Provost’s Letter – Fall Magazine 2020
So much has changed in 2020. And yet here we are again, well into another academic year at Trinity (the 169th, to be precise). All of us are navigating unchartered waters when it comes to working and learning during a global pandemic. But we are in it together, and I am so proud of the Trinity community for the incredible resilience and positive approach everyone has shown in these challenging times.
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to close campus in March, students, staff and faculty adapted quickly to the new reality, moving classes fully online to complete the school year. A core team of on-campus staff ensured the well-being of a small group of residence students who were unable to return home and have remained with us. Our student leaders, dons, community advisors and others were remarkable at making a difficult situation more manageable for everyone. And our staff in the Registrar’s Office, John W. Graham Library and larger student services team have been incredibly resourceful in finding ways to connect virtually with all students to offer them the support they need, whether it be academic, research, personal or financial.
Our meetings also moved online as “Zoom” and “MS Teams” became part of everyone’s vocabulary, including our first online board meeting and our first virtual meeting of Corporation in April, attended by nearly 180 members and led by Chancellor Bill Graham. We are especially grateful for our Chancellor’s warm, steady and wise leadership in these uncertain times, and I am pleased to report the extension of his term by two years.
Our Class of 2020 did not receive the graduation year that we would have loved to give them. Although they were celebrated in virtual convocations with degrees conferred in absentia, we look forward to bringing them back to Trinity when we are able, so we can properly celebrate all their accomplishments. We also warmly welcome them as the newest members of the incredible Trinity alumni community.
Our honoured years maintained their enthusiasm for the College through virtual class events after Reunion 2020 was cancelled. In a remarkable show of support, several reunion classes focused on fundraising for urgent bursary support for current students, some of whom are acutely feeling the negative financial impacts of this pandemic. Bolstered by additional gifts from alumni, faculty, staff and other members of the Trinity community, Urgent Bursary Support has received more than $316,000 in donations since March.
Throughout the summer, the whole College was hard at work to ensure that we could continue to offer our students the outstanding education and supports they deserve while at the same time safeguarding the community. As I write this, we are a few weeks into the start of the new school year. We have a much smaller residence population and the campus has been reconfigured to ensure we are consistent with the best public health advice. The majority of Trinity’s classes will be delivered online, with roughly 15 per cent of courses offering an in-person option. Students who have chosen that option will attend classes on campus in socially distanced classroom settings with all required safety precautions (see page 4 for more details about our back-to-school safety measures).
It is so wonderful to hear student voices around the College again and to see small groups of students enjoying the Quad, which feels more precious than ever now. I am even seeing classes out learning on the lawns around our beautiful campus. Of course, it is still difficult to predict how the situation may evolve over the fall. While we are planning for the most likely scenarios, we also know that we may need to pivot to adapt to new circumstances and public health directives, and we will keep you apprised as things evolve (please check the Trinity website for updates).
I want to applaud the incredible efforts of our dedicated staff and faculty. Since March, many members of the College have been working long hours, often in exhausting circumstances including with children at home, to do their best for our students and the community. I am inspired by their commitment and creativity, and grateful for all they are doing to ensure that the fall semester is as positive as possible for our wonderful students.
We have had to make tough decisions about in-person events on campus. While some events have been postponed or cancelled—including this year’s beloved Friends of the Library Book Sale—we are hosting as much as possible virtually. I am pleased to report that the Most Rev. Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, will deliver a virtual Larkin-Stuart Lecture—the first ever! We are also planning a virtual Conversations with the Chancellor event with the President of the International Criminal Court in the Hague, Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji. Please visit the Calendar on page 29 for more information and check the Events section of the Trinity website (under the “Connect” tab) for updates.
In addition to the pandemic response and planning, we have been working to address the serious issues of anti-Black racism and inclusion that have been raised by our students and others in recent months. It is critically important that everyone be welcomed as a full member of the Trinity community—no one should face racism, discrimination or intolerance. Inclusion is not the job of a few, it is the job of all of us. Each member of the Trinity team is challenging themselves to think about ways we can respond to anti-Black and other racism. We are also about to announce a Task Force that will make recommendations to ensure that the Trinity community is welcoming and inclusive for all.
However, we don’t have to wait for a Task Force to create positive change. For example, thanks to suggestions from some alumni, our Student Services team is developing special mentorship programming. If you are interested in being part of this, please contact our Director of Student Services & Registrar Nelson De Melo at email@example.com. In addition, the College has established a new bursary fund for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) students. You may donate via the Trinity website by clicking on the Donate tab and choosing how to designate your gift. Other parts of the College have also embraced these efforts: From highlighting BIPOC voices through the Graham Library, to rejuvenating various aspects of our academic programs, everyone is working hard to ensure that we are a welcoming place and that what we do reflects our full diversity.
On another front, planning for our exciting new residence and academic building—the Lawson Centre for Sustainability—continues to move forward. Design development is expected to be completed this fall, and the early construction phase is scheduled to begin in 2021. Please read more in our special Living Trinity section, starting on page 9. The Integrated Sustainability Initiative is also in full swing, with new sustainability courses in our academic programs, new leadership about to be announced and meaningful sustainability-oriented opportunities for students under way.
In the months ahead, we may all be challenged in ways we have not yet imagined. And I believe that our incredible Trinity community will continue to move forward, stronger together.
I wish you and your loved ones well. And as always, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time,
Provost and Vice-Chancellor
As published in Trinity Magazine Fall 2020