September 2015

A Meliora Message 

With Meliora Weekend nearly here, we have two important questions for you.

Have you registered? If not, good news: you have until 12 p.m. on Friday, October 2, and it is as simple as going to the Meliora Weekend website.

Do you have a game plan for Meliora Weekend? From the River Campus and Medical Center to the Eastman School and Memorial Art Gallery, there are more than 200 programs for you to choose from over the course of four days. Given the impressive array of options, here are some suggestions to help you plan your weekend: 

Friday, October 9
Start your day at the Schoool of Medicine and Dentistry’s Class of 1962 Auditorium for MED Talks. From 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. alumni and current faculty members will be presenting on trending topics in the  medical world. Throughout the weekend, there are several opportunities to see performances from Eastman School of Music students. Try catching those celebrating the beginning of Meliora Weekend at 5:30 p.m. in Lowry Hall. You can find more information for these programs, and others, on the Friday page of the Meliora Weekend schedule.

Saturday, October 10
Make your way to the Interfaith Chapel on River Campus for back-to-back programs, starting with the Presidential Symposium: The Crisis in K–12 Education at 1:45 p.m. Join President and CEO Joel Seligman and six education professionals for an in-depth discussion on how to reform urban schools at the local, state, and national levels. Then, at 3:45 p.m., stay for Miller’s Court: Sports Gambling—What Is Legal and Why? Noted attorney and broadcaster Arthur Miller ’56, ’08 (LLD) will lead six panelists from the sports world in an exploration of the boundaries of betting on sports. You can find the list of panelists for both programs on the Saturday page of the Meliora Weekend schedule.

At some point during the weekend, take advantage of the shuttle service to or free parking at College Town. Located at the intersection of Mount Hope and Elmwood Avenues, the new district offers plenty of dining and shopping options, including Barnes & Noble, where there’s a 10 percent discount on University-imprinted clothing, giftware, and general reading (non-textbook) books.

Plan or no plan, there is no shortage of opportunities to have fun, learn, reconnect, and celebrate all things Rochester during Meliora Weekend. See it for yourself!

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Gabrellians Create Humanities Directorship, Lecture Series

Mark Gabrellian '79 and Ani Gabrellian '84

What prepares students to be leaders in their chosen fields? Expertise in craft or specialty is a driving force, but there is also great value in versatility and broad-based knowledge. President and CEO Joel Seligman and other University leaders are reaffirming Rochester’s belief in the benefits of a liberal arts education for undergraduate students through a Humanities and Performing Arts initiative that will help the University reach The Next Level. Trustee Ani Gabrellian ’84 and Mark Gabrellian ’79 couldn’t agree more.

The Gabrellians committed $2 million to create the Ani and Mark Gabrellian Humanities Center Directorship as well as additional support to establish the Hagop and Artemis Nazerian Humanities Lectures.

“I am delighted by Ani and Mark’s commitment to the future of the humanities at the University of Rochester,” said Seligman. “Their generous support will be instrumental in establishing the vision that ensures the Center succeeds in becoming a hub for multidisciplinary life on campus.” 

Announced this past April by Gloria Culver ’94 (PhD), dean of Arts & Sciences, the Center is currently being led by Interim Director Joan Shelley Rubin, the Dexter Perkins Professor in History. The Gabrellian Directorship ensures the University will have strong leadership not only at this nascent stage, but also far into the future. 

“We envision the Humanities Center as a place that provides students with a strong foundation for the rest of their lives,” said Mark, a member of the National Council for the River Campus Libraries and the University’s New York City Regional Cabinet. 

The Nazerian Humanities Lectures will help provide that foundation.

Named in honor of Ani’s parents, the annual lecture will feature University faculty members, emphasizing the collaborative nature of their efforts. Part of the Gabrellians’ support will be used to provide the chosen professors with research funds for new work that could become part of their lecture. The Gabrellians envision the talks being complemented by on-campus events, performances, and exhibits with similar themes and, hopefully, inspiring students to pursue a broad education as the lecture’s namesakes did.

Immigrants from multicultural Middle Eastern and Armenian societies, Artemis Nazerian and her late husband, Hagop, received an expansive education that enabled them to live fulfilling and productive lives. Both maintained interests in history, literature, philosophy, art, and music, and became proficient in several languages. They also served as the inspiration for Ani’s advocacy for the humanities to be respected as much as any other area of learning.

“Today there seems to be such an emphasis on the technical and STEM side of education, and we want students to know that they could be, for example, an amazing scientist and still love art history. One is not exclusive of the other,” said Ani, chair of the National Council for Arts, Sciences & Engineering. “The humanities give people different perspectives on how to approach problems. And, in the long run, the exposure to different ways of thinking will help students to excel in any path they choose.”

Charter Members of the George Eastman Circle, the Gabrellians’ recent commitment follows previous support that established the Ani and Mark Gabrellian Professorship—currently held by David Primo, associate professor of political science and business administration—to better understand the most vital political and economic issues of our era, and they created the Mesrob Mashtots Research Grants, which are innovation grants for outstanding incoming undergraduates. 

You can read more about the Gabrellians and their support for the Humanities Center in the official press release.

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Beals Establish New Institute at Eastman 

Joan Beal '84E and Jeff Beal '85E

Even in the time of silent films, cinema has never been silent. Music has always played a role in motion pictures. In film’s earliest days, this was often accomplished by way of an accompanying pianist, who improvised a soundtrack based on what was on screen. A love of jazz and improvisation helped Irene Beal perform as a film accompanist for many years. It also served as an inspiration for her grandson, Jeff Beal ’85E, who didn’t quite follow in her footsteps, but never forgot his musical roots. 

A $2 million commitment from four-time Emmy-winning composer Jeff Beal and accomplished vocalist Joan Beal ’84E have established the Beal Institute for Film Music and Contemporary Media. The Institute will provide students with resources that will prepare them for the increasing and evolving opportunities to write, produce, and perform music for film and contemporary media.

“This generous gift from Jeff and Joan connects the film legacy of the School’s founder, George Eastman, to a new era of opportunities in the music world,” said President and CEO Joel Seligman. “We are grateful for Jeff’s and Joan’s vision and support to enhance the Eastman School of Music’s preeminent role in preparing students to build lifelong careers.”

The Beals’ generosity will make the Eastman School a destination for industry experts and promising young musicians through support for student internships, scholarships, and projects; faculty instruction; visiting artist residencies; and important equipment and infrastructure. 

Through the Beal Institute, students will have opportunities to work with professionals who are actively engaged in writing for film and other contemporary media. Programs will encourage students to work together on multimedia projects with faculty members from the humanities, composition, and other Eastman School departments as well as with community arts organizations and partnering universities.

“Not only is there a need for education in composition across contemporary media platforms, there is a growing trend for orchestras and ensembles to perform this music in the concert hall,” said Jeff, a prolific and respected composer for film, media, and the concert hall, including the Academy Award-winning film Pollock and the Netflix series House of Cards, for which he recently won an Emmy. “Film music provides narrative connection, engages listeners, and can introduce new audiences to the power of the symphony orchestra.”

The Institute will also enhance the new Jazz and Contemporary Media graduate degree program in convergent artistry, focusing on writing scores for film and other applications, such as video games.

“Eastman has always been dedicated to developing artists with the strong musical fundamentals needed across the professional music world,” said Joan, who has performed in operas, in concerts with new music ensembles, and for film and television scores. “Jeff and I are honored to invest in the School’s initiatives to get students ready for new and expanding career opportunities.”

In addition to their recent commitment, the Beals have helped students at the Eastman School through the Jeff and Joan Beal George Eastman Circle Scholarship, which they created through their Charter Membership to the George Eastman Circle (GEC) in 2014.

You can read more about the Beals and the Beal Institute on the Eastman School of Music website. For more information on how you can support students through a GEC membership visit the GEC website.

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Chang Honors Mentor with Professorship

Institute of Optics Director Xi-Cheng Zhang, President Joel Seligman, Professor Nicholas George, Carol George, Milton Chang, and Professor Duncan Moore   

Maintaining a world-class faculty is an ongoing University priority that has enabled students to learn from professors who are renowned leaders in their fields, like Nicholas George, Ph.D. Named professor emeritus in 2015 and the former Marie C. Wilson and Joseph C. Wilson Professor of Electronic Imaging, George is one of the pioneers of the optics world. He discovered the holographic stereogram, invented the ring-wedge photo detector, and developed the first robot vision device to sort medical X-rays—a long-standing challenge in the field.

Perhaps greater than George’s impact on the field of optics is the positive influence he has had on his students. Before he came to Rochester, George was a member of the California Institute of Technology’s faculty, where he made a lasting impression on then-student Milton Chang, Ph.D. 

Still grateful for his former professor’s role during a formative time in his life, Chang made a gift to the University that will honor his mentor in perpetuity. With the help of a commitment from Joseph W. Goodman, the William Ayer Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, who also had a desire to express respect and admiration for George, Chang established the Nicholas George Endowed Professorship in Optics.

“During his tenure as director of the Institute of Optics, he had a big impact on the quality of the research and education here. His own success with securing research funding—an important measure of a scholar’s work—remains unsurpassed among his colleagues,” said Xi-Cheng Zhang, current director of the institute and the M. Parker Givens Professor of Optics. “Nick is also a great colleague and a great mentor. Over the years, many of his students have gone on to become leaders in the field of photonics and optics. I have often thought I would have been lucky to be one of his students!”

Chang, an entrepreneur and laser technology expert, felt George’s most valuable gift to his students was the encouragement they received to think critically and independently. “When you asked him a question, he never just answered it,” said Chang. “He would go to the board with you and help you work it out.”

George continued to mentor Chang through his post-graduate career, helping him secure his first job and, more importantly, stimulating his interest in venture capitalism. 

Chang is currently the managing director of Incubic Management, a venture capital firm that specializes in seed investments and early stage companies. He has incubated several companies, resulting in six IPOs and seven acquisitions, all of which succeeded. Previously, he served as president and CEO of the Newport Corporation and CEO of New Focus.

You can read more about Milton Chang, Nicholas George, and Joseph Goodman in the official press release.

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August 2015

A Meliora Message 

Meliora Weekend is six weeks away. Soon campus will be flooded with visitors, many of whom may not have been here in a while, leading to exclamations like “I can’t believe how much it has changed!”

There have been a lot of physical changes—some more visible than others. Morey Hall’s main entry lobby is looking more like its 1930s self. More public art has been added to the River Campus, above and below ground. The stunning, new Golisano Children’s Hospital is now a cheerful beacon at the Medical Center, standing triumphantly without construction fencing. And these are only some of the most recent transformations.

We’ve been busy. 

In her remarks at the groundbreaking for a new medical office building on the University’s South Campus, Nina Schor, M.D., the pediatrician-in-chief and William H. Eilinger Chair of Pediatrics at Golisano Children’s Hospital, shared that she was asked if she gets tired of attending groundbreakings. Given our steady stream of capital projects, it was a fair question. Dr. Schor’s answer provided an inspiring adjustment of perspective: “This is really not about groundbreakings in the literal sense. This is about changing lives.”

In other words, it's about people. It's about those who will benefit from the building’s services; those who will utilize the building’s space to teach, provide care, or conduct research; and those who help make these buildings possible.

You are among them.

Thank you for allowing us to be tireless in our efforts to enhance our University and its ability to serve our community and humanity. 

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New Site for Imaging, Autism Care

Joel Seligman breaks ground for new medical building on the University's South Campus with UR Medicine, state, and Rochester-area leaders, as well as local families

Anyone traveling near the University’s South Campus will have a hard time missing the heavy machinery excavating the grounds alongside East River Road. And if they’re guessing the University is growing again, they’re right.

On August 17, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for a three-story, 90,000-square-foot building that will house the UR Medicine Imaging Center and the William and Mildred Levine Autism Clinic. President and CEO Joel Seligman led the celebration marking the start of another key project that will enhance the University’s patient-centric facilities and extend its regional health care leadership.

“This expansion will transform the way we deliver care and provide leading-edge technology and therapies to people who travel near and far for UR Medicine expertise,” said Seligman.

Occupying the new building’s first two floors, the Imaging Center will create easier, and more comfortable, access to diagnostic services for about 250,000 people each year. In addition to convenience, it allows for a dedicated interventional radiology clinic to expand the use of minimally invasive, image-guided procedures to diagnose and treat diseases.

The third floor will house the region’s first coordinated care clinic for children and youth with autism spectrum disorder. Made possible by a $1 million gift from the William and Mildred Levine Foundation, the Levine Autism Clinic will enable patients and familes to see developmental and behavioral, psychological, and neurological care providers in one place. Children in need of these important services—in the past year, more than 500 children were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the Medical Center—will have a child-friendly space that caters to their special physical, sensory, and environmental needs.

“We are a regional destination for complex pediatric care and imaging sciences,” said Mark Taubman, M.D., CEO of UR Medicine and the Medical Center and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. “As we create a health care network throughout upstate New York, more patients will come to rely on us for services and technologies that are available only through our Medical Center. This facility is the latest example of our commitment to making services more accessible.”

Patients and their families will have the opportunity to benefit from the state-of-the-art technology and integrated services when the building opens in early 2017.

You can read more about this exciting new project in the official press release

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Grateful Patient Morris Supports Cardiac Care 

Joel Seligman, Marjorie B. Morris, Peter A. Knight, M.D., and Mark Taubman,  M.D.

Weakness and difficulty breathing landed Clifton Springs resident Marjorie B. Morris a visit with heart surgeon Peter A. Knight ’87 (Flw), P’11, P’19, and not a day too soon. The symptoms that were keeping Morris from tending her garden were actually warnings for a life-threatening condition: a faulty heart valve. Knight ultimately replaced the valve, enabling Morris to return to her active lifestyle. For Morris, “thank you, doctor” was not enough.

Inspired by Knight’s expertise and compassion, Morris made a $1.5 million commitment to establish the Marjorie B. Morris Endowed Professorship in Cardiac Surgery to fully demonstrate her gratitude and support for the advancement of cardiac care. 

“The care I received was excellent and I was able to go home within a week,” said Morris. “The personal contact with Dr. Knight and his reassurance throughout the process was wonderful.”

Morris is far from alone in her high regard for Knight. On July 24, members of the University community gathered to recognize Knight as an outstanding surgeon, researcher, and mentor during a ceremony formally installing him as the inaugural Morris Professor.

“We are deeply grateful for Mrs. Morris’ generosity as we establish this professorship to further patient care, research, and education,” said Mark B. Taubman, M.D., CEO of the Medical Center and UR Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. “First-rate surgeons like Peter Knight are part of what attracted me to practice medicine in Rochester. Peter, in particular, makes our community a great place to receive care.” 

Morris and her late husband, Isaac (Drew), devoted much of their time to community service and the restoration and preservation of Main Street, Clifton Springs. Over time, she developed a reputation for vision and generosity that stimulated change and progress. She is now doing that at the Medical Center. Through the Morris Professorship, Morris is helping to advance Knight’s clinical research to expand innovative surgical device development and providing support for additional cardiac research, education, and improved clinical care for generations.

UR Medicine’s cardiac surgeons are at the forefront of the use of cardiac-assist devices and advanced surgical treatments, such as heart transplants and the implantation of pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators. Knight is expanding URMC’s research into less-invasive technology and procedures to improve outcomes for patients.

You can read more about Morris’ gift in the official press release.

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Strawderman and Bohmann Installed as Foster Professors

Joel Seligman; Dirk Bohmann, Ph.D.; Donald Foster's brother, David Foster, J.D.; Robert Strawderman, Sc.D.; and Mark Taubman, M.D.   

Research is about answering questions. For example, Dirk Bohmann, Ph.D., wants to know how to slow or prevent age-related diseases, like cancer, before their onset. In relation to this, Robert Strawderman, Sc.D., who focuses his work on survival analysis, is exploring new statistical methods to help us better understand how a patient’s age, type of cancer, genomic profile, and treatment plan influence the risk of death and other related events. 

Both scientists are now better equipped to pursue the answers they seek thanks to the generosity of the late Donald M. Foster ’50M (MD).

On August 13, Strawderman, chair of the Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology, was formally installed as the Donald M. Foster, M.D. Distinguished Professor in Biostatistics, and Bohmann, co-director of the Rochester Aging Research Center (RoAR), was formally installed as the Donald M. Foster, M.D. Professor in Biomedical Genetics.

“Dr. Robert Strawderman and Dr. Dirk Bohmann are proven leaders in their fields and in our classrooms,” said President and CEO Joel Seligman. “I am thrilled to be able to recognize their excellence with these professorships, which we could not have established without the remarkable generosity of Donald Foster. Through Robert, Dirk, and their successors, Donald’s legacy will be forever tied to Medicine of the Highest Order.”

Foster was a longtime contributor to the School of Medicine and Dentistry annual fund and a charter (and lifetime) member of the George Hoyt Whipple Society. To ensure his support was everlasting, he included a generous provision to the University in his estate plans. After his death in 2013, his loyalty and giving were recognized with the creation of the Foster Professorships. His estate gift also helped fully fund the Martha M. Freeman, M.D. Professorship in Biomedical Genetics.

Donors like Foster have helped the School of Medicine and Dentistry establish 52 professorships since the beginning of The Meliora Challenge. And as the School’s dean Mark B. Taubman, M.D., CEO of the Medical Center and UR Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry, would say, they are critical for retaining our top faculty who educate and inspire our students, and work on important scientific discoveries.

“Dirk and Robert are exemplary scientists, teachers, and mentors, who are making tremendous contributions to solving major health and health care issues that could impact people around the world,” said Taubman. “They deserve this great honor, and I look forward to seeing the ways in which they continue to lead us to new levels in care, research, and the training of our fellows and students.”

Strawderman has more than 20 years of experience working with interdisciplinary teams of scientists on projects focused on clinical research, health care delivery and evaluation, and various areas of public health. His research includes statistical methods for risk and outcome prediction in medicine and those for evaluating the cost and quality of health care. 

Director of the Genetics, Genomics and Development Graduate Program, Bohmann focuses his research on the molecular biology of gene and cell regulation as it applies to topics such as aging or the movement of cancerous cells in living tissue. He is the author of nearly 100 papers and  received the Wilmot Cancer Institute's Davey Memorial Award for Outstanding Cancer Research in 2010.

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Maxion Family Receives Highland’s Highest Honor

Linda Maxion’s family with Highland Hospital Chaplain Don Marlar (far back) and Bilal Ahmed, M.D., associate chief of medicine at Highland (far right), who were instrumental in Linda’s care and the creation of the garden.   

When Highland Hospital patients need a break from their clinical environment, they don’t have to go far for respite. Since October 2014, they have been able to enjoy the natural spaces and colorful plantings of Linda’s Garden. The outdoor garden offers a serene, open area that provides healthy doses of fresh air and a setting for therapeutic activity, relaxation with friends and family, or meditation. More than anything else, it is a place that promotes healing.

The “healing garden” is the realized vision of its namesake Linda Maxion, who often had extended stays at Highland while battling cancer. Linda lost her battle in April 2013, but not before making a $200,000 gift through the Maxion Family Charitable Fund of the Rochester Area Foundation. Her leadership, support, and love for her community helped bring her idea to life and forever enhanced the patient experience at Highland. 

On August 19, the Highland Hospital Foundation recognized that legacy by presenting Linda's family with its highest honor: the Heritage Award.

Linda Maxion’s vision was transformative and inspirational in the creation of the Healing Garden,” said Mark Eidlin, chairman of the Highland Hospital Foundation’s Board of Directors. “As a patient, volunteer, and champion of Highland, I’m so glad the hospital has Linda’s Garden and that the Foundation is able to recognize Linda’s family with the Heritage Award in her honor.”

The Heritage Award is given to a person or organization whose time, talent, and philanthropic contributions play a significant role at Highland Hospital and within the community. Past recipients include University Trustee Thomas Richards and his wife Betty; Eileen Grossman, co-founder of The Cancer Wellness Spa of Greater Rochester; and Eva Pressman, the Henry A. Thiede Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and her husband, Seth Zeidman, M.D.  

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Special Issue – August 2015: Endowed Professorships


Throughout the University's 2015 fiscal year, endowed professorship support helped advance work in data science, economics, and many areas across the Medical Center, including neurological disease. Commitments from alumni, parents, friends, and faculty and staff have also enabled us to build on a standard of faculty excellence. Endowed professorships give us resources to retain the outstanding scholars and health care providers currently teaching and mentoring our students, and they will allow us to successfully compete for new world-class faculty members in perpetuity.

Our community’s dedication to our faculty is why we have already reached our faculty support goal ($350 million) for The Meliora Challenge and our aspiration to establish a minimum of 80 new endowed professorships. We now have a total of 94 toward our new target of 100 before the Campaign ends on June 30, 2016.

Past issues of Fast Forward covered the creation or celebration of many endowed professorships during fiscal year 2015. You can read about them by following the links below.

You can also find more information on endowed professorships and how they are created in the Endowed Professorships Brochure.   


July 2015

A Meliora Message 

At the dedication for the new Golisano Children’s Hospital, May 27, the state-of-the-art facilities with its warm, playful features—not to mention the adorable parade of children—stole the show. And they were, again, on full display when the Hospital opened to the public earlier this month. Not as prominent, but equally as important, are the many programs benefitting from this space dedicated to children and their families.

Take, for example, the Wegmans Child Life Program. Specialists within this program care for the emotional and developmental needs of children and families, including coaching parents on communicating with their children during traumatic times. The program’s name recognizes the generosity of the Wegman Family Foundation. In April 2014, the Foundation committed $7 million to the Children’s Hospital, of which $1 million will be used to establish an endowment to increase the quality of Child Life programs, services, and facilities.

An area similar to the Wegmans Child Life Program is pediatric social work, which helps reduce the stress and emotional trauma that families experience when a child is injured or becomes ill. One of the biggest differences between the two areas is resources. Social work is one of many other programs that would benefit greatly from gifts and endowed support.

Thanks to you, we have a beautiful, world-class building to meet the health care needs of western New York’s citizens. Let’s keep working together to ensure that it is also filled with world-class services and programs.

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Cause for Celebration: Fiscal Year 2015 

It was March 25. President and CEO Joel Seligman stood before an audience of University volunteers, faculty, and staff when he announced an $11 million commitment from Trustee Bob Goergen ’60 and his wife, Pamela, had pushed The Meliora Challenge beyond its initial $1.2 billion goal. It was, without a doubt, the shining moment of the University’s 2015 fiscal year, which ended on June 30, but it was a much broader effort that made the year a success.  

Surpassing the goal for total Campaign contributions more than a year ahead of schedule was made possible by the entire University community. When the book on the fiscal year closed, the Campaign stood at more than $1.23 billion.  

The contributions of alumni, parents, friends, faculty, and staff enabled the University to exceed the year's goals for cash and commitments by more than 10 percent, reaching $110.9 million and $137 million, respectively. Building on the momentum continuously supplied by George Eastman Circle memberships (3,174 at year-end), the Annual Fund had its best year ever, finishing with $14.84 million for a ninth consecutive year of growth. And as a first for the Campaign, undergraduate alumni participation exceeded 20 percent.

In the year ahead, the University’s priorities will include creating more scholarships and fellowships, while focusing on support for additional capital projects and programs.

Overall, the fiscal year’s results warrant celebration. More than any other indicator, it is the community-wide participation that portends further goal accomplishment and success in the next fiscal year and beyond.

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June 2015

A Meliora Message 

At this year’s Garden Party, covered in this issue of Fast Forward, President and CEO Joel Seligman closed his traditional address by expressing that we are lucky to have supporters like you. There are myriad reasons why, and the 2015 Discovery Ball is one of the most recent.

For the last 16 years, the commitments you have made at the Discovery Ball have helped provide vital funding for caregivers, programs, and research at the Wilmot Cancer Institute. This includes gifts that support seed-grants for new and innovative cancer research initiatives that could yield groundbreaking discoveries.

We are, without a doubt, fortunate to be part of such an enthusiastic and compassionate community that supports all aspects of the University's mission. We are also grateful.

Thank you for another year of helping us to be ever better.

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Discovery Ball Honors Local Volunteer Group

Members of the Pancreatic Cancer Association of Western New York are applauded by David Linehan, M.D., director of clinical operations at the Wilmot Cancer Institute, and Hartmut "Hucky" Land, Ph.D., director of research and Robert and Dorothy Markin Professor

Wilmot Cancer Institute’s annual Discovery Ball is highlighted by generosity that enables the continuation of world-class care and research. In that regard, this year’s event was no different. On May 29, more than 600 grateful patients, community members, and UR Medicine faculty and staff filled the grand ballroom of Rochester’s Hyatt Regency and provided more than $480,000 (net) in support for new and innovative cancer research initiatives at the Institute.

Another Discovery Ball highlight is the presentation of the Inspiration Award, which typically recognizes individuals who have helped give cancer patients and their families hope for the future. But for the first time in 16 years, it was given to a group: the Pancreatic Cancer Association of Western New York (PCAWNY). That same night, further demonstrating their worthiness of the award, the all-volunteer group committed $500,000 to support a Pancreatic Cancer Center of Excellence at the Institute.

“Strides are being made with other cancers because they have the funding to support research,” said Mary Ellen Smith, PCAWNY’s associate executive director, who lost her mother to pancreatic cancer. “We want to elevate the importance of funding pancreatic cancer research so equal strides can be made.”

Established in 2009, the PCAWNY is focused on raising awareness about pancreatic cancer, educating the community, and providing support to patients and families affected by the disease. 

In addition to their recent commitment, the group has raised more than $320,000 to support cancer research. This includes seed money that helped the Wilmot Cancer Institute receive a $2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to continue its study of a gene network that controls cancer progression with a focus on pancreatic cancer.

Additional details on the PCAWNY are available in the press release for the Inspiration Award. You can also learn more about the gene study in the press release for the Wilmot Cancer Institute’s grant award.

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Highland Breaks Ground on New Addition

Highland Hospital and Medical Center leaders join President and CEO Joel Seligman in the ceremonial groundbreaking  

Compassion Heals is a motto Highland Hospital demonstrates through a commitment to excellence in its treatment, environment, and overall operation. On June 1, that promise manifested with a ceremonial groundbreaking for a new two-story building addition on the south side of the Highland Hospital campus.

“Highland is dedicated to delivering the highest quality of care and it’s the right time to invest in modernizing our hospital,” said Steven I. Goldstein, M.H.A., president and CEO of Highland and Strong Memorial Hospitals and vice president of UR Medicine. “It’s an exciting time for a great community hospital that also serves as a regional referral center for patients with complex needs.”

The expansion is part of a $28 million project that will enhance patient care through new, modernized facilities and the renovation of existing space, including the new addition that will add approximately 30,000 square feet of space for six new operating rooms and a 26-bed observation unit. The Hospital’s current bed count of 261 will not change; however, patient care areas will have a more efficient design and state-of-the-art equipment.

Highland’s new project will address essential facility-improvement priorities. This includes updating and expanding the perioperative area and creating a space dedicated to short-stay patients, which will enable the conversion of several semi-private inpatient rooms into private rooms.

Construction is expected to begin no later than July and will run for 12 to 18 months with an additional six months of internal renovation in adjacent building space. 

You can find more details about the groundbreaking and project in the official press release.

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48th Garden Party: The Next Level

President and CEO Joel Seligman notes Howard Hanson's role in the early life of the Eastman School of Music  

Understanding the past can help one set a course for the future. President and CEO Joel Seligman showed his appreciation for this concept in his Garden Party address at the Memorial Art Gallery on June 9.

Beginning in 1851, when the University’s original charter was granted, Seligman guided attendees through Rochester’s proud history. Through examples of leadership from past presidents, distinguished faculty, and extraordinary benefactors—among other highlights—he demonstrated an inexorable momentum that has carried the University to a point where it is ready to ascend to "The Next Level.”

Seligman presented four areas the University will focus on to accelerate its progress beyond the aspirations of the 2013–2018 Strategic Plan: Data Science; Neuroscience & Neuromedicine; Humanities & the Performing Arts; and Revitalization of our Community. He punctuated the outline for The Next Level by looking ahead to 2020 when the University aims to be among the nation’s leaders in data science, neuromedicine, and clinical and translational research.

“We’re among the luckiest universities in the world,” said Seligman. “Your support has enabled us to make substantial progress. Together, we’re building an ever better University and an ever stronger community. I look forward to working with all of you as we take the community and our University to the next level.”

Read or watch the full Garden Party address.

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Taubman Formally Invested as URMC CEO

Mark Taubman, M.D., Jan Taubman, and Joel Seligman 

An exemplary leader, physician, scientist, and educator, Mark B. Taubman, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry, was formally invested as the chief executive officer of the Medical Center and UR Medicine and senior vice president for health sciences on June 10. Taubman succeeds Bradford Berk ’81M (MD), ’81M (PhD), Distinguished University Professor and director of the Rochester Neurorestoraton Institute (RNI).

Widely respected for his integrity, inclusiveness, and analytical approach to problem-solving, Taubman has demonstrated a commitment to making discoveries that improve health, prevent disease, and promote longevity. And he has the strategic vision, operational sensitivity, and medical and scientific acumen needed to lead a successful academic medical center amid unprecedented change.

“There is no doubt that Mark is the right person for the job,” said President and CEO Joel Seligman. “He has the breadth of understanding, he has the ambition. He is going to take the Medical Center and build on the great momentum that Brad started and take it even further.”

Taubman was appointed in January as the first leader in the University’s history to serve as both Medical Center CEO and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. He was named dean in March 2010, following a nine-month stint as acting CEO while Berk recovered from a spinal cord injury.

“This is a university on the rise,” said Taubman during the ceremony. “We’re attracting better and better students, and better and better faculty. We’re growing our clinical enterprise. We’ve played key roles in developing major vaccines, including the first vaccine to prevent a form of cancer. And the University is now embarking on a data science initiative that will be central to our biomedical research and clinical programs in the years ahead. There could be nothing more exciting than leading the Medical Center at this time.”

You can read more about Dean Taubman and his investiture in the official press release.

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