With 2013 now in the rearview mirror, I can’t help but recall some of the significant highlights of the last year.
Our May commencement provided great significance, as I reflect on the year. Retiring professor Robert (Bob) Rice received emeritation after serving Trinity for decades. In so many ways, Dr. Rice represents the spirit of Trinity: high academic expectations, a passion to reach every student, and a career marked by the centrality of faith to all of his teaching, service, and scholarship. When considering Dr. Rice is blind, little wonder that we set up a fund to begin the Robert Rice Perseverance Scholarship. This scholarship will be awarded to an incoming freshman who has overcome physical or developmental obstacles to complete high school and pursue a college education at Trinity—as many students do successfully, for at that same commencement, I handed diplomas to three students using wheelchairs!
As the academic year began late in August 2013, the fully completed DeVos Athletics and Recreation Center opened to students. Earlier, we had completed the expansion to the east of the Mitchell Memorial Gymnasium. Then, as the summer of 2013 drew to a close, we finished the renovation of the Mitchell Gymnasium, added classrooms, and completed the west side addition—the Huizenga Fitness Center. We dedicated the facility at a chapel service on October 4 with students, faculty and staff, and trustees. After the service in the DeVos Gymnasium, we all walked into the Mitchell Gymnasium, ringing the center court with hands linked in prayer, expressing our gratitude to God and our commitment to using the entire facility for his glory.
A final highlight of the year involves the rankings that are published from time to time, for it is always helpful to see ourselves as others see us. We are consistently ranked as a top tier college by U.S.News & World Report. In addition, Washington Monthly, which evaluates the contribution of institutions to the public good, noted Trinity in its new ranking, titled the “Best Bang for the Buck.” Trinity was the only Illinois college ranked among the 48 baccalaureate colleges in America that do the best job of helping students of modest means attain marketable degrees at affordable prices. Looking at another ranking system, Trinity ranks No. 2 in value among Illinois colleges and No. 103 (out of 1,288) in Best Nationwide Colleges for the Money, according to CollegeFactual.com. As families question the costs of higher education, it is clear that we pay attention to their needs.
In closing, I’ll use the words that introduce the new strategic plan we developed during 2013 for the next five years: Faithful to our mission, we will be responsive to God in our focus on our strategic goals, anticipating that Trinity will continue to build enrollment and increase graduation rates so that the College will continue to thrive as a quality Reformed Christian institution in the rapidly changing landscape of higher education.
With God’s continued blessings, our hopes and goals will be realized.