Dear Members of the Trinity College Community:
Welcome back! I hope you have all had time to relax and rejuvenate over this very different summer. After many long months of quiet around the College, the start of term has been especially wonderful. The highlight of course is being able to welcome so many more of our students back to the College this week. It has been heartwarming all week to see our beautiful Quad humming with life again!
As you will certainly know, the pandemic remains with us and so keeping everyone healthy and safe is a top priority. We continue to work closely with our university and public health counterparts to ensure a safe return. For our new Arts & Science students, we organized many outdoor and virtual Orientation events to help students transition to university life, and to get to know other students, faculty and staff. We also held special programming for second year students who were not able to attend in person last year. For our Faculty of Divinity, orientation starts this weekend and we all look forward to seeing them. I would like to extend a special thanks to our incredible staff, faculty and student leaders who have been working so hard to make the opening of College warm and welcoming for everyone.
I hope you were able to join us on Wednesday night for our live virtual Matriculation ceremony, where we formally admitted and welcomed our incoming students to the College. On behalf of Trinity’s faculty and staff, we are so excited to get to know you and support you over the coming years. It is with great pleasure that we welcome you to Trinity, and we are thrilled to have you join our diverse and dynamic community.
As you can imagine, we are all focusing on ensuring success across the College in this new and very different academic year. As always, we aim to provide the best possible experience for our students and this year we are thrilled to be able to have a larger cohort of students here on campus. We also know how important personal connections are in learning and we are aiming to have as much in-person instruction and other related activities as possible, subject to public health guidelines. To that end in concert with the University, we have been working hard to prepare for the safe return to campus.
Vaccines are a critical part of a safe return and all those intending to be on campus must be fully vaccinated, in line with the vaccination requirements at U of T. In addition, many of the College’s existing onsite COVID-19 protocols will remain in place including the requirement to wear masks indoors. At the end of this message, I’ve also listed links to frequently ask questions and resources that you may find helpful.
Since we are looking forward to welcoming many more students to the College this fall, the focus of our planning had been on readiness for their arrival and resumption of more in-person activities, including residence life, student services, teaching and academic support. For Trinity staff and faculty – many of whom have been working from home since last year – the College has been working on a plan to transition employees back to campus with an initial focus on supporting students as well as key college operations.
We do hope we will be able to open up more fully some time this coming year. However, at the moment, for the health and safety of our residential community, the College buildings will continue to remain closed. Please note, the status of our facilities may change as public health directives are revised – please visit our COVID-19 Update webpage for current information.
Similarly, until the public health advice changes, most events will continue to be held virtually rather than in person. We are planning exciting virtual events for the upcoming year, so please look out for invitations in the coming months, including our next Conversations with the Chancellor. Coming soon – a new “Family-Feud”-style game, Survey Says which we will host via Zoom on September 22 at 7 pm ET. Students, faculty and staff – join us for this free community-building event (with prizes!) – click here to register.
While we are delighted to have so many more of our students back with us, we also know that this transition may come with challenges. Personal interaction is so important for the student experience and the last eighteen months have been especially difficult for students. With that in mind, we have been thinking hard about how best to support them and are delighted to announce that we will be adding new Community Wellness Coordinators (CWCs) who will work with our Associate Director, Community Wellness to support our students.
They will be integrated with our very successful Community Advisor (CA) program (CAs are third and fourth-year undergraduate students), now in its third year. Along with our Academic Dons (who support both residence and commuter students), CWCs and CAs live in residence and focus on providing social and personal supports and peer-to-peer advising to students. Click on these links to meet our new CWCs and get to know a few of our 2021-2022 CAs and Academic Dons. Through programs such as these, we are continuing to strengthen our community by ensuring that it is welcoming and inclusive for all students. It is only because of the generosity and commitment of the Trinity community that we are able to provide these and other supports to our students. Now more than ever, we are so grateful.
We are thrilled that we will be able to house more students in residence this year, something made possible by the vaccination mandate. And we’ve heard from many students – both first year and upper years – about how excited they are to get back to campus to live and learn. The pandemic has certainly reminded us how desperately we need space – and accessible space – on campus for living, learning and community. Thanks to the amazing support of the Trinity community, we are on track to make this a reality through our Living Trinity Campaign and our Lawson Centre for Sustainability. Sustainability will be at the very heart of this ground-breaking new building which among other things incorporates mass timber and will be zero-carbon and LEED platinum. Our commitment to sustainability does not stop at the physical environment however. Through our Integrated Sustainability Initiative, we are integrating sustainability education and practices into both the core programs and daily life at the College.
As one example, students, staff and faculty continue to work on wonderful projects, like our Sustainable Food Systems Research Group. You will be able to see their beautiful raised beds (six altogether, with food, flowers and native plants) if you happen to wander by St. Hilda’s College. This urban agriculture research project is just one example of the great work that members of the College continue to undertake even in challenging circumstances.
Projects like these and so many others are only possible because of the generosity of our alumni. Over the past several years, the Trinity community has stepped up for our College in an unprecedented way, raising over $36 million for our people, our programs and our places. Inspired by this new level of ambition for the College, our Living Trinity Campaign aims to add $40 million in new funding to this foundation.
I am delighted to announce that we have now raised over $33 million on that goal of $40 million in new money. This brings the College’s total fundraising over recent years to an amazing $69 million. This unprecedented support for Trinity’s aspirations is only possible because of the many alumni who, over the past year, have maintained and often even increased their financial support, all in the service of making a difference in the lives of our students. Donations of all sizes have been received to provide immediate assistance to students in need, and to support important programs like the Anne Steacy Counselling Initiative. We are also very fortunate that donors to the Trinity Fund have entrusted us to direct their generous gifts to our most urgent needs such as investing in our beautiful buildings and developing academic programs. Our Campaign Cabinet, led by Carolyn Kearns and Michael Royce, has reached out to many alumni – but we invite you to learn more by visiting livingtrinity.ca. To our alumni community, your generosity gives us the opportunity to create a rich learning environment for our students and we are very grateful for your support!
Speaking of Living Trinity, some of the most exciting developments in recent months have been linked to the Lawson Centre for Sustainability and the leadership donors who are making this exciting building come to life. As part of a revitalization of our glorious historic campus, the design process has thoughtfully integrated the beauty of our existing buildings with the very best contemporary sustainable design. We are also working with Two Row Architect and our design and project architects – Mecanoo and RDHA – to shape our campus landscape in a way that honours the traditional land on which the College operates. Over the summer months, we continued to work on finalizing our financing, building design plans and construction documents. This fall, we expect significant activity along the north lane (north boundary of the building site, between Trinity and the Varsity Centre) and in the north field as we work with U of T to reroute existing campus facilities services, much of which are currently underground. During this period, access to the Varsity Centre will be rerouted via a temporary lane. We have also submitted our building permit application to the city and anticipate the first phase of construction getting underway late this fall. Please stay tuned for exciting progress updates.
To our incoming elected student leaders 2021-2022, we are thankful for your leadership and look forward to working with you in the year ahead: Heads of College – Michael Levinson, Alex McLean; Heads of Arts – Arif Aulakh, Alexander Lawson; Heads of Non-Resident Affairs – Ceylan Borgers, Tourang Movahedi; Head of Divinity – Yohan Dumpala; Trinity College Meeting – Emily Goridkov (Secretary), Sam Parker (Chair), Chelsea Tho (Treasurer).
For our academic programs, we are also delighted to share a few announcements. We welcome Professor Jastaran Singh as Director, Immunology Program, and Professor Jennifer Leitch as Associate Director, Ethics, Society & Law (ES&L) Program. Respectively, we extend our thanks to Professor Thierry Mallevaey and Professor Simone Davis – whose terms came to an end this summer – for their inspiring leadership and many contributions to the College over the years. In the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program, we extend our thanks to Associate Director Professor Joy Fitzgibbon for taking on the role as Acting Director while Professor Michael Kessler is on sabbatical.
Announced earlier this summer, Dr. John Meehan has now joined us as our new Director of the Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History (BGCCIH). Also in partnership with the BGCCIH, we’re pleased to have Trinity alumna Rosemary McCarney as our inaugural James Coutts Distinguished Visitor. In the role, she will design and teach an upper year course in the IR program, bring together our exceptional students with practitioners and thought leaders, and participate in broader activities in our IR program, student mentorship and community activities. We are grateful to the friends and supporters of James Coutts (1938-2013) for establishing the visitorship in honour of his legacy.
Following a year at the University of Missouri, we are also thrilled to welcome Professors Cindy Ewing and Connor Ewing back to Trinity to teach in our IR and ES&L programs. We are deeply grateful for the support of our Chancellor Bill Graham and the Faculty of Arts & Science who made possible joint appointments with the Departments of History and Political Science.
Along with these outstanding academics, we are also thrilled to welcome to the Trinity community our new Fellow and Associates 2021. With expertise in a wide array of areas – from sustainability, environmental issues and food systems, to race studies, international development and migration, and to systemic theology and immunology – we look forward to their contributions to the student experience and enhancing our intellectual community.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank our incredibly dedicated volunteer members of the College’s governance bodies, both those who served last year and those holding roles this year. We are always grateful for the efforts of our volunteers but we know that we have made extraordinary demands on their time and energy over the past 18 months. I particularly want to express my deep gratitude to Andrew McFarlane, who served as Chair of the Board for three years. No matter what the challenge – and there were many during the pandemic especially – Andrew was unfailingly thoughtful and wise. The College has been so fortunate to be able to count on his incredible leadership and his generosity with his time and expertise. We also want to welcome our new volunteers and look forward to working with them in the year ahead.
On a final note, I am so grateful to our community – staff, students, faculty, alumni and volunteers – for your support through all of the challenges we have faced together since the start of the pandemic. One of the highlights of the past year is the fact that we did not let the pandemic dampen our ambition for Trinity. Despite the challenges, we kept working together on initiatives to make the College better in so many different ways. Collectively, we have kept the student experience top of mind and continued to build a sense of community even when circumstances forced us physically apart. Thanks to the commitment of this incredible community, I am excited about what we will accomplish together in the year before us. As Provost, I am all too aware that we have asked so much of so many and I cannot tell you how thankful I am that everyone has been so positive and so willing to contribute in any way possible. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
For those who are new to Trinity, in my role as Provost, you will hear from me several times throughout the year with updates on College priorities and important news for the Trinity community. As the new academic year begins, I look forward to being able to meet many of you in person as the term unfolds. Until then, I extend a warm welcome, and welcome back, to Trinity.
Provost & Vice-Chancellor
SUPPORTS FOR STUDENTS, FACULTY AND STAFF: