Trinity University (Texas)

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Trinity University
Trinity University seal.png
Motto E Tribus Unum (Latin)
Motto in English
From Three, One
Established 1869
Type Private
Affiliation Independent; est. as Presbyterian
Endowment $1.18 billion (May 2014)[1]
Chairman John C. Korbell
President Danny J. Anderson
Academic staff
Undergraduates 2,299
Postgraduates 197
Location San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
Campus Urban, 117 acres (0.5 km2)
Colors Maroon and Grey[2]

18 varsity teams

NCAA Division III Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC)
Nickname Tigers
Trinity University.png

Trinity University is a private liberal arts college in San Antonio, Texas, United States. Founded in 1869, its campus is located in the Monte Vista Historic District and adjacent to Brackenridge Park. The student body consists of over 2,299 undergraduate and 200 graduate students, and the university awarded 517 undergraduate degrees in 2013-2014. Trinity offers 42 majors and 57 minors among 6 degree programs [1] and has an endowment of $1.2 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 national independent colleges which share a commitment to liberal arts values and education; and is a member of the Associated Colleges of the South.


Former Trinity University campus in Waxahachie, Texas

Trinity was founded in 1869 by Cumberland Presbyterians in Tehuacana, Texas. Specifically, John Boyd, who had served in the Congress of the Republic of Texas from 1836 to 1845 and in the Texas Senate from 1862 to 1863, donated 1,100 acres of land and financial assistance for the establishment of the new university.[4][5] The school was formed from the remnants of three small Cumberland Presbyterian colleges which had dwindled in enrollment during the Civil War.

Believing 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. 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, its leaders began to consider relocation to a larger community, to improve the University's viability.

Meanwhile, in 1942, the Methodist-affiliated University of San Antonio was failing. San Antonio community leaders who wished to maintain a Protestant-church-affiliated 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.[6]

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).[6] 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.[7][8] 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. 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.[9]

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.[10] Dr. Brazil served as Trinity's President in through January 2010. Upon announcement of his retirement, the Board of Trustees awarded him Trinity's Distinguished Service Award, Trinity's most prestigious honor.[11]

Dennis Ahlburg served as president from January 2010 to January 2015.[12] During Ahlburg's presidency, Trinity developed and executed a strategic plan to shape the future of the University. Academically, Trinity refined its curriculum in order to further define a liberal arts education, developed an entrepreneurship program, and realigned the business program. As well, Trinity refocused its marketing to raise the University's national profile.[13] Finally, under Ahlburg, Trinity built the Center for Sciences and Innovation, which modernized and combined science facilities to ease collaboration across disciplines.[14]

Danny J. Anderson, a Latin American literature scholar and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Kansas, succeeded Ahlburg as president in May 2015.[15] Vice President Michael Fischer served as the interim president.

A delegation from BNU-HKBU United International College was invited by the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS), a consortium of 16 liberal arts colleges in the US, to explore collaborative ties. UIC visited four of the ACS member institutions between 17 and 25 April. The delegates discussed exchange opportunities and collaborative projects with Trinity University.[16]


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.


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 toward 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.[17][18]

Miller Residence Hall,[19] 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, the Thomas-Lightner complex, and The Center for the Sciences and Innovation[20] have been registered with the Green Building Council’s LEED program and are awaiting certification.[21]

Strategic Plan[edit]

In 2011, Trinity undertook the development of a comprehensive ten-year strategic plan, Trinity Tomorrow,[22] to ensure the long-term sustainability of the University. The board of trustees approved the plan in May 2013, which details four strategic objectives:

  • Strengthen opportunities for experiential learning
  • Foster productive collisions as a defining characteristic
  • Enhance students international engagement and awareness
  • Maximize the educational and personal benefits of a residential liberal arts university

and four foundations in order to achieve them:

  • Strengthen market position and improve student recruitment
  • Be an innovative leader for excellence in teaching and research
  • Improve alumni relations, engagement, and giving
  • Build the infrastructure to support a 21st-century university

Administrators have begun enacting the details of the plan with positive outcomes. Among other highlights, Trinity:

  • adopted a new curriculum;
  • increased its marketing locally and nationally;
  • launched centers to focus on college success, experiential learning and career preparedness, and international citizenship;[23] and
  • launched the Tiger Network[24] to increase access to campus events via the Internet.

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.[2]
  • 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,[25] Stieren Arts Enrichment Series, Nobel Economists Lecture Series,[26] 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.[27] 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[28]
  • 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.[29]
  • The Center for Sciences and Innovation (CSI),[30] completed in 2014, modernized the University's science, engineering, and laboratory facilities and helped ease collaboration across disciplines. Renovations to connect existing buildings allow for a 300,000 square-foot science facility. The complex, certified LEED Gold, features a rooftop observatory, a living “green” roof and rooftop greenhouse, and an open-air innovation and design studio. The new building helped Trinity earn a top-five ranking in the Princeton Review for best science lab facilities.[31]
  • 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,[32] 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.[33] Non-denominational services are led by the campus chaplain Sunday evenings.

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.[34] 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 $37,856; room and board are $12,362 for 2015-2016.[35]


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.[36] 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[37] provides the liberal arts foundation for all undergraduate degrees awarded by Trinity. The Common Curriculum consists of the following components:[38]

The First-Year Experience (FYE) Program Starting in Fall 2015, all first-year students must complete a 6-credit hour course in their first semester that meets five days a week. The FYE consists of a writing workshop, discussion seminar, and a common day where everyone from the different sections meet for guest speakers, student conferences, or library sessions to assist students in the research process.

Foreign Language, Computer, and Mathematics Skills

  • Foreign Languages

Trinity students must reach a minimum level of competence corresponding to that attained after successful completion of the first semester of the second year of college foreign language study. Students may waive this requirement if they completed the appropriate high school courses. An International baccalaureate course at standard level with a 6 or 7 will suffice.

  • Computer Skills

Students must be able to use computers to collect, organize, analyze and communicate information in an academic environment. Students who do not pass a test demonstrating these competencies must fulfill this requirement by completing an approved course built around these criteria.

  • Mathematics

Trinity requires completion of three years of high school mathematics, including either trigonometry or precalculus, for admission as a first-year student. While there is no further requirement, all students are urged to undertake further study of mathematics at Trinity.

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.[39] 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.[40]


University rankings
Forbes[41] 100
U.S. News & World Report[42] 1 (West)
Master's University class
Washington Monthly[43] 4

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:

  • The Princeton Review recognized Trinity in its 2015 edition of The Best 380 Colleges, its annual college guide, and has been featured in the guide since its first publication. Trinity regularly receives mention for having great residence halls; this year it also noted Trinity for its science and lab facilities.
  • Trinity was ranked first in the West in U.S. News & World Report's 2016 Regional University Rankings [44] for the 24th consecutive year.
  • 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.[45]
  • Trinity was named a 2011-12 Best Value Private College by Kiplinger's Personal Finance at #27.[46] 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 2015 rankings, prepared by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity[47] ranks Trinity 100th nationally.[48] 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.
  • College Factual,[49] which evaluates all colleges and universities in a single category, ranked Trinity 65th in 2015, up from 86th in 2014. College Factual's rankings measure the quality of education a student will receive at a specific college, relative to all the other colleges. Its ranking focuses on undergraduate programs based on factors including standardized test scores, expenditures per student, student-faculty ratios, and graduation rates.

Student body[edit]

Trinity Undergraduate Demographics[50]
African American 3.9
Asian 5.8
Hispanic 18.1
White 56.1
International 7.4
Multiracial 4.7

Trinity's 2,299 undergraduate students come from 43 U.S. states plus 61 countries. Students of color account for 23 percent of undergraduate and graduate students. The admissions office received 5,502 applications for the class of 2018, a 22 percent increase from the previous year. The acceptance rate in 2014 was 48%, representing a 16 percentage point decrease from the previous year.[51]

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.[52] 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.[28]

Student life[edit]

Greek life[edit]

15 Greek organizations are hosted by Trinity, eight fraternities and seven sororities,[53] 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.[54] The current fraternities and sororities are as follows:


  • Bengal Lancers
  • Chi Delta Tau
  • Iota Chi Rho
  • Kappa Kappa Delta
  • Omega Phi
  • Phi Sigma Chi


  • Alpha Chi Lambda
  • Chi Beta Epsilon
  • Gamma Chi Delta
  • Phi Delta Kappa
  • Sigma Theta Tau
  • Spurs
  • Zeta Chi

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.[55] In 2012, two fraternities and two sororities had their charters temporarily revoked for hazing violations.[56] The Gamma Chi Delta sorority specifically was found to have been in violation of numerous internal policies relating to sexual-based harassment and intimidation.[57][58] These violations were said to have taken place over many years.[57][59]


Student media[edit]

Trinity's radio station, KRTU-FM,[60] broadcasts jazz during the day, and indie rock overnight. 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[61] has been the weekly campus newspaper for 103 years, and has a print circulation of 2,500.


Official Athletics logo
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.[62] The school mascot is LeeRoy, a Bengal Tiger. In the 1950s, LeeRoy was an actual tiger who was brought to sporting events,[63] but today LeeRoy is portrayed by a student wearing a tiger suit.

Trinity fields strong teams, evidenced by its finishes in the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Learfield Directors' Cup, which recognizes the strength of athletic programs by division. Since the Directors' Cup inception in 1995, Trinity has finished in the top 10 on five occasions out of over 400 Division Ill programs; it finished 25th in 2014-15.[64]

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.[65] 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.[66] 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.[67] As recently as 2000, the men's and women's programs each won NCAA Division III national championships.[68][69] Trinity also has won national championships in women's basketball (Spring 2003) and men's soccer (Fall 2003).[70] Club sports include men's and women's Tennis, Lacrosse, Water Polo, Fencing, and Trap and Skeet.[62]

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.[71][71][72][73][74] The unlikely play was named the top sports moment of the year by Time Magazine[75] as well as the "Game Changing Performance of the Year" by Pontiac.[76][77]

Notable people[edit]


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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