Bicentennial Planning, Comprehensive Campaign Beset By Ongoing Pandemic

4 min read

Garrett Kirk ’24

News Editor

The Tripod conducted an investigation into the College’s plans for the Bicentennial, as well as its progress with the Bicentennial Comprehensive Campaign. 

Director of Media Relations Stacey Sneed told the Tripod that those serving on the Trustees’ Bicentennial Committee consist of “Philip Khoury ’71, former trustee, and Kelli Harrington Tomlinson ’94, current trustee, are chairs of the Bicentennial Celebration Group. Cornelia Thornburgh ’80, Board Chair, and Kate McGlew, Director of Major College Events, are also part of that group.”

In terms of the regularity of meetings, Sneed said “[t]he Celebration Group met with President Berger-Sweeney in August to discuss the mission of the Bicentennial Celebration and share ideas about the kind of events that could be planned.”

Sneed also mentioned that “[t]his group will meet quarterly to provide general oversight and guidance to the Bicentennial Steering Committee, which is chaired by Kate McGlew. The group met again in the fall to further discuss the mission and develop the planning committee structure outlined. The Steering Committee will develop specific celebration plans with the help of subcommittees that represent all areas of Trinity.”

Sneed said “[d]uring the fall, they discussed the mission and developed the planning committee structure outlined [see the response above]. We anticipate sending a letter to the community this month inviting broad participation in this effort.”

Sneed additionally stated “[w]e haven’t scheduled specific Bicentennial events yet—first we want to invite participation in the planning effort—but we anticipate kicking off the celebration in September 2022 and are planning for a fifteen-month celebration that will continue through the fall 2023 semester.”

The Tripod reported on the College’s Bicentennial planning and its challenges on Mar. 15 and also previously addressed the matter in an editorial on Mar. 9. On Mar. 16, President of the College Joanne Berger-Sweeney announced that the College would began soliciting engagement from the community to serve in Bicentennial efforts.

Sneed noted that “[i]t’s too early in the planning process to talk about specific publications or commemorations, but we do know that a fuller telling of Trinity’s history and a celebration of that history, which is under way already by the Primus Project, will be a significant focus of our Bicentennial efforts.” Other institutions, including Oberlin and Dartmouth, have developed and published commemorative histories in advance of their Bicentennials.

The Tripod previously reported on the Comprehensive Campaign in September 2020, noting the College has raised $182 million so far, but is still working on the total goal of reaching $435 million. $64 million of those funds came from November 2019 to September 2020.

Vice President for College Advancement Michael Casey declined a telephonic interview. Casey instead submitted a statement to the Tripod that shows these figures have since increased, saying “[w]e’ve raised $196 million to date and we are still in the quiet phase of the campaign.”  

Casey also noted in his statement that “we are on track to hit our overall goals despite some adjustments due to the pandemic to focus more on providing immediate support for students and families through the annual fund, gifts to support current financial aid, and the student equity and emergency fund.  As we come through this moment, we will focus more of our attention on the facilities and endowment initiatives in the campaign.”

Casey noted that a Tripod article from 2019 detailed the different areas the capital from the campaign will go to, including “Financial Aid,” “Academic Distinction,” “Endowing Athletics and Facilities,” the “Trinity Fund,” “Student Life Programming and Facilities,” and the “Chapel Endowment and Facilities.” 

During the 2019 fiscal year, the College received an alumni participation percentage of 30.3%, totalling 6,813 alumni donors. These numbers had fallen from the 2010 percentage of 55.3%, a year that saw almost double the number of alumni donors at 11,078. 

Recent efforts to contribute to the fund from alumni come in light of the College’s past two campaigns. Both campaigns managed to exceed the College’s goals, with the 2006 “Cornerstone Campaign,” which raised $281.1 million, and the College’s “Legacy Campaign” which reached $87.9 million.

Other NESCAC institutions have been working on campaign objective of their own, with Williams exceeding its objectives, raising $650 million in a recent campaign. Williams has also recognized alumni and alumna with a Bicentennial Medal. Amherst College has also created a history website and commissioned several years in advance three keepsake books addressing Amherst’s history and alumni achievements according to The Amherst Student.


Brendan W. Clark '21 is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Trinity Tripod, Trinity College's student newspaper.

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