January 2012

George Eastman Circle Reaches Membership Milestone

The George Eastman Circle Charter Phase began in 2006 with a goal of 250 members and by its end, 1,087 leaders stepped forward. As a result of this momentum, in 2008, a new goal was set: 2,000 members by December 31, 2011. The George Eastman Circle has met its goal and surpassed an important milestone with 2,021 members, representing 44 states and 11 countries.

The George Eastman Circle, the University's leadership annual giving society, has had a tremendous impact since 2006. It is a key factor in the University’s Annual Fund becoming one of the fastest growing in the nation. The Eastman Circle has enabled total contributions of more than $83 million or 64% of The Meliora Challenge’s $130 million goal for the Annual Fund. George Eastman Circle members’ generosity is helping the University pursue its mission.

Members exhibit their leadership and vision through unrestricted five-year pledges at six giving levels ranging from $1,500 to more than $50,000 annually. They support their passions by designating their gifts to more than 150 Annual Funds of the University. For example, annual giving has enabled the Golisano Children’s Hospital to create Health-e-Access, a pediatric telemedicine program, which is one of five programs nationwide to be honored for hospital-community collaborations that improve community health. Members’ contributions ensure the University is able to continue to supply 300,000 meals to homebound people each year through the Meals on Wheels program of Visiting Nurse Service. Funding has brought cutting-edge technology to Eastman School of Music students, allowing them to interact with professors and artists at institutions worldwide. Pledges support increased scholarships and help make major capital projects possible across the University.

George Eastman Circle members are leaders because of what they make possible. Through their continued support, members have enabled the University to turn “we need” into “we are able to.” Reaching 2,000 members is truly a testament to the commitment and engagement of the University community―locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. To continue this success, members must renew and upgrade current commitments and continue to expand the membership by inviting friends, colleagues, family, and fellow alumni to be a part of the Eastman Circle.

Learn more about how you can become a part of this leadership annual giving society and the impact it is making on the University by clicking here.

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Values and Action

We begin this year with excitement as we build upon two major milestones in 2011: growth of the George Eastman Circle and the public launch of The Meliora Challenge: The Campaign for the University of Rochester. Congratulations to the leadership and members of the George Eastman Circle―now with more than 2,000 members! Accomplishing this goal in just five years is a remarkable achievement. The progress has built a strong community of active supporters. It has also been a catalyst for much greater engagement and the rapid growth of our Annual Fund.

The public launch of The Meliora Challenge showcased our great momentum for the next phase of our Campaign. Amidst the fanfare of record-breaking Meliora Weekend attendance, we announced our $1.2 billion goal and our intentions to promote and enhance the University’s mission to Learn, Discover, Heal, Create―and make the world ever better. This Campaign, on behalf of the life-changing work of the University, will define the path on which we progress. I am incredibly inspired by the dedicated volunteers who are leading this Campaign through hard work and their terrific example.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this impressive growth, you have generated strong momentum to build upon, as we enter 2012. I would like to wish everyone a year full of good health, happiness, and continued success.


James D. Thompson
Senior Vice President
Chief Advancement Officer

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Evans and Susanna Lam

Simon School Receives Susanna and Evans Y. Lam Professorship

“The School enabled me to fulfill the American dream. Giving back is part of this dream and what makes America great,” said alumnus, Evans Y. Lam ’83, ’84S (MBA) of the Simon School. Evans and his wife, Susanna, have added $1 million to a previous gift of $500,000 to establish the Susanna and Evans Y. Lam Professorship at the Simon School. The Lams’ generosity will help attract and recruit global business scholars to the Simon faculty.

Evans and Susanna have very successful careers as financial services professionals. Susanna, a CPA, is also an accomplished Chinese opera singer and performer. Evans is the senior vice president of investments and senior portfolio manager at UBS Financial Services, and a renowned expert who has advised the State Council of China on monetary reform.

"I came to the United States with $180 and a four-year scholarship from the University,” said Lam. “I am forever grateful to the University of Rochester and the Simon School for providing me with the foundation for my career in corporate finance and investment management."

Together, the Lams have counseled dozens of Rochester students over the years by providing guidance and direction for their studies and professional ambitions. Mentoring is just one of the ways Evans has remained an actively involved alumnus; he is also a member of the Simon School’s Executive Advisory Committee and National Council, and the University's Los Angeles Regional Cabinet. Currently, Evans’ leadership and counsel are helping Dean Mark Zupan advance the School around the world. The Lams, who are Charter Members of the George Eastman Circle, frequently host events in the Los Angeles area to strengthen the alumni community. And in 2010, Evans was honored for his commitment to the University with the John N. Wilder Award.

“We are immensely grateful to the Lams for the leadership they have shown by giving to the Simon School,” said Dean Mark Zupan. “Because of their generosity, we will be able to recruit premier faculty from around the world.”

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 Janice and Joseph Willett

Willetts Support Simon School Scholarships, English, and Theatre

Longtime benefactors of the Simon School and the University, Joseph T. ’75S (MBA) and Janice M. ’78S (MBA) Willett have pledged $3.5 million, which equals their previous gifts to the University’s comprehensive Campaign, The Meliora Challenge. This new gift will support student scholarships at the Simon School, faculty in the Department of English, and enhance the University’s International Theatre Program. 

“The global business school environment is becoming more and more competitive. The Willetts' gift will enable Simon to attract the most talented students from around the world,” said Dean Mark Zupan. “We are profoundly thankful for Joe and Janice’s steadfast and magnanimous support for our school.”

In addition to supporting Simon School students, the Willetts have chosen to honor Professor Russell Peck, the John Hall Deane Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature, and his wife, Ruth. Russell’s courses enhance the International Theatre Program through a comprehensive introduction to performance and technical demands. Together, the Pecks have taught a course on Theatre in England, which included extensive theatre-going experiences.

This marvelous gift from Janice and Joe Willett means a lot to us,” says Peter Lennie, senior vice president and Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences and Engineering. “It brings proper recognition to a beloved faculty member and a remarkable program in an accomplished department. The Willetts’ generosity inspires all of us.”

Joseph Willett is the retired CFO of Merrill Lynch and Co., Inc. and the retired COO of Merrill’s European region. Janice Willett, currently a freelance editor, most recently served as manuscript editor for The Boston Consulting Group, and has served as both a clinical faculty member and guest lecturer at the Simon School. She is a member of the University of Rochester Board of Trustees, the Simon School National Council, and is chair of the Simon School’s portion of The Meliora Challenge.

Together, the Willetts are members of the Simon School Executive Advisory Committee, co-chairs of the Northern New Jersey Regional Cabinet, and recipients of the inaugural Simon School Dean’s Medal in 2008. They are also George Eastman Circle Charter Members.

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Kathleen Whelehan and President Joel Seligman with event host, Tim Tompkins (left).

Honoring World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day was uniquely honored by the University of Rochester this year. Local entrepreneur, Tim Tompkins, brought both art and AIDS awareness to the community in an unconventional way. Tompkins, a long-time supporter of the University of Rochester Medical Center and its efforts to find new treatments and vaccines to combat HIV/AIDS, hosted a one-of-a-kind salon. He welcomed 120 guests into his historic home on East Avenue to enjoy beautiful music and an opportunity to experience a one-time gallery exhibit of an international collection of AIDS education posters from Dr. Edward C. Atwater ’50.

“This was a special evening. Tim brought together a distinguished group of people to remind us that HIV is still with us and to point out that Rochester’s contributions to HIV research are having a global impact,” said Dr. Michael Keefer, URMC Professor of Medicine and Principal Investigator of the HIV Clinical Trials Unit. “Tim has been a valued long-term partner, not only for our research effort, but also in fighting stigma that unfortunately can still cause people to avoid HIV testing, which denies them a chance to take life-saving medications at a time when it can be most effective."

The posters, mounted like paintings in an art gallery, replaced all of the art usually hanging on Tim’s walls for this event. As a medium of communication, education, and awareness, these posters have been a mainstay of the HIV movement to promote awareness and educate all segments of society. Dr. Atwater’s collection—a gift to the University―contains more than 6,200 pieces collected since the late 1980s, and represents 123 countries and 60 languages. A digital presentation of the collection was also put together to accompany the posters on display.

Dr. Atwater remarked, “This type of gallery setting is a unique and effective way to experience this archive. The collection serves as a constant reminder that AIDS has not yet gone away.”

Guests, including Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy, were able to experience this important slice of modern cultural history in a very intimate setting. While viewing the collection, guests also celebrated Tim’s birthday and honored his commitment to HIV vaccine trials, research, and the pivotal work of the University of Rochester Medical Center.

When committed and passionate supporters join with the University, the results are remarkable. “This has been another great collaboration with the University of Rochester Medical Center―truly a pleasure to work with and advance the HIV cause,” said Tompkins.

Through the dedicated work of the Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation Department of the Rush Rhees Library, Dr. Atwater’s collection is now accessible to the public online. For more information about the Atwater collection of AIDS education posters, please click here.

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