December 2012

Primo Installed as the Inaugural Gabrellian Professor 

Mark Gabrellian ’79, David Primo, Ph.D., and Trustee Ani Gabrellian ’84

An endowed professorship is an honor reserved for the University’s most distinguished faculty members. In just ten years, David Primo, Ph.D., an associate professor of political science and business administration, has proven to be among them. Primo holds a joint appointment at the School of Arts & Sciences and William E. Simon School of Business and is an expert in American politics, campaign finance regulation, and fiscal policy. On November 16, at The New York Palace Hotel in New York City, he was installed as the inaugural Ani and Mark Gabrellian Professor.

Family, friends, colleagues, and University leaders gathered to recognize Primo’s excellence in education and research. At the same time, Trustee Ani Gabrellian ’84 and her husband, Mark Gabrellian ’79, were celebrated for their commitment to the University—from their charter membership in the George Eastman Circle to their support of endowed funds for undergraduate research and innovation, and now, this professorship. Because of its enduring nature, the Gabrellian Professorship ensures the University has the ability to attract and retain scholars of Primo’s quality for generations.

“When I met Mark and Ani, they described, in vivid terms, their desire to not only strengthen the University, but strengthen the University experience of students, by helping to cultivate a generation of professors that would span disciplines. In effect, that is the ultimate aspiration we have as a University,” said President Joel Seligman. “It is very rare that people speak so selflessly and so wisely about their ambition.”

The Ani and Mark Gabrellian Professorship embodies the couple’s shared belief that society’s challenges will increasingly require problem-solving approaches that transcend individual disciplines. It also recognizes a growth in multidisciplinary interests among academics and students, as was the case during the Gabrellians’ undergraduate experience; Mark studied political science and history, and Ani studied political science and economics. In his remarks, Peter Lennie, provost and Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences and Engineering, noted there are few alumni as interesting, engaged, and committed as the Gabrellians.

From the perspective of Joanna B. Olmsted, dean of the School of Arts & Sciences, Primo exemplifies the kind of professor the Gabrellians had in mind when they established this professorship. “David had already written the description for the incumbent of this position,” said Olmsted alluding to Primo’s work, involvement within the University, and his accomplishments. “He easily straddles various disciplines from the most rigorous theoretical and methodological analyses, crossing into areas of regulation, politics, and government where they intersect with business operations.”

Primo’s current research focuses on corporate strategy in political and other “non-market” environments. He is an award-winning author and is frequently quoted in national media, such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, on topics ranging from government spending and legislative rules to the politics of airline safety and security.


Values and Action

I recently revisited a list of principles John D. Rockefeller, Jr. included in a speech he gave in 1941. These are words of guidance and inspiration that he described as fundamental and eternal. They have always resonated with me, and as the year comes to a close, I would like to share one of these with you.

"I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty."

Here, Mr. Rockefeller describes a way of living that is embodied by our dedicated volunteers, generous donors, and talented students, faculty, staff, and friends. In a way, he is describing life lived in the spirit of Meliora. In the past year, these shared values have fueled The Meliora Challenge. The leadership, philanthropy, and progress we have enjoyed throughout 2012 have furthered our Campaign goals. In each milestone and accomplishment, I see the manifestation of our mission. We are succeeding in our mission to make the world “ever better” because that is what we believe in. I am proud to have all of you as my partners in this ongoing endeavor. Your commitment is steadfast and your efforts are tireless, and you consistently rise to the challenges we face. Thank you for another remarkable year.

Soon, if not already, many of you will begin to partake in cherished holiday traditions with family, friends, and loved ones. Enjoy them!

Happy holidays to you and your family. I wish you all the very best in the New Year.


James D. Thompson
Senior Vice President
Chief Advancement Officer

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Mavrinac Installed as Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean

From left to right: Life Trustee Andrew Neilly ’47, Janet Neilly, Vice President and University Dean Paul Burgett 68E, 72E (PhD), Mary Ann Mavrinac, Ed.D., her husband Peter van Schie, her father Joseph Mavrinac, President Joel Seligman

In today’s world, the University’s libraries are critical to understanding increasingly complex and constantly changing technology for accessing and organizing data. Meeting this responsibility requires a leader with an extraordinary combination of technical knowledge, management skill, and the experience to help faculty and students successfully navigate burgeoning sources of information. The University has appointed Mary Ann Mavrinac, Ed.D., an expert in library learning spaces, to meet the challenge.

On December 3, Mavrinac was installed as the Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of River Campus Libraries. The Hawkins-Carlson Room of Rush Rhees Library was filled to capacity in celebration of her appointment and recognition of University Life Trustee Andrew Neilly ’47 and his wife, Janet Neilly, for their decades of generous and loyal support of the Libraries.

“A great university is the consequence of great faculty, great students, but also the great work of many leaders over generations,” said President Joel Seligman. “In welcoming Andy and Janet, we recognize that they are among the leaders who have made this University and these Libraries the exceptional institutions they are today.”

In 2000, the Neilly Dean became one of the few named library deanships in the nation, bringing prominence to the position and emphasizing the Libraries’ importance at Rochester. Today, programs designed to contribute to the intellectual life of the University receive support through their endowment, including the Libraries’ Neilly Lecture Series. The Neilly Series invites distinguished writers—several of whom have been Pulitzer Prize winners—to give lectures on campus for the purposes of encouraging community involvement and interest in the Library. The Neillys continue to provide leadership to the Libraries as members of the Libraries Advisory Council and remain committed to supporting the University as Charter Members of the George Eastman Circle. As the third Neilly Dean, Mavrinac enriches a great legacy.  

 “Today, libraries are at the heart of any thriving research university. The quality of the institution can be directly linked to the quality of its libraries,” said Peter Lennie, provost and Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences and Engineering. He added the constant evolution of a library’s role, especially now in this digital age, underscores the importance of this position. “This is why we are so fortunate to now have Mary Ann. We could not be more pleased to have her leading the River Campus Libraries.”  

For 10 years, Mavrinac served as chief librarian at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus, part of the University of Toronto Libraries that are ranked third among academic research libraries in North America by the Association of Research Libraries. During her tenure, she was integral to the planning and completion of the Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre, which has become an academic hub that sees more than 1.3 million visits per year. She has also authored and lectured widely on topics that include the library’s place in the digital era, leadership, and mentoring.

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2012: A Year of Milestones

October 21 marked one year since the public launch of The Meliora Challenge: The Campaign for the University of Rochester. The anniversary of the Campaign’s public launch, the George Eastman Circle’s growth, and the groundbreaking of the largest capital project in University history were among many milestones and achievements enjoyed throughout the past year. To view some of the highlights and accomplishments from 2012, click here.

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