Trinity University (Texas)

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Trinity University
Trinity University
Motto E Tribus Unum
Motto in English From Three, One
Established 1869
Type Private
Religious affiliation unaffiliated, est. as Presbyterian
Endowment US $1.01 billion (May 2013)[1]
Chairman John C. Korbell
President Dennis A. Ahlburg
Academic staff 243
Undergraduates 2,245
Postgraduates 197
Location San Antonio, Texas, USA
Campus Urban, 117 acres (0.5 km2)
Colors Maroon and white
Athletics 18 varsity teams
Nickname Tigers

Trinity University is a private, primarily undergraduate, liberal arts college in San Antonio, Texas, USA. Founded in 1869, its campus is located in the Monte Vista Historic District and adjacent to Brackenridge Park. The student body consists of over 2,245 undergraduate and 200 graduate students, and the university awarded 572 undergraduate degrees in 2012-2013. Trinity offers 42 majors and 57 minors among 6 degree programs [2] and has an endowment of $1 billion, which permits it to provide resources typically associated with much larger colleges and universities.

Trinity is a member institution of the Annapolis Group, a consortium of leading national independent liberal arts colleges that share a commitment to liberal arts values and education; and is a member of the Associated Colleges of the South.


Former Trinity Campus in Waxahachie, TX

Trinity was founded in 1869 by Cumberland Presbyterians in Tehuacana, Texas. The school was formed from the remnants of three small Cumberland Presbyterian colleges that dwindled in enrollment during the American Civil War. Feeling that the school needed the support of a larger community, the university moved in 1902 to Waxahachie, Texas. In 1906, the university, along with many Cumberland Presbyterian churches, affiliated with the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. The Stock Market Crash of 1929, however, severely hindered the University's growth. Enrollment declined sharply, indebtedness and faculty attrition mounted, and trustees began using endowment funds to maintain daily operations. Consequently, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed Trinity's accreditation status on probation in 1936, jeopardizing its future. Once again, leaders began to consider relocation to a larger community to improve its viability.

Meanwhile, in 1942, the Methodist-affiliated University of San Antonio was failing. San Antonio community leaders who wished to maintain a Protestant-related college in the city approached Trinity with a relocation offer. The university left Waxahachie and took over the campus and alumni of the University of San Antonio. (The old Waxahachie campus is currently home to Southwestern Assemblies of God University). For the next decade the Woodlawn campus, on the city's near West side, was Trinity's home while it developed a permanent home. Lacking adequate facilities, the University functioned by using military barracks and Quonset huts to house students and to provide library and classroom space.[3]

In 1945, the school acquired a former limestone quarry for a new campus. Texas architect O'Neil Ford was hired to design a master plan and many of the buildings. Construction began in 1950, and the current campus opened in 1952.

When it moved, the campus was largely undeveloped (one classroom building, one dorm, and a nearly empty library were the only completed buildings).[4] Yet, under the leadership of Dr. James W. Laurie, the university’s 14th president, Trinity took advantage of its new location in a rapidly growing major urban center to grow in academic stature. Dr. Laurie was responsible for drastically increasing Trinity’s endowment, largely funded by the James A. and Leta M. Chapman Charitable Trust of Tulsa, Oklahoma.[5][6] The stronger endowment allowed Trinity to construct a new, modern campus in its “University on the Hill” location and to increase the quality and range of its faculty while maintaining a high faculty to student ratio. This in turn helped Trinity to become more selective in student recruitment.[citation needed] In 1969 Trinity entered into a covenant agreement with the regional synod of the Presbyterian Church that affirmed historical connections, but transformed Trinity into a private, independent University with a self-perpetuating board of trustees. The campus continues to be a "historically connected" member of the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities.

Trinity's growth continued under Ronald Calgaard, who followed Laurie's successor, Duncan Wimpress. Under Dr. Calgaard, the university implemented a number of changes to raise its profile. For example, Trinity transformed into a residential undergraduate school, requiring all freshmen to live on campus and cutting the number of master's programs offered from more than twenty to four. As well, Trinity decreased its student population from about 3,300 to 3,000 (and eventually to 2,700), increased merit scholarships, increased the focus on national student recruitment, and began scheduling a strong series of speakers and cultural events open to the public.[7]

Calgaard's successor, John R. Brazil, focused on replacing outdated campus buildings and improving the school's financial resources. The "Campaign for Trinity University," which launched in September 2005, sought to raise US $200 million for a variety of purposes. At its conclusion on September 25, 2009, the Campaign raised US $205.9 million, surpassing the original goal.[8] On January 23, 2009 the university announced that Dr. Brazil would retire as Trinity's President in January 2010. That same day the Board of Trustees awarded him Trinity's Distinguished Service Award, Trinity's most prestigious honor.[9] Dr. Dennis Ahlburg assumed the presidency in January 2010.[10]


Upper Campus Lawns

Trinity overlooks Downtown San Antonio, adjacent to the Monte Vista Historic District and just south of the Olmos Park and Alamo Heights neighborhoods. The 117-acre (0.5 km2) Skyline Campus, the university's fourth location, is noted for its distinctive red brick architecture and well-maintained grounds, modeled after an Italian village by late architect O'Neil Ford.

Upper Campus, East Entrance

The campus is situated on a former limestone quarry, which creates a natural division between the upper and lower campus connected by stairways. The upper campus is the focus of academic life, while the lower campus, which sits in the basin, is residential. Trinity's residential college structure offers dorms situated near the dining and athletic facilities. Trinity is often cited on lists as a school with the nicest dorms. All halls are coed by suite, offer maid service, and are located within a 10-15 minute walk to classes and the library. The suite style dorms feature two double rooms, which share an adjoining bathroom. Despite the residential setting of its campus, Trinity is only five minutes away from historic Downtown San Antonio, the seventh-largest city in the United States.[citation needed]


The environmental movement at Trinity is known as Red Bricks, Green Campus. Trinity is a member of the Presidents' Climate Commitment and is actively working towards carbon neutrality. Trinity was ranked 5th in the RecycleMania Challenge. Students pushed for fair trade options, and now all coffee sold at the university is certified fair trade. In 2011, Trinity University scored a B- on the College Sustainability Report Card, also known as the Green Report Card.[11][12]

Miller Residence Hall,[13] home to first-year students at Trinity University, was renovated and updated in 2010, earning gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council in the process. In addition, Calvert Hall and the Thomas-Lightner complex, and The Center for the Sciences and Innovation,[14] which is under construction have been registered with the Green Building Council’s LEED program and are awaiting certification.[15]

Notable buildings and structures[edit]

Murchison Tower
  • The 166-foot (51 m) tall Murchison Tower is the most dominant landmark on the campus, designed, as many other buildings on campus, by O'Neil Ford, who also designed San Antonio Landmark the Tower of the Americas a few years later based on this design. It was previously the highest point in San Antonio. The tower is now lit at night (excepting evenings when the lighting interferes with on-campus astronomical observances), a tradition begun on September 22, 2002 to commemorate Trinity's 60th anniversary in San Antonio.[citation needed]
Laurie Auditorium
  • Laurie Auditorium seats 2,865 and hosts both campus and community events. The university has many lecture series, such as the high-profile Trinity Distinguished Lecture Series,[16] Stieren Arts Enrichment Series, Nobel Economists Lecture Series,[17] and Flora Cameron Lecture on Politics and Public Affairs.
Coates Library
  • The 164,000-square-foot (15,200 m2) Elizabeth Huth Coates Library houses more than 1 million books and bound periodical volumes. The library, an advanced facility for a school of Trinity's size, also houses over 200,000 volumes of government documents, over 1.3 million microforms, over 65,000 media items, and maintains 2,400 periodical subscriptions and access to over 20,000 electronic periodicals. The library's annual acquisition budget is over US $1.8 million.[18] In 2007, the library was awarded the Excellence in Academic Libraries Award from the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). Sponsored by ACRL and Blackwell’s Book Services, the award recognizes the staff of a college library for programs that deliver exemplary services and resources to further the educational mission of the institution[19]
  • In 2006, the Ruth Taylor Fine Arts Center, consisting of the Jim and Janet Dicke Art Building, the Campbell and Eloise Smith Music Building, and the Ruth Taylor Recital Hall was substantially renovated under the guidance of Kell Muñoz Architects, providing state-of-the-art facilities and 20,000 additional square feet of space. The building, with its blending of elegant form and function, subsequently won a merit award for design from the City of San Antonio in 2008.[20]
  • The Margarite B. Parker Chapel seats six hundred and is known for its large Hofmann-Ballard pipe organ, the largest pipe organ in South Texas.[21] comprising 5 divisions, 102 stops, 112 ranks, and over 6,000 pipes. A state-of-the art four-manual console was installed in Summer 2007, with the aid of the University's Calvert Trust Fund.[22] Non-denominational services are led by the campus chaplain Sunday evenings.
Northrup Hall
  • The newly constructed Northrup Hall, completed in 2004 and designed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects, is used for administrative and faculty offices and classrooms.[citation needed]
  • In May 2010, Trinity broke ground on the $127 million Center for the Sciences and Innovation (CSI),[14] which will modernize and combine the science facilities. The new science and engineering center will offer outstanding research and classroom space to promote a truly interdisciplinary approach to scientific research and science education. Construction recently hit a milestone as the second phase of three has reached completion.[citation needed]
  • Sixteen residence halls - as a residential campus, students are required to live on campus for three years and many stay for their fourth. As a result, Trinity has a variety of residence halls located on lower campus. Halls reserved for first-year students include Beze, Calvert, Herndon, Miller, Winn and Witt. Upperclassmen halls include Isabel, Lightner, Murchison, Myrtle, North, Prassel, Thomas, South, and Susanna. One residence hall, McLean, houses both first-year and upperclass students.[citation needed]
  • The Coates University Center houses an information desk, dining areas, post office, bookstore, bar, meeting rooms, offices and a number of student organizations.[citation needed]

Academics & Rankings[edit]

Trinity University Sign.png

As defined by the Carnegie Foundation's classification, Trinity University is a small, highly residential university with a majority of enrollments coming from undergraduate students. The full-time, four-year undergraduate program is classified as "more selective, lower transfer-in" and has an arts and sciences focus with some graduate student coexistence.[23] Trinity is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Full-time undergraduate tuition is $36,214 for 2014-2015.[24]


Trinity offers 42 majors and 57 minors in the traditional liberal arts and sciences, fine arts, and engineering, and graduate programs in accounting, teaching, school psychology, school administration, and health care administration.[25] Trinity stresses close interaction between students and faculty members across all disciplines, with a 9:1 student/faculty ratio. The full-time faculty numbers 228, 98% of whom hold a Ph.D. or other terminal degree in their field. About 47% of the student body has studied abroad, in over 35 countries.

All undergraduates must demonstrate proficiency across a broad range of academic disciplines, regardless of major. At its core, the Common Curriculum[26] provides the liberal arts foundation for all undergraduate degrees awarded by Trinity. This establishes for each Trinity student a basis for understanding the varied domains of human knowledge, which Trinity broadly defines as:

  • Cultural Heritage
  • Arts and Literature
  • Human Social Interaction
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Natural Science and Technology

Learning at Trinity culminates with a senior experience, which offers Trinity students various ways to reflect on and unify their undergraduate years while moving toward their post-baccalaureate goals. Students fulfill this component with one of the following options:

  • Senior Thesis
  • Major Capstone course
  • Senior Synthesis (paper or project)
  • Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar[citation needed]

40 percent of students attend graduate school immediately after earning their bachelor's, and 65 percent of all students attend within five years of graduation.[27] Trinity alumni enroll in law, business, medicine, education, and the humanities programs in robust numbers. Recent alumni have enrolled in graduate programs at Duke, Princeton, Harvard, The London School of Economics, Baylor, UCLA, Stanford, Dartmouth, Columbia, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Texas at Austin, among others.

An analysis by the Office of Institutional Research indicated that Trinity has made considerable progress in the number of graduates going on to earn doctoral degrees. Of students earning a bachelor’s between 1982 and 1986, 2.9% went on to earn doctorates; of those earning a bachelor's between 1997 and 2001, 8.5% had. Trinity improved its ranking in this category from 328th to 38th among other colleges and universities.[28]


Trinity has achieved numerous commendations as a result of its focus on academics and the resources it provides for its students and faculty. For example:

  • Trinity was recognized by the Princeton Review in its 2014 edition of The Best 378 Colleges, its annual college guide, and has been featured in the guide since its first publication.
  • Washington Monthly named Trinity the nation's best master's university in 2013 for “promoting the public good,” based on social mobility, research, and civic engagement.[30]
  • Trinity was named a 2011-12 Best Value Private College by Kiplinger's Personal Finance at #27.[31] Kiplinger ranked 200 private universities and liberal arts colleges that combine outstanding education with economic value. Trinity performed well because of a high four-year graduation rate, low average student debt at graduation, good student-to-faculty ratio, excellent on-campus resources, and overall great value.
  • Forbes 2012 rankings, prepared by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity[32] ranks Trinity 101st nationally.[33] Forbes' rankings evaluates a college investment from a consumer perspective, focusing on the quality of teaching, career prospects, graduation rates, and levels of debt at graduation.

Student body[edit]

Trinity Undergraduate Demographics[34]
African American 2.8
Asian 7.2
Hispanic 13.0
White 62.5
International 7.3
Multiracial 2.6

Trinity's 2,245 undergraduate students come from 48 U.S. states plus 58 countries. Students of color account for 23 percent of undergraduate and graduate students. For the class of 2015 admissions received 4,507 applicants, a 5 percent increase over last year. The acceptance rate in 2011 was 61%.[35]

60 percent of the undergraduate student body is from Texas; the other top states in population are California, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Florida, Oregon, Kansas, and Illinois.

The average high school GPA is 3.73, and 80 percent of all students ranked in the top ten percent of the their high school classes. Trinity students have the second highest standardized test scores for Texas schools, behind Rice University.[36] The middle 50 percent of scores are 590-700 for SAT Critical Reading and 610-690 for SAT Math; for the ACT 27-31.

Approximately 83 percent of the student body receives financial aid.[19]

Student life[edit]

Greek life[edit]

15 Greek organizations are hosted by Trinity, eight fraternities and seven sororities,[37][38] of which a U.S. News & World Report profile estimated that 14% of men and 19% of women were members or about 17% of total undergraduate enrollment.[39]

Historically, fraternities and sororities have been mired in conflict at Trinity. In 1991, the New York Times reported that Trinity had discontinued campus Greek organizations right to pledge new members as a result of being in violation of the university's alcohol use policy.[40] In 2012, two fraternities and two sororities had their charters temporarily revoked for hazing violations.[41] The Gamma Chi Delta sorority specifically was found to have been in violation of numerous internal policies relating to sexual based harassment and intimidation.[42][43] These violations were said to have taken place over many years.[42]


Student media[edit]

Trinity's radio station, KRTU 91.7 FM,[44] broadcasts jazz during the day, and mostly indie rock. TigerTV serves as the campus TV station. In addition to movies, the channel broadcasts three main shows: Newswave, Studio 21, and the Not So Late Show. The Trinitonian[45] has been the weekly campus newspaper for 103 years, and has a print circulation of 2,500.


Main article: Trinity Tigers
Men's football team, 1915

The Trinity Tigers is the nickname for the sports teams of Trinity University. They participate in the NCAA's Division III and the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference.[46] The school mascot is LeeRoy, a Bengal Tiger. In the 1950s, LeeRoy was an actual tiger who was brought to sporting events,[47] but today LeeRoy is portrayed by a student wearing a tiger suit.

Trinity has historically had a strong tennis program. Under the tutelage of Coach Clarence Mabry, Trinity player Chuck McKinley won the Wimbledon singles championship in 1963 and was rated the number one men's singles player in the world.[48] With partner Dennis Ralston, McKinley won the US men's doubles championship in 1961, 1963, and 1964. McKinley and Ralston also played all of the matches while winning the Davis Cup for the US in 1963. All of these accomplishments occurred while McKinley was a Trinity undergraduate. In 1972 Trinity won the NCAA Division I Men's Tennis Championship.[49] The tiger captain that year, Dick Stockton, won the NCAA men's singles championship. The women's team won the USTA collegiate national championship in 1968, 1969, 1973, 1975, and 1976.[50] As recently as 2000, the men's and women's programs each won NCAA Division III national championships.[51][52] Trinity also has won national championships in women's basketball (Spring 2003) and men's soccer (Fall 2003).[53] Club sports include men's and women's Tennis, Lacrosse, Water Polo, Fencing, and Trap and Skeet.[46]

In the 2007 Trinity v. Millsaps football game on October 27, 2007, trailing by two points with two seconds left, the Tigers used 15 laterals covering 60 yards for a touchdown to give Trinity the win as time expired.[54][55][56][57][58] The unlikely play was named the top sports moment of the year by Time Magazine[59] as well as the "Game Changing Performance of the Year" by Pontiac.[60][61]

Notable alumni[edit]

Arts & Entertainment[edit]




  • Jacqueline R. Claunch (B.A., mathematics, 1966) - president of Northwest Vista Community College
  • Stephen Jennings (B.A., sociology, 1968) - former president of University of Evansville, Oklahoma City University, and Simpson College
  • Michael MacDowell (B.S., economics, 1969) -- former president of Misericordia University
  • Michele Tolela Myers (M.A., psychology, 1977) - former president of Denison University and Sarah Lawrence College, awarded France's highest civilian award, the Légion d'honneur in 2007 by French president Jacques Chirac
  • John Silber (B.A., philosophy, 1947) - Chancellor and former president of Boston University and candidate for governor of Massachusetts in 1990

Government & Military[edit]

  • Kevin Bergner (B.S., business, 1979) - Special Assistant to the President of the United States and Senior Director on the National Security Council staff (2006-2007), upon retirement in 2010 he was a Major General and the Army’s Chief of Public Affairs
  • William C. Chase- General, US Army
  • John Cornyn (B.A., print journalism, 1973) - United States Senator from Texas
  • James T. Hill (B.A., political science, 1968) - Former commander, U.S. Southern Command.
  • Joe M. Kilgore - former U.S. representative from Texas, attended Trinity in the middle 1930s
  • Cyndi Taylor Krier - Texas state senator and Bexar County judge
  • Michael McCaul (B.A., business administration and history, 1984) - Representative for Texas U.S. House District 10.
  • Matt Mead (B.A, radio and television, 1984) - Governor of the state of Wyoming
  • Dan Morales (B.A, political science, 1978) - Former Attorney General of Texas
  • John H. Shields (M.A., urban studies, 1985) - Former member of the Texas House of Representatives from San Antonio
  • William K. Suter (B.A., sociology 1959) - Clerk of the United States Supreme Court and former Major General in the United States Army
  • Henry T. Waskow (B.A., history, 1939) - noted US Army officer in World War II

Health Care[edit]

  • Joel Allison (M.S., health care administration, 1973) - president and CEO of Baylor Health Care System
  • Marcella Doderer (B.S., finance, 1989) president and CEO of Arkansas Children's Hospital
  • Douglas Hawthorne (B.S., business, 1969; M.S., health care administration, 1972) - CEO of Texas Health Resources
  • Mark Kline (B.A., biology, 1979) - Physician-in-Chief of Texas Children's Hospital
  • David S. Lopez (B.S., business administration, 1975; M.S., health care administration, 1977) - President and CEO of Harris Health System, the fifth largest metropolitan healthcare system in the nation
  • Wayne T. Smith (M.S., health care administration, 1991) - CEO of Community Health Systems
  • Bob Shaw (B.S., business, 1969; M.S., health care administration, 1972) - president of Norton Cancer Institute


  • John Hagee (B.S., History, 1964) - Prominent evangelical Christian leader and author[72]
  • Elisa Massimino (B.A., philosophy, 1982) - president and CEO of Human Rights First
  • Uma Pemmaraju (B.A., political science, 1980) - Fox News journalist

Notable faculty[edit]

Trinity University Press[edit]

Trinity University Press is affiliated with Trinity University and publishes about ten titles a year. TU Press has three main areas of focus including books on local culture, landscape, and writers on writing and about a specific city. The books on local culture concentrates on Texas, Mexico, and the Southwest and are published to increase the knowledge of our surrounding heritage and history. The books on landscape, nature, and the environment analyze our rich natural history of our environment and how humans affect that history and culture. The books about writers on writing and about a specific city are often anthologies of international literature as well as collections of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction about a specific location.[citation needed]


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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 29°27′50″N 98°28′55″W / 29.463794°N 98.482042°W / 29.463794; -98.482042