some of the remarkable academic and programmatic achievements of our students and faculty this year include:

  • Thanks to the hard work of Dr. Denise Pope and the Nursing faculty, NCLEX first-time pass rate scores of our Nursing graduates continue to be very high, with a 100% first-time pass rate for our May graduates;
  • Thanks to the leadership of Dean Sita Ramamurti and Ms. Hope Witherspoon, Trinity launched the Early College Academy this fall with students from Coolidge High School, and we have also expanded dual enrollment programs with other schools;
  • Thanks to the fine work of Dr. Allen Pietrobon of Global Affairs, 16 Trinity students are completing the second round of fellowships with CSIS, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, an important Washington organization focused on foreign policy and diplomacy;
  • We launched the Trinity DARE initiative in 2020 to promote action for racial equity in many ways, including examining Trinity’s own history and practices around race and racism; Thanks to Dr. Kimberly Monroe for leading the Trinity History Project and Dr. Joshua Wright for undertaking HerStory, an oral history initiative in which students interview alumnae that will contribute invaluable material for the Trinity History Project;
  • With support from Kaiser Permanente, Dr. Cynthia Greer, Dr. Lu Oprea, Dr. Diane Reese and Dr. Denise Boston of the Counseling Program have launched the Kaiser Permanente Practitioner Scholars Program helping to develop expertise in trauma-informed counseling for practitioners in Wards 7 and 8;
  • Trinity joined the Capital CoLab of the Greater Washington Partnership and created the Digital Analytics program which gives students an opportunity to earn a digital badge supporting career advancement in many fields;
  • Trinity joined a partnership with American University and Martha’s Table to expand Early Childhood Education programs in Wards 7 and 8, moving forward with the leadership of Associate Dean Jennifer Hauver and Early Childhood Program Director Michael Rowe;
  • Working with the D.C. Department of Employment Services, Dr. Nicole Betschman of Health Services created the Community Health Worker certificate and associate degree programs for health workers in Wards 7 and 8; thanks to Trinity’s Program Director at THEARC Cristina Lynch for supporting these and so many other Trinity initiatives at that important site;
  • With the excellence guidance of our science faculty, Trinity STEM students continue to excel in undergraduate research, including six students who recently presented at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students; with the great mentorship of Dr. Kaitlin Wellens and Dr. Anette Casiano-Negroni, Senior Biochemistry Major Zulma Reyes-Benitez ’22 and Junior Biology Major Esmeralda Segundo-Martinez ’23 won awards for their presentations at the conference; and earlier this year, students who participated in the DC NASA Space Grant program received recognition for their excellent research projects as well, with Senior Barachel Butler ’22 winning first place for her research, “Annotation and Homology Modeling of the Multidrug Transport Protein P-glycoprotein (ABCB1) of Equus caballus;”
  • Trinity has also joined the inaugural cohort of universities participating in the FamilyU project of Generation Hope, with a team from Trinity working on strategies to improve support for students who are also parents; Trinity is grateful to our Trustee Nicole Lynn Lewis for partnering with Trinity on FamilyU and providing so much support for our Generation Hope scholars!
  • Thanks to Dr. Jamal Watson who leads the Strategic Communication and Public Relations Program, Trinity has welcomed a number of great speakers including, most recently, renowned Philosopher Dr. Cornel West and PBS White House Correspondent Yamiche Alcindor;

We have simply incredible benefactors and friends whose generosity makes it possible for us to sustain Trinity.  In the last two years, we have received nearly $25 million in charitable gifts toward our goal of $50 million in the Renaissance Campaign for Trinity’s 125th Anniversary.  These gifts support scholarships, emergency grants, academic programs, faculty development, facilities needs and endowment growth.  Thanks to generous gifts, Trinity’s endowment has grown from $19 million to $33 million in the last year, which provides the kind of strong financial foundation we must have to move forward with many projects.  Some examples of the outstanding gifts that Trinity has received recently include:

  • Our great alumna and benefactor Joan Payden ’53 made a large contribution to improve Trinity’s endowment and strengthen our financial foundation;
  • Bill and Joanne Conway, through their Bedford Falls Foundation, contributed $1 million outright to support Nursing through the pandemic, and pledged an additional $10 million over five years to support Nursing scholarships;
  • Several anonymous donors made gifts of $1 million each to support scholarships;  other donors made large gifts to support emergency funds for students;
  • The Class of 1971 has contributed nearly $500,000 in honor of their 50th Reunion to support Environmental Studies, scholarships and other needs;
  • The Class of 1970 raised nearly $250,000 for their 50th Reunion to support Nursing students;
  • The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur have made several generous gifts to Trinity for scholarships and book grants;
  • A $500,000 gift from the estate of Mary Field Goubeau ’27 made it possible for us to install air conditioning at long last in Notre Dame Chapel!

Here’s a special message of thanks to our alums and benefactors who have contributed so much:

Many other donors are making similarly important gifts to support Trinity students.  We are so grateful for all of our benefactors who have responded so generously to the need for more scholarships and grants.

I am also deeply grateful for the tremendous generosity of time and talent that the members of Trinity’s Board of Trustees provide continuously.  Few know how many hours and how much expertise our trustees contribute — but I do!  THANK YOU to our trustees for your constant leadership for Trinity.

In 2022, we are launching the second phase of the Renaissance Campaign, this time to reach a $30 million goal for the renovation of Alumnae Hall.  I am so grateful that an anonymous donor has pledged $1 million to help kick-off this phase of our campaign.  We are re-imagining Alumnae Hall as a dynamic campus center where all students, faculty and staff can gather each day for good food, camaraderie, casual meetings and study in new and renovated dining halls and lounges, with refreshed student residences upstairs.

Trinity is also fortunate to have many corporate, foundation and governmental sources of support for our students and academic programs.  Just some of the amazing support we have received recently includes:

  • A $200,000 grant from the Evelyn Y. Davis Foundation will support development of a Digital Media Lab for our Journalism and Media Studies Program;
  • Grants from Kaiser Permanente are supporting the development of the trauma-informed professional development program for counselors in Wards 7 & 8;
  • A renewal of the grant we have received previously through the Predominantly Black Institutions Program of the U.S. Department of Education will provide $1 million over the next five years to support faculty development in Nursing and the sciences, replenishment of our science and Nursing instrumentation, development of an academic program in Information Technology, as well as creation of the Center for Student Success.

Trinity has also been fortunate to receive a great deal of funding from the federal government as part of the Covid-19 emergency response.  As of November 2020, Trinity has distributed nearly $7.5 million to students in the form of emergency grants and balance paydowns.  The balance paydown program has received much media attention including on the PBS NewsHour with Yamiche Alcindor.  Thanks to Vice President Ann Pauley for excellent work on all of the media relations for this and other Trinity initiatives.

Finally, Trinity is also so grateful to the thousands of alumnae and alumni whose lives and work are such a wonderful testament to the value and purpose of a Trinity education.  Many thanks to the Alumnae/i Association Board of Directors whose leadership is vital to sustaining a healthy association for all of our graduates.Please visit our Alumnae and Alumni Profiles page on the website to learn more about the amazing graduates of Trinity!

To all students, colleagues, alums, trustees, benefactors and friends who make our lives in and through Trinity so meaningful, THANK YOU!  May Trinity’s many blessings be with you at Thanksgiving, and always.