September 2015

A Meliora Message 

With Meliora Weekend nearly here, we have two important questions for you.

Have you registered? If not, good news: you have until 12 p.m. on Friday, October 2, and it is as simple as going to the Meliora Weekend website.

Do you have a game plan for Meliora Weekend? From the River Campus and Medical Center to the Eastman School and Memorial Art Gallery, there are more than 200 programs for you to choose from over the course of four days. Given the impressive array of options, here are some suggestions to help you plan your weekend: 

Friday, October 9
Start your day at the Schoool of Medicine and Dentistry’s Class of 1962 Auditorium for MED Talks. From 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. alumni and current faculty members will be presenting on trending topics in the  medical world. Throughout the weekend, there are several opportunities to see performances from Eastman School of Music students. Try catching those celebrating the beginning of Meliora Weekend at 5:30 p.m. in Lowry Hall. You can find more information for these programs, and others, on the Friday page of the Meliora Weekend schedule.

Saturday, October 10
Make your way to the Interfaith Chapel on River Campus for back-to-back programs, starting with the Presidential Symposium: The Crisis in K–12 Education at 1:45 p.m. Join President and CEO Joel Seligman and six education professionals for an in-depth discussion on how to reform urban schools at the local, state, and national levels. Then, at 3:45 p.m., stay for Miller’s Court: Sports Gambling—What Is Legal and Why? Noted attorney and broadcaster Arthur Miller ’56, ’08 (LLD) will lead six panelists from the sports world in an exploration of the boundaries of betting on sports. You can find the list of panelists for both programs on the Saturday page of the Meliora Weekend schedule.

At some point during the weekend, take advantage of the shuttle service to or free parking at College Town. Located at the intersection of Mount Hope and Elmwood Avenues, the new district offers plenty of dining and shopping options, including Barnes & Noble, where there’s a 10 percent discount on University-imprinted clothing, giftware, and general reading (non-textbook) books.

Plan or no plan, there is no shortage of opportunities to have fun, learn, reconnect, and celebrate all things Rochester during Meliora Weekend. See it for yourself!

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Gabrellians Create Humanities Directorship, Lecture Series

Mark Gabrellian '79 and Ani Gabrellian '84

What prepares students to be leaders in their chosen fields? Expertise in craft or specialty is a driving force, but there is also great value in versatility and broad-based knowledge. President and CEO Joel Seligman and other University leaders are reaffirming Rochester’s belief in the benefits of a liberal arts education for undergraduate students through a Humanities and Performing Arts initiative that will help the University reach The Next Level. Trustee Ani Gabrellian ’84 and Mark Gabrellian ’79 couldn’t agree more.

The Gabrellians committed $2 million to create the Ani and Mark Gabrellian Humanities Center Directorship as well as additional support to establish the Hagop and Artemis Nazerian Humanities Lectures.

“I am delighted by Ani and Mark’s commitment to the future of the humanities at the University of Rochester,” said Seligman. “Their generous support will be instrumental in establishing the vision that ensures the Center succeeds in becoming a hub for multidisciplinary life on campus.” 

Announced this past April by Gloria Culver ’94 (PhD), dean of Arts & Sciences, the Center is currently being led by Interim Director Joan Shelley Rubin, the Dexter Perkins Professor in History. The Gabrellian Directorship ensures the University will have strong leadership not only at this nascent stage, but also far into the future. 

“We envision the Humanities Center as a place that provides students with a strong foundation for the rest of their lives,” said Mark, a member of the National Council for the River Campus Libraries and the University’s New York City Regional Cabinet. 

The Nazerian Humanities Lectures will help provide that foundation.

Named in honor of Ani’s parents, the annual lecture will feature University faculty members, emphasizing the collaborative nature of their efforts. Part of the Gabrellians’ support will be used to provide the chosen professors with research funds for new work that could become part of their lecture. The Gabrellians envision the talks being complemented by on-campus events, performances, and exhibits with similar themes and, hopefully, inspiring students to pursue a broad education as the lecture’s namesakes did.

Immigrants from multicultural Middle Eastern and Armenian societies, Artemis Nazerian and her late husband, Hagop, received an expansive education that enabled them to live fulfilling and productive lives. Both maintained interests in history, literature, philosophy, art, and music, and became proficient in several languages. They also served as the inspiration for Ani’s advocacy for the humanities to be respected as much as any other area of learning.

“Today there seems to be such an emphasis on the technical and STEM side of education, and we want students to know that they could be, for example, an amazing scientist and still love art history. One is not exclusive of the other,” said Ani, chair of the National Council for Arts, Sciences & Engineering. “The humanities give people different perspectives on how to approach problems. And, in the long run, the exposure to different ways of thinking will help students to excel in any path they choose.”

Charter Members of the George Eastman Circle, the Gabrellians’ recent commitment follows previous support that established the Ani and Mark Gabrellian Professorship—currently held by David Primo, associate professor of political science and business administration—to better understand the most vital political and economic issues of our era, and they created the Mesrob Mashtots Research Grants, which are innovation grants for outstanding incoming undergraduates. 

You can read more about the Gabrellians and their support for the Humanities Center in the official press release.

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Beals Establish New Institute at Eastman 

Joan Beal '84E and Jeff Beal '85E

Even in the time of silent films, cinema has never been silent. Music has always played a role in motion pictures. In film’s earliest days, this was often accomplished by way of an accompanying pianist, who improvised a soundtrack based on what was on screen. A love of jazz and improvisation helped Irene Beal perform as a film accompanist for many years. It also served as an inspiration for her grandson, Jeff Beal ’85E, who didn’t quite follow in her footsteps, but never forgot his musical roots. 

A $2 million commitment from four-time Emmy-winning composer Jeff Beal and accomplished vocalist Joan Beal ’84E have established the Beal Institute for Film Music and Contemporary Media. The Institute will provide students with resources that will prepare them for the increasing and evolving opportunities to write, produce, and perform music for film and contemporary media.

“This generous gift from Jeff and Joan connects the film legacy of the School’s founder, George Eastman, to a new era of opportunities in the music world,” said President and CEO Joel Seligman. “We are grateful for Jeff’s and Joan’s vision and support to enhance the Eastman School of Music’s preeminent role in preparing students to build lifelong careers.”

The Beals’ generosity will make the Eastman School a destination for industry experts and promising young musicians through support for student internships, scholarships, and projects; faculty instruction; visiting artist residencies; and important equipment and infrastructure. 

Through the Beal Institute, students will have opportunities to work with professionals who are actively engaged in writing for film and other contemporary media. Programs will encourage students to work together on multimedia projects with faculty members from the humanities, composition, and other Eastman School departments as well as with community arts organizations and partnering universities.

“Not only is there a need for education in composition across contemporary media platforms, there is a growing trend for orchestras and ensembles to perform this music in the concert hall,” said Jeff, a prolific and respected composer for film, media, and the concert hall, including the Academy Award-winning film Pollock and the Netflix series House of Cards, for which he recently won an Emmy. “Film music provides narrative connection, engages listeners, and can introduce new audiences to the power of the symphony orchestra.”

The Institute will also enhance the new Jazz and Contemporary Media graduate degree program in convergent artistry, focusing on writing scores for film and other applications, such as video games.

“Eastman has always been dedicated to developing artists with the strong musical fundamentals needed across the professional music world,” said Joan, who has performed in operas, in concerts with new music ensembles, and for film and television scores. “Jeff and I are honored to invest in the School’s initiatives to get students ready for new and expanding career opportunities.”

In addition to their recent commitment, the Beals have helped students at the Eastman School through the Jeff and Joan Beal George Eastman Circle Scholarship, which they created through their Charter Membership to the George Eastman Circle (GEC) in 2014.

You can read more about the Beals and the Beal Institute on the Eastman School of Music website. For more information on how you can support students through a GEC membership visit the GEC website.

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Chang Honors Mentor with Professorship

Institute of Optics Director Xi-Cheng Zhang, President Joel Seligman, Professor Nicholas George, Carol George, Milton Chang, and Professor Duncan Moore   

Maintaining a world-class faculty is an ongoing University priority that has enabled students to learn from professors who are renowned leaders in their fields, like Nicholas George, Ph.D. Named professor emeritus in 2015 and the former Marie C. Wilson and Joseph C. Wilson Professor of Electronic Imaging, George is one of the pioneers of the optics world. He discovered the holographic stereogram, invented the ring-wedge photo detector, and developed the first robot vision device to sort medical X-rays—a long-standing challenge in the field.

Perhaps greater than George’s impact on the field of optics is the positive influence he has had on his students. Before he came to Rochester, George was a member of the California Institute of Technology’s faculty, where he made a lasting impression on then-student Milton Chang, Ph.D. 

Still grateful for his former professor’s role during a formative time in his life, Chang made a gift to the University that will honor his mentor in perpetuity. With the help of a commitment from Joseph W. Goodman, the William Ayer Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, who also had a desire to express respect and admiration for George, Chang established the Nicholas George Endowed Professorship in Optics.

“During his tenure as director of the Institute of Optics, he had a big impact on the quality of the research and education here. His own success with securing research funding—an important measure of a scholar’s work—remains unsurpassed among his colleagues,” said Xi-Cheng Zhang, current director of the institute and the M. Parker Givens Professor of Optics. “Nick is also a great colleague and a great mentor. Over the years, many of his students have gone on to become leaders in the field of photonics and optics. I have often thought I would have been lucky to be one of his students!”

Chang, an entrepreneur and laser technology expert, felt George’s most valuable gift to his students was the encouragement they received to think critically and independently. “When you asked him a question, he never just answered it,” said Chang. “He would go to the board with you and help you work it out.”

George continued to mentor Chang through his post-graduate career, helping him secure his first job and, more importantly, stimulating his interest in venture capitalism. 

Chang is currently the managing director of Incubic Management, a venture capital firm that specializes in seed investments and early stage companies. He has incubated several companies, resulting in six IPOs and seven acquisitions, all of which succeeded. Previously, he served as president and CEO of the Newport Corporation and CEO of New Focus.

You can read more about Milton Chang, Nicholas George, and Joseph Goodman in the official press release.

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