Capital Region CATALYZE

Fresh Take ft. Patricia McGuire

December 06, 2021
Capital Region CATALYZE
Fresh Take ft. Patricia McGuire
Show Notes Transcript

This Fresh Take interview featured Patricia McGuire, President of Trinity Washington University. JB and Patricia discussed Trinity’s long history of providing a high-quality liberal arts educational experience for students and prioritizing opportunities for women and underserved communities, pressing challenges facing higher ed, and our shared vision for a robust and diverse digital tech ecosystem in the Capital Region.

Hosted by JB Holston.  Produced by Jenna Klym, Justin Matheson-Turner, Christian Rodriguez, and Nina Sharma. Edited by Christian Rodriguez. 

Learn from leaders doing the work across the Capital Region and beyond. These conversations will showcase innovation, as well as history and culture across our region, to bridge the gap between how we got here and where we are going.

About our guest:

Patricia McGuire has been President of Trinity since 1989. Before coming to Trinity, Ms. McGuire was the Assistant Dean for Development and External Affairs for Georgetown University Law Center, where she was also an adjunct professor of law. Earlier, she was project director for Georgetown ‘s D.C. Street Law Project. She was also a legal affairs commentator for the award-winning CBS children’s newsmagazine “30 Minutes” and the Fox Television program “Panorama” in Washington.

She served previously on the boards of the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region, Goodwill of Greater Washington, the Eugene and Agnes Meyer Foundation, the Washington Hospital Center, the American Council on Education, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the National Defense Intelligence College, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

In 2014, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appointed President McGuire to the U.S. Department of Education Advisory Committee on Student Financial Aid, a position she held in 2014-2015. In 2000, President McGuire was appointed by D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams and the D.C. Financial Control Board to a special term on the Education Advisory Committee overseeing the D.C. Public Schools. In June 1998, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin appointed President McGuire to serve as a member of the first-ever citizens’ advisory panel on coinage, the 8-member Dollar Coin Design Advisory Committee, which recommended the image of Sacagawea for the new dollar coin.

President McGuire has received honorary degrees from Georgetown University, Howard University, Chatham University, Emmanuel College, Saint Michael’s College, College of New Rochelle, Liverpool Hope University, Mt. Aloysius College and College of St. Elizabeth.

President McGuire earned her bachelor of arts degree cum laude from Trinity College and her law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center. She is currently a member of the boards of directors of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, the Washington Metropolitan Consortium of Universities, the D.C. College Success Foundation, the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, Catholic Charities of D.C., United Educators, and the Ameritas Mutual Holding Company.

Nina Sharma  0:04  
Welcome to fresh take a candid interview series featuring thought leaders and innovators from across the capital region. These one on one conversations, highlight the incredible work happening in our communities, and showcase both where we are and where we are going as a region.

JB Holston  0:25  
My guest today, President Pat McGuire, with Trinity Washington University, it's great to have you here. Pat, thanks for joining us. It's great to be with you, JB. Thanks for having me. delighted today to talk to Pat. Pat, I can't tell you how many of my board members have said we kind of have a fresh take with with with bat McGuire. So I'm delighted to have this opportunity. Today. A quick background on Pat, for those who don't know, you. You've been president Trinity since 1989, bachelor's degree commodity from Trinity and a law degree from Georgetown University. You are or have been on the boards of most every important organization across the region, as best I can tell. But including I know currently the Board of Trade, the Washington Metropolitan consortium of universities, the DC college success Foundation, the Cafritz Foundation, Catholic Charities of DC United educators and the emeritus mutual holding company, how you have time for anything, Pat at all, is, is beyond me. 

Patricia McGuire  1:23  
short attention span.

JB Holston  1:26  
There you go. Yeah, we were talking about nano nano degrees, maybe you and I, you and I shouldn't take those. But you've also obviously been asked by a variety of leaders in the country at various points in time to serve on various commissions and committees, and including the Secretary of Education back in 2014. The mayor at the Williams at the time for their education advisory committee overseeing the DC public schools, and Treasury Secretary Rubin, who appointed you to commission as well. And then you have honorary degrees from every university I haven't already listed, as best I can tell.

Patricia McGuire  2:01  
I've been around a long time. That's what happens to you.

JB Holston  2:05  
Thanks again for joining us. Why don't we start by talking a little bit about trinity for folks who may not know if you could talk a little bit about who Trinity is both his background at size, things like that. Thank you.

Patricia McGuire  2:15  
Absolutely. Trinity is a great story. You know, we were founded almost 125 years ago now by the Sisters of Notre Dame who looked up the street to the then new Catholic University where women were excluded. And the nuns said, Why are women excluded? They need to go to college. And so they started Trinity. It was very controversial in 1897 when they did that, and in some ways, we're still controversial today. Over the years we had famous graduates like we're very proud of Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House is a trinity grad. Former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is the Trinity grad and many, many others. I won't one of our grads was just elected as president of the Florida State Senate Kathleen pasa Domo. So so we just have great grads all over the place. But in the 1990s, I became President 1989. When I was very young, I was inexperienced, I had been working for Georgetown, in development, actually. And I became president I sometimes say, cuz nothing else bad could happen. And Trinity needed a fresh start, and some new direction. And at that time, we were still predominantly white, predominantly a very traditional liberal arts college. But soon we started recruiting in the District of Columbia more heavily and and the motivation for that came again from the sisters, you know, religious women have a great sense of social justice. And they said, Why are we still trying to recruit traditional populations when there are literally 1000s of women at our doorstep, who need us, and we kept our women's college, we turned our focus to the needs the educational needs of women in the District of Columbia. Over time, several things happened to us first, we also began to diversify our programming. So we still have our women's college today, but we also have graduate and professional programs that are fully co educational. We have nursing and healthcare which is huge. We have business, we have communication, a full range of STEM programs, and we enroll men as well as women in different programs. So so that was one thing. The other huge thing that happened at Trinity as we welcomed more and more women from DC and nearby Prince George's County, the complexion of our student body changed, our demographics changed, and we soon became a predominantly black institution, which is our official Department of Ed designation today. And we also now because we've also welcomed a large number of undocumented students, we are now also a Hispanic serving institution. In fact, there's only seven universities in the country that are both a predominantly black and Hispanic serving institution. And we're both, we have about 2000 Students enrolled today, it's 95%, female 95%, Black and Hispanic students, all very ambitious. Students who really, really want to get ahead of most are first generation in college, our median family income is just about 25 to $30,000, very low income. But these are students who want to change the trajectories of their lives, and they want to change the lives of their children. And they know that if a parent goes to college, then the child would go to college. And so this is generational. It's not just one off, and Trinity is just so pleased and proud to be able to do this mission. It's a real mission. Most of our students today are not Catholic, by the way people say, Well, your Catholic college but but that we're Catholic, not because our students are but because we are. We take social justice very seriously. And so we're doing the work of the Lord, with many populations who need access to higher education. And that's the Trinity story.

JB Holston  6:05  
That's great. Well, thank you for that. And it's exciting and compelling. And it gives me a chance to talk a little bit about innovation, because you've innovated a lot in the time that you've that you've been there. And there's so many dimensions along which we could talk about this, Pat, because there's innovation in higher ed, generally, there's the changes in the district, etc. But let's let's dive into a couple. You mentioned healthcare, for example, as a category where your your institution through nursing and other has really stepped up, how did that come about? And, and talk a little bit about, you know, the process to get to focuses or opportunities in areas like that?

Patricia McGuire  6:47  
Yeah, well, and I will note, by the way, you know, it's it's very hard. I know, people in business don't understand this. But it's very hard to take an old line liberal arts program and turn it into one that's focused on career outcomes. But that's exactly the kind of innovation we needed to do. We could not entice students from low income backgrounds to come to Trinity, and then say, great, you will learn how to think and write poetry and not do anything else. We value liberal arts, it does teach great skills in critical thinking and reasoning and research and so forth. But we also know that everything we do needs to lead to a career pathway for the students. And that was one of the philosophical innovations that we had to go through early on, and convince the faculty that there was no shame in that, that that honors the liberal arts, by showing how liberal arts can go to the workplace and be effective with with nursing and healthcare. It's really also an example of how partnership with the business community triggered the revolution. We had always done pre med, we had a lot of pre med students and who went on to med school. But we didn't do nursing because at the time, back in the day, we didn't do pre professional programming, you know, and so that was considered pre professional back then. Not anymore. It's huge now, but I was on the board at the Washington Hospital Center. Now MedStar, and the head of the hospital said, You're two blocks away, why aren't you doing nursing? We have this critical nursing shortage. And I came back and talked to the deans and talked to the board and said, he's, you know, he's right. Why aren't we doing this? And it took us a little bit of time. But what was so interesting was that once we started the nursing program, all boats froze. So So because of nursing, our science classrooms started to overflow. Because of nursing, we had huge enrollment in all of our Gen Ed classes that were suffering in the past, because we didn't have enough English majors but now everybody had to take English because it's part of Gen Ed and nurses need to know how to do critical reading and, and how to do philosophy and ethics and so forth. So starting nursing, had a had a huge effect on everybody. And then we were able to secure the funding to build an entirely new classroom and laboratory building and our new center, the Paden Academic Center, named for the donor who, who contributed most of the money. That's a result of starting a nursing program. Well, then we didn't want to stop with just nursing Of course, and our partnership with MedStar has been amazing. So So then we went into occupational therapy with the help of the national rehab hospital, which is a MedStar hospital. We also partnered with Children's National Hospital, a great partner Kurt Newman and and Linda Talley and, and our nurses are working in large numbers, both at MedStar. And also at Children's as well as over at Sibley and so forth. We then realized we had a number of students who came to Trinity who said they wanted to be nurses, but once they discovered everything that was involved in nursing preparation, they realized they didn't want that. But we created other degree programs that were both accessible and appropriate for them included. In a non clinical program called Health Services, that prepares people to be patient navigators to work on insurance problems to, to go into training if they want to do personal training, and a range of other health occupations. That program were recently developed. We have a certificate and associate degree, a bachelor's and a master's, it goes through all kinds of what we now call stackable credentials, and the DC Department of Employment Services took a shine to that program. And in partnership with them, we started a new community health worker certificate program over in Ward eight, we operate at the ark in Ward eight. And that's a very successful example of how creating a Health Services Program branched out into the community with the support of the city government, we now are able to pipeline health workers into a credential program, and we hope eventually into the degree programs for them. We are now looking at LPN programs, we're looking at medical informatics, which is huge, which would tie very nicely into our data analytics program, and so forth. I believe that healthcare is the future of this university. And I believe that every university has to has to really pursue health care education across a range of credentials. It's not just nursing, or medicine, I was reading just this morning of report on on the vast shortage of healthcare workers predicted for the next decade at all occupational levels. Trinity wants to be part of the solution to that. And we're very excited about everything that we're doing in that field.

JB Holston  11:39  
That's great. Well, thanks for that, Pat, if you think about other categories of innovation, in the in the, in the decades that, that you've been there, and it clearly healthcare stands out as one, what else comes to mind for you, as you know, categories of innovation, where you've, you've really made a mark?

Patricia McGuire  11:58  
Well, I have to say, and this is going directly to your work as well, thanks to the capital co lab, we are going now big time into information technology. We started with data analytics, because of our partnership with CO lab. And we were so glad to be invited into that. You know, historically, again, as a small liberal arts college originally, we have a great Mathematics Program. But we don't have anything that was labeled computer science. And when Amazon first came to town, and Greater Washington partnership started co lab, Trinity wasn't invited to be at the table because there was nothing that was labeled in the fields that you were interested in. So I met with the dean and I said, Well, this is ridiculous, we've got to have a seat at the table. Because we're educating the women, the women of color who need to be in those career pipelines. That's that's racial equity that we're very devoted to. So if we do not offer the kind of academic program that business needs, we need to develop the capacity to offer that program. And this is one of my messages business community. Just because a university doesn't offer the program doesn't mean they can't offer the program. We need to know what business needs, and then we're willing to adapt. So so our foray into information technology is one of our current really big innovations. We're now in the market to hire a director for the program, we're going to expand well beyond data analytics, we want to get into cybersecurity, we're talking with DC about doing some certificate work around cybersecurity. We're doing cloud computing with AWS already, we'd like to expand that and a range of other programs. And who knows, maybe we will get to a computer science major. At some point, we're less worried that we don't want to compete head to head with Virginia Tech or the big guys that that makes no sense for us at all. Instead, we want to know where the workforce needs are that we can well served by adapting our programs. And that's part of our innovation. I do think it's innovative for a university to say we don't care about competition with other universities, we want to know how we serve the greatest need in the community.

JB Holston  14:09  
Thanks. No, that's great. And you mentioned something that I'd like to explore a little bit more, you talked about certificates. And, and you know, two, three years ago in academia, that was a that was a loaded term. And now we're, as you and I were talking about before, now we're talking about nano nano certificates, not even certificates, per se. So from the outside, it oftentimes looks like there's just this explosion of new micro or other kinds of credentials or not even credentials. And traditionally, it's been very difficult for academic institutions to embrace those. It also can be hard for businesses to know how to evaluate those. What's your take on on these trends? Do you see do you see more of this happening? What's the role of an institution like yours relative to those trends?

Patricia McGuire  14:59  
Well, First of all, the change only became possible because the regulatory sphere changed. So accreditors started recognizing that these are legitimate academic credentials and federal financial aid rules changed, so that students who take certificate programs can get federal financial aid to do so. If Department of Education and the private accreditors don't accept something, then we can't do it. And that's one of the barriers to innovation that we've been working on. I think the second thing is, the certificate movement has started because many students find the concept of a four year baccalaureate degree too long and too expensive to get to the end result they want, which is to be employable. Now, I will say as a college president, at some point, you have to get the degree, I am not backing off the need for degrees. Because it is absolutely true that as you advance through the degree levels, you will earn more across your lifetime, you will have more options for your later career than you do at the start. But most students today, you know, most students in higher ed today are non traditional, that old word, they are the new tradition. And so most students work, and students don't want to wait three or four years to go to work. They're already working. And they want to advance even while they're in school. And that makes sense. The way in which we make certificates. academically credible, however, which is very important is that they are tied into degree programs. And that's the concept we call stackable credits. So when we created, for example, the community health workers certificate program over the arc with doe s, that's not a standalone program, really, the students who take those courses can then bring those courses forward into an associate degree. And the associate degree courses can then come forward into the bachelor's degree. And the faculty who are responsible for those degree programs oversee the certificates, they are not ancillary, they're not something done in a storefront. These are programs that are absolutely supervised by the same faculty who supervise bachelor's and master's degrees. And and that should give employers some comfort that this is not fly by night stuff that it really has roots in academia. There's a great deal of public pushback right now, and especially some journalists love to write about maybe we don't need degrees anymore. Maybe everybody just needs a certificate, Mr. That my one question about that is simply this. First of all, the the conversation always arises when we talk about educating low income students of color, it is totally unfair and unjust to say that a certain class of students should only get certificates. Now, we are happy to use certificates as a gateway to higher ed and a gateway to better employment, no doubt about that. And we're pleased to do that. But we don't stop there. And we should give every person an opportunity to advance as far as possible in their education, both so that they can achieve at higher levels and become managers and executives, we don't want them all working at the Amazon warehouse, we won some of them in the C suite. Right. And and you need advanced degrees to get there. But also there is a value to learning and I'm going to sound like an old liberal arts person. Now, there is a value to learning that's personal and spiritual. And we should not deny any individual the opportunity just to continue to have that intellectual fulfilment. You can do both. And you can do both with very practical workforce focused programs, so long as you have an educational continuum that builds upon each phase of learning.

JB Holston  18:33  
Thanks. That's well said. One of the big questions in higher ed these days is the question of scale, for lack of a better term. But but there is there has been a credible argument made that, you know, the goals of inclusion and equity do mean that institutions need to find ways to embrace a much larger number of learners over their entire lifetimes. You pointed out that the majority of of learners right now are, are working. And lifelong learning is clearly something where people feel they're going to need to stack credentials forever, if they're going to move their career forward. If you think about your institution, which still has a relatively smaller number of students, how do you think about those trends relative to Trinity?

Patricia McGuire  19:16  
Well, we have a strategic plan that aims to get us to about 2500 to 3000 students, we're at about 2000. Now, we never want to become that 10,000 20,000 Student place. That's that's not our mission. That's not that's not in our DNA. And we don't think we'd be very good at that. It's just not who we are. We're a good incubator. So so we are the kind of institution that given our relatively small size, can do some things that the big guys have a hard time doing. We were talking earlier about faculty governance, well, we believe in shared governance, but because we're smaller, we can move innovation through the system much more quickly than some of the bigger places that have much more elaborate governance processes. For example, we could also pilot things that maybe a bigger place would not want to take the risk. But because we're smaller and more nimble, we can take the risk to try something out and see if it works with a 10. Student class. If it works great, we'll do it if it doesn't, we move on. And that's the benefit of small sighs. I think there's a problem in in the public commentary about higher ed today, though, and I want to just just note that it seems like 10 or 20, major elite universities, set the tone and grab the headlines and fill every story. So everybody winds up being tarred, you know, with the same brush, if you will, that, because a certain group of universities has a very low enrollment of Pell grantees, or a very low enrollment of black students, or, or so forth. And then all the focus becomes on why can't we get more low income students of color into Princeton, or Harvard or other places, when in fact, there are hundreds and hundreds of institutions like Trinity doing this work already. And we frequently get overlooked and discounted. Because we don't have the size that people think is important, when in fact, they should value the small size, because we are the incubators, we show how you can create a model of institutional change, that can be scaled up, it absolutely can be scaled up. I was in conversation the other day with the president of one of the big universities in town, talking about how they could be doing more with low income students of color in the city. And as they were calling me to find out how did you do this? We'd like to do more of this. And I said, y'all come you know, because he was afraid that you know that I would think he was stealing market share? And I'm like, no, no, no, the market is huge, there is plenty of opportunity and plenty of responsibility to go around. I'd like to see more of the universities. But what they have to overcome is, first of all faculty reluctance to teach a student body that may need to be taught differently. At Trinity, we call it inclusive excellence, you have to learn the skills of inclusive excellence to teach students who are different from the students you may have been teaching before, it doesn't mean they're better or worse, they're just different. And that's what inclusive excellence pedagogy is all about. The second thing you have to do is maybe you have to go out to parts of the city that you've never been to before. And third, you can't assume that you know everything about how to teach them, you have to be open to listening to the student population that you want to serve, to find out what they're really interested in. And that's one of the habits I think Trinity has cultivated is the habit of listening and understanding what the students really need and want. I think we need less competition among institutions, I think we need a lot more collaboration. There's no reason why we can't be doing joint programming Trinity is proud to be doing a program right now with American University, and Martha's Table for the development of early childhood educators over in Ward eight. And it's a great program and each institution bring something to the table. And rather than being competitive, it's collaborative. And we need more examples of that as well. So that's a little bit.

JB Holston  23:16  
Yeah, I appreciate that. Parents, you know, you were talking about Harvard. And I was reminded when when I first became a dean, a friend of mine said, you know, at Harvard, there's something like 100 Dean's, and if there's any change fundamentally to pedagogy, any one of them has a black ball when the decision comes around. And I said, Oh, well, this will be a fun role.

Patricia McGuire  23:38  
 Just the thought of 100 deans makes my sckin crawl.

JB Holston  23:43  
T  hat's not a sitcom. 

Patricia McGuire  23:45  
My deans are wonderful

JB Holston  23:48  
Having been one I can absolutely say that. Let's talk a little bit more about I'd like to talk a little bit about inclusive growth. You mentioned inclusive excellence. One thing I would observe on inclusive excellence. I think that what what academia in some academia has learned about inclusive pedagogy and inclusive excellence are things a business needs to learn as it tries to open its aperture to recruit and retain a broader set of prospective employers, otherwise, it won't work. It's not enough to recruit, you've got to, you got to retain and promote. So I hope we'll see more programming like that. But you've done a lot, of course around racial equity, you've got a program called dare driving actions for racial equity. Could you talk a little bit about that program, please?

Patricia McGuire  24:32  
Sure. And this all came about in the summer after the George Floyd murder, when everybody was talking about what do we do and of course here at Trinity at first we were saying, Well, we're doing this already and then I said to the team, well, we're doing it but we could do more and we also could be take a greater leadership position for what we're doing and also what we want to achieve in in relation to the community we serve and the the employer community in particular, so we created Dare and I didn't want to create another seminar program, the last thing the world needs is one more academic talking that. So we didn't want to have a colloquium or convening or any of that stuff, yada yadi we want an action. And that's why we call the Trinity dare driving actions for racial equity, which challenges us and others to think, what do we do? What do we do specifically? So the very first goal, and that is to widen career pipelines for our students. And, you know, I'll relay an example of one of the major banks in the region had announced a big racial equity program. And I went to talk to one of the executives at the bank about well, if you're doing racial equity, we would like you to consider and hire our students, you know, who are in business majors and so forth. Well, then, as the conversation went along, it became clear to me that the bank had not thought about changing its HR practices. And the executive was telling me about how well we really hire from his own alma mater and a select group of other colleges. And I said, Wait, I'm out. This is exactly what we're talking about. Trinity was not on their hiring list because it because we were not one of the partner schools. And I said, this is exactly why I'm coming to you. And I've become a little mouthy about this in various business groups, stop hiring from the same old same old schools of, you know, a group of 10 or 15 institutions that you rely on, open your doors wider and come to a university like Trinity that has the students you need to be considering for your workforce. And that was like a new idea. So So that's the first thing we're trying to do with Trinity dare, is to widen those pipelines and have the candid conversations. The second thing we're trying to do is to let the business community know in particular, in the philanthropic community, we must have more support to take out the volume of loans in student financial aid packages, black women in America have the largest student loan debt. And it in fact, it stifles all of their goals. It prevents homeownership, it it at some point, even prevents them from advancing at work, because they at some point can't get the advanced degrees, they need to get into the executive managerial levels. And their debt tends to accumulate rather than be reduced. And to the extent we can reduce the amount of loan and increase the amount of grant and scholarship in the packages, that's important, and it takes, it takes support, it takes private financial support, we had hoped that Congress would double the Pell Grant that looks like it's not going to happen. It looks like free community college is not going to happen. And so we need to return to what's been called over the years habits of the heart, which is the philanthropic sector stepping up and helping to make college possible for these students, whether they're at Trinity or anywhere else, they need a lot of support. So that's, that's what Trinity Derr is all about. And it's about our engagement with the community to call them to action and not just talking about it.

JB Holston  28:11  
Had you mentioned what the students need? And I know you were your institution, there was a great PBS segment. And then if you might, you might drop that into the chat for everyone who hasn't had a chance to see it, which was quite moving. As you moved to, to clear student debt with some of the AARP funds. Could you talk a little bit about the process to take that decision and, and the effect of the decision?

Patricia McGuire  28:38  
Well, I mean, the effect has been amazing. It is also illustrated why we need a great deal more support, both from Congress and from the private sector. But when, you know, when the pandemic hit, everybody was set back on their heels Congress, and the first the Trump administration then Biden created the the pandemic Relief Fund program, we call it in higher ed, the higher ed Emergency Relief Fund or her and the most recent one was the American rescue plan or the AARP plan Arp. And during the Trump administration, we could only use that money for certain purposes. But in the Biden administration, the rules changed. And the rule made it possible for us to use some of the funds that we could have used institutionally for any purpose. It made it possible for you for us to use those funds to eliminate reduce or eliminate student receivable balances, which had been accumulating now let me tell you why this is important. Prior to the pandemic, we had a policy that was just like many other universities, where if you owe the university a certain amount of money, you cannot register for classes for the next semester and our threshold was $4,000. When the pandemic hit, we said let's not enforce that policy. Let's let everybody stay registered and enrolled each semester because because there's enough crisis going on, maybe maybe students need that kind of help. So we eliminated the policy. But of course, the balances grew. And the average balance was about $4,500. But some of the balances were much larger or smaller. And when, as I saw the balance is growing, I said to myself, she likes what are we going to do? And then the the policy change, the regulations changed, we could use the money. So we paid down at currently, it's about 540, students received about $2.3 million in balance pay downs. And I mean that it was not hard for us to decide to do that. Because we wanted to keep the students enrolled. But we were dealing with our own financial crisis as the volume was growing. The students were thrilled. I mean, it just they could not believe it that the PBS video says students thought it was a hoax. At first, they thought it was a phishing email when they got it. But they soon realized it was true. And it helped them and help their families to stay in school and keep going. Now the problem is, however, that money will be vanishing soon as we were continuing to pay down balances, but it will be gone soon. And we don't have a replacement. And what we've learned through that is, we've known this all along, but we really learned through it. low income students need a great deal more financial support than what traditional financial aid provides. Whether it's Pell grants or federal loans, the system as it currently exists, does not work very well, for the neediest students here at Trinity. Our tuition is 24,000, which is the lowest private college tuition in town. We discount tuition already by by more than half of that our discount is about $15,000 right now. And that's mostly unfunded, we don't have have any charitable gifts behind it, it's just a discount. Then the students get their Pell grants and their DC tag grants and so forth. But on top of that the students have to live so they have another 10 or $15,000 worth of living expenses, whether they live here on campus or live at home. They have transportation costs and childcare costs and food and housing. We have homeless students and so forth. So so the Pell Grant becomes the issue here, because the Pell Grant is about $6,000. Higher Ed has been trying to persuade Congress to double that amount, when I think that my average student balance was about $4,500 over three semesters. And I think what a doubled Pell grant would do it, a doubled Pell grant would have paid for that. And and we could have remediated the problem that way. Or in the future, we could remediate the problem that way, if Pell grants would increase, they're not going to increase now. So we have to figure out what else to do. I can say Trinity is committed to not resuming the financial hold process that that we think is not moral, we think we've got to keep the students enrolled. Similarly, it's the problem is called stranded credits. Like other universities, not only did we have polls, but we also held transcripts. So the students couldn't transfer anywhere either. And sometimes it impeded getting jobs because we didn't release transcripts, well, we're eliminating those policies, those work, it's a lose lose proposition, we lose the enrollment, the students aren't in school, they can't get the jobs they need. We want to keep them here. So we're trying now to figure out how to raise the funds that would supplement or replace the federal funds that we have that we're spending down. We figure we need about two or 3 million a year in order to be able to continue that kind of program to keep the students fully enrolled. I'm working with a couple of foundations right now. I'm hoping others will step up. And you know, I think this is something that employers who have resources should understand that the more we can keep students making progress toward degree, the faster they'll get out.

JB Holston  33:56  
Great. Thanks for that. I wanted to talk a little bit more about business and the connections to the university. You've talked about a number of ways that business can help you talk about helping to find those career pathways, helping you create programming that actually works that will get those people career, your family supporting career, career jobs. Obviously, there's financial support, you know, you've articulated some of the areas where financial support directly, one of the other things that business can and should be doing to help the lives of your students.

Patricia McGuire  34:28  
Absolutely. I think one of the most important thing any business can do is to offer internships, and they need to be paid internships, our students cannot work for free. But internships are the best way to educate a student about what the business is about, give the student a leg up on the career pathway, and also to get business leaders to understand the students as well because it's an opportunity to start learning some cultural competence early on with a different kind of employee perhaps, but one that could be great for your company. So So I always asked for internships, that's huge related pieces, to to offer different kinds of mentorships, or speaking opportunities even on campus. And we want to do more of this. Because a lot of of low income students don't have professional role models in their lives. So that they would even know let's say, what what investments are about or banking and finance or, or heaven knows technology careers. At this is no fault of the student, nor is it a fault of institutions. But we need to do a better job of introducing students to what the career pathways require. And frankly, we need to do it earlier on, which gets to another innovation Trinity is doing. We started early college and we're doing dual enrollment with high school students and early colleges, his high school students also enrolled here in an associate degree program, to the extent that business can support programs where universities work intensively with with K 12, especially at the high school level, that will help students be better prepared, and we'll also get students thinking about the career they want at an earlier point in time, when in fact, they could prepare better for that academically. It's too late when a sophomore realizes she doesn't have the science aptitude for nursing. If she had learned what she needed to know, for nursing in 10th grade, she might be better prepared for it. Now. It's almost it's never too late, but it's almost too late. So we want to do that.

JB Holston  36:28  
Yeah. I'd like to talk a little bit about the district have obviously seen a lot of changes in the last in the last 30 years. Our partner organizations are spending a lot of time trying to think about how they're going to win the current talent wars. And and there's a lot of talk about how much commercial office space they really need, right? Where, where are the workplaces going to be, particularly for what I would call sort of traditional high end competitive high tech kinds of jobs, high paid jobs. But some of those decisions could have a big impact on what downtown's look like. And now that we're sort of into the second year of the pandemic, I think people are believing this is not going to be binary. We're all just gonna get back instead, it's a it's a more fundamental shift. How do you think about that? And you know, if in your spare time you were also mayor of DC?

Patricia McGuire  37:25  
Muriel, I don't want that.

JB Holston  37:28  
All right. Well, we didn't start that rumor here. But yeah. But how do you think about that issue? And does it concern you at all?

Patricia McGuire  37:39  
Oh, I'm very concerned about it. And I think it's a complex issue. I think, first of all, rotational remote work, I think is forever. I see it here with our own staff. They're here three days a week, they've worked remotely two days, and everybody likes that. And and I think to say it's binary, that you're either going to be in an office or or working remotely? No, you're going to you're going to be in both places. I think I think downtown business is in some crisis right now, as we know, because the offices are not reopening. And I think employers have to think very creatively about how to support staff coming back. I think it is not a whip and a chair situation and those employers who threatened employees are going to lose their employees, you know, the great resignation is going on. And we see this, I think you have to figure out how to incentivize employees to come back now. Also, remember, at the same time, the phenomenon the housing phenomenon was going on where the the core city was being gentrified rapidly. So there are a great many young people, young professionals living in the cities right now. And there are plans to build new new upper, you know, townhomes and, and so forth up here, McMillan reservoir, the old soldiers home, and so forth. So I think the housing patterns are also going to drive some of this as well. We cannot forget the need for low income and affordable housing and all of that to be sure. The third piece is we've got to get Metro fixed. Absolutely, I think bigger than the pandemic. I think the Metro problem is a huge problem for the city. Because if people can't get from where they are now into work and back, they're not going to come. And I don't know why Metro is such a mess, but it's got to get fixed. I hear that from my students and staff all the time. But I think downtown will come back. I think it must and I think the mayor and her team are working on incentives right now. And you know, I talked with John fel Chico, the Deputy Mayor for economic development. I think he's looking at a lot of creative ideas. I also think there's there's opportunities in the city that are not in the core downtown that are that are interesting and important. I'm thrilled that Ted leonsis moved the wizards over the the mystics and the wizards practice facility over to se I think that you know, the stadium and that area is great buzzard point, I think the more business can support the developments that are going on in other parts of the city, the healthier we will be as a city.

JB Holston  40:12  
Yeah. Last question. And thank you, again for taking the time for this conversation. And we'll make sure to share this broadly. So everyone who couldn't take the time will, will have an opportunity to hear your wisdom, but you fundamentally changed the institution over the last 30 years, or it's it's fundamentally changed with your team during your watch. What's it going to look like 30 years from now.

Patricia McGuire  40:33  
I suspect that main hall, which is the building behind me will still be there with that great big red dome. I hope that some of our older historic buildings will be renovated by then. But that's a that's a big problem I'm tackling right now. I think I think Trinity's main campus will be here. But I think Trinity will have a lot more online programs. We're talking about some of that now. I think we're gonna be a lot more online, we will be a presence in the online world. We're not doing what Hilbert college did. We're not trying to compete with you, MGC and other things, but I think we'll do more. We'll be a hub. And we'll have many spokes, I think we'll also have more locations throughout the DC region. We're at the arc right now. It's a great location. We're full with 100 students there. So we need more locations. And I think we will be very even bigger in healthcare, if I could predict healthcare is going to continue to be huge. And I think we'll find some satellites for that. And also technology. I think as we get into technology, it's going to be great for Trinity.

JB Holston  41:37  
Right. Well, that's terrific. Pat, thank you for your time. Thank you for your insights. Thanks. Thank you for the leadership in the region. It's been it's been vital. Delighted to have the chance to talk to you today. My guest has been president Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University, and I will look forward to coming down and visiting soon with my wife.

Patricia McGuire  41:58  
Please come JB we love our partnership with Capitol co lab in Greater Washington partnership. And please come over we'd love to welcome you to campus. 

JB Holston  42:06  
Look forward to that. Thanks again, Pat.

Nina Sharma  42:10  
Thanks for tuning into fresh take. This episode was produced by Jenna climb, Christian Rodriguez, Nina Sharma, and Justin Matheson Turner. If you liked what you heard, share it with your network. For more information and to access all of our podcasts, events and publications, visit Greater Washington