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Trinity University

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.


One Trinity Place
San Antonio


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Additional Information

College Type
Religious Affiliation
Presbyterian Church
Campus Housing
White Maroon
Southern Collegiate

College History


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. 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). 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Dr. Dennis Ahlburg assumed the presidency in January 2010

College Specialty


Trinity University is an independent co-educational university whose mission is excellence in the interrelated areas of teaching, research, and service. Trinity seeks to provide broad and intensive educational opportunities primarily to undergraduates in the liberal arts and sciences, and in selected professional and pre-professional fields. It also offers a small number of selected high quality graduate programs. Trinity University is dedicated to creating a superior intellectual environment by recruiting, developing, and retaining outstanding faculty members dedicated to teaching, to scholarship and creative endeavor, and to service to the University and its community; identifying, and attracting talented and highly motivated students to its predominantly full-time, residential student body; and providing a supportive and challenging experience wherein students, faculty, and staff can realize the potential of their abilities and engage their responsibilities to others. Trinity respects its historic ties to the Presbyterian Church, with which it continues to have a covenant relationship.



Malouf Abraham, Jr. (B.S., biology, 1961) - Allergist and patron of the arts from Canadian, Texas Joe Armstrong (B.A., print journalism, 1965) - former editor of Rolling Stone magazine Gibby Haynes (B.S., business administration, 1981) - Lead singer of the Butthole Surfers, a popular rock band formed at Trinity David N. Johnson (B.Mus., music, 1950) - American Composer, Organist, and Professor Paul Leary (B.A., art, 1980) - Member of the Butthole Surfers Donald Moffett (B.A., art, 1977) - Painter Naomi Shihab Nye (B.A., English, 1974) - Poet, songwriter and novelist Jaclyn Smith - American actress and model Bob West (B.A., art, 1978) - Voice of Barney, the purple dinosaur seen on PBS. Pedro Herrera III (B.A., business administration marketing, 2001) - Rapper and Record Executive Brunson Green (B.S., economics, 1991) - Academy Award nominated producer of The Help Josh Wolf (B.A., communication, 1993) - comedian, actor, writer



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