Q & A with Trinity’s New President

Dr. Corinne Lally Benedetto ‘78
Trinity High School President-Elect

Dr. Benedetto holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago, an M.A. in Sociology from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. in History, Sociology and American Studies from Rosary College, now known as Dominican University. Dr. Benedetto is an experienced educational administrator currently serving as interim dean of DePaul University’s School for New Learning where she is responsible for the college’s fiscal management, workforce development, fundraising and alumni relations. Prior to this role, for 10 years Dr. Benedetto was the associate dean of Operations and Enrollment Management at DePaul, responsible for the development, measurement and improvement of student retention, readmission and graduate initiatives. During this time, she also served as associate dean for Undergraduate Programs.

As a 1978 graduate of Trinity, what would be the funniest story your classmates could tell about you? I am very sure my classmates have more than a few funny stories about me from my Trinity years, such as the time the administration was considering banning platform shoes at school and I tried to organize a protest and tried to convince the students to lock their shoes in their lockers at a certain time.  It never happened but I am sure it was pretty funny to see me so earnest about such a silly thing.

What was your nickname at TrinityMy only nickname has always been ‘Corrie,’ and family and friends typically call me that.  When I was at Trinity this is how I was known.  I use ‘Corinne’ in my professional life now.

Who was your role model when you were in high school?  My grandmother, Eileen Tyrrell, was and has always been my primary role model.  She was a wise, calm (usually!), and loving woman.  I wrote about her, and about my other grandmother and my step-grandmother, in a published piece called, “Pearls: The Spirit of Story,” in an anthology of essays about Ireland and Irish people.  While I wrote the essay, I kept their portraits on the table next to my computer.  At some point, I noticed that each was wearing a lovely pearl necklace, hence the title of the piece.

Do you have any children?  I have three children: Tarryl (28), Carla (26), and Tom (24).  We are all great friends and never lose the sense of happiness and gratitude for being together in this life.  Which does not mean we don’t have some tough moments, we do. But we’ve all learned how to value the love of family above all other desires and considerations.

Do you have an animal?  If she could talk, what would she say?  We own two dogs: Oliver is our 15-year-old Shih Tzu who, if he could talk, would tell us everything we are doing wrong and all the ways we could improve; occasionally, he would say very sweet and loving things but would not want to be overheard.  Our 9-year-old Toy Poodle is named Seamus.  He actually does talk, so I do not have to imagine what he would say.  He is a rescue who spent the first six years of his life in a puppy mill as a breeding sire, underfed, and terrorized apparently.  His conversation is all about the wonders of being loved and discovering good food and enjoyable things about life.

What is your “famous” dish you make at home? All of us cook, and each person has his or her own specialties.  Tom’s grilling is terrific and his marinated salmon is a family favorite.  My daughter, Carla, makes vegetarian or vegan meals mostly.  Tarryl is making hamburgers right now.  In order play both fields, I make sure to purchase only pasture-fed and humane certified meats; a bit hypocritical I guess, but I’m trying! 

Where did you go for your best family vacation?  For many years, we traveled up to Eagle River, Wisconsin with extended family for cabin life on a freshwater lake.  There are magical things about that experience which will never dim, even though we haven’t been there in 5 or 6 years.  This past Fall, Tom and I visited Carla in Nicaragua, where she is serving in the United States Peace Corps.  We experienced the thrill of zip-lining in a rain forest on a volcano. 

You were teaching at DePaul University for 20 years. How will that experience help you in your new position at Trinity? I find a strong bridge between the two schools in that each is a mission-based, Catholic institution embedded in a base of values that puts the human learner at the center of every aspiration and decision.  I worked as a tenured faculty administrator for most of the time I was at DePaul, learning to balance the academic and business sides of the house.  A President must know how to drive that balance, maintaining a kind of dance between the needs of the mind and the needs of the pocketbook.

A Doctorate in Sociology from the University of Chicago, a Masters in Sociology, and are currently working on your second Masters in Jewish Studies. Education is clearly important to you, why? It is a core creative activity for human beings; through imaginative discovery and rational thinking, we get close to finding out who we are.  I love to encounter courageous minds and one sure way to do that is to study.

After graduating from Trinity, you attended Dominican University (Rosary College) at that time another single-gender school. Do you see any advantages of a single-gender education? Actually, when I was a student at Rosary it had already transitioned to co-education, but I very firmly believe in the significance of single-sex education.  It will be a life goal from now on to find out exactly why, though I am certain it creates an atmosphere where confidence grows (for males or for females).

What drew you to an interest in history and sociology? Simply speaking, they are both methods for decoding some of the major and recurrent mysteries of human life.

What will you miss most as you retire from DePaul University? My colleagues and friends.  I expected to keep working with them, learning with them, creating DePaul with them.  There is a bit of a hurt in realizing those ideas are gone.

What do you most like about Trinity today?  I am equally impressed by the caliber and dedication of the staff and the strong sense of a vibrant learning community connecting the young women in the School.

Where do you see Trinity in 5 years?  I see a stable foundation for Trinity High School made possible by a continuous “smart growth” enrollment increase.  I look forward to working with the heads of all of the private schools in the area to demonstrate the way our vision and viability promotes community-wide value and benefit.  What are the reasons it serves a whole community to have a network of dynamic and viable private, mission-driven schools functioning within it?  I am going to work with my colleagues to discover the answer to that.

Apple or PC? Or Apple or Android  I’m happy with whatever device I have as long as I can get my work done on it.  I don’t know much else beyond that, besides my favorite: WhatsApp (a free group chat that comes in very handy). 

What is the craziest thing you have ever done?  Hmmm, you’ll have to define crazy.

What famous person, living or deceased, would you most like to have dinner with? I’d very much like to have dinner with Socrates, except I am sure he would not pay any attention to the food, and so I would munch bread and sip Greek wine while he asked me questions.

What is the last book you read? I always read four or five books at a time, different genres and such.  The picture I am sharing today was taken in Chicago’s Irish Heritage Center last September when my son, Tom and I spent several hours buried in Irish books there.  Right now, I am reading: (1) The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman; (2) The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead; (3) i am through you so i by Brother David Steindl-Rast; (4) The Art of War by Sun Tzu; The Journal, 1837-1861 by Henry David Thoreau; and (5) Uncollected Poems by Rainer Maria Rilke. 

You can tell a lot about me by knowing this.  How do you like to “Veg Out”? or What TV show are you most likely to “Binge Watch”? I like to listen to music and chat with good friends.  I don’t have TV, but I like to watch old CDs of ’24’ with my son Tarryl, and definitely binge-watch ‘Friends’ with my daughter, Carla.  Since Netflix appeared in the universe, I and my son, Tom, love to get hooked on its crime/mystery shows such as ‘River,’ ‘Happy Valley,’ and ‘Broadchurch.’  I am waiting impatiently for time to pass so I can watch all of those again.