A Meliora Message
When The Meliora Challenge passed the $1 billion mark, President Seligman noted that the Campaign is not about dollars; dollars are simply the means to take us where we want to go. The Campaign is about people and the way we have an impact on their lives.
The endowed professorships and directorships featured in this month’s issue help underscore that perspective. Every professorship represents an exceptional faculty member. The installation ceremonies of Nigel Maister; Joan Rubin, Ph.D.; Jonathan Mink, M.D., Ph.D.; and Jim Kuhn not only exemplify the people this Campaign is supporting, but also those who stand to benefit from their work.
Similarly, a fellowship isn’t just financial aid; it is a student pursuing research. And the funds that build state-of-the-art spaces also generate state-of-the-art ideas that will benefit those in our community and around the world.
This is the lens through which we should be looking at the road ahead.
Rettner Funds Campus Revitalization
Conceptual rendering of Morey Hall lobby provided by HOLT Architects.
When Morey Hall was built more than 80 years ago, its main entry lobby was a welcoming, open space. When University Trustee Ronald Rettner walked through that entry for the first time in 2012, he found a much tighter space, but he could still see its beauty, its character, and above all, its tremendous potential.
To preserve the utility and enhance the quality of the University’s academic buildings and spaces—particularly those on the River Campus’ Eastman Quad—Ron established the Ronald Rettner Campus Improvement Fund. Beginning in summer 2014, the fund will initiate renovations that, among other improvements, return Morey Hall’s lobby to its original design and purpose, as well as for use as a multifunctional space for events and meetings.
“A project such as this is especially important because it helps preserve the historical foundation of our University,” said President Joel Seligman. “I am deeply grateful to Ron for starting and supporting this fund. He understands there is great value in nurturing and transforming existing facilities so that they may benefit our University community for years to come.”
Morey Hall, which connects to Ronald Rettner Hall for Media Arts and Innovation, will also undergo significant renovation in its main corridor and receive several cosmetic updates that add comfort and vibrancy.
“My vision is to facilitate the transformation of the buildings, making them state-of-the-art,” said Ron. “We can change the ambiance of these spaces, making them attractive, highly functional, bright and stimulating, and do it for a small fraction of the cost of a new building.”
Ron, president of Rettner Management and managing partner of Baron Associates in Yonkers, N.Y., is a passionate proponent and supporter of educational and community advancement and has worked with numerous organizations on redevelopment projects that have revitalized business districts and neighborhoods.
In addition to this commitment, Ron provided the lead gift to build Rettner Hall, a venue for students to explore hands-on practical skills and gain knowledge to navigate and excel in a fast-paced, digitally-oriented world. He is also a George Eastman Circle member.
You can read more about this gift and the initial project in Morey Hall in the official press release here.
To learn more about Rettner Hall, click here.
Becks Endow Political Science Fellowship
Douglas Beck ’75 (MA), ’80 (PhD) has firsthand knowledge of how valuable it is to receive support for graduate training. Without a fellowship, he wouldn’t have been able to pursue his research in political science or either of his degrees at Rochester. But that only represents half of what has made him so grateful for his education.
Equally important was the faculty assistance Doug received. It created a connection to Rochester that has lasted far beyond graduation, and it is the reason he and his wife, Constance, have committed more than $1 million to endow the Douglas and Constance Beck Graduate Fellowship in Political Science for doctoral students in political science and related fields.
“With their gift, Doug and Connie are ensuring that the next generation of researchers will have the deep analytical skills needed to help address some of the most vexing problems of the 21st century,” said President Joel Seligman. “Doug has spent his professional life helping governments and organizations solve complex challenges, including those in public policy and transportation. The Becks’ generosity will make it possible for others to continue this kind of important work far into the future.”
Doug is now the senior vice president of ICF International, a publicly traded global consulting firm, and gives the University—specifically its faculty and their focus on methods—much credit for his success.
“The rigorous methodological training is among the best,” said Doug. “The political science department’s approach to solving problems included a deep understanding of the role of theory and of balancing induction and deduction as a way to understand and explain complexity.”
Higher education is a shared passion between the Becks. Doug, a George Eastman Circle member, values his academic experience so highly he has helped extended family and friends navigate the college process. For Connie, creating the fellowship was a way to help ensure generations of students are able to receive advanced training in their fields.
“[There’s] no doubt, Doug received a superior education at Rochester, but as important was how supported he felt,” said Connie. “His professors went out of their way to provide him with experiences. Rochester is the place where he felt he was part of a community.”
You can read more about the Becks and their gift in the official press release here.
Celebrating The Meliora Challenge in New York
University student a cappella groups Vocal Point (front) and the Midnight Ramblers
Have you ever attended an event where the program’s energy was so contagious that talking about it with other attendees afterward became part of the experience?
The University’s Campaign celebration in New York on March 13 was that kind of event.
More than 500 University alumni, parents, and friends celebrated The Meliora Challenge’s momentum in Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, creating the largest University event ever held in the metro New York area.
As of that evening, area donors had already committed more than $209 million toward the region’s $225 million goal.
The program’s tone was set by University student a cappella groups the Midnight Ramblers (all-male) and Vocal Point (all-female), performing a medley of songs that reached a crescendo at a concerted rendition of “On Broadway.”
Attendees heard from Board of Trustee Chair Ed Hajim ’58; University Trustee Rich Handler ’83, co-chair of The Meliora Challenge; alumna Emily Hart ’12; Trustee Gwen Greene ’65, chair of the Campaign’s Annual Fund initiative; and President Joel Seligman.
Moving videos based on the University’s mission to Learn, Discover, Heal, Create—and make the world ever better provided transition between speakers. Those featured included Lendsey Achudi ’14 (Learn), Lynne Maquat, Ph.D. (Discover), James Aquavella, M.D. (Heal), and Markiyan Melynchenko ’12E (Create). Immediately following his video, Markiyan—accompanied by Luis Ortiz ’10, ’10E (piano)—gave a live violin performance that brought the audience to their feet in applause.
The celebration turned full-circle when the Ramblers and Vocal Point returned to the stage to join President Seligman for the singing of “The Genesee,” bringing a night to be remembered to a close.
To view a photo gallery from the event, click here.
Maister Installed as Peck Director
Peter Lennie, provost and the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences & Engineering; Joanna B. Olmsted, dean of Arts and Sciences; Nigel Maister; Ruth and Russell Peck; Trustee Janice Willett; and President Joel Seligman
“Tremendously talented. Boundlessly enthusiastic.”
—University Trustee Janice M. Willett ’78S (MBA)
“I’ve never known a director who has such a powerful impact on students.”
—Russell Peck, the John Hall Deane Professor of Rhetoric and Poetry
An abundance of these kinds of “reviews” is why Nigel Maister, artistic director of the International Theatre Program (ITP) at the University, was installed as the well-deserving and inaugural holder of the Russell and Ruth Peck Artistic Directorship.
On February 28, Maister, Janice Willet, and her husband, Joseph T. Willett ’75S (MBA), were recognized during an installation ceremony. Maister’s endowed position, which honors Russell Peck, the University's longest-serving active faculty member, and his wife, Ruth, was established with a lead gift by the Willetts, as well as generous contributions from 176 other University alumni and friends.
“Nigel exemplifies the talent and ingenuity that Russell and Ruth Peck have brought to the University, enriching the lives of thousands of students over the past 53 years,” said University President Joel Seligman. “Through the generosity of donors such as Janice and Joe Willett, we are able to attract talented students whose passions include theater.”
In addition to this newly endowed position, the Willetts have created the Russell Peck Fellowship in English to support graduate students in the Department of English, with a preference for medieval studies. The directorship and fellowship add to their previous generosity which endowed the Janice M. and Joseph T. Willett Professorship for teaching and service at Simon Business School. The Willetts are also Charter Members of the George Eastman Circle and active volunteers serving as members of the Simon School Executive Advisory Committee, and co-chairs of the Northern New Jersey Regional Cabinet.
The Willets took the lead in establishing the directorship not only to honor the Pecks, but also to recognize their direction of the University’s Theatre in England program for more than 20 years. Longtime supporters of the ITP, the Pecks demonstrated their commitment to the program and belief in Maister’s leadership by establishing the Theatre Endowment Fund in 2008.
“He has a tremendous ability to identify interesting productions and bring them to life in unusual ways,” said Professor Peck, citing Maister’s multimedia adaption of The Iliad, translation of Bernard-Marie Koltès’s Roberto Zucco, and other projects.
Born in South Africa, Maister has trained and/or performed as an actor and director in countries around the world. He has been artistic director of the ITP since 2002 and is a founding member and resident theatre director of the music group Alarm Will Sound. Maister’s range and artistry are further exemplified by his body of work as an author of four plays, numerous theatrical adaptions, three librettos, and two song cycles of which the most recent premiered at Carnegie Hall.
You can read more about the Pecks, Willets, and Nigel Maister in the official press release here.
Rubin Installed as Perkins Professor
Peter Lennie, provost and the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences & Engineering; Joanna B. Olmsted, dean of Arts and Sciences; Frank Grebe ’54; Joan Shelley Rubin, Ph.D.; and President Joel Seligman
In the same way you might describe a highly intelligent person as well-read, you could describe the incredibly accomplished University professor Joan Shelley Rubin, Ph.D., as well-written. The author of several critically acclaimed books and one of the nation’s most highly regarded scholars of American culture, Rubin has earned the honor of being the inaugural holder of the Dexter Perkins Professorship in History.
The professorship was created by lead gifts from friends Robert (Bob) Kirkwood ’56 (PhD) and Francis (Frank) R. Grebe ’54 with contributions from more than 50 others. Rubin, Bob, and Frank were recognized by the University community at a formal installation ceremony on March 6.
“The generosity of Robert Kirkwood and Francis Grebe is greatly appreciated,” said President Joel Seligman. “They have joined together to create an enduring tribute—one that will help to inspire new scholars for generations to come.”
Bob was moved to endow the position out of a desire to honor his late University mentor, Dexter Perkins, Ph.D. Frank, who was already a George Eastman Circle member, wanted to further express his gratitude for four rewarding years at a University that had given him so much. Motivated by Bob’s enthusiastic regard for Perkins, Frank decided to contribute to the position as well.
Perkins, an internationally recognized historian, served the Department of History for more than three decades and helped launch what is now known as the Perkins Graduate History Program. He also served as the City of Rochester’s historian and as president of the American Historical Association. Rubin, who holds numerous leadership positions in national professional organizations, will now pick up the torch carried so far by her new position’s namesake.
“I cannot think of anyone more deserving of the Perkins Professorship than Joan Rubin,” said Matthew Lenoe, chair of the history department. “Her remarkable record of scholarship, teaching, and professional leadership epitomizes the legacy of Dexter Perkins.”
A Rochester native, Rubin has been a member of the University faculty since 1995 and is a professor of history and director of the American Studies program. She specializes in the cultural history of the 19th and 20th centuries with a particular interest in the values, anxieties, aspirations, and beliefs that have shaped both “high” art and popular expression.
You can read more about Joan Rubin, Bob Kirkwood, Frank Grebe, and Dexter Perkins in the official press release here.
Mink Installed as Horner Professor
President Joel Seligman; Mark Taubman, M.D.; Bradford C. Berk ’81M (MD), ’81M (PhD), CEO of the Medical Center and senior vice president for Health Sciences; and Jonathan W. Mink, M.D., Ph.D.
Child neurology at the University’s School of Medicine and Dentistry received a major boost in 1968, when the late Frederick A. Horner ’47M (MD) joined the faculty. He is remembered as having a tireless work ethic and being a thorough and devoted clinician, as well as an ideal teacher and mentor.
Jonathan W. Mink, M.D., Ph.D., so fully exemplifies these same qualities that he was chosen to be the inaugural holder of the Frederick A. Horner, M.D. Endowed Professorship in Pediatric Neurology.
The professorship was established by Marjorie T. Horner in memory of her husband who died in 2010 at the age of 90. Mink and the Horners were recognized by the University community at an installation ceremony on March 19.
“Frederick Horner was a pioneer in pediatric neurology at the University of Rochester. In his 17-year tenure, he created a culture of excellence that has produced a new generation of pediatric neurologists who are carrying the Horner tradition forward,” said President Joel Seligman. “Marjorie’s gift will perpetuate that legacy and forever link their name to exceptional doctors such as Jonathan Mink in this critically important field.”
More than 25 years ago, the Horners established the Dr. Frederick A. Horner Social Work Emergency Fund to provide direct aid to impoverished patients and their families. Marjorie’s latest gift will help the University continue to make progress in the detection, treatment, and prevention of pediatric neurological disease by retaining and attracting faculty members like Mink.
“The expansion of pediatric neurology at the University of Rochester Medical Center can be directly attributed to Dr. Mink’s leadership,” said Mark Taubman, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry and vice president for health sciences. “He has raised the program’s national recognition to a level where it has become a benchmark for institutions across the country.”
Specializing in movement disorders starting in childhood, Mink cares for children with a variety of conditions that impair voluntary movements, cause involuntary movements, or both. These conditions include dystonia, chorea, tics, myoclonus, tremors, stereotypies, parkinsonism, and combinations, which may occur in conditions like cerebral palsy.
Mink’s research is focused on the study of the brain’s basal ganglia, which is associated with control of voluntary movements, and disorders including Batten disease and Tourette syndrome. With a team of medical professionals, he has helped develop a “clinical rating scale” for doctors to chart the health of children with Batten disease as the disease progresses.
In addition to his clinical practice and research, he directs the University’s child neurology residency and serves on numerous advisory boards.
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Kuhn Installed as Lambert and Schleifer Director
President Joel Seligman, Joseph N. Lambert ’59, Jim Kuhn, Harold B. Schleifer, and Mary Ann Mavrinac
Time travel is possible at the University—but not in the way most people think it is done.
Just ask Jim Kuhn, the River Campus Libraries’ director of Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation (RBSCP). He can show you books and pamphlets that will take you as far back as 1472, stopping at Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859) and Dante’s Divine Comedy (1555) along the way. Kuhn is helped by the richness and depth of RBSCP, but he is also well-equipped to connect these materials to curricula and research.
With one foot in the analog world and the other in the digital world, he has the essential qualities for 21st-century RBSC experts, and that is why he is now the Joseph N. Lambert and Harold B. Schleifer Director of Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation.
On March 25, the University community honored Kuhn and recognized his benefactors Joseph N. Lambert ’59 and his partner, Harold B. Schleifer, at a formal installation ceremony.
“The importance of preserving the literature, correspondence, and other written works that document our history is vital to a University that wants to preserve the past in order to better understand the future,” said President Joel Seligman. “Joseph and Harold possess a deep understanding of the evolving work of libraries and why they are central to our academic mission. Their dedication and generosity have helped ensure the maintenance of these irreplaceable treasures.”
Joseph and Harold both have close ties to the world of libraries. As an undergraduate student at the University, Joseph worked in Rush Rhees Library, locating and checking out books—he even tended the fires of the Welles-Brown Room. Harold, at only 14 years old, was shelving books at the New York Public Library. While Joseph went on to become an ophthalmologist, Harold pursued a master’s in library science and eventually became the dean of the University Library at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
Kuhn traveled a path similar to Harold’s, earning master’s degrees in library science and philosophy at Kent State University. Prior to joining the University of Rochester, he served as head of cataloging, technical services, and collection information services at Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., where he was named the interim Eric Weinmann Librarian.
“I have watched him use his strong base of personal and professional values to dig deeply into and articulate issues with passion, eloquence, and the emotional intelligence to arrive at thoughtful decisions,” said Mary Ann Mavrinac, vice provost and the Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of River Campus Libraries. “He is a caring, kind, decent, and indefatigable person. Jim is the real deal.”
Kuhn has written articles that have appeared in New Technologies in Renaissance Studies and Reference & User Services Quarterly, and he serves as councilor-at-large for the American Library Association.
You can read more about Joseph and Harold’s gift in the official press release here.