July 2012

Ronald Rettner Stimulates Innovation and Collaborative Learning 

An artist’s rendering of the new Ronald Rettner Hall for Media Arts and Innovation by Boston-based architectural firm Goody Clancy

University Trustee and philanthropist Ronald Rettner (pictured left) is advancing The Meliora Challenge: The Campaign for the University of Rochester by helping to put Rochester at the forefront of the digital media world. With a recent leadership gift, Rettner has enabled construction to begin on the Ronald Rettner Hall for Media Arts and Innovation.

“Ronald has been a visionary supporter of education for more than two decades,” said President Joel Seligman. “As an entrepreneur himself, he recognizes the importance of hands-on and collaborative student learning and the critical need to bring together knowledge and insights from many different disciplines.”

Facilities are a priority of The Meliora Challenge and make up $120 million of the Campaign’s overall $1.2 billion goal. By supporting the construction of this facility, Rettner is not only advancing the Campaign’s progress, he is also stimulating innovation. Through Rettner Hall and the new digital media studies major, the University will drive novel technologies that lead to the creation of new media.

At the intersection of the arts, sciences, and engineering, Rettner Hall will provide a place for students to gain both practical skills and a theoretical understanding of digital technology. The three-story, 18,900-square-foot facility will give students access to an interactive media playground, featuring a fabrication lab, sound and video recording studios, high-end computers, and 3-D printers.

An open design and flexible workspaces will provide an atmosphere that encourages interaction and collaboration. With its inclusive layout and dynamic functionality, Rettner Hall will also be an environment that creates a new dimension of education. In effect, students will be learning from each other as much they are learning in the classroom.

“I am excited to be a part of this cutting-edge venture,” said Rettner. “Interactions among students complement everything in the classroom, and by bringing humanities, engineering, and technology under one roof the potential for collaborations are endless.”    

Rettner is president of Rettner Management Corporation and is managing partner of Baron Associates, a real estate investment, finance, and management company with national holdings. Since 1975, Rettner has served as director of the Morris B. Rettner Foundation, an organization honoring his father’s commitment to the community that supports scholarships, research, and civic projects. He is also a member of numerous other civic and charitable boards.

For more information, click here.

Values and Action

As we closed the books on Fiscal Year 2012, I was filled with tremendous pride. I’m proud that, once again, we have demonstrated Meliora is more than the University’s motto. We have exemplified a shared resolution to always reach further. The inspirational philanthropy of our donors and the steadfast commitment of our Community of Leaders have allowed us to enjoy growth in all four key metrics of fundraising success, which include new commitments, total cash, our book of pledges, and the Annual Fund.

This past fiscal year brought $149.4 million in new commitments, eclipsing the previous year’s record-breaking performance. In total cash we reached $92.9 million, which is the second largest cash year in University history. Our book of pledges saw a $58 million increase, ending at $256 million. Finally, our ever-remarkable Annual Fund has posted its seventh straight annual increase. The Annual Fund’s record year of $12.3 million is largely a reflection of the 430 new George Eastman Circle memberships.

Together, we have set the bar for Fiscal Year 2013, and I am confident we have the ability to reach it and soar above it. Through the time, generosity, and leadership of our volunteer leaders, academic and administrative partners, and Advancement staff, we will continue to be ever better.


James D. Thompson
Senior Vice President
Chief Advancement Officer

[Go to Top]


Wisch Professor in Biology Installed

From left to right: Nathaniel (Nat) Wisch ’55, Helen Wisch, and John (Jack) H. Werren, Ph.D.

On June 27, before family, friends, and leaders of the University community, John (Jack) H. Werren, Ph.D., was installed as the inaugural Nathaniel and Helen Wisch Professor in Biology. Dr. Werren is an expert in evolutionary genetics, and his research is leading to a greater understanding of the transfer of genetic traits, including those contributing to disease states.

Guests gathered at the Metropolitan Club in New York City to recognize Dr. Werren as one of the University’s most distinguished scholars and honor two of its most dedicated supporters, University Trustee Nathaniel (Nat) Wisch ’55 and his wife, Helen. President Joel Seligman noted the importance of the fundamental partnership between academia and philanthropy to the University’s success and impact on society.

“This type of cutting-edge research is what will allow the work going on at the University of Rochester to literally change the world,” said President Seligman, referring to Dr. Werren’s work. “Without the generosity of great supporters like Nat and Helen Wisch, we would be less able to attract and retain the world’s best scientists, like Dr. Werren.”

The first endowed professorship to be established exclusively for the biology department, the Wisch Professorship honors scholars who are advancing the field of biology and serving as an inspiration to their students. As longstanding supporters of the University, the Wisches had previously established the Dr. Nathaniel and Helen Wisch Endowed Scholarship, benefiting students majoring in biology.

Endowed scholarships and professorships are priorities of The Meliora Challenge: The Campaign for the University of Rochester. As Charter Members of the George Eastman Circle at the Founder level, the Wisches have supported the University in a number of ways. In addition to being a University Trustee, Dr. Wisch is a member of the Eastman School of Music National Council and co-chair of the New York New Leaders Regional Cabinet.

Dr. Werren’s work, which combines genetic, molecular, and population approaches, has appeared in more than 180 publications, including top journals in the field. In April, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies.

“Jack Werren exemplifies the type of scholar deserving of a named professorship,” said Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Joanna B. Olmsted, Ph.D., who has known Dr. Werren since he arrived at the University in 1986. “His stellar accomplishments in research coupled with his enthusiasm and talent in communicating his knowledge to students make him a fitting inaugural holder of the Nathaniel and Helen Wisch Professorship in Biology.”

[Go to Top]


Davis Distinguished Professor in Pulmonary Medicine Installed

From left to right: Bob Davis, Christy Blume, Jeff Davis, Jan Steehler, and Dr. Patricia Sime

Dinner guests were treated to a first-class example of the power of professorships on June 13. Surrounded by family, friends, and members of the Medical Center and University communities, Patricia J. Sime, M.D. became the inaugural C. Jane Davis and C. Robert Davis Distinguished Professor in Pulmonary Medicine. The installation, held at the Witmer House, honored Dr. Sime for her exemplary work as an educator, researcher, and physician in the field of pulmonary medicine.

“Patricia is a great example of the power of funding a professorship, and its critical importance to the Medical Center and The Meliora Challenge,” said President Joel Seligman. The evening also recognized the late C. Robert (Bob) Davis and his late sister, Dr. C. Jane Davis, whose generous support of the professorship was inspired by a doctor who had a tremendous impact on their lives. That physician was Dr. Paul Levy, the Charles A. Dewey Professor of Medicine, at the School of Medicine and Dentistry, who had the honor of telling their moving story.

When her brother was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 1999, Dr. Davis became committed to funding research for pulmonary medicine. After being given six months to live, Mr. Davis enjoyed another eight years of life. The difference was attributed to Dr. Levy. It was his outstanding advice and care that inspired Dr. Davis to establish a bequest that would eventually fund the professorship.

"Support from families like the Davis family will help the Medical Center achieve its vision to be among the most innovative in the country,” said Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., University Senior Vice President for Health Sciences and CEO of the Medical Center. “Philanthropy from donors like Bob and Jane allow us to improve the health of our community while advancing the science of medicine.”

Dr. Sime is changing lives as a world leader in pulmonary medicine, particularly in research of lung inflammation and fibrosis. She is chief of the Pulmonary and Critical Care Division and director of the Mary Parkes Center for Asthma, Allergy, and Pulmonary Care. Dr. Sime also holds national leadership positions in the American Thoracic Society, the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health.

[Go to Top]


Meliora Weekend
Save the Dates:
October 11–14, 2012

Veteran journalist Barbara Walters and comedian Craig Ferguson will be helping Rochester celebrate its 12th Meliora Weekend. Meliora Weekend is a University-wide celebration that combines homecoming, reunion, and family weekends. Please visit for more details.

Additionally, Eastman Weekend 2012, which includes Eastman family weekend, will take place simultaneously with Meliora Weekend. Registration materials will be mailed to Eastman alumni and parents, in August. Please visit for more details.

[Go to Top]



PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

« August 2012 | Main | June 2012 »