Trinity College Academic Plan for 2010-2015

Trinity College entered into federation with the University of Toronto in 1903. It is governed by its own Act of 1851 and a Royal Charter of 1852, granting it the powers of an independent university. By the articles of federation, it has suspended its power of conferring degrees except in theology. (Federation Framework Agreement between the University of Toronto and Trinity College, 1 July 2008. 1.1)

1. Vision.  “Trinity, a small, distinctive College at the heart of a great university, offers an exceptional academic experience and fosters community, responsibility, and leadership” (Trinity College Mission Statement). Our vision of our role includes attracting to the University and the Faculty of Arts & Science students with outstanding academic records, many of whom receive competitive admission offers from other leading universities in Canada and the United States.

  • In preparing this document, we conducted a survey of our first-year students in which we asked whether their admission to Trinity played a role in their decision to accept their UofT admission offer. 43.7% of the respondents said it did. (The survey was sent to 478 students, of whom 135 (28.2%) responded.) Reasons given by the respondents for choosing Trinity included: “a small college with a reputation for attracting very good students”; “high academic standards”; “prestigious”; “really hard to get into”; “vibrant community”; “beautiful architecture”.
  • From 2005-06 to 2009-10, Trinity’s first-year class had an average admission grade of 90.9%.
  • From 2004-05 to 2008-09, on average 52.7% of Trinity’s graduating class graduated with Distinction (21.4%) or High Distinction (31.3%).

Our vision encompasses the roles set out in the UofT policy document Statement on the Roles of the Constituent and Federated Colleges (March 2008). In sum, we support the academic mission (teaching, learning, research, scholarship) of the University and the Faculty. We see ourselves as an undergraduate college whose role and position within the Faculty include supporting the Faculty’s experiential objectives for its undergraduates. Much (but not all) that we do to these ends is described in the next two sections of this submission. Our vision of our role within the broader community includes providing research resources for scholars beyond the University and for members of the public.  It also includes offering public lectures, providing facilities for the use of groups outside the University and organizing outreach activities. More generally, and more fundamentally, it includes providing the broader community (local, national, international) with graduates who distinguish themselves in professional and public life and perform valuable public service.

2. Academic programs and initiatives. We offer a first-year program (Trinity One) and sponsor two interdisciplinary major/specialist programs:  Ethics, Society, & Law (major) and International Relations (major and specialist). With the Department of Immunology in the Faculty of Medicine, we sponsor a third interdisciplinary program: Immunology (specialist and major). All three interdisciplinary programs have been externally reviewed in the past five years.

Trinity One has been our primary initiative in the past five years to enhance undergraduate education. The program comprises an International Relations stream and an Ethics stream, each consisting of two seminar courses and a co-requisite course. Enrolment in each stream is capped at 25.  All full-time students entering their first year of study in the Faculty are eligible for admission to Trinity One.  Admission is based on grades and an online application that requires applicants to answer an essay question. The program attracts excellent students.  The average admission grade (2005-09) in the Ethics stream was 89.7%; in the IR stream, it was 93.3%.  In preparing this plan, we conducted a survey of this year’s Trinity One students.  Twenty-six of the thirty-six respondents (72%) said that their admission to Trinity One was a factor in their decision to accept their UofT admission offer. (a) The closest peer program is Vic One.  It has four streams and an enrolment limit of 150. Like Trinity One, it offers seminar courses capped at 25 students each.  There is dedicated residence space at Victoria College for Vic One students; Trinity does not have a similar arrangement for Trinity One students.  King’s College in Halifax offers a Foundation Year program, and Carleton and UBC both offer an Arts One program. Stanford has an Introduction to the Humanities requirement for first-year students. Trinity One contrasts with the King’s and UBC programs in not being text-based, with the UBC and Carleton programs in not being theme-based, and with the King’s, Carleton, UBC, and Stanford programs in being primarily a seminar program (the co-requisite may be a lecture course) with a much smaller enrolment. (b) We pay close attention to student evaluations of the Trinity One seminars, and in winter 2008 we conducted a survey of past and present Trinity One students. As a result of our findings we have taken steps to strengthen the program. (c) The cost of the IR-stream seminars is covered by Trinity One endowment income; for the Ethics stream seminars we receive stipends through our Instructional Grant. The program includes co-curricular events that draw upon the resources of the Munk Centre and the Centre for Ethics; their cost is also covered by endowment income.

Ethics, Society, & Law was established in 1987-88 and externally reviewed in 1999 and 2006. It is the fourth-largest college major in the Faculty with an enrolment of 161 (Nov. 2009). (a) Tufts University and Florida Atlantic University offer Ethics, Law and Society certificate programs, and UC San Diego offers a B.A. in philosophy with an area emphasis in Law, Ethics and Society. ES&L differs from the Tufts and UC San Diego programs in being interdisciplinary, and from the Florida Atlantic program in having a research-oriented capstone course. No other undergraduate program in Canada integrates all of ES&L’s three fields. Carleton’s B.A. with specialization in philosophy, ethics, and public affairs comes closest, but is essentially a philosophy program for students interested in ethics and social philosophy in relation to public affairs. (b) The most significant development for the program in the past five years has been the establishment (at Trinity) of the Centre for Ethics. One of the Centre’s priorities has been to enhance ES&L, and this it has done. For example, the program’s optional courses have been expanded to include a research course (TRN 406H/407Y Community Research Partnerships in Ethics) jointly administered by Trinity and the Centre.  (c) Instructors: Each year since 2006-07 a section of the program’s capstone seminar course has been taught by a Fellow of the Centre. A Research Fellow of the Centre teaches a section of a required TRN 300-level half course established following the 2006 review; a Faculty Associate of the Centre who is a full professor in our Faculty of Divinity teaches a second section of the course. Staff: A College secretary assists the program director. Space: The capstone course is taught in the seminar room of the Centre for Ethics. Operating funds: The program’s instructional expenses are limited to stipends and half stipends (in 2008-09, two full stipends and four half stipends). The director receives an honorarium ($7,500) and there is a College allocation ($700) for enrichment and administration, most of which supports activities of the program’s students’ association.

Immunology: (a.i) All undergraduate courses in the Immunology program are taught by research-active faculty. UofT offers two more fourth-year immunology courses than McGill, one in Molecular Immunology and the other in Developmental Immunology.  Most leading American universities offer only graduate programs in immunology. (a.ii) A 2004 survey showed that the UofT Department of Immunology ranked first in Canada and seventh in North America in the publication of articles in immunology journals.  McGill ranked second in Canada, and the University of Pennsylvania second in North America. McGill has 17 immunology research faculty, UPenn has 93 and UofT 58. (b) Immunology was established as a specialist program in 1985-86. The major program was approved in 2008-09 and is intended to be more accessible than the specialist program; it includes a half course without prerequisites that FAS students can count for breadth-requirement credit and, on the recommendation of Trinity, an optional course in bioethics (PHL 281H). Sixty-four second-year students were admitted to the major this year. (c) The director of the Immunology program receives a stipend of $5,000.  Trinity provides modest funding ($400 this year) to the Immunology Students Association to cover catering costs for seminars and other events, all held at Trinity.

International Relations was established in 1976 and is the oldest and largest undergraduate program of its kind in Canada. It has a current enrolment of 201 majors and 75 specialists (Nov. 2009).  An external review in March 2005 said that it was a “very strong” program and that it represented “strong traditions of scholarship and teaching”. Students take a large proportion of their courses in common, and so develop an esprit de corps. Both specialists and majors are expected to take courses on Canada and to know something of Canada’s place in the international system. The program encourages research among its students, and specialists take two or more 400-level seminars with a high research component. Some IR students’ essays have been published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals.   (a) The program’s requirements include courses in history, political science and economics. The emphasis on history is now unusual, and the 2005 review said that the presence of economics “distinguishes the program from many others in North America”. For example, there is no economics component in Carleton’s international studies programs. Furthermore, the programs are enclosed within separate departments (history and political science) with no reciprocity between the departments and no requirement to take extra-departmental courses.  The international relations programs at George Washington University and Georgetown University resemble our IR program in being interdisciplinary (history, economics, political science) but the common experience of our IR students is not replicated. (b) In the past five years, the IR program has continued to design and mount a series of seminars and lectures by foreign affairs practitioners. It has also continued to sponsor several retired senior diplomats to teach a fourth-year seminar in “the practice and institutions of diplomacy”. This year, two additional fourth-year seminars are being taught by practitioners, one by a senior official with the UN Refugee programs, the other by an international lawyer just returned from serving at the war crimes tribunal at The Hague.  (c) IR draws on the resources of the Rotman School of Management and the Faculty of Law, as well as on those of the Departments of History, Political Science and Economics. The program’s instructional costs are covered in part by our Instructional Grant (this year, one stipend for a fourth-year seminar). Trinity provides indirect support for the program in a number of ways, including: awarding grants to IR students to participate in G8 summit conferences, Model UN assemblies and similar activities; managing an account for the IR student journal; covering travel costs for visiting lecturers in IR courses. We draw upon our own (FAS-independent) resources to pay the salary of a “secretary” (in practice, an administrative assistant) who works for the program four days a week and to pay all but $500 of the director’s stipend ($8,000).  The College also provides the program with funds ($5,000 this year) for administration and enrichment.

3. Student experience.  (a) Registrarial services, recruitment and admission: (i) We have a registrarial complement of 3.5 full-time employees of the College and a half-time student clerk.  The staff provide students with academic, financial and personal counselling services, job advice and references. They estimate that they have more than 12,000 office visits/inquiries per year. (Our current undergraduate enrolment is approximately 1,800.) The staff review applications for scholarships and bursaries and recommend decisions to our Student Awards Committee.  They provide summer counselling sessions for first-year registrants, first-year advising in the fall and winter, and advising for “at risk” first-year students.  They play a major role in recruitment and they administer admissions. (ii) Our recruitment activities include: arranging with selected schools for interested students to visit the College; College tours; post-offer receptions coordinated with the Student Recruitment Office; a spring orientation, before the offer-acceptance deadline, for parents and prospective students. We attempt to make early contact with our applicants and to stay in frequent contact with them.  We typically have far more applicants than we can accept (this year, close to 3,000; we admitted 478). (iii) Our admission decisions are not based solely on numerical averages; we also consider students’ personal interests, work experience, and school and community participation.  We require all Ontario high school applicants to complete a Student Profile, and have found it to be an effective recruitment tool.

(b) Extracurricular programs and activities:  These provide leadership opportunities for our students and contribute to a strong, diverse and inclusive community. The Trinity College Literary Institute is very popular and is Canada’s oldest student debating society. The Trinity College Dramatic Society stages classical and contemporary works, and plays written by students. Men’s and women’s Athletic Associations organize several teams in sports, some of them co-ed. We have a chapel choir and an annual student cabaret.  Student publications include a review (student art and creative writing), a yearbook and a newspaper. Each of our interdisciplinary programs has a student association/society.  We have an English Society, a French Table and numerous clubs, including Rainbow Trin, Women Out Loud! (a club that facilitates discussion of gender issues), a Trinity Korean-Canadian Association and a Trinity Asian Students Association. The “Trinity College Meeting” is a distinctive form of student government, of which all Trinity students are voting members.

(c) Student Space and College Library; Archives:  (i) Student space available for study and student-group meetings includes the Junior Common Room, the Stedman Library and the Rigby Room. In 2007, we received an allocation from the University’s Student Experience Fund to convert a room in our main building to a seminar room so as to enable the splendid Adams Room at St. Hilda’s College to be used primarily as student-activity and study space rather than as a classroom. For large events, students can book Seeley Hall.  We have two residences, each of which has a room for commuter students to stay overnight.  Our Buttery (a cafeteria and lounge)  provides access to the UofT’s wireless network and is a popular social and study space used by Trinity students and students from other colleges. It includes a commuter-student lounge and an office for our (student) Non-Resident Affairs Committee. Adjacent to the Buttery is the George Ignatieff Theatre, used by the Trinity College Dramatic Society and by student government and other student groups for large meetings. Our recently redesigned quadrangle (winner of a Design Exchange Award) is used for many outdoor student events and for informal student socializing. (ii) The Graham Library—an attractive, well-equipped facility conducive to individual and collaborative study and the efficient use of information technologies—supports Trinity’s academic programs and high-demand university subjects with selective research collections and services. It provides a “home base” for students (resident and commuting) from all areas of the University and, like other college libraries, is a key element in personalizing a large university. A  priority for the library is the further development of instructional activities related to information literacy objectives in the Faculty’s Curriculum Renewal plan. (iii) With the guidance of our Archivist, students are encouraged to use the College Archives in their practice of primary research (such as the archival research required of students in Vic One).

 (d) Residential experiences and activities:  One of the main initiatives that we took under our Stepping Up plan for 2004-10 was the integration of our men’s and women’s residences. Men and women now live in both residences (Trinity and St. Hilda’s).  Nearly 25% of our undergraduates (approximately 430) are in residence.  Approximately half are first-year FAS students, with the balance made up of upper-year FAS students (who traditionally serve as mentors to the first-year students and so foster a tightly-knit community) and some professional-faculty students.  Our Provost, Dean of Students and Assistant Dean of Students also live in residence. All student rooms are dormitory style, double or single (80% of our students have single rooms), and there are common spaces in both buildings.  Our dons live on different floors in the two residences and hold regular floor meetings.  Each residence has a dining hall open to students in either residence and to students living off-campus. With the exception of some resident-only events, such as floor meetings with dons, our residential activities are open to all Trinity students.  They include social events and meetings of student organizations.

(e) Writing and Math Centres; Academic Dons: (i) Our Writing Centre serves Trinity FAS students and, occasionally, students in our Faculty of Divinity. It provides instruction in written course assignments in any discipline.  The Centre is normally staffed by two writing instructors  and one of our academic dons.  This year, as a result of a reduction in our Writing Centre funding, we are also relying on two volunteers (both experienced editors) and a second academic don, thus enabling us to offer approximately the same number of hours of service as in previous years. (ii) Staffed by two Ph.D. students appointed by the Department of Mathematics, our Math Aid Centre serves students of all colleges, though the main users are Trinity students. Service has been reduced from eight to six hours per week for budgetary reasons.  By mid-November of this year, there had been 35 distinct users and 98 visits. (iii) Trinity is the only St. George college that appoints graduate or professional-faculty students as residential academic dons in a variety of disciplines.  The dons provide academic support for our students (resident and commuting) in one-on-one consultations and in small-group sessions or seminars. Most advise students on essay writing, and we therefore coordinate their work with that of our Writing Centre.

(f) Outreach: Our outreach activities are initiated and run mainly by Trinity student clubs.  Most fall into one or another of four categories: food programs; charities and fundraisers; international development; education and personal development.  Our most successful education-and-personal-development project has been Humanities for Humanity. Now in its third year, this is a thirteen-week course for economically disadvantaged members of the local community. The course combines lectures given mainly by UofT faculty with discussion facilitated by undergraduate mentors. The program, which was generously supported in its first two years by the University’s Student Experience Fund, has received very positive press coverage in campus publications and in The Toronto Star.  Another recent initiative for the College has been the establishment of the Roy McMurtry Community Outreach Donship (funded by an external donor) to help coordinate and further develop the College’s student outreach activities.

(g) Fundraising: In the past five years, our Department of Development and Alumni Affairs has raised an average of $868,000 annually in unrestricted donations.  We have allocated 47% of this sum ($410,000) per year to support our student services and our library. These allocations supplement block-grant funding we receive from the University for these areas.  We augment our block-grant student-services funding by $260,000 annually, of which $80,000 is used to provide enhanced registrarial services and the balance ($180,000) is used to support the office of our Dean of Students and other student-service areas.  We annually invest in our library $150,000 more than the library component of our block grant in order to provide enhanced services for our library users, most of whom are students. In addition to annual fundraising, we conduct periodic capital campaigns. Our recently completed “Strength to Strength” campaign raised $4.6M in endowment funding for three student-service areas (student awards, academic programs, academic donships) and a further $1.3M in undesignated donations of which up to $968,000 will be allocated to those areas.

4. Priorities. In 2008-09, our Board of Trustees initiated a comprehensive and widely consultative planning process that produced a Strategic Plan for the College. Several of the priorities listed below (marked “SP”) are “suggested Strategic Actions” in the plan.   The priorities are numbered for ease of reference.  All of them bear on the student experience.

Leading Priorities: (1) Sustain our academic program and Writing Centre despite reduced allocations of Faculty funding.  Each of our courses falls into one or another of three categories: (a) first-year seminars (199Y and TRN); (b) optional fourth-year seminars in International Relations; (c) optional or required courses in Ethics, Society, & Law.  The first-year seminars are capped at 25, the fourth-year IR seminars at 15. One of the ES&L courses is capped at 60, the rest at 25 or fewer.  Thus the courses are mostly small (cf. indicator B5). Sustaining our academic program will therefore support the Faculty priority of providing “small-group learning experiences” for its students (“Rebuilding the Student Experience: Intensifying Our Efforts”).  Sustaining our Writing Centre will support the Faculty’s “student experience” priority by providing our students with personalized academic support at a level appropriate for their needs.

(2) Strengthening and expanding Trinity One (SP). Trinity One is mentioned twice in Academic Planning in the Faculty of Arts & Science 2009-2014 (hereafter AP), once in connection with the Faculty’s “student experience” priority and once in connection with its “colleges” priority.  The document says that “[p]rograms such as Vic One and Trin One have … provided small-group learning experiences that enhance the development of learning and social communities within their undergraduate cohort” (p. 14).  Strengthening Trinity One will enable us to do this better. Expanding Trinity One will enable us to do it for more students.

(3) Work with the University of Toronto to facilitate more international experiences for Trinity students (SP). This will advance the Faculty’s priority of  “engaging with the broader community.”

Other Priorities: (4) Foster further integration of commuting students into the life of the College (SP). This will advance the Faculty’s “student experience” and “colleges” priorities. In connection with the former priority, AP refers to efforts that have been made by colleges and departments “to create new physical spaces and special services targeted expressly towards the needs of commuter students” (p.10).

(5) Establish a Middle Common Room, whose members will be Trinity’s academic dons and an appropriate number of other FAS graduate students. This will advance the Faculty’s “colleges” priority. Undergraduate Trinity students will be given the opportunity to participate in selected MCR events, and this may result in some of them acquiring graduate-student research mentors (cf. AP 13, 15). Appropriately managed, such arrangements will supplement and complement our academic donship program, and will advance the Faculty’s “graduate education” priority but in a manner consistent with Trinity’s conception of itself as an undergraduate college. 

(6) Develop further financial support strategies for students (SP). This will advance the Faculty’s “student experience” priority.

(7) Strengthen the links between our academic programs and the Centre for Ethics, especially with respect to research opportunities for students. This will advance the Faculty’s “colleges” priority, given that the Centre for Ethics is located at Trinity. AP remarks that “where colleges provide the physical setting for centres, institutes, or departments, they could become the focal points for nurturing closer interaction between undergraduate students and the research and graduate teaching activities being undertaken in these units” (p. 15). 

(8) Pursue opportunities to broaden the International Relations program (SP) and reconfigure it as appropriate with respect to curriculum and staffing. In discussing the “colleges” priority, AP says that “[t]he colleges have … played an extremely important role as sites of innovation in undergraduate education”, adding that “[t]raditionally this has been manifested through the offering of interdisciplinary undergraduate programs that embody each college’s distinctive personality and history and complement the offerings of our departments, centres, and institutes” (p. 14). International Relations is Trinity’s leading such program.  Realizing our IR priority will advance the Faculty’s priority of capitalizing more fully on its unique college assets. 

(9) Encourage and broaden community outreach activities (SP). This will advance the Faculty’s “community engagement” priority.

5.  Plans for achieving priorities.  (a) Strategies. Priority 1 (sustaining our academic program and Writing Centre): We will allocate to our academic program a portion of the undesignated funds raised in our recent capital campaign and we will reallocate a portion of our Instructional Grant from certain current expenditures to other (IG-eligible) academic-program expenditures. We will also seek donations for Ethics, Society, & Law from alumni of the program and from Trinity-alumni lawyers, and for IR from IR alumni. To support our Writing Centre, we will use a further reallocated portion of our IG and a further portion of our undesignated capital-campaign revenue. In addition, we will seek donations for our Writing Centre in our annual fund campaigns.  In the short term, we expect to continue to supplement our paid Writing Centre instructors with one or two volunteers and one or two of our academic dons. Priority 2 (Trinity One): We will discuss with the Dean’s office a proposal for strengthening Trinity One by ensuring that at least one seminar in each stream of the program is taught by a research-active professorial faculty member. In this connection, we have discussed with Philosophy a partnership between Trinity and Philosophy in the teaching of one or both of the Ethics seminars in Trinity One. We wish to expand Trinity One by adding a third stream, possibly in public policy.  Victoria College is interested in adding a public policy stream to Vic One, and we have agreed to explore means of cooperating with one another. In addition, we have begun discussions with the School of Public Policy & Governance about possible linkages between the School and a Public Policy stream of Trinity One. We will need to raise funds for a third Trinity One stream, probably through an endowment campaign.  Priority 3 (international experiences for Trinity students):  We will work with the Faculty to establish Trinity-to-Trinity student exchanges with, for example, one or more of Trinity College Oxford, Trinity College Cambridge, Trinity College Dublin, Trinity College University of Melbourne; to support this initiative we will need to raise funds. Priority 4 (further integration of commuting students):We want to provide college-based small-group learning opportunities for all of our first-year commuting students either in seminar courses or in bi-weekly FLCs; the FLCs will continue in second year for interested students.  This will require an expansion of our current FLC budget, and for this purpose we will need to seek donations.  Priority 5 (establish an MCR):  We will create MCR memberships-by-application, advertise them in FAS departments and ask our Fellows and Associates to bring them to the attention of their graduate students.  There will be operational costs, which we will cover by donations and/or from our undesignated capital campaign contributions. Priority 6 (increased student financial support): We will need donations for this purpose too. Priority 7 (program links with the Centre for Ethics): We will work with the Centre for Ethics to promote research opportunities for students in our interdisciplinary programs by connecting them with Fellows of the Centre. Degree credit for such research could be earned through the TRN 299Y Research Opportunity Program or through a Trinity Independent Studies course.    Priority 8 (the IR program): We will continue a review of the curricular and staffing requirements of the program that began last year and we will explore the possibility of strengthening links with Munk Centre units, in particular the Centre for International Studies. Priority 9 (community outreach): Our Community Outreach Don will work with relevant Trinity staff to encourage and broaden (even further) the engagement of our students in community outreach activities. 

(b) Instructional Grant Increase:  If our Instructional Grant were to increase by $100K, we would use the additional money as seed-funding for an expansion of our successful and competitive Trinity One program.  First, we would create an additional section of each of the IR-stream seminars, thereby doubling the stream’s enrolment capacity.  (This year there were 141 applicants for the 25 places in the IR stream; the top 65 applicants had averages of at least 90%; as noted earlier, the average admission grade in the IR stream over the period 2005-06 to 2009-10 was 93.3%.)  Second, we would add a third stream to the Trinity One program.  Playing to our documented strengths, we would then aim to increase our fundraising for priorities 3-6 by an amount equivalent to the increase in our Instructional Grant, while also fundraising to provide ongoing support for our expansion of Trinity One. Thus an increase of $100K in our Instructional Grant would not only enable us to extend the benefits of Trinity One to more students sooner than we otherwise could, but would also have the potential to benefit other students as well - undergraduate and graduate.