April 2015

A Meliora Message 

When President Joel Seligman publicly launched The Meliora Challenge in 2011, he said that we would make history. Well, we did, and we did it in a hurry, too, reaching our initial $1.2 billion goal 15 months ahead of schedule. 

President Seligman announced this significant achievement in late March at a volunteer leadership retreat in Florida that was one part celebration—marking the tremendous effort and accomplishment of the many volunteer leaders who have played a vital role in the Campaign’s success—and two parts strategic planning. [See photos from the retreat]. The initial goal may have been met, but there is still much to be done if Rochester is to reach "the next level." (Don't miss the May-June issue of Rochester Review to read more about it.)

On our way to that $1.2 billion we surpassed Campaign goals for faculty support, including the goal to establish 80 new endowed professorships (as of this issue, we are at 93), and the Annual Fund. At the same time, there are critical needs for which we continue to seek support, the most important of which is student scholarship funding. Others include programmatic support and several significant facilities projects, including the new Golisano Children's Hospital and Goergen Institute for Data Science.

Reaching a goal is not only a cause for joy, it also offers an opportunity to look toward the future and what comes next. We continue to encourage all alumni, parents, faculty, staff, students, and friends to join this historic effort. We’re racing to the finish of The Meliora Challenge, and with your continued help, we’ll cross the line together.

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Goergens Make Leadership Commitment to Data Science 

Pam and Bob Goergen '60 

In 2013, President Joel Seligman announced the University was committing $100 million to greatly expand the University’s research in data science, the centerpiece of Rochester’s five-year strategic plan. Since that time, the initiative has benefited in a big way from a small, passionate group of leaders, including the Wegman Family Charitable Foundation and Robin P’11, P’16 and Trustee Tim Wentworth P’11, P’16, who have provided major support to the Institute for Data Science and its director. Add to that list, Pam and Trustee Bob Goergen ’60.

At last month’s volunteer leadership retreat in Florida, President Seligman revealed that an $11 million commitment to the Institute by the Goergens pushed The Meliora Challenge beyond its initial $1.2 billion goal. In recognition of their transformative gift, the Institute will be named the Goergen Institute for Data Science.

“Bob and Pam have again provided us with a transformational gift that demonstrates their remarkable commitment to the future of our University,” said Seligman. “I am deeply grateful to them for helping the Institute to become a generative hub for education, research, and innovation in data science. The Goergen Institute will forever honor all they have done to make our University, and help make the world, ever better.”

The Goergens have a distinguished history as philanthropists and University patrons, and their generosity includes several significant, strategically important gifts. Their $10 million gift in 2007 enabled the construction of the Robert B. Goergen Hall for Biomedical Engineering and Optics. In 2000, the Goergens provided $5 million for renovations to the River Campus athletic and fitness facility, which today is the Robert B. Goergen Athletic Center. And in 1997, Bob and Pam established the Goergen Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, presented annually to outstanding faculty members at the College Convocation.

A celebration for the Goergen Institute’s new building, which will bear the Wegman name in recognition of the Wegman Family Charitable Foundation’s gift in April 2014, is scheduled for next month. The building will serve as a hub for programs across disciplines where the analysis of mass quantities of data yields the discoveries that lead to the development of new world-improving applications.

“Data science is introducing exciting new research possibilities and discoveries at the University, as well as new degree programs and robust academic opportunities for students involved in a variety of studies,” said Bob, a University trustee and honorary chair of the Campaign. “Science, engineering, and mathematics are the University’s sweet spots, so being at the forefront of data science and maximizing our capabilities in high performance computing and calculating is very exciting. We are in a great position to help students become well-trained, highly skilled data scientists and meet the national demand for this kind of expertise.”

The Institute is amplifying the University’s research strengths in machine learning, artificial intelligence, biostatistics, and biomedicine, while fostering important research collaboration throughout the University and with industry partners. Researchers at the Institute have already used data science to measure risk for life-threatening heart conditions, create computer systems that can recognize human emotion, and increase the power and security of high performance computing.

“This is an important time for the University and we are happy to support this growth,” said Pam Goergen. “Making a difference is really why we give the way we give and we hope our gift inspires others to contribute and make the University of Rochester an even better place for education and research.”

You can read more about the Goergens and their commitment in the official press release.

For more information about the Goergen Institute for Data Science, visit

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Myers’ Gift Extends Cancer Care

Ann and Carl Myers Cancer Center 

Each year, approximately 4,000 patients from Allegany, Livingston, and Steuben counties receive care from the Wilmot Cancer Institute. Some travel for hours. Come 2016, those longer drive times will see a significant reduction. 

To provide patients more convenient access to comprehensive cancer care, the Institute is partnering with Noyes Health, Jones Memorial Hospital, and UR Medicine Radiation Oncology in Hornell to develop a cancer center in Dansville, Livingston County. 

The spirit of the regional collaboration might be best exemplified by the galvanizing support of Springwater residents Ann and Carl Myers, who live less than 25 minutes away from the planned location on the campus of Noyes Memorial Hospital. With a $2 million commitment, the couple is helping to initiate the new facility’s construction and fund the establishment of care programs. In recognition of their generosity, the new center will be named the Ann and Carl Myers Cancer Center.

“We are grateful for the generosity of the Myers family and the commitment of these communities to support the creation of a regional cancer center,” said Jonathan W. Friedberg, M.D., M.M.Sc., director of Wilmot Cancer Institute and Samuel E. Durand Chair. “As cancer care has become more complex, access to comprehensive and coordinated treatment is essential for patients and their families.”

This cancer center project is unique to the area and comes at a time when health systems across the country are forging relationships to ensure specialty services while improving quality.

“My wife, Ann, and I are grateful to be in a position to do this, and we think this cancer center will be good for anyone who lives in this area,” said Carl. “Whether you need to be treated for cancer or not, this will attract quality medical professionals to our community, and that will benefit everyone.”

The regional cancer center in Dansville will also provide patients with access to services such as advanced diagnostic testing, clinical trials, outpatient palliative care, and the Institute’s Judy DiMarzo Cancer Survivorship Program. Physicians at the Myers Center and the medical oncology clinic at Jones Memorial Hospital will have access to UR Medicine’s region-wide electronic medical record system and regular consultations with multidisciplinary teams focused on cancer.

You can read more about the impact the Myers’ gift will have in the official press release

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Chessins Establish Professorship in Infectious Diseases

Lawrence Chessin, M.D. '58 and Rita Chessin

Lawrence Chessin ’58 began his undergraduate career at the University in 1954, and with it, a lifelong connection to his alma mater. 

Lawrence, a retired infectious disease specialist and clinical professor of medicine at the School of Medicine and Dentistry (SMD), credits his professors for the way he thinks as a physician and scientist, as well as his ultimate career path. The University is also where he met his wife, Rita. After more than 50 years, the Chessins remain grateful to Rochester for the life they have today, which they have expressed through a $1.5 million commitment to establish the Lawrence N. Chessin, M.D. ’58 and Rita R. Chessin Professorship in Infectious Diseases.

“The time I spent at the University was a treasured period in my life: I met my wife, received an education that was crème de la crème, and worked with wonderful faculty,” said Lawrence. “The University helped make me the man I am today and continues to be an important part of my life. I want to give back to the place that launched me and where so many of my passions intersect.”  

The Chessin Professorship will be held by the division chief of infectious diseases, an area of UR Medicine that combats the deadly microbes behind viral infections such as HIV, HPV, influenza, and dengue. 

“We have a long legacy of successful infectious disease research at the University, contributing to the development of vaccines for cancer, bird flu and meningitis, testing new vaccine strategies for HIV, and creating programs to prevent costly health care-associated infections like C. diff,” said Mark B. Taubman, M.D., CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center and UR Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. “The Chessins’ generosity will allow this important work to continue by supporting the next generation of infectious disease researchers at the Medical Center.” 

Lawrence continues to be actively involved in teaching and educational programs at the SMD through his role as medical director for continuing medical education at the Rochester Academy of Medicine. He is also a member of the SMD National Council, where he provides insights on the medical curriculum and plans for the school’s future.

Charter Members of the George Eastman Circle, Lawrence and Rita, a retired interior designer, have been married for more than 55 years. They reside in Rochester and have a son, Daniel Chessin, and a daughter, Margery (Chessin) Pizitz. 

You can read more about the Chessins’ gift in the official press release.

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Lams Revitalize River Campus Libraries

Joel Seligman, Mary Ann Mavrinac, vice provost and Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of River Campus Libraries, and Evans Lam '83, '84S (MBA)

Anyone who has ever been in Rush Rhees Library is likely familiar with the patron services area just off the Roger B. Friedlander Lobby. Trustee Evans Lam ’83, ’84S (MBA), who spent extended periods of time in the Library, knows the space well, and is helping to modernize its function.

Evans and his wife, Susanna, have committed $1 million to establish the Evans and Susanna Lam Library Revitalization Fund. In recognition of the Lams’ generosity, the space will soon have a name: Evans Lam Square. 

“I am deeply appreciative of the wonderful commitment by Evans and Susanna to transform this learning space in Rush Rhees Library,” said President Joel Seligman. “Everyone who uses the library will benefit from this innovative project. They are making a difference with their generosity.”

The Lams’ philanthropy has been felt across the University. Within Simon Business School they have established the Susanna and Evans Y. Lam Professorship. At the Eastman School of Music, they created the Evans Lam Scholarship in honor of Jamal Rossi’s investiture as the Joan and Martin Messinger Dean of the Eastman School of Music. And every year they sponsor five undergraduates pursuing a scholarly exchange in Hong Kong through the Evans Lam Study Abroad Scholarship. The Lams also provide unrestricted support to the Annual Fund and Simon School through their Charter Membership in the George Eastman Circle.

Thanks to the Lams, Rush Rhees Library will have a state-of-the-art center for library users to conduct research, collaborate on projects, explore new technology, and unwind. 

Evans Lam Square will also be the central location for the Library’s “Q&I service,” which provides circulation and basic research support for patrons. 

“I am forever grateful to my alma mater for offering me a scholarship to pursue the best education and realize my American dream,” said Evans, a member of the Board of Trustees since 2012. “The center of my college life was the iconic Rush Rhees Library. It was my home where I could learn, discover, network, and even sleep and enjoy a good rest. It was also the hub for my various on-campus jobs to pay for my room and board. I hope the Evans Lam Square with the state-of-the-art amenities will continue to function as the center hub for our students to explore knowledge, generate ideas, establish friendships, and attain their aspirations. Meliora!”

Evans, a senior vice president of wealth management and senior portfolio manager at UBS Financial Services, Inc. in Pasadena, Calif., remains closely connected to the University as an advisor through the Simon National Council, Simon Executive Advisory Committee, and the Los Angeles Regional Cabinet. Susanna is a retired CPA, as well as an accomplished Chinese opera singer and performer.

You can read more about the Lams’ commitment in the official press release.

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Bucci Family Supports Breast Cancer Research 

Meghan, Joseph G., and Elaine Bucci

To honor their many family and friends who have battled cancer, Joseph G. and Elaine Bucci have gone on the offensive. With a $1 million commitment, the Buccis have established the Bucci Family Breast Cancer Research Fund at UR Medicine’s Wilmot Cancer Institute to fight cancer at its core.

“The Bucci family’s generosity will enable us to strengthen cancer care in the Finger Lakes region through rigorous clinical and translational research,” said Mark B. Taubman, M.D., CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center and UR Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. “We are grateful for their investment in our breast cancer programs and in the physicians and scientists who seek to advance the understanding and treatment of this disease.”

Joseph is the co-founder and co-CEO of American Rock Salt Co., the world’s second-largest salt mine. He is a former history and social studies teacher, as well as a high school football coach. Elaine, a former sixth-grade teacher, is involved with many community activities in Livingston County. The Buccis have long-supported the Wilmot Cancer Institute through their George Eastman Circle membership.

The Buccis are targeting breast cancer because it is, unfortunately, an area with which they are particularly familiar. At one point, four family members were being treated for breast cancer at the same time. 

“Because of research, breast cancer care has improved so much and the effects of chemotherapy and radiation have become less debilitating,” said Elaine. “In order for treatments to continue improving, we need to support research. My hope is that a cure is found through continued research before my granddaughter Olivia grows up.”

The Wilmot Cancer Institute is the Finger Lakes region’s leader for cancer care and research, including a 100-scientist team that investigates many aspects of cancer, with an emphasis on how best to provide precision cancer care. 

You can read more about the Bucci family and their gift in the official press release.

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Phipps Installed as Wright Family Professor 

Joel Seligman, Richard Paige Phipps, Ph.D., and Mark Taubman, M.D. 

Air quality is commonly taken for granted, yet it is often tainted by harmful pollutants and particles. Long-term exposure can cause lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is the third leading cause of death for Americans. Richard Paige Phipps, Ph.D., is one of the reasons UR Medicine is known across the country and around the world for its COPD research.

Phipps is also contributing to knowledge about B-cell lymphoma, lung diseases, and several diseases with immunity and inflammatory components. He is exactly the kind of professor to whom the late couple Chauncey and Simone Wright wanted to give their support at the School of Medicine and Dentistry. On April 8, the University honored the Wrights’ desire by formally installing Phipps as the inaugural Wright Family Research Professor.

“Thanks to Chauncey and Simone’s generosity, we are able to recognize one of our finest professors,” said President Joel Seligman. “Rick has received numerous awards and honors for his distinguished research and mentorship. I am delighted to further honor that excellence with this professorship.”

A resident of Rochester, Chauncey worked at Bausch & Lomb and was later self-employed. He died in 2008 at the age of 86. Simone, born in Paris, France, died in 2011 at the age of 93. The Wright Family Research Professorship has ensured that the Wrights’ legacy will forever be linked with outstanding research at the School of Medicine and Dentistry. Richard Phipps is an ideal first recipient to establish the standard for all future Wright Professors.

“I can think of no more worthy recipient of this inaugural honor than Rick,” said Mark B. Taubman, M.D., CEO of the Medical Center and UR Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. “In addition to the important work he is doing as a biomedical investigator, Rick is passing on his knowledge to a new generation of physician scientists. We are very fortunate to have someone of his caliber dedicated to the training of pre- and post-doctoral students.”

The holder of four patents, Phipps is a professor in the departments of environmental medicine; medicine (pulmonary and critical care); microbiology and immunology; obstetrics and gynecology; ophthalmology; pathology and laboratory medicine; and pediatrics. In his laboratory, he studies abnormal inflammatory and wound healing responses in the eye orbit and the lung that involve fibroblast biology. And he is the author or co-author of more than 250 articles as well as numerous book chapters and reviews. Some of his honors include the Arthur Kornberg Research Award, the Burroughs Wellcome Foundation Faculty Scholar, and the University’s Academic Mentoring Award.

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Celebrating Student Support

Donors from as far away as California, Florida, Texas, and the Virgin Islands joined their scholarship recipients and University leadership to celebrate the power of scholarships

Student support remains a top priority for the University as it races toward the finish of The Meliora Challenge. Scholarships and fellowships enable Rochester to continue to attract high-performing students; they give students the freedom to choose career paths based on passion rather than salary; and they are critical to maintaining a diverse learning community. This final point is especially important to Lucy P’96 and Alexander Levitan ’63M (MD), P’96.

On April 9, the Levitans hosted a scholarships reception in Minneapolis. Creators of the Levitan Family Endowed Scholarship, the Levitans expressed the importance of varied perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences to a well-balanced education. They also shared why they created their scholarship and what it was like to meet their beneficiary, Akosua Korboe ’16M (MD). The Levitans’ event is part of regional efforts to highlight the importance of supporting University of Rochester students. In Rochester, this is done every year at the Celebration of Scholarships.

The annual University-wide reception recognizes the generosity of scholarship and fellowship donors and the students who receive them. It also provides the opportunity for students to meet and personally thank their supporters.

April 26 marked the sixth year of the event and featured donors from as far away as California, Florida, Texas, and the Virgin Islands. Attendees, including President Joel Seligman, deans, and other leaders from across the University, were welcomed by Trustee Nancy Lieberman ’77, co-chair of the Scholarships Initiative for The Meliora Challenge. In 2002, Lieberman established the Nancy A. Lieberman Scholarship, awarded annually to female political science majors with demonstrated financial need.  

In addition to Lieberman, this year’s featured speakers included Elizabeth Leight ’89 and Rebecca (Becky) Graham ’10E, ’15N. Elizabeth and her husband, Nathan, recently established the Leight Foundation Endowed Scholarship to assist undergraduate students majoring in psychology. And Becky, who received the Howard Hanson Scholarship while at Eastman, is currently benefitting from the McLouth Scholarship at the School of Nursing. Becky spoke on how her scholarships have not only made her education possible, but they have also enabled her to pursue her dream of connecting with people—as a musician and a nurse. President Seligman provided closing remarks. 

You can read more stories like these in the University’s Endowed Scholarships Brochure.

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Highland Hospital Gala 2015

Highland Hospital's ninth annual gala, "Into the Mix," recognized the outstanding staff, physicians, volunteers, and benefactors who make Highland an exceptional medical facility

In January 2015, Chris Franco was admitted to Highland Hospital. Three days later, a bad fall required that Chris’s wife, Marie, also be admitted. After being together for more than 70 years, they were separated by the severity of their ailments. As their respective conditions worsened, Highland’s staff determined the best care they could provide a couple who had been inseparable was to bring them back together at a very important time. [See the Franco family’s story.]

Ensuring the ability to offer the Franco family, and others, this level of compassionate care is a big part of the Highland Hospital Gala.

On April 18, Highland held its ninth annual gala, “Into the Mix.” Co-chaired by Daniel ’93 (MS), ’95M (MD), ’97M (Res), P’16 and Linda Mendelson ’90 (MS), ’94 (PhD), P’16, Jett Mehta, and Susie Atvell, the evening recognized the outstanding staff, physicians, volunteers, and benefactors who make Highland an exceptional medical facility—past, present, and future. Helping to ensure the best possible future, Highland supporters helped provide a record-breaking $236,000 in net funds that will go toward the construction of a new 26-bed Observation Unit and enlarge and enhance Highland’s operating rooms.

Hosted by local news anchor Norma Holland, the evening was opened by remarks from Cindy Becker ’01S (MBA), vice president and COO of Highland, and Steven I. Goldstein, M.H.A., president and CEO of Highland and Strong Memorial Hospital and vice president of UR Medicine.

“In its 126th year, Highland Hospital continues to grow and thrive as Rochester’s leading community hospital,” said Goldstein. “Our affiliation with UR Medicine gives us access to leading edge technology and research that, when combined with our focus on compassionate, patient-centered care, enables us to deliver health care in ways that few community hospitals can. And that begins and ends with one goal: serving our community’s health care needs to the fullest extent possible.”

Each year, a physician who produces the quality Goldstein describes in extraordinary fashion is recognized as Physician of the Year. This year, the honor went to chief nephrologist Melissa Schiff ’01M (Res). “She sets the standard for patient and family-centered care and is the finest role model on our medical staff,” said Daniel Mendelson, M.S., M.D., who specializes in hospice and palliative medicine, of Schiff in his nomination letter.

The Gala’s other featured speakers included Mark B. Taubman, M.D., CEO of the Medical Center and UR Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry; Joseph Johnson ’93M (Res), chairman of Highland’s Board of Directors; and Mark A. Eidlin, M.B.A., chairman of the Highland Foundation’s Board of Directors. There was also a live auction, to which local radio personality Joe Lomonaco served as auctioneer.

To learn more about Highland Hospital visit

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Meliora on the Road

Steven Chu ’70, ’98M (HNR)

For the alumni, parents, and friends who were yearning for their favorite University “holiday,” April provided a “half-way-to-Meliora-Weekend” amuse-bouche.

On April 18, the University brought the best of Rochester to New York with “Meliora on the Road.” Featuring a keynote address from Steven Chu ’70, ’98M (HNR), former Secretary of Energy and co-winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize for physics, a day of ideas, conversation, and connections was held at the Westin New York Grand Central. 

The day’s program began with a luncheon and University update from President Joel Seligman. Activity then shifted to learning sessions. Attendees chose from seven concurrent faculty-led presentations, divided between two, back-to-back sessions, that included titles such as “Educating Entrepreneurs: The Evolving Role of Universities in the Startup Ecosystem” and “Music for Life: The Ying Quartet.” 

Chu provided the programmatic crescendo with his address: “Energy, Climate Change, and How to Transition to a Sustainable World.” On the premise that science and technology have profoundly transformed the world, Chu spoke on how we can use discovery and innovation to mitigate the risks of climate change by making clean energy the low cost option. 

To see a full list of presentations and speakers, visit

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New Traditions Celebrate Giving Back

Elizabeth Beson ’17, Pedro Vallejo-Ramirez ’16, Jessica Rose ’16, Tate Richards ’17, Shanique Caddle ’18, Tim Dick ’17, Susannah Scheffler ’16, and Antoinette Esce ’15 mark the first-ever Thank A Giver (TAG) Day

New traditions don’t come along every day. That’s what made Tuesday, April 21 stand out, as a pair of events debuted, each highlighting a different aspect of the importance of supporting the University of Rochester and its Medical Center.

The first-ever University-wide Day of Giving encouraged alumni, faculty, staff, patients, and friends to make a gift or pledge to support Rochester, while Thank A Giver (TAG) Day focused on just that—expressing gratitude to Rochester’s vast network of supporters. The events were a partnership between Rochester’s Annual Giving Programs and the Office of Alumni Relations.

In celebration of the Day of Giving, donors made gifts or pledges to any school, program, or area across the University and Medical Center. By the day’s end, 1,017 donors had given an impressive $739,148. Community members promoted the day by posting photos, encouraging their friends to get involved, and adding the hashtags #URMakingADifference and #URTAGDay2015 to all their communications. Hundreds of social media posts mentioned the day’s activities.

TAG Day was created primarily as an effort to engage and educate students about the incredible impact philanthropy has on our campus. Buildings, centers, and spaces bearing the names of their benefactors, such as Robert B. Goergen Hall for Biomedical Engineering and Optics, Ronald Rettner Hall for Media Arts and Innovation, Raymond F. LeChase Hall, Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center, and Roger B. Friedlander Lobby were bedecked with tags. In total, more than 550 River Campus items including benches, portraits, library books, and even trees were decorated with laminated tags bearing messages like “Thank You Rochester Donors: TAG Day 2015” and “A Rochester Donor Did This For You!”

In the afternoon, Wilson Commons’ Hirst Lounge (which was also tagged) buzzed with activity as TAG Day staff encouraged students and other visitors to step into the TAG photo booth and offer thanks to Rochester givers, write a personal thank you on a large mural, and make a gift to their class campaign.

“We couldn’t be happier with the success of our Day of Giving and TAG Day,” said Thomas Farrell ’88 ’90W (MS), senior vice president and chief advancement officer. “It’s always gratifying to see our community embrace the importance of supporting the University and get involved however they can. These are new events, but we laid a great foundation on April 21 and I can see them both expanding and continuing far into the future.”

See photos from the inaugural Thank A Giver Day.

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