July 2014

A Meliora Message 

Normally, it would be hyperbolic to claim that a year was “the best ever.” Not this year. 

Last month we announced that Fiscal Year ’14 was the strongest in University Advancement’s history. Now that the books are closed, we’re excited to share the numbers behind a record-breaking year on multiple fronts.

New Commitments (all new funds that were raised this year) finished at a remarkable $155.79 million. Equally impressive was Total Cash (pledge payments and outright gifts), finishing at $125.86 million. Each of these figures represents growth of more than 30% from where we finished last year.

The Annual Fund also outperformed expectations, finishing at $14.158 million or 102% of its goal for the year. This is the Annual Fund’s eighth consecutive year of growth.

You have also helped us record our best year for student support through the creation of scholarships and fellowships. We were able to add 51 new funds, including 16 George Eastman Circle (annual) Scholarships. And, as previously reported, you helped us eclipse our goal of establishing 80 new endowed professorships during the Campaign. To date, that number stands at 82, toward a new target of 100.

These are achievements. And we implore you to take pride in them, as they represent the devoted community of supporters to which you belong. Your impassioned support enables us to continually exceed our expectations, and we’re looking forward to all that you will help us accomplish in the new fiscal year.


Binstock Named Clark Director of Memorial Art Gallery 

Jonathan Binstock at the announcement of his appointment

On July 7, President Joel Seligman announced that Jonathan Binstock would be the seventh Mary W. and Donald R. Clark Director of the Memorial Art Gallery.

“I am thrilled that Jonathan has accepted this role that is so important to our Gallery, the University, and the Rochester community,” said Seligman. “He brings a wealth of experience in major art museums, exceptional expertise, and a vision and enthusiasm for engaging art lovers and learners of all ages.”

An expert in post-World War II art, Binstock comes to Rochester from New York City, where he was a senior vice president and senior advisor in modern and contemporary art for Citi Private Bank’s Art Advisory & Finance group. He joined Citi in 2007, working with clients and their families in the U.S. and abroad to build personal art collections. From 2000 to 2007, he was curator of contemporary art at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and before that was assistant curator at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. 

“Dr. Binstock has the full support of our Board of Managers,” said Jim Durfee, Board of Managers chair. “Jonathan comes to us with a unique set of experiences in the art world. He has an enthusiasm for everything the Memorial Art Gallery has accomplished over the years and is looking forward to leading us into our next chapter.”

Binstock succeeds Grant Holcomb, who retired on July 1 after nearly 29 years in the position.

“The Memorial Art Gallery is a gem of a museum and one of the University of Rochester’s and the region’s greatest treasures,” said Binstock. “I am absolutely thrilled to be leading this institution into its next exciting chapter. There is so much to build on, from MAG’s extraordinary collection to the goodwill it receives from its devoted staff, volunteers, and Board leadership. My family and I are looking forward to becoming part of the Rochester community and enjoying its high quality of life.”

You can read more about Binstock in the official press release or in news coverage from WXXI News and the Democrat and Chronicle.


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June 2014

A Meliora Message 

There isn’t an adequate way to summarize a University year—especially during a transformative campaign. Proper coverage of the highlights, achievements, and milestones requires a comprehensive, presidential address, and fortunately, the University has one every year: the Garden Party.

President Seligman’s speech provided details on the University’s strongest fundraising year in history, including some of the resulting impact. This issue of Fast Forward offers a brief summary, but we encourage you to read the full presentation.

Many of you are the reason we have had such a special year, and for that, you have our most sincere gratitude. Your partnership and all that it makes possible is an unceasing source of pride, a point that President Seligman captured perfectly in his Garden Party remarks:

“Our University is strong, growing, and an increasingly complex institution that is inexorably faithful to our motto: Meliora, ‘ever better.’”


Novy-Marx Installed as Inaugural Zekelman Professor 

Robert Novy-Marx, Lori Talsky-Zekelman, Alan Zekelman '87S (MS), Mark Zupan, dean of Simon Business School, and President Joel Seligman

At the 2012 Simon NYC Conference, Robert Novy-Marx, Ph.D., professor of finance at Simon Business School, flatly stated that the government pension crisis was getting worse by the day. 

That assessment was echoing a study he co-authored that garnered national media coverage, including publication in The New York Times. This seminal research established him as a leading voice on the subject and, eventually, carried him to Capitol Hill, where he testified before Congress.

It is one thing to be an exemplary scholar, but Novy-Marx is exemplary as an educator, too. On June 6, the University recognized him for his exceptional service at a ceremony formally installing him as the inaugural Lori and Alan S. Zekelman Professor of Business Administration. The ceremony equally recognized the generosity of Alan S. Zekelman ’87S (MS) and Lori Talsky-Zekelman, who established the position.

“I am deeply appreciative of Lori and Alan's tremendous support of the University and Simon,” said President Joel Seligman. “Professorships are the building blocks of great universities, and their gift is one that will preserve the foundation for excellence at the Simon Business School far into the future. It ensures that we will always have faculty members of the caliber of Robert Novy-Marx.”

Alan, a director of JMC Steel Group, also provides leadership to the Simon School as a member of its Executive Advisory Committee, National Council, and Campaign Committee. Lori is an attorney with Maddin, Hauser, Roth & Heller, P.C. Charter Members of the George Eastman Circle, the Zekelmans created the professorship to give the Simon School the resources to recruit a leading scholar and continue to build a globally-renowned faculty of finance experts, like Novy-Marx.

“Robert has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to excellence in all of his endeavors,” said Mark Zupan, dean of the Simon Business School. “He has epitomized the vision for our faculty to produce groundbreaking work with a cross-functional impact and has upheld our School’s goal to be known for understanding the power of markets and the role of entrepreneurs in creating value and improving society—especially through his scholarship regarding the magnitude of unfunded state and local government worker pension liabilities in the United States.” 

Formerly a professional triathlete, Novy-Marx has earned several awards for his research. In addition to government pension, his research is focused primarily on asset pricing—theoretical and empirical—but also includes industrial organization, public finance, and real estate. 

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Looney Installed as Inaugural Rosenfeld Distinguished Professor

R. John Looney ’76M (MD), ’79M (Res), ’81M (Flw), ’84M (Flw), Stephen I. Rosenfeld ’59, ’63M (MD), Elise A. Rosenfeld ’60W, Mark Taubman, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry, and President Joel Seligman

In 2003, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) selected the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) as one of nine universities and hospitals to be an Autoimmunity Center of Excellence. The recognition was representative of the URMC’s leadership in research on treatments for autoimmune disease which, more than a decade later, continues. 

One of the reasons the URMC has stood at the forefront of this field is the work of R. John Looney ’76M (MD), ’79M (Res), ’81M (Flw), ’84M (Flw)

Looney’s broad background in clinical immunology and great wealth of knowledge about the use of immunosuppressive medications, among other exceptional qualities, made him the ideal choice to be the first holder of the Dr. Stephen I. Rosenfeld and Elise A. Rosenfeld Distinguished Professor in Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The professorship was created by Stephen I. Rosenfeld ’59, ’63M (MD) and Elise A. Rosenfeld ’60W. Joined by family, friends, and the University community, the Rosenfelds and Looney were recognized at a formal ceremony on June 20.

“One of the wonderful aspects of an endowed professorship is that it ensures the continuity of excellence in a particular field,” said President Joel Seligman. “With this gift, Steve and Elise have made an indelible mark on the University that will allow us to continue to attract faculty members such as Dr. Looney in the field of Allergy and Immunology. I am deeply grateful for their generosity, and I am delighted to honor an outstanding educator, clinician, and scientist.”

Stephen Rosenfeld, professor emeritus, has had a distinguished career as a physician, researcher, teacher, administrator, and author, which includes serving as director of the allergy and immunology training program for 18 years and as the director of the Allergy and Immunology Clinic. Elise Rosenfeld is a longtime member of the Rochester Oratorio Society and helped found the Finger Lakes Chamber Music Festival with Stephen. In 2011, she created the Elise Golub Rosenfeld Scholarship for students pursuing dual undergraduate degrees between the Eastman School of Music and the School of Arts, Sciences & Engineering. 

The Rosenfelds, Charter Members of the George Eastman Circle, created the distinguished professorship to enhance patient care, teaching, and research in allergy and clinical immunology.

“Dr. Looney’s talents as a clinician, teacher, and researcher have helped make Rochester a ‘Mecca’ for state-of-the-art treatment of allergy and immunologic diseases,” said Mark Taubman, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry and University vice president for health sciences. “He is the exact type of physician we aim to honor with a distinguished professorship.”

Looney’s career at the University has spanned three decades. His primary interest is in new agents for the treatment of rheumatologic diseases, and he is an internationally recognized expert in B cell-targeted therapies. Developing a program for diagnosing and managing hypersensitivity reactions to cancer chemotherapy and cardiovascular medications is one of his most important contributions, as without his protocols, many would have had to stop treatment.

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47th Annual Garden Party

President Joel Seligman addresses more than 500 attendees at the 47th annual Garden Party at the Memorial Art Gallery

The Meliora Challenge has the University in a nearly constant state of change. With so much happening year to year since the beginning of the Campaign, the annual Garden Party has, for many, been an opportunity to “catch up.”

On June 24 at the Memorial Art Gallery, President Joel Seligman spoke directly to the many transformations taking place by immediately noting that the University is on the move with great momentum. These points were brought to life through Campaign, student, and faculty highlights and progress updates on facilities and renovation projects.

After going through the noteworthy points of 2013, Seligman named his priorities for the coming year. On top of that list was concluding leadership searches, including the positions of chief advancement officer, director of the Memorial Art Gallery, and dean of the School of Arts & Sciences.

Other priorities included revised strategic plans for the Eastman School of Music and Simon Business School; the implementation of the Medical Center’s strategic plan; completing and opening College Town; completing the majority of the construction on Golisano Children’s Hospital; and implementing the University’s Research Plan with emphasis on planning for the Institute for Data Science and the new Science and Engineering Quad.

 “The University’s distinctive position among America’s great research universities is well earned,” said Seligman. “I have the utmost confidence that the dynamic talents of our faculty, students, and staff will continue to help ensure a vibrant and healthy future for the University.”

For more, read and view the speech and presentation

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May 2014

A Meliora Message 

At the University of Rochester goals are milestones rather than destinations. Once we have reached our goal, we often look toward another—further, higher, and of greater significance.

When we launched The Meliora Challenge we aspired to establish a minimum of 80 endowed professorships. Thanks to your inspirational commitment to our faculty, we have surpassed our minimum. While the University remains focused on an “ever better” horizon, its collective heart is swelling with pride.

In the spirit of Meliora, we now aim to close out the remainder of the Campaign in pursuit of a new minimum: 100 endowed professorships.

This lofty goal is directly connected to the value we place on our faculty as teachers, health care providers, and researchers. Through these functions, they are advancing our mission to Learn, Discover, Heal, Create—and make the world ever better. 

Your leadership and generosity are why we have arrived at this place in the Campaign, and we are excited to see where your partnership takes us next.  

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Wilmots Provide Leadership to New Campaign 

 University Trustee Tom Wilmot and Judy Wilmot Linehan encourage attendees to join them in supporting cancer research at the Wilmot Cancer Institute during the 15th annual Discovery Ball.

A quick pace for transformations in UR Medicine’s clinical and research programs for cancer treatment has led to a new organizational structure that includes a growing network of satellite locations across the region—the Wilmot Cancer Institute.

Created to bring the highest level of cancer care to individuals in Rochester and throughout western New York, the Institute seeks to provide expertise and leading-edge capabilities closer to patients’ homes. An integral part of this mission is advancing research, which will receive support through a new $30 million campaign. The campaign is being led by local philanthropists Richard T. Bell and Robert W. Kessler; University Trustee Thomas C. Wilmot, Sr., is serving as an honorary campaign chair.

Building on a commitment to cancer research that spans three generations, the Wilmot family and the James P. Wilmot Foundation contributed gifts totaling $4 million to help launch the campaign. The gifts were announced at the 15th annual Discovery Ball held in Rochester.

“In a field that’s advancing as rapidly as cancer, it’s a tremendous advantage to have researchers and oncologists working together in the same facilities,” said President Joel Seligman. “New research findings quickly make their way into clinical decision making. The tremendous support we’ve received from the Wilmot family has made that possible, and the impact is seen in the care of every patient who comes through our doors.”

A portion of these gifts will establish an endowment for the Wilmot Distinguished Professorship in Cancer Genomics. The new professorship supports study in a relatively new discipline that attempts to identify the mechanisms that drive cancer growth.

“It has been amazing watching the progress in cancer research and patient care at Wilmot since 1980. We are thrilled to participate in its continued progress,” said Judy Wilmot Linehan. “Our family has been so affected by this terrible disease. It has taken away some of the most important people in my life. It is truly our pleasure to support the Wilmot Distinguished Professorship in Cancer Genomics. I can't wait to see what it will accomplish!”

The Wilmot family’s philanthropic commitment to cancer research began in 1981 with the Wilmot Fellowship Program at the Medical Center. Funded by the foundation created by James P. Wilmot  in the previous year, the program has provided training to more than 100 Wilmot Fellows, who have gone on to pursue careers in cancer research around the world. Since 1980, the Wilmot Foundation and the Wilmot family have given more than $50 million to the University to support cancer research and treatment.  

Commitments to the campaign for the Wilmot Cancer Institute will be used to expand Wilmot’s research program by creating endowed professorships for cancer researchers, endowed program support for multidisciplinary research funding, and “seed grants” to allow researchers to explore new avenues of research.

All gifts to the Wilmot Cancer Institute's campaign that are received by June 30, 2016 will support the Medical Center’s $650 million goal, as a part of The Meliora Challenge’s $1.2 billion goal.

You can read more in the press release for the creation of the Wilmot Cancer Institute and the Wilmot’s gift, and you can also view a photo gallery or videos from this year’s Discovery Ball.

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Sloan Studio Dedicated

Halle Burns ’16, University Trustee Tom Sloan ’65, ’67 (MS), Nigel Maister, Grace Interlichia ’14, and Lydia Jimenez ’14

Retired theater teacher and director Linda Sloan ’67 dedicated her career to giving her students the courage and freedom to develop their talent. Both are of critical importance to theater and the performing arts—so is space.

As part of a visionary commitment to enrich campus life and students’ exposure to the arts, Linda and her husband, University Trustee Tom Sloan ’65, ’67 (MS), vice chair of the East Coast effort for The Meliora Challenge, helped create a new rehearsal studio in Todd Union. On May 13, the University community formally dedicated the Linda E. Sloan Studio.

“This studio is framed both in terms of theater and of the student experience,” said President Joel Seligman. “I am deeply grateful to have Tom’s and Linda’s passion for and dedication to the betterment of campus life at the University. Their enthusiasm is a driving force that continues to rally additional support for this important cause.”

Nigel Maister, the Russell and Ruth Peck Artistic Director of the International Theatre Program (ITP), called the studio a “game-changer.” For the first time in its 25-year existence, the ITP has a space that can function as a studio and classroom, as well as a place for students to congregate, entertain, study, and even work on extracurricular projects. It also liberates other spaces to be used by faculty and fill other needs.

“Having the dedicated space has allowed us to make so many small adjustments that have a major impact on our needs,” said Maister. “It gives our program weight and a seriousness of intent, which is significant for incoming students. None of this would be possible without the Sloans.”  

The Sloans provide additional support to the Theatre Program, as well as the Simon Business School and Rochester Annual Fund, through their Charter Membership in the George Eastman Circle. Their philanthropy also includes the University’s Robert B. Goergen Hall for Biomedical Engineering and Optics. Goergen Hall's Sloan Auditorium honors Tom's generosity and his impact on the field of optics.

For the last two decades, the Sloans’ generosity has encouraged the development of a robust student experience, and now that includes the development of students’ talents.  

“I tried to see students not just as they were, but as they could be,” said Linda. “Many students have incredible talent, but that talent is young and raw. Talent is nothing unless developed, nurtured, focused, and challenged. It will remain immature unless prodded further, pushed into territory never envisioned, challenged to do hard work.”  

Together, Linda and Tom are crafting a vision that is broadening the arts and making theater and performing arts focal points for the University community.

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Moss Installed as Inaugural Berk Distinguished Professor

Mark Taubman, M.D., Arthur Moss ’62M (Res), ’65M (Flw), Bradford C. Berk ’81M (MD), ’81M (PhD), and President Joel Seligman

Approximately half of all heart attack survivors remain at risk of sudden death—even when receiving the best medical care available. With preventative therapy in the form of an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), the chance of sudden death is cut by 31 percent.

The ICD has changed the treatment of heart disease worldwide, and the research that led to its increased use was spearheaded by Arthur J. Moss ’62M (Res), ’65M (Flw). Moss’s 60-year career and leadership in electrical disturbances of the heart, which includes a veritable library of more than 500 scientific papers on cardiac arrhythmias, have made him a legend in the international cardiology community. His body of work is also the reason why on May 14, the University community recognized him as the inaugural holder of the Bradford C. Berk, MD, PhD Distinguished Professorship.

The professorship was established by a $1.5 million commitment from Bradford C. Berk ’81M (MD), ’81M (PhD) and his family, and $500,000 from the Medical Center’s Department of Medicine, to strengthen cardiovascular care, research, and educational efforts at the University.

“This is an extraordinary gift, reflecting Brad’s loyalty and commitment to the University where his career reached its pinnacle,” said President Joel Seligman.  “Brad, who has already devoted so much of his talent to the University, is now making a gift that will support cutting-edge cardiovascular research for decades to come.”

Berk has been CEO of the Medical Center and senior vice president for health sciences since 2006. His gift will help the University recruit high caliber scientists to the School of Medicine and Dentistry or retain exceptional faculty already working within the Cardiology division. Moss will serve as the exemplar for the Berk Distinguished Professor.

“It is very important that the first person set the standard, and Dr. Moss is establishing a very high bar,” said Berk. “He is the kind of individual I would always like to have in this position.”

Moss has been with the University for more than 50 years. In addition to his work in electrical disturbances of the heart, he is an expert on the genetics of heart disease. Moss was one of the first scientists to attempt to unravel the genetic underpinnings of a specific heart condition, Long QT syndrome (LQTS), which makes the heart susceptible to fatal arrhythmias. In 1979, he helped launch the International LQTS Registry, a database of families with the LQTS trait and one of the first gene registries for any disease in the world.

For his achievements, dedication, and service to the University, he received the George Eastman Medal. He is also a member of the George Eastman Circle.

You can read more about Bradford Berk’s gift in the official press release

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Kaniel Installed as Inaugural Benet Professor

Jay Benet ’76S (MBA), Jeanne P. Benet, Ron Kaniel, Ph.D., and Mark Zupan 

When Jay S. Benet ’76S (MBA) and his wife, Jeanne P. Benet, established a professorship in finance at the Simon Business School, they envisioned it being held by a leading scholar in the field. This individual would embody William E. Simon’s vision for the School to “pioneer the future.” And they would demonstrate this through their work in political economy issues and in their articulation of the important roles free markets and entrepreneurship play in bettering society.

The University found this person in Ron Kaniel, Ph.D., who is the first holder of the Jay S. and Jeanne P. Benet Professorship of Finance. Kaniel and the Benets were both recognized for their contributions to the University on May 7.

“I am very appreciative of the vision and generosity Jay and Jeanne have shown by creating this professorship. It’s a resource that will help the Simon School maintain its excellence in finance for many years to come,” said President Joel Seligman. “For the goals the Benets set for this professorship, Ron is a perfect recipient. He is an outstanding teacher, scholar, and representative of Simon’s mission.”

The Benets’ professorship provides a valuable resource to recruit and retain exceptional faculty members. Jay also provides ongoing leadership to the Simon School as a member of the Simon National Council and the Simon Executive Advisory Committee. He also supports the Simon School’s annual fund through his membership in the George Eastman Circle. 

Simon School professors like Kaniel gave Jay an education that helped him become chief financial officer of the Travelers Companies, Inc., a position he’s held for the past 12 years. Mark Zupan, dean of the Simon Business School noted that leading faculty members in the field of finance have long been a hallmark of the Simon School, and the Benet’s gift will help the School build on that proud heritage.

“We are profoundly grateful to Jay and Jeanne Benet for their generosity and this pivotal and significant resource from which many generations of Simon students to come, and our School overall, will benefit,” said Zupan. “We also are especially fortunate to have Ron Kaniel. He is a triple threat in terms of his excellence—finance scholarship, teaching, and service—and thus, wonderfully embodies the vision that Jay and Jeanne have for this professorship.”

A research fellow for the University’s Center for Economic Policy Research, Kaniel’s interests lie in asset pricing, financial intermediation, and investments. His studies are focused on understanding mutual fund investment decisions and how they impact security prices, and the predictive role of changes in trading volume and investors’ flow on security returns, among other areas.

Kaniel’s work has been published in the Journal of Finance, Journal of Financial Economics, Journal of Financial Intermediation, Mathematical Finance, and Operations Research. He has also been cited multiple times in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

You can read more about the Benets and their gift in the February 2013 issue of Fast Forward

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Wu Installed as the Inaugural Lam Professor 

University Trustee Evans Y. Lam ’83, ’84S (MBA), Susanna Y. Lam, Joanna S. Wu, Ph.D., President Joel Seligman, and Mark Zupan

Simon Business School faculty members are some of the most innovative and productive researchers among business school faculty from around the world. Many of these individuals also sit on editorial boards for top business journals, like Joanna S. Wu, Ph.D., professor of accounting, an editor for the Journal of Accounting and Economics

Contributing to a preeminent journal in her field is one of the many ways Wu has exemplified leadership and influence within the business community, and just one of the reasons she is the first holder of the Susanna and Evans Y. Lam Professorship.

Wu and the professorship’s creators, University Trustee Evans Y. Lam ’83, ’84S (MBA) and his wife, Susanna, were recognized by the University community on May 15.

“Evans’ and Susanna’s dedication, leadership, and support at the University, and particularly Simon, have not wavered since Evans came to the University as a student more than 30 years ago,” said President Joel Seligman. “We couldn’t have found someone better suited to benefit from this inspiring gift than Joanna. She will truly be the exemplar for future Lam Professors.”

Hong Kong natives, the Lams both provide ongoing support to the Simon Business School annual fund as Charter Members of the George Eastman Circle. Evans is also a member of the School’s National Council and Executive Advisory Committee. He and Susanna established this professorship to strengthen the Simon Business School by supporting a faculty member who is an excellent scholar and teacher in a specific field. 

“Joanna’s character and leadership shine through her scholarship, her teaching accomplishments, and her service to her colleagues and the University,” said Mark Zupan, dean of the Simon Business School. “She has shown a commitment to Meliora that makes everything she’s a part of ‘ever better.’”

A University of Rochester faculty member since 1999, Wu specializes in teaching corporate financial reporting. Her research spans the areas of international financial reporting, the behavior of financial analysts, management compensation, voluntary disclosure, and mutual fund performance. She has been published in the Journals of Finance, Journal of Accounting Research, and The Accounting Review, among others, and has presented her research at more than 40 institutions and conferences around the world.

You can read more about the Lams’ gift and endowed professorships at the Simon Business School in the Simon Endowed Professorships Brochure.   

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Ainslie Named Simon Dean

Andrew Ainslie

On May 2, President Joel Seligman announced that Andrew Ainslie would be the seventh dean of the University of Rochester's Simon Business School. 

"I am delighted that Andrew Ainslie has accepted this appointment. He has had an outstanding career at UCLA Anderson School of Management,” said Seligman. "He will be an outstanding dean. He is a creative and dynamic leader in business education."

Ainslie has been senior associate dean of the full-time MBA program at UCLA Anderson School of Management since 2010. He was responsible for admissions, student services, and career placement. During his tenure the school has increased its admissions more than 60 percent, increased placements more than 20 percent, and revised its curriculum.

“Andrew Ainslie impressed us with his leadership experience, his commitment to the research mission, and his farsighted approach to the challenges facing all MBA programs,” said University Trustee Janice Willett ’78S (MBA), chair of the Trustees and Friends Advisory Committee for the search.

Ainslie’s appointment will be effective as of June 30 when Dean Mark Zupan’s term ends. Zupan has served as dean since 2004. After a sabbatical, he will become the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Government Policy in Business and director of the Bradley Policy Research Center at Simon.

“The Simon Business School has an incredible history,” said Ainslie. “It has been at the forefront of an analytic, rigorous approach to business from its inception, and today the business community is just beginning to understand the importance of that approach. I am delighted to take on this opportunity.”

You can read more in the official press release.  

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Rossi Named Eastman Messinger Dean 

Jamal J. Rossi ’87E (DMA)

On May 13, President Joel Seligman announced that Jamal J. Rossi ’87E (DMA) would be the second Joan and Martin Messinger Dean of the Eastman School of Music.

“Jamal Rossi’s appointment comes at the conclusion of an international search by a faculty committee chaired by Provost Peter Lennie,” said Seligman. “Jamal was selected because of an outstanding track record of accomplishment, including his leadership of the Eastman Theatre renovation and expansion project, his indisputable ability to lead the School, and his determination to work with the faculty, staff, alumni and students to craft a new strategic plan that will take Eastman to a new level of even greater accomplishment as the nation’s leading school of music.”

Rossi has served in leadership roles in music for more than two decades; he has spearheaded significant collaborative educational and community initiatives; and he has wide-ranging experience in academic scholarship and leadership, teaching, performance, recording, and fundraising. As executive associate dean, he supervised all aspects of the award-winning $47 million project to renovate Eastman Theatre and construct the Eastman East Wing. He also founded RocMusic, a collaborative partnership of arts and education institutions in Rochester to establish a free after-school music program for Rochester inner-city students.

“I am delighted to congratulate Jamal Rossi on his appointment as dean of the Eastman School of Music. His record of leadership as executive associate dean has demonstrated his vision and commitment,” said Renée Fleming ’83E (MM), famed soprano and member of the Trustees and Friends Advisory Committee for the search. “I am confident that he will lead Eastman forward with the creativity and passion needed to face the radically changing landscape for the arts, and the specific challenges for classical music and its vital place in our culture.” 

An active saxophone soloist and chamber musician, Rossi is featured on numerous recordings and is author of the book Altissimo Repertoire Etudes, as well as articles and reviews that have appeared in leading wind and educational publications. He is the seventh person to lead the Eastman School of Music as director or dean, succeeding the late Douglas Lowry. Lowry served as the first Messinger Dean and stepped down due to illness, at which time Rossi was appointed interim dean. 

“It has been a privilege to serve my colleagues and students at the Eastman School of Music these past nine years, and it is an even greater privilege to be asked to serve as Eastman’s dean,” said Rossi. “With its superb faculty and staff, its talented and motivated students and accomplished alumni, and a commitment to making a difference in the world through music, Eastman is uniquely positioned to help shape the future of music. It is the greatest honor to be asked to help lead Eastman to that future.”

You can read more in the official press release

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Meliora Weekend 2014 

Save the dates! The University will celebrate its 14th Meliora Weekend from October 16–19 this year. Featured speakers will include Doris Kearns Goodwin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian, and Laverne Cox, an actress currently appearing in the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black

Also, Jason Alexander, best known for his portrayal of George Costanza on the hit NBC series Seinfeld, will be performing An Evening with Jason Alexander in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre as part of the Eastman School of Music's concert series.

Please note that there will not be a ticket lottery for this year’s keynote address. You can find more information about these featured guests and signature events on the Meliora Weekend homepage or this press release.  

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April 2014

A Meliora Message

This issue of Fast Forward features several new gifts, multiple endowed professorship installation ceremonies, and a variety of signature University events. It is representative of everything that has given The Meliora Challenge the powerful momentum that promises to carry it beyond its $1.2 billion goal. As we move forward in this final stage, it is important to remember that the University’s goals, aspirations, and our overall mission to make the world “ever better” will not end with the Campaign. It will be through the continued leadership, dedication, and generosity of alumni, faculty and staff, parents, and friends that the University’s vision—for itself and the world—will always be within reach.


The Wegman Family Charitable Foundation Supports Major Projects

University Trustee Danny Wegman at the announcement of a $17 million gift from The Wegman Family Charitable Foundation.

Data science and children’s health care are two areas in which the University has invested heavily through the creation of the new Institute for Data Science and the construction of a new Golisano Children’s Hospital. Both projects recently received a significant boost in funding.

On April 1, President Joel Seligman announced two extraordinary gifts from The Wegman Family Charitable Foundation: a $10 million lead gift to the Institute and a $7 million gift supporting the campaign for the Children’s Hospital. In recognition of the generosity toward the Institute, the new building to house it will bear the Wegman Family name.

“Data science is the defining discipline of the 21st century, and among the University’s top priorities,” said Seligman. “Danny [Wegman] saw the potential of this initiative to build off of our strengths in data science and computational capabilities and our long tradition of entrepreneurship. He also knew a gift to the new Golisano Children’s Hospital would be an investment in our region’s future. Both of these gifts will further deepen the Wegman legacy in upstate New York.”

The Wegman Family gift represents the fourth largest contribution to The Meliora Challenge and the second largest gift to the Children’s Hospital. With previous gifts supporting several programs across the University, the Foundation has now contributed a total of $20 million to the Campaign.

“It is our honor to support the University’s campaign,” said Danny Wegman, president and board chairman of the Foundation. "The Institute for Data Science is helping the University and its collaborators become leaders in leveraging information in ways that will transform 21st-century discovery and innovation.”

The new building for the Institute, a proposed $25 million, 50,000-square-foot facility, will complete the Science & Engineering Quadrangle on the River Campus. It will bring together—under one roof—faculty members in medicine, science and engineering, the humanities, education, business and other disciplines for the purpose of data science research and studies.

The Rochester community and donors, such as The Wegman Family Charitable Foundation and B. Thomas Golisano, have been paramount to the construction of the new Children’s Hospital, which still needs to raise $15 million toward a $60 million goal. Wegman, honorary chair of the Medical Center campaign, hopes this gift will inspire others to contribute to close the gap.

“The new children’s hospital will move health care for our region’s children and their families into a whole new environment designed around children’s needs,” said Wegman. “What could be more important or gratifying than ensuring the health of our children?”

You can read more about The Wegman Family Charitable Foundation’s gift, the Institute for Data Science, and the new Golisano Children’s Hospital in the official press release, here.

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Blochs Endow Support to Advancement Program

University Trustee Larry Bloch ’75, P’13S and Cindy Bloch P’13S with James D. Thompson following the George Eastman statue dedication at Meliora Weekend 2009.

Working closely with James D. Thompson, former chief advancement officer (CAO), University Trustee Laurence (Larry) H. Bloch ’75, P’13S helped change the culture of philanthropy at the University of Rochester.

Larry and his wife, Cindy Bloch P’13S, have honored that partnership through a significant gift to establish the James D. Thompson Chief Advancement Officer: Endowed by Larry and Cindy Bloch. In addition to ensuring the University always has strong leadership in this position, the Blochs have also created the Larry and Cindy Bloch Endowment for University Advancement to perpetuate the achievement of the Advancement program’s mission.

“I am continually moved by how Cindy and Larry express their support of the University,” said President Joel Seligman. “This gift will allow us to meet the significant challenges we will face in the road ahead for the development of our advancement program, far into the future. The Blochs’ choice to at the same time recognize Jim captures the true spirit of these named positions, as we will be building on his hard work and great success. We are incredibly fortunate to so often be the beneficiaries of the Blochs’ generosity and counsel.”

The Blochs’ innovative gift supporting the University’s CAO reinforces the University’s aspirations for faculty and staff excellence. Alumni, faculty and staff, and friends of the University have helped create 77 new endowed positions toward a minimum Campaign goal of 80.

“For the University to be approaching $1.1 billion in campaign commitments with more than two years to go is something very few would have imagined eight years ago. This accomplishment is very much a reflection of Jim’s vision and deep-rooted commitment to the University’s donors,” said Larry. “Generating support from alumni, parents, and friends requires a great advancement organization and forward-thinking leadership. Endowing the chief advancement officer in Jim’s honor will enable the University to maintain the very high standard he set.”

Charter Members of the George Eastman Circle, the Blochs’ previous philanthropy includes the University’s statue of George Eastman on the Eastman Quadrangle. They also made a leadership gift to the Goergen Athletic Center, for which they were honored in 2000 at the formal dedication of the Larry and Cindy Bloch Fitness Center.

Cindy is a graduate of Parsons School of Design and built a career as head fashion designer for several women's sportswear companies in New York City, including major divisions of Evan Picone, Leslie Fay, and J. G. Hook. In her retirement from the fashion industry, she has taken on leadership roles in a number of philanthropic organizations, including serving as board chair of the San Diego-based nonprofit Kids Korps, USA.

A private investor, Larry has served as a director of several private equity-sponsored companies. He is the former chairman of Diversified Global Graphic Group, a global provider of print and graphic communications services, and the past president and board chairman of TransWestern Publishing Company, LLC, formerly one of the country’s largest independent telephone directory publishers.

As a University volunteer, Larry is vice-chair of West Coast efforts for the Campaign, chair of the board’s Development Committee, and is a member of the Executive Committee.

You can read more about Jim Thompson’s impact on Advancement in the official press release here.

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Lacoff Honors Professor with Faculty Endowment

Professor Michael C. Jensen, M.B.A., Ph.D., speaking at an installment of the Sands Leadership Lecture Series.

Many University of Rochester students have professors whose impact on their lives is felt long after graduation. For Martin (Marty) S. Lacoff ’71S (MBA), economist Michael C. Jensen, M.B.A., Ph.D., was one of those professors. With a $1.3 million commitment to Simon Business School, Marty has honored that relationship by establishing the Michael C. Jensen Professorship.

“I am deeply grateful for Marty's commitment to the Simon Business School,” said President Joel Seligman. “This professorship will serve as a lasting tribute to Professor Jensen’s illustrious career at the University while strengthening the Simon School’s offerings within the field of finance.”

The professorship will support a leading Simon School faculty member and help the School remain at the forefront of education and research. This is the 10th endowed professorship to be established at Simon in support of The Meliora Challenge, an area in which Marty set the precedent. In 1984, he created the first faculty endowment at Simon when he established the LaClare Professorship of Finance and Business Administration—Jensen was the inaugural holder.

Jensen is the founder of Journal of Financial Economics (JFE), which continues to be published at the Simon School. His best-known JFE paper, “Theory of the Firm: Managerial Behavior, Agency Costs and Ownership Structure,” co-authored by former Simon dean William H. Meckling, is the most widely cited paper ever produced by a business school faculty member in the world.

Marty is an entrepreneur with over 45 years of experience starting, developing, and operating businesses within the securities, real estate, and natural resources industries. Current chairman and founder of Belpointe, a family office offering wealth management, accounting, legal and real estate services in Greenwich, Conn., he has also been vice-chairman and co-founder of Walker Energy Partners and founder, chairman, and general securities principal of LaClare Securities, Inc.

“Marty’s generosity is further testament to the lasting impact that our School’s faculty has on students, fellow scholars, businesses, and society,” said Mark Zupan, dean of the Simon School.

As a volunteer, Marty serves on the board of directors for the Lion’s Foundation of Greenwich [Conn.], a charitable organization dedicated to helping the blind and visually impaired, and he is a member of the Simon School’s Executive Advisory Committee. He is also a member of the George Eastman Circle.

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Zeidman and Pressman Lead Funding for Future Professorship

Seth M. Zeidman, M.D., and Eva K. Pressman, M.D.

Several years ago, Seth M. Zeidman, M.D., a neurosurgeon on Highland Hospital’s medical staff, was biking along the Erie Canal when his ride took a disastrous turn. An accident caused him to sustain a broken arm and significant blood loss. Even more alarming, he suffered a heart attack—although he didn’t know it at the time.

That day, Seth was treated by Stephen L. Kates, M.D. ’89M (Res), the Hansjörg Wyss Professor in the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation. It was Kates who discovered the heart attack, a discovery which Seth has deemed life-saving. Seth also credits Kates for helping him to regain the mobility he needs as a surgeon.

Honoring this relationship, Seth and his wife, Eva K. Pressman, M.D., the Henry A. Thiede Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, committed $750,000 for orthopaedics research at the Medical Center.

The couple’s gift is meant to inspire additional gifts that would ultimately total a minimum of $1.5 million to fund the Stephen L. Kates Professorship in Orthopaedics. In the meantime, their commitment will support the research of a full-time faculty member that advances the care and treatment of musculoskeletal diseases.

“This generous gift from Eva and Seth will allow our nationally recognized researchers to continue to unravel the mysteries of musculoskeletal health and develop therapies that will impact patients today and in the future,” said Mark B. Taubman, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry and University vice president for Health Sciences.

Eva and Seth, who joined the University in 1999, have helped recruit dozens of colleagues at other institutions to come to Rochester. Both are committed to supporting the pioneering work being done by the Department's Center for Musculoskeletal Research.

“We love it here,” said Eva. “The faculty, staff, residents, researchers, and students are phenomenal.” Seth added: “Everyone is top-notch and we’ve been very pleased with how our lives and careers have developed at the University of Rochester. We’re extremely grateful for every opportunity, and we want to give back.”

Charter Members of the George Eastman Circle, the couple has committed a total of nearly $1 million in support to the departments of surgery, and obstetrics and gynecology at Highland Hospital, as well as several programs and initiatives. They also serve on the Highland Foundation Board and are actively involved with the Highland Hospital Gala.

You can read more about the Department of Orthopaedics' Center for Musculoskeletal Research in the official press release here.

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San Diego Regional Campaign Launch

On April 10, the spirit of Meliora was alive in San Diego. Nearly 80 University alumni, parents, and friends gathered at the Grand Del Mar Hotel to celebrate Rochester pride and local support for The Meliora Challenge.

Opening remarks from University Trustee and George Eastman Circle member Larry Bloch ’75, P’13S, vice-chair of west coast efforts for The Meliora Challenge, put the Campaign’s significance and success to-date into perspective. President Joel Seligman reminded attendees that the Campaign supports the University’s vision to be one of the top research universities in the country.

Going into the evening’s celebration, the region had already raised $10 million. Trustee and George Eastman Circle member Mike Rosen ’82, ’83S (MBA), chair of the San Diego Regional Cabinet and San Diego’s regional campaign, is leading efforts to reach a goal of $11.5 million by the end of The Meliora Challenge.

Following the precedent set by the celebration in New York, the evening’s theme was structured around the four pillars of the University’s mission—Learn, Discover, Heal, Create—and brought to life through four video “portraits of Meliora.” Attendees were also treated to a live demonstration of “Create” by soprano Mary Baron ’14, ’14E and pianist Evelyn Lam ’13E, ’15E (MM).

Prior to her performance, Baron spoke about her University experience and how it is supported by her Steven Bramson and Ruth Oroshnik George Eastman Circle Scholarship. She will graduate in August with a bachelor of music in applied voice from the Eastman School of Music and a bachelor of arts in business from Arts, Sciences & Engineering.

You can see photos from the San Diego regional campaign launch here.

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Fifth Annual Celebration of Scholarships

Recipients and their donors celebrating scholarships in the Memorial Art Gallery's M&T Ballroom.

The University’s fifth annual Celebration of Scholarships was held in the Memorial Art Gallery’s M&T Ballroom on April 6 and attended by more than 220 scholarship donors and recipients. They were joined by several University leaders, including President Joel Seligman, deans, and members of the Board of Trustees.

Attendees were welcomed by University Trustee Paul Griner ’59M (MD), ’65M (Res), who created the Paul F. Griner, M.D. Merit Scholarship in 2007 to help students realize the unique opportunities afforded by a Rochester medical education. In his opening remarks, he highlighted the program’s speakers and performers, including Chris Doser ’14E, ’15, recipient of the Robert J. and Signe Sebo Zale Scholarship, who performed with his jazz quartet during the reception.

President of Chevron Technology Ventures Barbara Burger ’83 shared that her professors and the well-rounded education she received at the University inspired her to establish the Barbara J. Burger Endowed Scholarship in the Sciences, which supports students pursuing degrees in biology, chemistry, earth and environmental sciences, or physics.

Shay Behrens ’14 spoke about her University experience and the doors that opened because of support she received from the Alan and Jane Handler Scholars Fund, established by University Trustee Rich Handler ’83 and his wife, Martha, in honor of Rich’s parents. Shay is the first in her family to attend college.

You can read more stories like those of Barbara Burger and Shay Behrens and learn about the importance of supporting the University’s students in a new brochure on endowed scholarships here.

You can also see photos from this year's Celebration of Scholarships here.

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Simon NYC Conference 2014

The fifth annual conference will be held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on May 8.

Simon Business School’s annual New York City Conference brings together leading industry executives, government officials, and preeminent faculty to discuss key issues within the business community.

The fifth annual conference, “The Global Marketplace: Rising to the Challenges of Regulation, Disruption, and International Competition,” will be held on May 8 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Conference participants will discuss the pathways to success for today’s companies facing increasing global competition and innovation and honor this year’s Executive of the Year Award recipient, Rob Sands, president and CEO of Constellation Brands.

The Executive of the Year Award honors a person in business who has made a groundbreaking contribution to his or her organization, exemplifies the spirit of leadership, demonstrates a deep respect for our nation's fiscal health, and has a significant pattern of public service and philanthropy.

Some of the conference’s esteemed panelists will include Michael C. Jensen ’01S (LLD), former LaClare Professor of Finance and Business Administration at the Simon School and Jesse Isidor Straus Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus, Harvard Business School; Sallie Krawcheck, owner of 85 Broads and one of the most respected voices on Wall Street; Larry Kudlow ’69, ’13S (LLD), retired host of CNBC’s The Kudlow Report; and University Trustee Rich Handler '83, CEO Leucadia and Chairman, CEO Jefferies LLC.

You can read more on Rob Sands here, and you can find a full list of confirmed speakers and panelists here.

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Kates Installed as Inaugural Hansjörg Wyss Professor

President Joel Seligman, Stephen L. Kates ’89M (Res), Hansjörg Wyss, Mark Taubman, M.D., Bradford C. Berk ’81M (MD), ’81M (PhD), CEO of the Medical Center and senior vice president for Health Sciences, and Regis J. O’Keefe ’00M (PhD), the Marjorie Strong Wehle Professor in Orthopaedics and chair of the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation

It would be more than fair to say that geriatric fractures are scourges of humanity. They rank among heart disease and cancer as afflictions that cause the greatest amount of disability and have the highest mortality rate. The Medical Center is at the forefront of addressing this growing problem, largely because of orthopaedic surgeon Stephen L. Kates ’89M (Res).

Kates, director of the Geriatric Fracture Center, has created an internationally-renowned geriatric fracture care program at Highland Hospital. Accomplishments like this have led to him becoming the inaugural holder of the Hansjörg Wyss Professorship.

Kates and the professorship’s creator, entrepreneur Hansjörg Wyss, were recognized by the University community on April 2.

“Hansjörg has extraordinary range as a humanist, including land conservation, fighting hunger, refugee support, and his main interest: health care. I can’t overstate my gratitude for his support.” said President Joel Seligman. “This professorship will enable Steve Kates to continue to provide global leadership in addressing geriatric fractures.”

Born and raised in Bern, Switzerland, and now a resident of Wyoming, Hansjörg’s professorship is only the tip of an iceberg-sized commitment to making a difference in the world. In 2013, he joined the Giving Pledge, a global initiative created by Warren Buffet and Bill Gates that encourages the world’s wealthiest individuals to commit to giving a majority of their wealth to philanthropy. In this instance, his gift was made to support the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation's clinical work and research related to geriatric fracture care, which is currently being led by Kates in the Department's Center for Musculoskeletal Research.

“Steve is helping to tackle one of the world’s most important problems in medicine,” said Mark Taubman, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry and University vice president for health sciences. “And he has established himself as a global leader in the area—clinically, as an outstanding surgeon, and in his research and teaching. There’s no one more deserving of a named professorship in this field.”

Kates has developed a model of care for the aging population that is emulated across this country and in several others. He has lectured extensively on geriatric fractures, system improvement, infections, and osteoporosis in North America, Europe, and Asia.

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Laboratory for Laser Energetics Faculty Honored

President Joel Seligman, Robert McCrory, Ph.D., Riccardo Betti, Ph.D., and Robert L. Clark, Ph.D., senior vice president for research and dean of the Edmund A. Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

It’s a rare occasion when two University professors are honored with professorships at the same ceremony. It’s an even rarer occasion when one of those professors is the namesake of the other’s position.

On April 4, Robert McCrory, Ph.D., director of the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) for the last three decades, was recognized for his contributions to the physics and engineering community, the LLE, and to the University in general with the appointment of University Professor. Only eight other current or retired faculty members have received this honor.

As McCrory has proven to be an exemplar of the qualities that define faculty excellence, a professorship established by an anonymous donor was named in his honor. Riccardo Betti, Ph.D., professor of physics and astronomy and former Helen F. and Fred H. Gowen Professor, became the inaugural holder of the Robert L. McCrory Professorship, in recognition of his leadership in the domain of fusion energy research.

“Bob McCrory has worked tirelessly in Washington, D.C. as an advocate for high-energy-density physics and the Laser Lab. He has recruited outstanding colleagues, and he has been a visionary of international prominence for his work,” said President Joel Seligman. “I am delighted to recognize Bob’s accomplishments and extraordinary service with this professorship.

“I am also delighted to honor Riccardo Betti, an internationally recognized leader in fusion energy research, as the first faculty member to be named to the Robert L. McCrory Professorship.  I can think of no more fitting incumbent for this new professorship than Riccardo, one of our most distinguished scientists and someone who makes vital contributions to the mission of the Laboratory for Laser Energetics.”

Betti is truly one of the LLE’s exceptional scientists. His research in inertial confinement fusion and magnetic fusion energy has earned him accolades from the American Nuclear Society, the Department of Energy, and the Fusion Power Associates.

Under McCrory’s leadership, the LLE has established itself as a world-leading facility for the investigation of inertial confinement fusion, utilized by scientists from around the world. Since becoming the director, McCrory has been responsible for securing $1.6 billion in funding for the LLE.

You can read more about Robert McCrory in the official press release on his appointment here.

You can also read more about Riccardo Betti becoming the inaugural McCrory Professor here.

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Gross Installed as Inaugural Hilfiker Professor

Joanna B. Olmsted, dean of Arts & Sciences, Kenneth Gross, Ph.D., University Trustee Alan F. Hilfiker ’60, and President Joel Seligman describes Puppet: An Essay on Uncanny Life as “A book about re-seeing what we know, or what we think we know [about] the startling power of puppets as mirrors of the uncanny in life and art.” Cornell University’s Department of English called it one of the most distinguished books in American theater.

The latter description earned the book the 2011–2012 George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism, honoring the year’s best work in the field. The book’s author is University renaissance scholar Kenneth Gross, Ph.D. Work of this caliber is just one of the reasons Gross was selected to be the inaugural holder of the Alan F. Hilfiker Distinguished Professorship in English.

Gross and his position’s benefactor and namesake University Trustee Alan F. Hilfiker ’60 were recognized at a formal ceremony on April 4.

“Alan’s continued support of the English department at Rochester is reflective of the University’s commitment to the humanities,” said President Joel Seligman. “Ken’s dedication to both his students and his craft as a scholar of dramatic literature embodies what this new professorship represents.”

Creating this position was a “bucket list” item for Alan. Since graduating, he has aspired to repay the University for the education, financial support, and experience he received as a student. Now, he hopes the professorship will help the English department sustain a rich history of talented faculty to train new generations of scholars.

Gross has been a University professor for nearly 30 years, five of which he served as the director of Undergraduate Studies in English and director of the English Honors Program. His research is predominantly focused on Renaissance literature and the work of William Shakespeare, but also branches out to lyric poetry, literature, visual arts, and traditional and experimental theater. Next academic year he will be a visiting scholar at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library.

You can read more about Kenneth Gross and Alan Hilfiker in the official press release here.

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March 2014

A Meliora Message

When The Meliora Challenge passed the $1 billion mark, President Seligman noted that the Campaign is not about dollars; dollars are simply the means to take us where we want to go. The Campaign is about people and the way we have an impact on their lives.

The endowed professorships and directorships featured in this month’s issue help underscore that perspective. Every professorship represents an exceptional faculty member. The installation ceremonies of Nigel Maister; Joan Rubin, Ph.D.; Jonathan Mink, M.D., Ph.D.; and Jim Kuhn not only exemplify the people this Campaign is supporting, but also those who stand to benefit from their work.

Similarly, a fellowship isn’t just financial aid; it is a student pursuing research. And the funds that build state-of-the-art spaces also generate state-of-the-art ideas that will benefit those in our community and around the world.

This is the lens through which we should be looking at the road ahead. 


Rettner Funds Campus Revitalization

Conceptual rendering of Morey Hall lobby provided by HOLT Architects.

When Morey Hall was built more than 80 years ago, its main entry lobby was a welcoming, open space. When University Trustee Ronald Rettner walked through that entry for the first time in 2012, he found a much tighter space, but he could still see its beauty, its character, and above all, its tremendous potential.

To preserve the utility and enhance the quality of the University’s academic buildings and spaces—particularly those on the River Campus’ Eastman Quad—Ron established the Ronald Rettner Campus Improvement Fund. Beginning in summer 2014, the fund will initiate renovations that, among other improvements, return Morey Hall’s lobby to its original design and purpose, as well as for use as a multifunctional space for events and meetings.

“A project such as this is especially important because it helps preserve the historical foundation of our University,” said President Joel Seligman. “I am deeply grateful to Ron for starting and supporting this fund. He understands there is great value in nurturing and transforming existing facilities so that they may benefit our University community for years to come.”

Morey Hall, which connects to Ronald Rettner Hall for Media Arts and Innovation, will also undergo significant renovation in its main corridor and receive several cosmetic updates that add comfort and vibrancy.

“My vision is to facilitate the transformation of the buildings, making them state-of-the-art,” said Ron. “We can change the ambiance of these spaces, making them attractive, highly functional, bright and stimulating, and do it for a small fraction of the cost of a new building.”

Ron, president of Rettner Management and managing partner of Baron Associates in Yonkers, N.Y., is a passionate proponent and supporter of educational and community advancement and has worked with numerous organizations on redevelopment projects that have revitalized business districts and neighborhoods.

In addition to this commitment, Ron provided the lead gift to build Rettner Hall, a venue for students to explore hands-on practical skills and gain knowledge to navigate and excel in a fast-paced, digitally-oriented world. He is also a George Eastman Circle member.

You can read more about this gift and the initial project in Morey Hall in the official press release here.

To learn more about Rettner Hall, click here.

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Becks Endow Political Science Fellowship

Douglas Beck ’75 (MA), ’80 (PhD) has firsthand knowledge of how valuable it is to receive support for graduate training. Without a fellowship, he wouldn’t have been able to pursue his research in political science or either of his degrees at Rochester. But that only represents half of what has made him so grateful for his education.

Equally important was the faculty assistance Doug received. It created a connection to Rochester that has lasted far beyond graduation, and it is the reason he and his wife, Constance, have committed more than $1 million to endow the Douglas and Constance Beck Graduate Fellowship in Political Science for doctoral students in political science and related fields.

“With their gift, Doug and Connie are ensuring that the next generation of researchers will have the deep analytical skills needed to help address some of the most vexing problems of the 21st century,” said President Joel Seligman. “Doug has spent his professional life helping governments and organizations solve complex challenges, including those in public policy and transportation. The Becks’ generosity will make it possible for others to continue this kind of important work far into the future.”

Doug is now the senior vice president of ICF International, a publicly traded global consulting firm, and gives the University—specifically its faculty and their focus on methods—much credit for his success.

“The rigorous methodological training is among the best,” said Doug. “The political science department’s approach to solving problems included a deep understanding of the role of theory and of balancing induction and deduction as a way to understand and explain complexity.”

Higher education is a shared passion between the Becks. Doug, a George Eastman Circle member, values his academic experience so highly he has helped extended family and friends navigate the college process. For Connie, creating the fellowship was a way to help ensure generations of students are able to receive advanced training in their fields.

“[There’s] no doubt, Doug received a superior education at Rochester, but as important was how supported he felt,” said Connie. “His professors went out of their way to provide him with experiences. Rochester is the place where he felt he was part of a community.”  

You can read more about the Becks and their gift in the official press release here.

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Celebrating The Meliora Challenge in New York

University student a cappella groups Vocal Point (front) and the Midnight Ramblers

Have you ever attended an event where the program’s energy was so contagious that talking about it with other attendees afterward became part of the experience?

The University’s Campaign celebration in New York on March 13 was that kind of event.

More than 500 University alumni, parents, and friends celebrated The Meliora Challenge’s momentum in Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, creating the largest University event ever held in the metro New York area.

As of that evening, area donors had already committed more than $209 million toward the region’s $225 million goal.

The program’s tone was set by University student a cappella groups the Midnight Ramblers (all-male) and Vocal Point (all-female), performing a medley of songs that reached a crescendo at a concerted rendition of “On Broadway.”

Attendees heard from Board of Trustee Chair Ed Hajim ’58; University Trustee Rich Handler ’83, co-chair of The Meliora Challenge; alumna Emily Hart ’12; Trustee Gwen Greene ’65, chair of the Campaign’s Annual Fund initiative; and President Joel Seligman.

Moving videos based on the University’s mission to Learn, Discover, Heal, Create—and make the world ever better provided transition between speakers. Those featured included Lendsey Achudi ’14 (Learn), Lynne Maquat, Ph.D. (Discover), James Aquavella, M.D. (Heal), and Markiyan Melynchenko ’12E (Create). Immediately following his video, Markiyanaccompanied by Luis Ortiz ’10, ’10E (piano)gave a live violin performance that brought the audience to their feet in applause.

The celebration turned full-circle when the Ramblers and Vocal Point returned to the stage to join President Seligman for the singing of “The Genesee,” bringing a night to be remembered to a close.

To view a photo gallery from the event, click here.

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Maister Installed as Peck Director

Peter Lennie, provost and the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences & Engineering; Joanna B. Olmsted, dean of Arts and Sciences; Nigel Maister; Ruth and Russell Peck; Trustee Janice Willett; and President Joel Seligman

“Tremendously talented. Boundlessly enthusiastic.”
—University Trustee Janice M. Willett ’78S (MBA)

“I’ve never known a director who has such a powerful impact on students.”
Russell Peck, the John Hall Deane Professor of Rhetoric and Poetry

An abundance of these kinds of “reviews” is why Nigel Maister, artistic director of the International Theatre Program (ITP) at the University, was installed as the well-deserving and inaugural holder of the Russell and Ruth Peck Artistic Directorship.

On February 28, Maister, Janice Willet, and her husband, Joseph T. Willett ’75S (MBA), were recognized during an installation ceremony. Maister’s endowed position, which honors Russell Peck, the University's longest-serving active faculty member, and his wife, Ruth, was established with a lead gift by the Willetts, as well as generous contributions from 176 other University alumni and friends.  

“Nigel exemplifies the talent and ingenuity that Russell and Ruth Peck have brought to the University, enriching the lives of thousands of students over the past 53 years,” said University President Joel Seligman. “Through the generosity of donors such as Janice and Joe Willett, we are able to attract talented students whose passions include theater.”

In addition to this newly endowed position, the Willetts have created the Russell Peck Fellowship in English to support graduate students in the Department of English, with a preference for medieval studies. The directorship and fellowship add to their previous generosity which endowed the Janice M. and Joseph T. Willett Professorship for teaching and service at Simon Business School. The Willetts are also Charter Members of the George Eastman Circle and active volunteers serving as members of the Simon School Executive Advisory Committee, and co-chairs of the Northern New Jersey Regional Cabinet.

The Willets took the lead in establishing the directorship not only to honor the Pecks, but also to recognize their direction of the University’s Theatre in England program for more than 20 years. Longtime supporters of the ITP, the Pecks demonstrated their commitment to the program and belief in Maister’s leadership by establishing the Theatre Endowment Fund in 2008.

“He has a tremendous ability to identify interesting productions and bring them to life in unusual ways,” said Professor Peck, citing Maister’s multimedia adaption of The Iliad, translation of Bernard-Marie Koltès’s Roberto Zucco, and other projects.

Born in South Africa, Maister has trained and/or performed as an actor and director in countries around the world. He has been artistic director of the ITP since 2002 and is a founding member and resident theatre director of the music group Alarm Will Sound. Maister’s range and artistry are further exemplified by his body of work as an author of four plays, numerous theatrical adaptions, three librettos, and two song cycles of which the most recent premiered at Carnegie Hall.

You can read more about the Pecks, Willets, and Nigel Maister in the official press release here.

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Rubin Installed as Perkins Professor

Peter Lennie, provost and the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences & Engineering; Joanna B. Olmsted, dean of Arts and Sciences;  Frank Grebe ’54; Joan Shelley Rubin, Ph.D.; and President Joel Seligman

In the same way you might describe a highly intelligent person as well-read, you could describe the incredibly accomplished University professor Joan Shelley Rubin, Ph.D., as well-written. The author of several critically acclaimed books and one of the nation’s most highly regarded scholars of American culture, Rubin has earned the honor of being the inaugural holder of the Dexter Perkins Professorship in History.

The professorship was created by lead gifts from friends Robert (Bob) Kirkwood ’56 (PhD) and Francis (Frank) R. Grebe ’54 with contributions from more than 50 others. Rubin, Bob, and Frank were recognized by the University community at a formal installation ceremony on March 6.

“The generosity of Robert Kirkwood and Francis Grebe is greatly appreciated,” said President Joel Seligman. “They have joined together to create an enduring tribute—one that will help to inspire new scholars for generations to come.”

Bob was moved to endow the position out of a desire to honor his late University mentor, Dexter Perkins, Ph.D. Frank, who was already a George Eastman Circle member, wanted to further express his gratitude for four rewarding years at a University that had given him so much. Motivated by Bob’s enthusiastic regard for Perkins, Frank decided to contribute to the position as well.

Perkins, an internationally recognized historian, served the Department of History for more than three decades and helped launch what is now known as the Perkins Graduate History Program. He also served as the City of Rochester’s historian and as president of the American Historical Association. Rubin, who holds numerous leadership positions in national professional organizations, will now pick up the torch carried so far by her new position’s namesake.

“I cannot think of anyone more deserving of the Perkins Professorship than Joan Rubin,” said Matthew Lenoe, chair of the history department. “Her remarkable record of scholarship, teaching, and professional leadership epitomizes the legacy of Dexter Perkins.”

A Rochester native, Rubin has been a member of the University faculty since 1995 and is a professor of history and director of the American Studies program. She specializes in the cultural history of the 19th and 20th centuries with a particular interest in the values, anxieties, aspirations, and beliefs that have shaped both “high” art and popular expression.

You can read more about Joan Rubin, Bob Kirkwood, Frank Grebe, and Dexter Perkins in the official press release here.

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Mink Installed as Horner Professor

President Joel Seligman; Mark Taubman, M.D.; Bradford C. Berk ’81M (MD), ’81M (PhD), CEO of the Medical Center and senior vice president for Health Sciences; and Jonathan W. Mink, M.D., Ph.D.

Child neurology at the University’s School of Medicine and Dentistry received a major boost in 1968, when the late Frederick A. Horner ’47M (MD) joined the faculty. He is remembered as having a tireless work ethic and being a thorough and devoted clinician, as well as an ideal teacher and mentor.

Jonathan W. Mink, M.D., Ph.D., so fully exemplifies these same qualities that he was chosen to be the inaugural holder of the Frederick A. Horner, M.D. Endowed Professorship in Pediatric Neurology.

The professorship was established by Marjorie T. Horner in memory of her husband who died in 2010 at the age of 90. Mink and the Horners were recognized by the University community at an installation ceremony on March 19.

“Frederick Horner was a pioneer in pediatric neurology at the University of Rochester. In his 17-year tenure, he created a culture of excellence that has produced a new generation of pediatric neurologists who are carrying the Horner tradition forward,” said President Joel Seligman. “Marjorie’s gift will perpetuate that legacy and forever link their name to exceptional doctors such as Jonathan Mink in this critically important field.”

More than 25 years ago, the Horners established the Dr. Frederick A. Horner Social Work Emergency Fund to provide direct aid to impoverished patients and their families. Marjorie’s latest gift will help the University continue to make progress in the detection, treatment, and prevention of pediatric neurological disease by retaining and attracting faculty members like Mink.

“The expansion of pediatric neurology at the University of Rochester Medical Center can be directly attributed to Dr. Mink’s leadership,” said Mark Taubman, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry and vice president for health sciences. “He has raised the program’s national recognition to a level where it has become a benchmark for institutions across the country.”

Specializing in movement disorders starting in childhood, Mink cares for children with a variety of conditions that impair voluntary movements, cause involuntary movements, or both. These conditions include dystonia, chorea, tics, myoclonus, tremors, stereotypies, parkinsonism, and combinations, which may occur in conditions like cerebral palsy.

Mink’s research is focused on the study of the brain’s basal ganglia, which is associated with control of voluntary movements, and disorders including Batten disease and Tourette syndrome. With a team of medical professionals, he has helped develop a “clinical rating scale” for doctors to chart the health of children with Batten disease as the disease progresses.

In addition to his clinical practice and research, he directs the University’s child neurology residency and serves on numerous advisory boards.

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Kuhn Installed as Lambert and Schleifer Director

President Joel Seligman, Joseph N. Lambert ’59, Jim Kuhn, Harold B. Schleifer, and Mary Ann Mavrinac

Time travel is possible at the University—but not in the way most people think it is done.

Just ask Jim Kuhn, the River Campus Libraries’ director of Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation (RBSCP). He can show you books and pamphlets that will take you as far back as 1472, stopping at Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859) and Dante’s Divine Comedy (1555) along the way. Kuhn is helped by the richness and depth of RBSCP, but he is also well-equipped to connect these materials to curricula and research.

With one foot in the analog world and the other in the digital world, he has the essential qualities for 21st-century RBSC experts, and that is why he is now the Joseph N. Lambert and Harold B. Schleifer Director of Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation.

On March 25, the University community honored Kuhn and recognized his benefactors Joseph N. Lambert ’59 and his partner, Harold B. Schleifer, at a formal installation ceremony.

“The importance of preserving the literature, correspondence, and other written works that document our history is vital to a University that wants to preserve the past in order to better understand the future,” said President Joel Seligman. “Joseph and Harold possess a deep understanding of the evolving work of libraries and why they are central to our academic mission. Their dedication and generosity have helped ensure the maintenance of these irreplaceable treasures.”

Joseph and Harold both have close ties to the world of libraries. As an undergraduate student at the University, Joseph worked in Rush Rhees Library, locating and checking out books—he even tended the fires of the Welles-Brown Room. Harold, at only 14 years old, was shelving books at the New York Public Library. While Joseph went on to become an ophthalmologist, Harold pursued a master’s in library science and eventually became the dean of the University Library at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

Kuhn traveled a path similar to Harold’s, earning master’s degrees in library science and philosophy at Kent State University. Prior to joining the University of Rochester, he served as head of cataloging, technical services, and collection information services at Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., where he was named the interim Eric Weinmann Librarian. 

“I have watched him use his strong base of personal and professional values to dig deeply into and articulate issues with passion, eloquence, and the emotional intelligence to arrive at thoughtful decisions,” said Mary Ann Mavrinac, vice provost and the Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of River Campus Libraries. “He is a caring, kind, decent, and indefatigable person. Jim is the real deal.”

Kuhn has written articles that have appeared in New Technologies in Renaissance Studies and Reference & User Services Quarterly, and he serves as councilor-at-large for the American Library Association.

You can read more about Joseph and Harold’s gift in the official press release here.

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