May 2014

A Meliora Message 

At the University of Rochester goals are milestones rather than destinations. Once we have reached our goal, we often look toward another—further, higher, and of greater significance.

When we launched The Meliora Challenge we aspired to establish a minimum of 80 endowed professorships. Thanks to your inspirational commitment to our faculty, we have surpassed our minimum. While the University remains focused on an “ever better” horizon, its collective heart is swelling with pride.

In the spirit of Meliora, we now aim to close out the remainder of the Campaign in pursuit of a new minimum: 100 endowed professorships.

This lofty goal is directly connected to the value we place on our faculty as teachers, health care providers, and researchers. Through these functions, they are advancing our mission to Learn, Discover, Heal, Create—and make the world ever better. 

Your leadership and generosity are why we have arrived at this place in the Campaign, and we are excited to see where your partnership takes us next.  

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Wilmots Provide Leadership to New Campaign 

 University Trustee Tom Wilmot and Judy Wilmot Linehan encourage attendees to join them in supporting cancer research at the Wilmot Cancer Institute during the 15th annual Discovery Ball.

A quick pace for transformations in UR Medicine’s clinical and research programs for cancer treatment has led to a new organizational structure that includes a growing network of satellite locations across the region—the Wilmot Cancer Institute.

Created to bring the highest level of cancer care to individuals in Rochester and throughout western New York, the Institute seeks to provide expertise and leading-edge capabilities closer to patients’ homes. An integral part of this mission is advancing research, which will receive support through a new $30 million campaign. The campaign is being led by local philanthropists Richard T. Bell and Robert W. Kessler; University Trustee Thomas C. Wilmot, Sr., is serving as an honorary campaign chair.

Building on a commitment to cancer research that spans three generations, the Wilmot family and the James P. Wilmot Foundation contributed gifts totaling $4 million to help launch the campaign. The gifts were announced at the 15th annual Discovery Ball held in Rochester.

“In a field that’s advancing as rapidly as cancer, it’s a tremendous advantage to have researchers and oncologists working together in the same facilities,” said President Joel Seligman. “New research findings quickly make their way into clinical decision making. The tremendous support we’ve received from the Wilmot family has made that possible, and the impact is seen in the care of every patient who comes through our doors.”

A portion of these gifts will establish an endowment for the Wilmot Distinguished Professorship in Cancer Genomics. The new professorship supports study in a relatively new discipline that attempts to identify the mechanisms that drive cancer growth.

“It has been amazing watching the progress in cancer research and patient care at Wilmot since 1980. We are thrilled to participate in its continued progress,” said Judy Wilmot Linehan. “Our family has been so affected by this terrible disease. It has taken away some of the most important people in my life. It is truly our pleasure to support the Wilmot Distinguished Professorship in Cancer Genomics. I can't wait to see what it will accomplish!”

The Wilmot family’s philanthropic commitment to cancer research began in 1981 with the Wilmot Fellowship Program at the Medical Center. Funded by the foundation created by James P. Wilmot  in the previous year, the program has provided training to more than 100 Wilmot Fellows, who have gone on to pursue careers in cancer research around the world. Since 1980, the Wilmot Foundation and the Wilmot family have given more than $50 million to the University to support cancer research and treatment.  

Commitments to the campaign for the Wilmot Cancer Institute will be used to expand Wilmot’s research program by creating endowed professorships for cancer researchers, endowed program support for multidisciplinary research funding, and “seed grants” to allow researchers to explore new avenues of research.

All gifts to the Wilmot Cancer Institute's campaign that are received by June 30, 2016 will support the Medical Center’s $650 million goal, as a part of The Meliora Challenge’s $1.2 billion goal.

You can read more in the press release for the creation of the Wilmot Cancer Institute and the Wilmot’s gift, and you can also view a photo gallery or videos from this year’s Discovery Ball.

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Sloan Studio Dedicated

Halle Burns ’16, University Trustee Tom Sloan ’65, ’67 (MS), Nigel Maister, Grace Interlichia ’14, and Lydia Jimenez ’14

Retired theater teacher and director Linda Sloan ’67 dedicated her career to giving her students the courage and freedom to develop their talent. Both are of critical importance to theater and the performing arts—so is space.

As part of a visionary commitment to enrich campus life and students’ exposure to the arts, Linda and her husband, University Trustee Tom Sloan ’65, ’67 (MS), vice chair of the East Coast effort for The Meliora Challenge, helped create a new rehearsal studio in Todd Union. On May 13, the University community formally dedicated the Linda E. Sloan Studio.

“This studio is framed both in terms of theater and of the student experience,” said President Joel Seligman. “I am deeply grateful to have Tom’s and Linda’s passion for and dedication to the betterment of campus life at the University. Their enthusiasm is a driving force that continues to rally additional support for this important cause.”

Nigel Maister, the Russell and Ruth Peck Artistic Director of the International Theatre Program (ITP), called the studio a “game-changer.” For the first time in its 25-year existence, the ITP has a space that can function as a studio and classroom, as well as a place for students to congregate, entertain, study, and even work on extracurricular projects. It also liberates other spaces to be used by faculty and fill other needs.

“Having the dedicated space has allowed us to make so many small adjustments that have a major impact on our needs,” said Maister. “It gives our program weight and a seriousness of intent, which is significant for incoming students. None of this would be possible without the Sloans.”  

The Sloans provide additional support to the Theatre Program, as well as the Simon Business School and Rochester Annual Fund, through their Charter Membership in the George Eastman Circle. Their philanthropy also includes the University’s Robert B. Goergen Hall for Biomedical Engineering and Optics. Goergen Hall's Sloan Auditorium honors Tom's generosity and his impact on the field of optics.

For the last two decades, the Sloans’ generosity has encouraged the development of a robust student experience, and now that includes the development of students’ talents.  

“I tried to see students not just as they were, but as they could be,” said Linda. “Many students have incredible talent, but that talent is young and raw. Talent is nothing unless developed, nurtured, focused, and challenged. It will remain immature unless prodded further, pushed into territory never envisioned, challenged to do hard work.”  

Together, Linda and Tom are crafting a vision that is broadening the arts and making theater and performing arts focal points for the University community.

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Moss Installed as Inaugural Berk Distinguished Professor

Mark Taubman, M.D., Arthur Moss ’62M (Res), ’65M (Flw), Bradford C. Berk ’81M (MD), ’81M (PhD), and President Joel Seligman

Approximately half of all heart attack survivors remain at risk of sudden death—even when receiving the best medical care available. With preventative therapy in the form of an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), the chance of sudden death is cut by 31 percent.

The ICD has changed the treatment of heart disease worldwide, and the research that led to its increased use was spearheaded by Arthur J. Moss ’62M (Res), ’65M (Flw). Moss’s 60-year career and leadership in electrical disturbances of the heart, which includes a veritable library of more than 500 scientific papers on cardiac arrhythmias, have made him a legend in the international cardiology community. His body of work is also the reason why on May 14, the University community recognized him as the inaugural holder of the Bradford C. Berk, MD, PhD Distinguished Professorship.

The professorship was established by a $1.5 million commitment from Bradford C. Berk ’81M (MD), ’81M (PhD) and his family, and $500,000 from the Medical Center’s Department of Medicine, to strengthen cardiovascular care, research, and educational efforts at the University.

“This is an extraordinary gift, reflecting Brad’s loyalty and commitment to the University where his career reached its pinnacle,” said President Joel Seligman.  “Brad, who has already devoted so much of his talent to the University, is now making a gift that will support cutting-edge cardiovascular research for decades to come.”

Berk has been CEO of the Medical Center and senior vice president for health sciences since 2006. His gift will help the University recruit high caliber scientists to the School of Medicine and Dentistry or retain exceptional faculty already working within the Cardiology division. Moss will serve as the exemplar for the Berk Distinguished Professor.

“It is very important that the first person set the standard, and Dr. Moss is establishing a very high bar,” said Berk. “He is the kind of individual I would always like to have in this position.”

Moss has been with the University for more than 50 years. In addition to his work in electrical disturbances of the heart, he is an expert on the genetics of heart disease. Moss was one of the first scientists to attempt to unravel the genetic underpinnings of a specific heart condition, Long QT syndrome (LQTS), which makes the heart susceptible to fatal arrhythmias. In 1979, he helped launch the International LQTS Registry, a database of families with the LQTS trait and one of the first gene registries for any disease in the world.

For his achievements, dedication, and service to the University, he received the George Eastman Medal. He is also a member of the George Eastman Circle.

You can read more about Bradford Berk’s gift in the official press release

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Kaniel Installed as Inaugural Benet Professor

Jay Benet ’76S (MBA), Jeanne P. Benet, Ron Kaniel, Ph.D., and Mark Zupan 

When Jay S. Benet ’76S (MBA) and his wife, Jeanne P. Benet, established a professorship in finance at the Simon Business School, they envisioned it being held by a leading scholar in the field. This individual would embody William E. Simon’s vision for the School to “pioneer the future.” And they would demonstrate this through their work in political economy issues and in their articulation of the important roles free markets and entrepreneurship play in bettering society.

The University found this person in Ron Kaniel, Ph.D., who is the first holder of the Jay S. and Jeanne P. Benet Professorship of Finance. Kaniel and the Benets were both recognized for their contributions to the University on May 7.

“I am very appreciative of the vision and generosity Jay and Jeanne have shown by creating this professorship. It’s a resource that will help the Simon School maintain its excellence in finance for many years to come,” said President Joel Seligman. “For the goals the Benets set for this professorship, Ron is a perfect recipient. He is an outstanding teacher, scholar, and representative of Simon’s mission.”

The Benets’ professorship provides a valuable resource to recruit and retain exceptional faculty members. Jay also provides ongoing leadership to the Simon School as a member of the Simon National Council and the Simon Executive Advisory Committee. He also supports the Simon School’s annual fund through his membership in the George Eastman Circle. 

Simon School professors like Kaniel gave Jay an education that helped him become chief financial officer of the Travelers Companies, Inc., a position he’s held for the past 12 years. Mark Zupan, dean of the Simon Business School noted that leading faculty members in the field of finance have long been a hallmark of the Simon School, and the Benet’s gift will help the School build on that proud heritage.

“We are profoundly grateful to Jay and Jeanne Benet for their generosity and this pivotal and significant resource from which many generations of Simon students to come, and our School overall, will benefit,” said Zupan. “We also are especially fortunate to have Ron Kaniel. He is a triple threat in terms of his excellence—finance scholarship, teaching, and service—and thus, wonderfully embodies the vision that Jay and Jeanne have for this professorship.”

A research fellow for the University’s Center for Economic Policy Research, Kaniel’s interests lie in asset pricing, financial intermediation, and investments. His studies are focused on understanding mutual fund investment decisions and how they impact security prices, and the predictive role of changes in trading volume and investors’ flow on security returns, among other areas.

Kaniel’s work has been published in the Journal of Finance, Journal of Financial Economics, Journal of Financial Intermediation, Mathematical Finance, and Operations Research. He has also been cited multiple times in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

You can read more about the Benets and their gift in the February 2013 issue of Fast Forward

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Wu Installed as the Inaugural Lam Professor 

University Trustee Evans Y. Lam ’83, ’84S (MBA), Susanna Y. Lam, Joanna S. Wu, Ph.D., President Joel Seligman, and Mark Zupan

Simon Business School faculty members are some of the most innovative and productive researchers among business school faculty from around the world. Many of these individuals also sit on editorial boards for top business journals, like Joanna S. Wu, Ph.D., professor of accounting, an editor for the Journal of Accounting and Economics

Contributing to a preeminent journal in her field is one of the many ways Wu has exemplified leadership and influence within the business community, and just one of the reasons she is the first holder of the Susanna and Evans Y. Lam Professorship.

Wu and the professorship’s creators, University Trustee Evans Y. Lam ’83, ’84S (MBA) and his wife, Susanna, were recognized by the University community on May 15.

“Evans’ and Susanna’s dedication, leadership, and support at the University, and particularly Simon, have not wavered since Evans came to the University as a student more than 30 years ago,” said President Joel Seligman. “We couldn’t have found someone better suited to benefit from this inspiring gift than Joanna. She will truly be the exemplar for future Lam Professors.”

Hong Kong natives, the Lams both provide ongoing support to the Simon Business School annual fund as Charter Members of the George Eastman Circle. Evans is also a member of the School’s National Council and Executive Advisory Committee. He and Susanna established this professorship to strengthen the Simon Business School by supporting a faculty member who is an excellent scholar and teacher in a specific field. 

“Joanna’s character and leadership shine through her scholarship, her teaching accomplishments, and her service to her colleagues and the University,” said Mark Zupan, dean of the Simon Business School. “She has shown a commitment to Meliora that makes everything she’s a part of ‘ever better.’”

A University of Rochester faculty member since 1999, Wu specializes in teaching corporate financial reporting. Her research spans the areas of international financial reporting, the behavior of financial analysts, management compensation, voluntary disclosure, and mutual fund performance. She has been published in the Journals of Finance, Journal of Accounting Research, and The Accounting Review, among others, and has presented her research at more than 40 institutions and conferences around the world.

You can read more about the Lams’ gift and endowed professorships at the Simon Business School in the Simon Endowed Professorships Brochure.   

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Ainslie Named Simon Dean

Andrew Ainslie

On May 2, President Joel Seligman announced that Andrew Ainslie would be the seventh dean of the University of Rochester's Simon Business School. 

"I am delighted that Andrew Ainslie has accepted this appointment. He has had an outstanding career at UCLA Anderson School of Management,” said Seligman. "He will be an outstanding dean. He is a creative and dynamic leader in business education."

Ainslie has been senior associate dean of the full-time MBA program at UCLA Anderson School of Management since 2010. He was responsible for admissions, student services, and career placement. During his tenure the school has increased its admissions more than 60 percent, increased placements more than 20 percent, and revised its curriculum.

“Andrew Ainslie impressed us with his leadership experience, his commitment to the research mission, and his farsighted approach to the challenges facing all MBA programs,” said University Trustee Janice Willett ’78S (MBA), chair of the Trustees and Friends Advisory Committee for the search.

Ainslie’s appointment will be effective as of June 30 when Dean Mark Zupan’s term ends. Zupan has served as dean since 2004. After a sabbatical, he will become the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Government Policy in Business and director of the Bradley Policy Research Center at Simon.

“The Simon Business School has an incredible history,” said Ainslie. “It has been at the forefront of an analytic, rigorous approach to business from its inception, and today the business community is just beginning to understand the importance of that approach. I am delighted to take on this opportunity.”

You can read more in the official press release.  

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Rossi Named Eastman Messinger Dean 

Jamal J. Rossi ’87E (DMA)

On May 13, President Joel Seligman announced that Jamal J. Rossi ’87E (DMA) would be the second Joan and Martin Messinger Dean of the Eastman School of Music.

“Jamal Rossi’s appointment comes at the conclusion of an international search by a faculty committee chaired by Provost Peter Lennie,” said Seligman. “Jamal was selected because of an outstanding track record of accomplishment, including his leadership of the Eastman Theatre renovation and expansion project, his indisputable ability to lead the School, and his determination to work with the faculty, staff, alumni and students to craft a new strategic plan that will take Eastman to a new level of even greater accomplishment as the nation’s leading school of music.”

Rossi has served in leadership roles in music for more than two decades; he has spearheaded significant collaborative educational and community initiatives; and he has wide-ranging experience in academic scholarship and leadership, teaching, performance, recording, and fundraising. As executive associate dean, he supervised all aspects of the award-winning $47 million project to renovate Eastman Theatre and construct the Eastman East Wing. He also founded RocMusic, a collaborative partnership of arts and education institutions in Rochester to establish a free after-school music program for Rochester inner-city students.

“I am delighted to congratulate Jamal Rossi on his appointment as dean of the Eastman School of Music. His record of leadership as executive associate dean has demonstrated his vision and commitment,” said Renée Fleming ’83E (MM), famed soprano and member of the Trustees and Friends Advisory Committee for the search. “I am confident that he will lead Eastman forward with the creativity and passion needed to face the radically changing landscape for the arts, and the specific challenges for classical music and its vital place in our culture.” 

An active saxophone soloist and chamber musician, Rossi is featured on numerous recordings and is author of the book Altissimo Repertoire Etudes, as well as articles and reviews that have appeared in leading wind and educational publications. He is the seventh person to lead the Eastman School of Music as director or dean, succeeding the late Douglas Lowry. Lowry served as the first Messinger Dean and stepped down due to illness, at which time Rossi was appointed interim dean. 

“It has been a privilege to serve my colleagues and students at the Eastman School of Music these past nine years, and it is an even greater privilege to be asked to serve as Eastman’s dean,” said Rossi. “With its superb faculty and staff, its talented and motivated students and accomplished alumni, and a commitment to making a difference in the world through music, Eastman is uniquely positioned to help shape the future of music. It is the greatest honor to be asked to help lead Eastman to that future.”

You can read more in the official press release

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Meliora Weekend 2014 

Save the dates! The University will celebrate its 14th Meliora Weekend from October 16–19 this year. Featured speakers will include Doris Kearns Goodwin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian, and Laverne Cox, an actress currently appearing in the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black

Also, Jason Alexander, best known for his portrayal of George Costanza on the hit NBC series Seinfeld, will be performing An Evening with Jason Alexander in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre as part of the Eastman School of Music's concert series.

Please note that there will not be a ticket lottery for this year’s keynote address. You can find more information about these featured guests and signature events on the Meliora Weekend homepage or this press release.  

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