Board of Trustees Hold October Meeting: Endowment Rises to $783 Million, Berger-Sweeney’s Contract Extended to 2025

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Jack P. Carroll ‘24 

Managing Editor 

President of the College Joanne Berger-Sweeney shared updates from the Board of Trustees’ October meeting in an email addressed to Trinity College community members Wednesday afternoon. Among these updates were the endowment’s rise to $783 million, a one-year extension (to 2025) of Berger-Sweeney’s contract, and a total of $227.4 million raised towards the Comprehensive Campaign.  

“Dan noted that our increasingly positive financial position reflects a commitment to strong stewardship of college resources at all levels across the community, including departmental budget managers and the investment strategies of the Trustee Investment Committee,” said Berger-Sweeney of Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer Dan Hitchell when discussing the endowment. She also reported that Trinity’s endowment has risen 35 percent year over year, and the $783 million figure is the highest it has ever been. Hitchell declined the Tripod’s request for the budgeting materials that he presented at the meeting. He indicated that the College will share budget information at a public meeting later this year to provide context to fiscal results.  

The Trustees formalized Berger-Sweeney’s one-year contract extension to 2025 in their meeting earlier this month. In a Dec. 2020 interview with the Tripod, Berger-Sweeney indicated that she did not plan on seeking a third term as President citing a possible retirement. Responding to questions about her decision to serve for an additional year, Berger-Sweeney told the Tripod earlier this month she is “committed to seeing through the successful celebration of our bicentennial year and achieving our goals for the comprehensive campaign.”  

Board Chair Lisa Bissacia ‘78 told the Tripod that the Trustees review the President each spring, and they unanimously agreed that Berger-Sweeney’s presence is in the best interests of Trinity’s Comprehensive Campaign and bicentennial celebration. She also indicated that the Trustees approached Berger-Sweeney with the one-year proposal and reached an agreement with her over the summer and into the fall. The Tripod first learned about the Trustees’ offer in August; Trinity’s General Counsel Dickens Mathieu informed the Tripod at the time that the Trustees asked the President to extend her contract. Mathieu indicated that he could not share the details of Berger-Sweeney’s contact extension as they were still being worked out.  

Vice President for Advancement Michael Casey updated the board on fundraising, according to Berger-Sweeney’s email. Casey announced that Trinity has received more than $23.4 million in new commitments since July which brings the campaign total to $227.4 million of the College’s $500 million goal for the Comprehensive Campaign.  

In an email to the Tripod earlier this month, Executive Director of Alumni, Family, and Reunion Giving Kerry Smith shared the FY20 and FY21 results from the Trinity College Fund (TCF), the Student Emergency and Equity Fund (SEEF), and current-use financial aid contributions and current-use contributions to Athletics. She reported that the College raised $13.3 million in FY20 through these programs which is a 30 percent increase from the previous year and the second-highest increase in the NESCAC. Of the $13.3 million, $9.2 million was raised for the TCF, 300K for the SEEF, $2.6 million for current-use financial aid contributions, and $1.2 million for current-use contributions to athletics. In FY21, the College raised $11.1 million in current support; $5.1 million was raised for endowment purposes, and $3.2 million was secured for new stadium renovations.  

Smith reported that the Trinity College Fund experienced a decrease in donors from 6,288 (27.3%) in FY20 to 6,080 (26.1%) in FY21. “That was largely due to a drop in last year’s senior class gift, where the pandemic clearly impeded our outreach, and a challenging year for our reunion fundraising effort as we obviously couldn’t gather together in person as we have traditionally done.”  

Responding to questions about the TCF results from FY21, which have seen the lowest participation rates since 2007, Casey told the Tripod: “Before the pandemic, the strategies we had adopted were proving successful, and we had seen a solid increase in the number of donors in FY19. But like most schools, we were affected by the pandemic and saw a downturn in FY20 and FY21.” He also reported that the Trinity’s volunteer fundraising program has tripled over the past several years and now includes more than 400 volunteers. Casey further indicated that the College has piloted a fundraising effort to graduates who are members of fraternities or sororities. 

This article was updated on Wednesday, Oct. 27th to include a break down of the $13.3 million figure which Smith provided after the article’s initial publication.

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