By Alden Smith ’16
In late February President Berger-Sweeney released an official letter on the Trinity webpage pertaining to the cancellation of the annual Long Walk Societies celebration event. Past events had been held in New York City, but this year’s event was slated to occur in downtown Hartford. In the letter Berger-Sweeney acknowledged the difficulty of the situation but expressed that this decision was in line with her previous statements. The president’s, “working goals for Trinity include ensuring the highest quality of education while also achieving financial equilibrium.” In order to achieve this, the administration has, “embraced greater fiscal prudence to ensure that our finite resources support excellence across campus.” In her letter she made sure to thank the Long Walk Societies for all they have done and urged members to attend the upcoming regional presidential receptions, as she has trips planned later this month in California and Washington D.C.
While this cancellation was a disappointment to some alumni involved with the Long Walk Societies, overall the email responses have been overwhelmingly positive. Although the president’s office has not received many emails on the issue, Berger-Sweeney said, “the emails that we have received are 4:1 in favor of cancelling the event and using the money to support other initiatives on campus.” One alumni was very pleased with the decision and asserted, “much rather see the money spent on initiatives on campus.”
When reached for contact on the cancellation, Berger-Sweeney outlined the core reasoning behind her decision-making, “the LWS event started to celebrate volunteers at the end of the Cornerstones campaign, about 5 years ago. No one seemed to plan for it to be an annual event, it just happened. The event was projected to cost more than $100,000 this year; it has cost more than that in previous years.” To the president this cost seemed excessive and not the best way to engage alums.
The Vice President of Advancement, John Fracasso weighed in on the improved fundraising and engagement plans for the spring, and noted some of the new initiatives in the pipeline. Beyond regional gatherings, “Other receptions and Industry Series events are being planned for later in the spring. The Long Walk Societies Industry Series features networking with some of Trinity’s most successful alumni and parents. Past events in the Series focused on alumni experts in the finance and real estate industries.”
Recently, Trinity sponsored the first-ever Athletics Giving Week in the first week of February. In this event leadership donors sponsored a Challenge Fund of $150,000 which inspired other donors to make gifts and pledges totaling $257,000 exceeding the Challenge by more than $100,000, which was a huge win for the fundraising team.
This year the annual Trinity Giving Day will be on April 20, 2016. Once again, a leadership Challenge Fund will provide incentive for other donors to give generously to the Trinity College Fund during the month of April. Fundraising events like these rely on the strong donor leaders to set the pace for the capital campaigns.
Fracasso also elaborated saying, “An exciting new strategy this year is peer-to-peer outreach among Greek Letter Organization (GLO) alumni. Sororities are leading the way: Kappa Kappa Gamma leaders solicited more than 700 alumnae to honor President Berger-Sweeney’s leadership with a gift to the Trinity College Fund. Tri Delta/Ivy Society followed with peer solicitations of nearly 400 alumnae. Alpha Delta Phi, Psi Upsilon, and Saint Anthony Hall are next, with recruitment of volunteer leaders in the remaining GLOs also underway.”
Despite the initial surprise of the event cancellation, it is clear that the lack of event certainly does not mean a lack of fundraising efforts by the president and her team.