Trinity University (Texas)

Trinity University
Motto E Tribus Unum (Latin)
Motto in English
From Three, One
Type Private
Established 1869
Religious affiliation
Academic affiliations
Endowment $1.185 billion (2015)[2]
Chairman John C. Korbell
President Danny J. Anderson
Academic staff
256 (2015)[3]
Students 2,484 (2015)[3]
Undergraduates 2,278 (2015)[3]
Postgraduates 206 (2015)[3]
Location San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
Campus Urban, 117 acres (0.5 km2)
Colors Maroon and White[4]
Nickname Tigers
Sporting affiliations

Trinity University is a private liberal arts college in San Antonio, Texas. Founded in 1869, its campus is located in the Monte Vista Historic District adjacent to Brackenridge Park. The campus is three miles north of downtown San Antonio and the River Walk and six miles south of the San Antonio International Airport. The student body consists of approximately 2,300 undergraduate and 200 graduate students. Trinity offers 42 majors and 57 minors among 6 degree programs[5] and has an endowment of $1.2 billion, the 75th largest in the country,[2] 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 that share a commitment to liberal arts values and education, and the Associated Colleges of the South, 16 southern liberal arts colleges that collaborate on staff and curricular enhancements.


Trinity University Banner

Cumberland Presbyterians founded Trinity in 1869 in Tehuacana, Texas from the remnants of three small Cumberland Presbyterian colleges that had lost significant enrollment during the Civil War. 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 to establish the new university.[6][7]

Former Trinity University campus in Waxahachie, Texas

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-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.[8]

In 1945, Trinity acquired a former limestone quarry for a new campus and hired Texas architect O'Neil Ford 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).[8] 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.[9][10] 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.[11]

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 $205.9 million, surpassing the original goal.[12] 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.[13]

Dennis A. Ahlburg served as president from January 2010 to January 2015.[14] 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.[15] Finally, under Ahlburg, Trinity built the Center for Sciences and Innovation, which modernized and combined science facilities to ease collaboration across disciplines.[16]

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.[17] Vice President Michael Fischer served as the interim president.


Trinity overlooks Downtown San Antonio and is adjacent to the Monte Vista Historic District and just south of the cities of Olmos Park and Alamo Heights. 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.[18][19]

Miller Residence Hall,[20] 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[21] have been registered with the Green Building Council’s LEED program and are awaiting certification.[22]

Strategic plan

In 2011, Trinity undertook the development of a comprehensive ten-year strategic plan, Trinity Tomorrow,[23] to ensure the long-term sustainability of the university. The board of trustees approved the plan in May 2013, which details four strategic objectives:

and four foundations in order to achieve them:

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

Notable buildings and structures

Murchison Tower
Coates Library
Center for Science and Innovation

Academics and rankings

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.[35] 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 $39,560; room and board are $12,754 for 2016-2017.[36]


Trinity offers 47 majors and 59 minors in the traditional liberal arts, business, sciences, fine arts, and engineering, and graduate programs in accounting, teaching, school psychology, school administration, and health care administration.[5] 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

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.

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.

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] 96
U.S. News & World Report[42] 1 (West)
Master's University class
Washington Monthly[43] 6

Student body

Trinity Undergraduate Demographics[48]
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.[49]

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 their high school classes. Trinity students have the second highest standardized test scores for Texas schools, behind Rice University.[50] 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.[29]

Student life

Greek life

Trinity hosts thirteen Greek organizations, six fraternities and seven sororities.[51] U.S. News & World Report estimates that 14% of men and 19% of women were members, or about 17% of total undergraduate enrollment.[52] The current fraternities and sororities are as follows:



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.[53] In 2012, two fraternities and two sororities had their charters temporarily revoked for hazing violations.[54]These violations were said to have taken place over many years.[55][56]


Student media

Trinity's radio station, KRTU-FM,[57] 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[58] 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 (SCAC).[59] The school mascot is LeeRoy, a Bengal tiger. In the 1950s, LeeRoy was an actual tiger who was brought to sporting events,[60] 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.[61]

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.[62] 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.[63] 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.[64] As recently as 2000, the men's and women's programs each won NCAA Division III national championships.[65][66] Trinity also has won national championships in women's basketball (spring 2003) and men's soccer (fall 2003).[67] Club sports include men's and women's tennis, lacrosse, water polo, fencing, and trap and skeet.[59]

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.[68][68][69][70][71] The unlikely play was named the top sports moment of the year by Time Magazine[72] as well as the "Game Changing Performance of the Year" by Pontiac.[73][74]

In November 2015, Trinity and Austin College announced they would affiliate with the Southern Athletic Association for football in 2017. This alliance renews a relationship that ended when the SAA schools split from the SCAC. As a result, the SCAC will no longer offer football as a sport.[75]

In May 2016, Trinity won its first College World Series in a best-of-three format, beating Keystone College 14-6 in game 1 and 10-7 in game 2. Trinity defeated the 2015 champion, SUNY Cortland twice in the bracket rounds of the tournament en route to the championship.[76]

Notable people


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