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Inspired Interactions

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Trinity Board of Visitors advises University working groups

by Carlos Anchondo ’14

The Trinity University Board of Visitors is refocusing its mission in an effort to better serve the University and bolster alumni-student connections. The Board, comprised of Trinity alumni and friends, is now advising four Trinity working groups tasked with campus improvement projects. Projects include a Trinitonian advisory council, a pitch for faculty use of open access content in assigned readings, a journalistic look at the stories and contributions of Trinity staff, and an alumni/employer network. Students collaborate with the Board in conjunction with an Alumni Relations and Development staff liaison.

Mike Bacon ’89, vice president for Alumni Relations and Development, believes the working groups involve Board members in a new and effective way.

“The Board now engages around specific work where they can contribute their knowledge and expertise,” says Bacon. “These groups are totally changing the way this Board does its work.”

The Board was founded more than 20 years ago to advise the President and assist the office of Alumni Relations and Development. Members are nominated and serve three-year terms. In 2016, the Board adopted a new set of bylaws and drafted a member expectations agreement. Members of the Board are encouraged to make a minimum financial contribution at the Associate level to Trinity.

Philip Wetz ’73 chairs the Board and says members are “inspired by every interaction with Trinity students” and even more invested in the University’s mission as a result.

“We hope that the students will benefit in working with Board members by perhaps learning about how to work effectively as a team and how to develop plans to address challenges they have identified,” says Wetz.

The four working groups are part of the Board’s revitalization. Nick Santulli ’18, president of Trinity’s Student Government Association (SGA), is part of the working group advocating for faculty use of Open Educational Resources (OER) in their courses. Santulli’s group successfully advocated for Trinity to join the Open Textbook Network (OTN), which advocates for and curates peer-reviewed OER materials. These free resources replace expensive traditional textbooks, making college attendance much more affordable. The Board is advising the SGA group as they advocate for OER adoption to Trinity professors who are like to incorporate this model into their syllabi.

“Board members sympathize with us when we tell them that textbook costs are ridiculous,” says Santulli. “They can relate to us. This has provided a great opportunity to form relationships and I really value how committed they are to Trinity and making the student experience the best it can possibly be.”

Board members convene on campus for two days every March and October. The biannual meetings let the Board offer advice, while still allowing the student groups to retain agency of their projects. Santulli says their insight has “definitely been welcome,” as Board members come from a variety of professional disciplines and life experiences.

To learn more about the working groups or the Board of Visitors, contact the office of Alumni Relations and Development at alumni [at] trinity.edu or 210-999-8404.