Tripod Interviews Board of Trustees Chair Cornie Thornburgh ’80 Following October Meeting

3 min read

Kip Lynch ’22

News Editor

With the Board of Trustees meeting to discuss the College’s $1.3 million deficit among other issues on Oct. 16-17, the Tripod spoke with Chair of the Board Cornelia  Thornburgh ’80 about Trinity’s coronavirus response, the College’s endowment and comprehensive campaign, as well as the President’s Commission on the Future of Trinity.

On the $1.3 million deficit, Thornburgh stated that “while the college never wants to face a deficit, these times were hardly foreseeable. We are fortunate that we did not have a bigger deficit than originally envisioned.” She stressed that “our endowment is not used to fill in the ‘deficit gaps’ during tough fiscal years. Endowments at all educational institutions are in place to provide consistent income streams in perpetuity. So, yearly draws typically do not exceed 5%.”

Thornburgh detailed how the College’s endowment is “managed by Commonfund and is overseen by an investment committee of the board whose membership includes trustees with deep financial experience. Our approach going forward is to continue to grow the endowment which is fortunately benefiting from robust market conditions in spite of the pandemic.”

Praising the President’s Commission on the “engaging and thought-provoking presentation,” Thornburgh commended the work of Chair-elect Lisa Bisaccia ’78 and other commission members. However, she noted that “Their report is hardly the final word. What we have is a solid platform from which to engage the wider Trinity community about ways we may emerge from this pandemic to secure our sustainability and cement our educational mission. Next steps are to conduct a webinar this winter to summarize their observations and allow more of the community to participate.”

Chief of Staff to the President Jason Rojas indicated to the Tripod Monday evening that the report of the President’s Commission would not be made available to students or faculty.

With regard to the current state of the College’s Comprehensive Campaign, Thornburgh commented that “We are in the stages of refining our overall comprehensive campaign strategy and messaging in light of current events to appeal to the wide Trinity community. But I am pleased to announce that we are well over a third of the way to our working goal and remain optimistic about completing a comprehensive campaign of over $400 million that we hope to announce during our bicentennial celebrations.”

The Tripod previously confirmed that the College has raised $182 million as of late September while the Campaign has remained in the “quiet phase.”

On the Board of Trustee’s role in overseeing the Trinity administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Thornburgh pointed out that “the board is a governing body not a management entity. The administration is keeping us informed as appropriate as they continue to plan and execute to that plan.” However, Thornburgh did not indicate if the Board of Trustees would conduct any additional oversight.


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

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