Board of Trustees Approves Budget, Advances AI Integration and Plans Presidential Search

By Iqra Athar ’26

News Editor

President Joanne Berger-Sweeney provided an update on the Board of Trustees’ April meeting in an email to the campus community on Monday, April 15. The two-day meeting, which took place on April 12 and 13 at Trinity College’s campus, focused on a variety of critical issues, including the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, faculty promotions and advancements in the college’s significant capital campaign.

During the meeting, emphasis was placed on the “All In” capital campaign, which has seen remarkable progress under the leadership of Executive Director Carrie Pelzel ’74. In an interview with the Tripod, Pelzel reported that the campaign raised an impressive $382 million to date, including $69 million for the Trinity College Fund, supporting Trinity’s greatest needs through annual giving in the current fiscal year. This funding has been instrumental in enhancing student experiences, upgrading technology, supporting faculty, athletics and infrastructure. Pelzel highlighted that the campaign focus moving forward continues to be on advancing academic excellence, faculty development and the Trinity Plus curriculum, with an eye on enriching the student experience as key priorities. “This year, financial aid has been a cornerstone, ensuring Trinity’s accessibility,” Pelzel noted, celebrating the active participation of over 54% of Trinity alumni. With the campaign’s June 30, 2025 deadline approaching alongside Berger-Sweeney’s retirement, Pelzel expressed the campaign’s commitment to maximizing its impact and honoring Berger-Sweeney’s legacy.

In terms of academic personnel, the Board voted to award tenure and promote five faculty members—Lindsey Hanson, Mareike Koertner, Kirsti Kuenzel, Rebecca Pappas and Gerardo Ruiz Sánchez—to the rank of associate professor across diverse disciplines such as chemistry, religious studies, mathematics, theater and dance, and economics, respectively. Additionally, three faculty members—Shane Ewegen in philosophy; Andrew Flibbert in political science; and Michelle Kovarik in chemistry—were elevated to full professor status.

Berger-Sweeney also highlighted the results from the latest first-destination survey, which showed that 96% of the Class of 2023 reported favorable postgraduate outcomes. She noted that the upcoming Class of 2028 has drawn the College’s largest applicant pool on record, including a 47% increase in early decision applications from fall 2022 to fall 2024. Overall, Trinity received 7,587 applications, maintaining a selective acceptance rate of 29 percent.

The Board also approved a balanced budget of $153.3 million for FY25, marking an increase from the previous year’s $144 million budget. This budget includes provisions for significant capital projects, such as the advancement of the heating and cooling master plan, science renovations and enhancements to the student experience, including the development of a new first-year student plaza.

The meeting took a futuristic turn with a plenary session on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in education, led by AI expert Lilach Mollick from Wharton Interactive and featuring insights from Trinity faculty and students on integrating AI into classroom and research settings. Lisa Bisaccia ’78, chair of the board, highlighted the session’s impact, stating, “We explored AI’s potential through live demonstrations, emphasizing the need to develop guiding principles for its use on campus to enhance educational outcomes without overshadowing our lived experiences.” This discussion underscored the evolving role of AI, which is here to stay, and its impact on shaping academic environments at Trinity College.

Moreover, in a conversation with the Tripod, Bisaccia shared insights on the board’s priorities, including the presidential search following Berger-Sweeney’s announcement of her retirement next year. Bisaccia emphasized the critical nature of this search, stating, “Our top priority is finding the best president we can, ensuring they are highly qualified, a good cultural fit and passionate about Trinity and the liberal arts. A leader who will inspire us and who will manage and be a good steward of college resources.” She reflected on Berger-Sweeney’s tenure, noting, “We have been fortunate to have President Berger-Sweeney for 11 years; that long tenure and the value of steady, continuous leadership were proven. So, we are focused on bringing in the next best president.”

The conclusion of the board meeting was marked by discussions on strategic initiatives for the future and recognition of outgoing faculty members, as well as celebrations for the new Wellness and Recreation Center and the 10th anniversary of the Elizabeth Elting ’87 Venture Women’s Leadership program.

In closing remarks, Berger-Sweeney expressed her anticipation for the upcoming Bicentennial Gala and the 198th Commencement, looking forward to celebrating these milestones with the college community. “We have made enormous progress in a challenging year, thanks to the strength of the Bantam community,” she concluded in her email, ensuring the community that Trinity College continues to strive for excellence in all its endeavors.

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