Caitlin Doherty ’26
On March 27, Trinity’s Center for Hartford Engagement and Research announced that the College is a recipient of the 2023 Richard Guarasci Award for Institutional Transformation. This award recognizes institutions of higher education that have shown growth and commitment in community engagement and social justice. According to Campus Compact, the organization which delegates the award, the Richard Guarasci Award, “recognizes four-year or graduate institutions that have successfully implemented institution-wide efforts to address issues of public concern by aligning teaching, research, practice, and values in service of the common good.” Campus Compact is a collective of colleges and universities across the country that strive to further a mission of community impact and engagement. They want administration, faculty, and students in higher education to be aware of the effect they have on the surrounding community and the potential they have to create positive, lasting relationships between the campus and community. Alongside Trinity, there are more than one thousand member colleges, being a member allows institutions to connect and receive resources in pursuit of their goal of more equitable community engagement. Richard Guarasci, the award’s namesake, was the president of Wagner College in New York for fourteen years, served as a political science professor, and completed a range of scholarship on community engagement. Past recipients of the award include the Dominican University of California, James Madison University, Bard College, and Seattle University.
Trinity has made dedicated efforts to connect with Hartford and formed a sustained relationship in recent years. With the creation of the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) in 2018, the College had more resources than ever to reach that goal. Under CHER, a number of programs have been instituted and expanded that have created a more genuine relationship between the campus and the community. A number of academic programs under the community learning courses are dedicated to allowing students to work directly with Hartford organizations. Last semester, two-hundred and sixty-seven students were enrolled in community learning courses. The first-year seminar Community Action Gateway, the Liberal Arts Action Lab, and the Community Learning Research Fellows programs are all community learning courses that pair small groups of students with Hartford organizations for semester-long projects and research. Last semester, the Community Learning Research Fellows partnered with a number of groups including Her Time Hartford, Connecticut Against Gun Violence, and the Hispanic Health Council. Outside of academic courses, CHER also oversees a number of student organizations and campus partnerships, such as Trinfo Cafe and Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA) programs, just located across the street from Trinity’s campus. Fifteen Trinity students served as mentors for children at HMTCA last fall. According to the article on Trinity’s website announcing the College had received the award, over six hundred and ten students participated in fifty-two different events that were held for community service in the fall, and over $12,517 was raised by student groups for different Hartford organizations. CHER and the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement have instituted programs both within academics and extracurriculars that have strengthened the College’s relationship with Hartford, which led to Trinity’s selection for this award. As highlighted by Campus Compact’s statement about Trinity for their announcement about the winners of this year’s awards, “The collective efforts undertaken by CHER have facilitated collaboration and connection among civically engaged students and community members, with two-thirds of Trinity students participating in at least one community-engaged course during their time at college.” CHER and Trinity will be honored at a Campus Compact conference this summer.