November 2011

Meliora Weekend Makes History

Meliora Weekend 2011 provided a wonderful backdrop for the public launch of The Meliora Challenge: The Campaign for the University of Rochester, the most ambitious fundraising effort in our history and the first to encompass every area of the University. The weekend will long be remembered as a remarkable milestone in the chronicles of our University. 

We celebrated the launch of the Campaign over two nights, and showcased the priorities of the Campaign dramatically to nearly 3,000 guests. Both evenings were designed around the theme of the University’s new mission statement: Learn, Discover, Heal, Create—And Make the World Ever Better. Conversation areas with striking displays and interactive exhibits were structured around the four “pillars” of our mission and championed the University’s many accomplishments. They also gave guests an opportunity to personally engage with University researchers, students, and faculty, and to hear firsthand how the University will be “ever better” through the efforts of the Campaign.

The formal announcement of the Campaign took place on Friday, October 21, where Ed Hajim ’58, chair of the Board of Trustees, enthusiastically welcomed more than 700 dinner guests and led a program that culminated with President Seligman announcing the $1.2 billion goal of The Meliora Challenge. Highlights of Friday night included a history of University heroes by Vice President Paul Burgett ’68E, ’72E (MA), ’76E (PhD), personal remarks by Campaign Co-Chair Rich Handler ’83, and moving testimonials from two students, a faculty member, and a doctor and patient, exemplifying the University’s mission. The Eastman Symphony Orchestra debuted Semper Ad Meliora, a piece composed and conducted in honor of the occasion by Douglas Lowry, the Joan and Martin Messinger Dean of the Eastman School of Music. The rousing performance received a standing ovation.

President Seligman announced that the public phase of the Campaign starts with tremendous momentum, thanks to the vision and leadership of those who have already committed more than $759 million, 63 percent of the Campaign goal. His remarks revolved around two words that he described as “the two most important words in the English language”—Thank You. Gratitude was expressed to the community of supporters and friends who made this moment possible, with special acknowledgement to the Board of Trustees, the President’s Cabinet, Campaign leadership, including Campaign Co-Chairs Cathy Minehan ’68 and Rich Handler ’83, George Eastman Circle members, individual donors, faculty, staff, and students. 

President Seligman outlined the five overarching objectives for the Campaign: $225 million for student support, primarily through endowed scholarships and fellowships; $350 million for faculty support, including 80 fully endowed professorships; $375 million for priority projects and programmatic support within the schools and units; $130 million in unrestricted support through the Annual Fund and George Eastman Circle; and $120 million for campus renovations and new facilities. President Seligman acknowledged the bold aspirations of the Campaign, but encouraged optimism and confidence. “These aspirations truly aim high. We accept The Meliora Challenge … As scholars, teachers, clinicians, and performers we have the talent to move the world.”

On Saturday, October 22, the festivities of the Campaign launch continued with A Celebration of Meliora for the entire University community. This was one of the most extraordinary events in the 11-year history of Meliora Weekend. Performance groups from the School of Medicine and Dentistry, the Eastman School of Music, and Arts, Sciences and Engineering, provided a high-energy, inspirational environment and displayed the remarkable talents characteristic of so many across our entire University community. President Seligman and Board Chair Ed Hajim addressed more than 2,000 alumni, parents, students, faculty, guests, and staff, and gave thanks for the continued support, reiterated the Campaign goal and its significance, and encouraged everyone to enjoy and celebrate together as one University. The evening concluded with a spectacular fireworks display over the Genesee River. 

The University saw the participation of more than 9,200 attendees, making it the largest and most memorable Meliora Weekend ever. There were more than 200 events; faculty, administrators, and deans from across the University participated in panels, discussions, and other programs, and reunion dinners were held on and off campus. President Bill Clinton was the keynote speaker for this monumental occasion, and his moving and inspirational address drew more than 2,300 guests into a packed Kodak Hall and more than 3,000 to simulcast locations. Other notable events included the Combined Presidential Symposium—Miller’s Court and the Rochester Forum on Alzheimer’s disease. For more about the weekend’s events, view the photo gallery here.

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Values and Action

“Great is the road I climb, but the garland offered by an easier effort is not worth the gathering.”

This year’s Meliora Weekend was unlike any other. The more than 9,200 attendees—a record-breaking turnout—witnessed history in the making, firsthand.

On Friday, October 21, President Joel Seligman publically announced the first fully modern, and largest comprehensive Campaign in our University’s history. With a goal of $1.2 billion, the effort is ambitious and bold. But with the tremendous leadership of those who have already supported the Campaign, and the enthusiastic response of those in attendance who rallied around the University’s mission to be “ever better,” I have confidence that we will rise to The Meliora Challenge

The sense of excitement and momentum was just amazing throughout this remarkable weekend. President Bill Clinton delivered a thoughtful and inspiring keynote to a packed audience in the newly renovated Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. Several thousand others watched the address via live simulcasts. The impact of the Campaign was evident by hearing from students, faculty, patients, and all of those whom we serve. It was also evident in the capital projects that include Raymond F. LeChase Hall, the Saunders Research Building, the expansion of the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center, Robert B. Goergen Hall for Biomedical Engineering and Optics, and many others. Enthusiasm has never been greater at reunions and all of the more than 200 events that make up the weekend.

We truly made this a “Meliora Week” by also launching a $100 million campaign for the Golisano Children’s Hospital on October 29, as the first of our school and unit campaigns. The Golisano Children’s Hospital campaign has been propelled by a $20 million lead gift from Rochester entrepreneur, and the Hospital’s namesake, B. Thomas Golisano. This campaign is part of The Meliora Challenge and includes the largest capital project at the University of Rochester to date. 

This was an extraordinary milestone in our collective efforts to celebrate and support the University we all treasure. I want to express my most heartfelt gratitude to everyone who helped to make this moment possible and such a tremendous start to our efforts. Over the coming years of the Campaign’s public phase, I look forward to partnering with you and sharing our aspirations with all of the members of our University community so that the news, excitement and passion continue to spread.

Together, as one, we embrace The Meliora Challenge. Thank you for your ongoing efforts to make the University and our world ever better. 



James D. Thompson
Senior Vice President
Chief Advancement Officer

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Gala Celebrates Golisano Children’s Hospital Campaign Launch

Tom Golisano speaks to more than 930 attendees at the 24th annual Wonderland-themed Golisano Children’s Hospital Gala.

A $100 million campaign for Golisano Children’s Hospital was launched on October 29 to build a new state-of-the-art, dedicated children’s hospital, and enable the hospital to attract and retain the world’s best pediatric biomedical scientists and educators.

The campaign, part of the University of Rochester Medical Center’s $650 million campaign and The Meliora Challenge, the University’s overall $1.2 billion Campaign, was announced during the 24th annual Golisano Children’s Hospital Gala at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. The gala was an overwhelming success and raised $1.3 million for the campaign, which included some major gift commitments made prior to the event.

A key component of the campaign for Golisano Children's Hospital is a new home. Tom Golisano’s recent $20 million gift has bolstered plans to construct a six-story, 200,000 square–foot building. The hospital has nationally ranked and recognized programs, researchers, physicians, nurses and staff, but has lacked the ideal facilities to match these high caliber qualities.

Among the highlights of the new building are a 60-bed neonatal intensive care unit, 56 private rooms, pediatric intensive care and pediatric cardiac intensive care units, and pediatric radiology facilities. These upgrades are critical to bringing the hospital to new levels of excellence in the 21st century, but many of the improvements are focused on giving families increased privacy and greater comfort. This is the largest capital project in the history of the Medical Center and the University of Rochester.

The Golisano Children’s Hospital campaign will also focus on seven priority programs to improve the lives of children through clinical excellence, research and education. The seven areas are: Autism Spectrum Disorder (effective treatment and understanding of behavioral symptoms and their causes), Cancer (access to early phase clinical trials and enhanced quality of life), Cardiovascular Disease (research to find new ways to diagnose and treat childhood heart disease), Eating Disorders (sustain and enhance recognition, treatment and prevention services), Neonatology (specialized research and clinical programs in lung and brain injuries, two of the most serious injuries for premature infants), Supportive Care Team (deliver compassionate care to children and families), and Surgery (recruit, train, and retain talented pediatric surgeons and develop new facilities, operating rooms, and minimally invasive surgical techniques).

“We want to make what is ‘best’ today, ever better,” said the hospital’s Pediatrician-in-Chief and William H. Eilinger Chair of Pediatrics, Nina F. Schor, MD, PhD. “Just as our predecessors made the lives of children longer and healthier, you can ensure that our children, and their children, and their children’s children are the beneficiaries of ‘Medicine of the Highest Order.’”

Click here to see photos of the Golisano Children's Hospital Gala. 

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University Honors 2011 Alumni Award Recipients

Rochester’s alumni exemplify our mission to Learn, Discover, Heal, Create—And Make the World Ever Better. We honor our alumni with awards to recognize their outstanding accomplishments, service, leadership, and dedication to the University and their communities. This year, we are proud to honor alumni at multiple celebrations and continue to be inspired by the ways in which our honorees are making an impact on the world. We offer them our warmest congratulations and thanks for their commitment to being ever better.

Click here to see photos of the 2011 alumni award recipients. 

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Installation of Joan and Martin Messinger Deanship Celebrated at the Eastman School of Music

On September 14, Kilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of Music was a place of celebration. Family and friends joined Eastman faculty and members of the Rochester community to honor and commemorate the establishment of the Messinger Deanship. Dean Douglas Lowry was formally installed as the first Joan and Martin Messinger Dean of the Eastman School of Music.

After Bob Witmer, Jr. ’59, chairman emeritus of the Board of Trustees welcomed all who were in attendance, President Seligman underlined the importance of this type of gift. Endowed professorships and deanships are critically important to the University’s ability to attract and retain great scholars, bolstering one of its greatest assets—the faculty.

President Seligman acknowledged that the Messinger family has left an indelible mark on the University. Through their efforts, they have truly established a family legacy.

Rabbi Sarah Jo Messinger ’82 and Daryl Messinger accepted the dean’s medallion in honor of their parents and University benefactors, Marty Messinger ’49, who was unable to attend, and his late wife, Joan. Bob Witmer then conferred the medallion to Dean Lowry.

The ceremony was brought to a close with the beautiful music of the Grammy Award-winning, quartet-in-residence, the Ying Quartet, made up of Eastman alumni and faculty. Further congratulations and celebration took place in the Cominsky Promenade.

For more information about the Messinger Deanship, click here.

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Barry Florescue ’66 Delivers Keynote Address at Simon School Convocation

Barry Florescue ’66 delivered the keynote address to the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration community at their convocation ceremony on September 22.

There were few better suited to deliver the address than Barry, a highly successful investor, accomplished entrepreneur, and former CEO and chairman of numerous prominent corporations. He is chairman of the board and president of BMD Management Company Inc., a privately owned business that manages more than 30 commercial real estate properties in Florida, Colorado, New York, and Utah. Barry is also a University Trustee, Charter Member of the George Eastman Circle, and serves on The Meliora Challenge Campaign Cabinet and the Simon School Executive Advisory Committee.

In his closing remarks, Barry recounted a philosopher’s quote that reads, “A smart man learns from his own mistakes and a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” Barry added, “A wise student learns from the failures and successes so brilliantly taught here at the University of Rochester.”

A longtime benefactor of the University and the Simon School, Barry recently made a generous contribution to launch the revival of the University’s undergraduate business program. The Barry Florescue Undergraduate Business Degree Program is the result of a collaboration between the Simon School and the College and will closely mirror a program that existed when Florescue was a student.

Dean Mark Zupan and Varun Shah ’12S (MBA), president of the Graduate Business Council, led the 150 students in attendance in the signing of the Simon School Credo, a student-authored set of principles emphasizing the importance of integrity and ethics. After the ceremony, students, faculty and family enjoyed a reception in the Eisenberg Rotunda of Schlegel Hall. The occasion was topped off with a very heartfelt and celebratory dinner at the Genesee Valley Club with Barry’s family, the Seligmans, local trustees and other close friends from Florida and New York City.

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Dedication of the Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center

President Seligman, Gwen Greene ’65, John Greene and Ed Hajim ’58 celebrate the dedication of the Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center. 

On September 23, the University formally dedicated the Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center. Ed Hajim ’58, chair of the Board of Trustees, delivered the welcome, which was followed by remarks from President Seligman on the impact that Gwen Greene ’65 has had on the University. Dean Richard Feldman, Burt Nadler, the director of the Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center, and Erik Penney ’96 ’05S (MBA), also shared meaningful insights about Gwen and her contributions to the students, alumni and friends of the University. Many of Gwen’s former classmates and friends attended the celebration, as did all of her scholarship recipients. 

Gwen has always been an active member of the University community and tireless advocate for its students and alumni. In 1995, Gwen established the Gwen Meltzer Greene ’65 Endowed Scholarship to provide scholarships for students to attend the University, and in 2005, the University awarded her the James S. Armstrong Alumni Service Award for her significant contributions to undergraduate life on campus.

The students are the true beneficiaries of Gwen’s work, which was emphasized by President Seligman. “At some universities job placement essentially stops at graduation; at others maybe it goes on for three to six months; at our University it’s for all alumni, and this is an amazing comparative advantage.”

In addition to being vice president at JP Morgan Chase Securities, Gwen is a University Trustee, chair of the Board’s Student Affairs Committee, chair of the University’s National Annual Giving Program, and as a Charter Member, has been instrumental in helping to grow the George Eastman Circle, the University’s leadership annual giving society. Gwen also serves on The Meliora Challenge Campaign Cabinet.

The Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center will continue to enable students and alumni to further develop the skills they need to begin and sustain rewarding careers. This includes the Career and Internship Connections, New York Minute, and New York Recruiting programs.

“Gwen’s voice has become associated with an amazing person, and has continued to resonate as a supportive, clear, honest, and driven role model, mentor, and advocate,” said Nadler. “That voice is now a permanent fixture at the University.”

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Philip and Marilyn Wehrheim Professorship Installation

Philip Wehrheim, Marilyn Wehrheim ’61, ’82 (MS), and Craig T. Jordan, Ph.D.

On October 11, Craig T. Jordan, Ph.D. was installed as the Philip and Marilyn Wehrheim Professor. The installation ceremony was held at the Country Club of Rochester amongst family and friends of Philip Wehrheim and Marilyn Wehrheim ’61, ’82 (MS) and supporters of the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center. The evening was a celebration of their outstanding commitment and the lasting impact their generosity will have on cancer research and the University.

The Philip and Marilyn Wehrheim Professorship supports the work of Jordan, the director of hematological translational research for the Wilmot Cancer Center. He is a nationally recognized leader in cancer stem cell research and his laboratory focuses on understanding and eradicating those cells that give rise to cancer. Endowed professorships, a key priority of The Meliora Challenge, enable the University to compete successfully for world-renowned faculty, like Jordan.

Philip and Marilyn’s motivations for giving and the importance of their endowed gift were articulated by Philip during the ceremony. The Philip and Marilyn Wehrheim Professorship supports cancer research in perpetuity, ensuring generations of future researchers are able to continue translating discoveries in the laboratory into new therapies.

Jordan was honored to have been named the first Philip and Marilyn Wehrheim Professor, and never imagined that he would be able to meet the donors who support his research. This is a unique opportunity, yet one that is more common at the University of Rochester because of the direct engagement of the University’s supporters. The Wehrheims’ dedicated philanthropy has touched several Rochester area charities and foundations and assisted in the completion of the Wilmot Cancer Center in 2008. Their latest gift to the Wilmot Cancer Center—inspired by their friends who have fought battles with cancer and the cutting-edge research of Craig Jordan—further defines the legacy of Philip and Marilyn Wehrheim and their impact on Rochester’s future.

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