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Anonymous donor establishes endowment to meet increased demand for student accessibility services
by Margaret Miller
Trinity takes pride in recognizing that each student brings diverse strengths and abilities to the Trinity community. With a $5 million contribution from an anonymous donor, the University is one step closer to ensuring that all students receive equitable access to success.
The gift will establish a $4.5 million Student Accessibility Services Endowment, which will allow Trinity to increase staff, implement more programs, provide students with the latest assistive technology, engage in professional development, and increase campus collaboration. The balance of $500,000 is available immediately to provide for initial software and equipment purchases and fund the program’s new initiatives while the endowment matures.
“Trinity University is excited, humbled, and honored that we may have an opportunity to become a national leader in student accessibility,” says Betty Curry, director for Academic Support. “More than that, we welcome the chance to be able to meet each student’s needs more completely to ensure their success at Trinity and in their professional lives as alumni.”
Trinity’s Student Success Center (SSC) was envisioned as part of the University’s Trinity Tomorrow strategic plan to bring a holistic approach to helping students become more confident self-advocates during their tenure at Trinity and beyond. While Student Accessibility Services (SAS) has been a central component of the Trinity Tomorrow plan, the improved services would have been implemented incrementally were it not for this significant investment. Under the leadership of Sheryl Tynes, vice president for Student Life, the SSC is poised to lead the campus community in promoting equitable access to success for all students enrolled at Trinity.
“The SSC’s top goal is to expand our capacity to support and promote the self-advocacy skills of our students, along with enhancing faculty’s and staff's deep understanding of students' unique needs as well as their assets,” says Tynes. “With this truly transformational funding, we will significantly enhance our capacity to serve each and every Trinity student.”
Among the annual expenses to be funded by the endowment are salaries for a year-round SAS specialist and three additional full-time staff members. This will more than double the SAS staff to ensure that students receive individualized attention imperative to their success. Faculty and staff will be professionally trained to work with students who have issues that present learning or mobility challenges. Costs for ongoing professional development and implementation of the best-in-class software and equipment for accessibility needs will also be supported by the endowment.
With this grant, Trinity will equip students to be their own advocates, create University-wide understanding and support to meet the challenges students face, while providing the equipment and training to support this deeply purposeful work.
Margaret Miller is a development writer for Trinity University. Reach her at mmille18 [at] trinity.edu.