May 2015

A Meliora Message 

During commencement weekend, May 15 through May 17, the University conferred more than 2,200 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.

For students, the pomp and circumstance began either on Alumni Road or within Eastman’s Douglas Lowry Hall, awaiting their respective processions onto the Eastman Quad and into Kodak Hall—the last leg of a long journey.

The road to graduation is a unique experience, giving every student a different perspective on its end. Mortarboard messages conveyed the full range: achievement (“Now hotter by one degree”), the beginning of something new (“Be the change”), and the end of something great (“How lucky I am to have something so hard to say goodbye to”). 

Commencement is the mountain top, and as such, a source of unadulterated joy. Graduates had smiles cemented to their faces and were not shy about breaking out into dance. Because most, if not all, students had help along the way, commencement was also a time for profuse gratitude, made clear by a never-ending string of warm handshakes, spirited high-fives, and loving hugs.

Some of you have experienced this gratitude first hand as scholarship or fellowship donors. Without you, many of these students’ journeys could not have begun. And now they are moving forward with lighter debt loads, freer to pursue a career that they love. Thank you for helping our graduates follow their passion and enabling a new class to begin to explore theirs. 

Please enjoy these photo galleries from this year’s commencement weekend. The Simon School will confer its degrees on June 7. 

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New Children's Hospital Makes Grand Debut

Ribbons cut, cheers erupt, and confetti flies as the new Golisano Children's Hospital is dedicated  

After years of planning and construction, and the combined efforts of thousands of administrators, faculty, staff, donors, patients and families, UR Medicine’s new Golisano Children’s Hospital made its smashing debut on Wednesday, May 27.

That afternoon’s joyous dedication ceremony featured remarks from a variety of dignitaries, including the Hospital’s namesake and lead donor, B. Thomas Golisano.

“The only wealth that you get to keep is that which you give away,” Golisano said, paraphrasing Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. Golisano’s $20 million donation to the Hospital in 2011 kickstarted construction of the facility. “I know some day I’m not going to be here, but this building will be here, and that’s our ongoing wealth.”

At $145 million, the new Hospital is the largest capital project in the University’s history. It encompasses 245,000 square feet spread out over eight floors, and all that room is being used in exciting ways. Among its features, the Hospital will include all private rooms and specialized technology, such as the first integrated PET/MRI in a children’s hospital in the nation, dedicated to healing sick and injured children. It is set to open its doors to the community in July.

The traditional ribbon cutting was made more festive and especially meaningful with the inclusion of more than 20 children, all former patients of the Hospital, who marched through the crowd carrying a paper chain made from patients’ and families’ hand-drawn pictures, stickers, and messages of thanks. Together, the leaders on stage and the young participants cut their respective ribbons while confetti rained down on all.

For more on the auspicious day, watch a video of the dedication ceremony, and read the official press release, which includes in-depth information about the Hospital’s amenities.


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Aab Names Atrium to Honor Friend 

Tansukh Ganatra and Rick Aab  

It is not hard to see why a child would approach a hospital in the same way they would a haunted house. Hospitals are generally big, aesthetically cold places filled with things children should not, and likely do not want to, touch. The Ganatra Family Atrium, a light-filled, two-story space featuring a playful design, sends a message that is loud and clear to children and families who enter Golisano Children’s Hospital: this is a special hospital.

The atrium was named for the Ganatra Family as part of a $3 million commitment to the Golisano Children’s Hospital Building Fund by serial entrepreneur and Trustee Richard (Rick) T. Aab. Deferring recognition for his gift, Aab chose to honor his closeness with the Ganatra Family, particularly his friendship with Tansukh Ganatra, with whom he co-founded US LEC Corp., a telecommunications company based in Charlotte, N.C., as well as several other successful telecommunications companies during the past 30 years.

“Rick Aab is a valued friend of the University and Medical Center who has provided incredibly generous support as well as steadfast leadership toward the fulfillment of our mission,” said President Joel Seligman. “As our clinical leaders envision the programs and facility needs that enable us to deliver groundbreaking research and medical care, Rick is helping us to make these ambitious plans a reality."

Rick’s recent gift brings his total support for The Meliora Challenge to $7 million. In 2007, Aab made a $4 million commitment to support the URMC’s Cardiology Research Institute. The University recognized his generosity by naming the institute the Aab Cardiovascular Research Institute.

“Ensuring that children have access to the best possible health care is a cause that’s very important to me,” said Aab, vice chair for the University’s Campaign Cabinet and co-chair of the URMC campaign. “Construction of an all-new children’s hospital has long been a vision for the URMC. I’m proud to have been part of the years of planning, advocacy and the community funding campaign that made this significant achievement possible. It has been very gratifying to work alongside the leadership of the University and the URMC as they have established the leading children’s hospital for my hometown of Rochester and the entire region."

Golisano Children’s Hospital will open this coming July. Funding for the building’s construction was led by commitments like Aab’s and supported by gifts from more than 8,500 individuals and community groups.

You can read more about Rick and his gift in the official press release.

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Huxlin Installed as the Aquavella Professor in Ophthalmology

President Joel Seligman, James Aquavella, M.D., Krystel Huxlin, M.D., Steve Feldon, M.D., director of Flaum Eye Institute, and Mark Taubman, M.D. 

During his remarks at the University of Rochester’s most recent endowed professorship installation on May 20, Mark Taubman, M.D., found the perfect word in which to ground his introduction. 


He used it to make three points. “We are honoring two visionary individuals who have pushed the boundaries of science and medicine,” said Taubman, CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center and UR Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. “And they happen to be working in a field in which they are interested in improving vision. Simply put, they want to restore vision to those whose sight is severely impaired.”

Those individuals are Krystel R. Huxlin, Ph.D., and James V. Aquavella, M.D., and they have more than six decades of combined experience as internationally renowned ophthalmologists. Huxlin is the director of research at the URMC’s David and Ilene Flaum Eye Institute and has secondary appointments in the departments of neurobiology & anatomy and brain & cognitive sciences. She holds four patents and focuses her work on understanding how the adult visual system repairs itself. Aquavella is a specialist in cornea and external eye disease and was the first fellowship-trained corneal surgeon in the United States. Aquavella came to the University of Rochester in 1977; Huxlin arrived in 1995. 

After identifying the honorees, Taubman explored his third point. “In Jim’s case, he is a visionary philanthropist. He understands that in order for us to remain the great institution we are and to move to the next level, we need to create endowed professorships.”

And few professorships carry as much emotion as those provided by Aquavella. His $4 million commitment, which enabled the creation of the Catherine E. Aquavella Distinguished Professorship in Ophthalmology and the James V. Aquavella, M.D. Professorship in Ophthalmology, was made to honor the memory of his late wife, Kay, a nurse and administrator, who was committed to the establishment of the Flaum Eye Institute. Huxlin was installed as the James V. Aquavella Professor; Aquavella, himself, will serve in the role of the Catherine E. Aquavella Distinguished Professor in an honorary capacity. The Aquavella Distinguished Professorship endowment will continue to grow until the next professor is selected.

Not only do these professorships ensure the University retains top talent, they also provide crucial support so that Huxlin can continue translating her lab’s scientific discoveries into medicine that benefits patients. Future corneal researchers can also build on Aquavella’s work, which in some cases has restored sight to children and infants.  

“The creation of an endowed professorship can be very personal,” said President Joel Seligman. “I really can’t recall an occasion more personal than these endowed professorships. Jim and Kay were as close as two people could be, and if Kay were with us, the idea that her professorship would be initially held by Jim would be deeply meaningful to her. I know also how much it means to Jim that the professorship created in his name initially will be held by so beloved and talented a colleague as Krystel. The creation of the two Aquavella professorships is a wonderful event.” 

You can read more about the establishment of the Aquavella professorships in the November 2013 issue of Fast Forward.

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Meliora Weekend 2015


Celebrate the University of Rochester at our 15th Meliora Weekend, October 8 through October 11. Renowned author and biographer Walter Isaacson will deliver the weekend’s keynote address on October 10. Issacson’s 2011 book, Steve Jobs, is being adapted into a major motion picture directed by Academy Award-winner Danny Boyle. 

Headlining the entertainment is Emmy- and Tony Award-winner Kristin Chenoweth, who will perform at the Eastman Theatre as part of the Eastman Presents series on October 9.

Meliora Weekend features class reunions, Yellowjacket sports, gallery exhibitions, our exclusive series of MEL Talks and much, much more. There is truly something for everyone. 

More information, including a full schedule and registration links, is coming soon. We’ll see you at Meliora Weekend!

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