Trinity University philosophy professor Andrew Kania and student Daniel Conrad

by Susie P. Gonzalez —

From the time my first-born could hold a joystick, he was chasing Mario, mastering Tetris, and sneaking in M-rated video games that made me question my parenting skills when I ultimately discovered those verboten items stashed under the console. I worried that, as a teen-ager, all he seemed to do was sit in front of a television monitor or computer and play video games. I often mused, “Where will that take him in life?” Thankfully, he also discovered basketball and books and went on to become an excellent student at Trinity University.

Still, I sympathize with other parents who complain, “All my kid wants to do is play video games!” At Trinity this summer, Daniel Conrad ’18 is actually combining his love of video games with academic research. With funding from the Mellon Initiative for humanities research, Conrad is studying the philosophy of video games. He hopes to present his findings at research conferences in the coming year and ultimately publish them.

Conrad’s research also will be incorporated into a Philosophy of Film course that philosophy professor Andrew Kania will teach this fall.

I learned about Conrad’s work through another blog that Trinity publishes, Experiential Learning, which highlights undergraduate research. The writer, Allyson Mackender, is a Denver native who is entering her senior year at Trinity. An English major, she says that Trinity’s curriculum has allowed her to pursue academic interests from geoscience to anthropology to economics.

Trinity University philosophy professor Andrew Kania and student Daniel Conrad
Trinity University student researcher Daniel Conrad discusses findings with professor Andrew Kania
Here is an excerpt of Conrad’s story, in the student blogger’s words:

Although video games are at the center of Conrad’s research, his academic foundation lies in philosophical discussion of art and aesthetics. Conrad’s article will be in response to a previous essay that claims if something is art it cannot be a game and vice versa. Conrad hopes to disprove this theory, proving that games can, and in some cases should, be considered art. In order to do this, Conrad needs to explore the ontology of games. Put simply, Conrad will consider what it means for something to be a game and to be an artwork, a task that is harder than it may initially seem. In fact, professor Kania chuckled when asked to define any terms important to the research, as that is the goal he and Conrad are attempting to achieve by completing this project.

The study of the philosophy of video games is a rather new and innovative field that has grown with the industry. Conrad explained that the significance of his research is founded in the cultural importance of video games. "The video game industry is massive and continuously growing," Conrad claimed, making any research on the topic important to our cultural understanding of media.

To read the entire blog post, click here. Conrad’s work so far makes me believe that there can be merit to video games.

And my son? He is now gainfully employed in the banking industry. And he still plays video games.

About Susie

Susie P. Gonzalez, senior manager of public relations at Trinity, can be reached at or @susiegonz.

by Leila C. Ramos —

If you're like me, the mother of overachievers, your mailbox will no doubt start to fill up with college brochures as soon as they’re old enough to drive. The thing is, after a while, each college starts to look more and more like the last. And why not? Every college wants to go out of their way to look the best on paper.

As a mother who has toured over two dozen colleges and universities across the country with her children, I can attest that a lot of them are very similar. On the other hand, there are some amazing schools out there that you really just need to see for yourself to appreciate how special they really are and to determine if they’re the right fit for your child.

Let me save you some time and let you know that one of the schools that you need to visit is Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.

Trinity University is a small, residential, liberal arts and sciences university, located in the beautiful Monte Vista Historic District, that sits on top of a hill overlooking the downtown San Antonio skyline. Trinity’s campus is absolutely stunning, whether it’s the classic red brick buildings, the cozy Adirondack chairs, incredibly lush landscaping, or the state-of-the-art classrooms and labs (which have been ranked among the best in the nation, I might add). Don’t even get me started on the caliber of faculty at Trinity - second to none. You can schedule a walking tour of the campus throughout the year, but I’d really recommend that your child attend one of their Trinity in Focus events that are scheduled on select Saturdays throughout the Fall and Spring school year. There’s even a special Summer Trinity in Focus coming up on June 25 if you want to get an early start. Did someone say FAMILY VACATION?

As I’ve learned over the years, San Antonio is more than just the Alamo (although you should definitely stop by for the obligatory photo-op while you’re in town). Actually, San Antonio is the seventh largest, and among the fastest growing cities in America, and despite its growth, it’s managed to maintain a charming vibe. From the San Antonio Missions (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) to the south to the Texas Hill Country to the north, there’s so much to do and see, whether you’re interested in theme parks, world-class dining and shopping, art galleries, breweries, boutique hotels, nature trails or the San Antonio Spurs. For all those reasons (and so much more), AARP has named San Antonio among the Top 5 U.S. Places to Visit for 2016.

A few of my personal favorite parts of San Antonio to consider checking out when you’re in town:

The Pearl is a perfect location for visitors to enjoy San Antonio's rustic atmosphere. Photo by Anh-Viet Dinh.
The Pearl Located about five minutes from campus, this meticulously restored 23-acre former beer brewing complex has been transformed into San Antonio’s hottest new neighborhood, complete with amazing dining, libations, trails along the San Antonio River, and the crown jewel, Hotel Emma. Stay here if you can, or at least pop in and check it out. It’s amazing!

San Antonio's riverwalk is only 10 minutes from campus. Photo by Anh-Viet Dinh.
The Riverwalk If you’ve never been to the Riverwalk, this is a must! Built over 80 years ago, this network of walkways in the heart of downtown, along the San Antonio River, is dotted with dozens of restaurants, hotels, shops, patios, and galleries to suit just about anyone’s taste. Best of all, it’s only 10 minutes from campus!

La CanteraThe Rim – This newer part of town, located about 20 minutes north of campus, is a shopper’s paradise. From Saks 5th Avenue to Bass Pro Shop to some truly fantastic restaurants, there’s so much to see. Even better, Six Flags-Fiesta Texas and Sea World of Texas are only minutes away.

Like I said, there’s really so much to do and see in San Antonio that you might just want to turn your child’s tour of Trinity University into a San Antonio vacation. And once they’re accepted to Trinity, there’s a special event for admitted students, a perfect excuse to come back and see more of this wonderful city!

About Leila

Leila Ramos is a healthcare specialist and retired teacher living in Duval County, Texas. Her son, Abel, graduated from Trinity in 2007 and is currently an analyst and strategist for the Office of University Marketing & Communications. Her passions include spending time with her children and grandchildren, gardening, travel, and bedazzling.

 Trinity U students support Coalition for Respect

by David Tuttle —

Over the last several years there have been many news stories nationally about sexual assault on college campuses. As a father of college-aged students and a Trinity University administrator, these stories hit close to home. Every parent I know or meet believes that sending a child to college should be about academic and personal development and success.

Student safety is always a concern for parents, and dealing with issues of sexual misconduct in particular heightens anxiety. While federal guidelines are comprehensive, universities tailor policies and procedures to fit their own campus culture.

Here are some things you should know as a parent.

Addressing Title IX on Campus
Whether through policies, speakers, orientation programs, or review committees, Trinity University staff, faculty, and students have worked diligently to prevent sexual assault and other Title IX offenses for decades. In 2011, the Department of Education “Dear Colleague” Letter created a framework for universities to optimize compliance. This empowered victims of sexual violence to step forward and demand that their rights be upheld with dignity. Subsequently, accused students have alleged administrative over-reach in handling cases. Many cases are played out in the courtrooms and media. Here is some very basic information about Trinity University's approach to sexual assault and Title IX offenses:

We strive to prevent assault through education. Once allegations are brought to light, all parties are treated with compassion through a process that emphasizes fairness and transparency.

Student culture
The majority of complaints that arise involve one or more parties who had been consuming alcohol. Trinity University staff members work with students to help them create safer on and off campus environments which respect the sexual safety of all people. In the spring of 2016 several student organizations held empowering forums and discussions to further create a healthy campus climate.

Institutional responsibility
Trinity University has an open Coalition for Respect that includes students, faculty, and staff and which meets regularly to assess and discuss the campus climate, to plan educational initiatives, to review policies and procedures, and to host campus forums. Sexual assault and other sexual harassment and violence issues are everyone's responsibility, so we take a community-based approach. In 2014-15 Trinity participated in a climate review study with a national consortium and will continue assessments every other year.

Trinity U students support Coalition for Respect
Leaders of Trinity University's Coalition for Respect during the kNOwMORE campaign.
 How do you educate students?
All incoming students are required to take an online course prior to fall class registration. A Bystander Action program is part of New Student Orientation. There are a number of awareness programs and educational materials (distributed in dorm rooms, electronically, and on bulletin boards) as part of our annual kNOw MORE campaign.

Student support
All students are offered confidential support through Counseling and Health Services and the Chapel program. Faculty and staff, including student residential life staff members are trained to refer students to those resources on campus who can assist them. San Antonio's Rape Crisis Center offers excellent community resources and support. When complaints are made students have the right to have housing and academic accommodations arranged on their behalf. Out of respect for student confidentiality and privacy, students decide whether or not to notify family members whether they are accused or accusing students.

What happens when a complaint is lodged?
While students may pursue criminal complaints, they may also seek assistance from the University by submitting administrative complaints. (By regulation they may do either or both.) Trinity University routinely updates and publishes its policies and procedures to reflect the latest and best practices for managing cases. A team of over 20 trained faculty and staff members serve as case facilitators, investigators, advocates, and hearing panelists.

How can I learn more?
Trinity University Sexual Assault Webpage
Trinity University electronic brochure on policies and procedures
2015 Coalition for Respect Annual Report
Coalition Facebook page
HEDS climate survey data

Trinity University strives to educate students, assist students in developing and maintaining a culture of respect, and conducts thorough and professional investigations. We urge our community to assess our effectiveness based on our commitment to compassion and fairness.

About David

David M. Tuttle is an associate vice president and Dean of Students at Trinity University. You can read his blog, The Dean's List, here.

Trinity University engineering grad Eric Schluter and his dad, Thomas
by Thomas Schluter — 

An engineering science degree from any university is a commendable achievement and will serve a graduate well. However, an engineering science degree from Trinity is different and special. It prepares its students to communicate, articulate, and problem solve in ways that a traditional engineering curriculum does not. Our son Eric, who just graduated in May 2016, enjoyed three diverse and challenging summer internships during his time at Trinity. He is now looking forward to starting his new job at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, which he chose over several other excellent job offers.

As parents, we all want the best for our children which definitely includes them having a successful and rewarding career.

What should I look for in a college's engineering science program?

When we were looking for universities for Eric, we only considered schools with an accredited engineering department. Being ABET accredited is important not only because it shows parents that a program has merit and helps push the administrators and teachers involved in the program to grow and improve, but employers know that graduates of ABET-accredited programs are prepared to enter the workforce. The student to teacher ratio is also very important - Trinity enjoys 9 to 1 ratio. Another unique aspect of Trinity is its requirement that all students take numerous classes outside their major. The University encourages each student to participate in sports (varsity or intramural), community organizations, RUF, and many more. This creates well rounded young men and women who are prepared to succeed not only in engineering related jobs but also in all other aspects of society.

Will my student be able to interact with professors?

Trinity’s engineering department differentiates itself from engineering departments at other schools because Trinity’s professors make it their mission to have students succeed in the program and in life. They treat each student as their own son or daughter and go out of their way to help in any way they can. Your student will always be able to speak with the professor and not a TA. They have scheduled office hours multiple days of every week. To this day I am still very involved with the University and the engineering department and attend the yearly Trinity Engineering Department open house events during Alumni Weekend.

Trinity University engineering professor Josh Schwartz and Eric Schluter
Eric Schluter works one-on-one with engineering professor Joshua Schwartz
Is there a chance for hands-on design practice in a school's engineering program?

All first-year engineering students at Trinity immediately get exposed to the design curriculum. This exposes the student to real life design projects and teaches them on how to solve problems, work with other team members, and have fun at the same time. Freshmen projects have included the design of a water balloon launcher where the balloon has to hit one of the design professors standing 50 feet away and the design of an egg launcher capable of launching an egg from the top of the football stadium onto a target (the egg can’t be boiled and it can’t break).

Each year the design projects become more complex, requiring the students to work smarter and become more creative. Some of the successful projects include designing a weed eater and riding lawn mower for disabled operators, a smart watch that automatically calls for help in case of a medical emergency or fall, and a self-guided robot capable of providing tours of the entire Center for the Sciences and Innovation building.

What is the employment outlook for my student upon graduation? 

As I mentioned earlier, our son is now gainfully employed! He had six interviews in the spring of his graduating year from all different type of industries - insurance/banking/investments/real estate, IT consulting, petrochemical, and research and development. He interviewed in person at five of the six companies and received a job offer from each of them. This is due in no small part to his education and experiences at Trinity and to the wonderful reputation that Trinity enjoys in the workplace.

About Thomas

Thomas Schluter graduated in December of 1985 with a degree in engineering science with a concentration in mechanical engineering and a minor in math. My Trinity professors were instrumental in who I am today. Richard Swope, one of my engineering professors, recommended me to his friend who owned an engineering company. I was offered and accepted the job in April 1986. After working for the company for five years I bought it in April 1991. It has grown from 15 full time employees in 1986 to over 110 today. I have hired five Trinity University engineering students and will continue to hire both engineering and non-engineering interns and graduates. I am a member of the Trinity University Engineering Board of Advisors and truly value my ongoing relationship with both the faculty and the school.