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October 16, 2013

Faculty and staff campaign gets under way

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When Paul Burgett walked into the Eastman School in the fall of 1964, he brought his parents’ expectations that he take advantage of the opportunities they tried to provide for him. Getting an Eastman education was one of those opportunities.

“I come from a working-class background that possessed no financial wealth,” says Burgett, whose nearly 50-year career as a member of the University community includes earning three Eastman degrees as well as positions on the faculty and leadership roles in the administration. “The only way to achieve upward mobility was to achieve a high quality education, an education that mattered. That comes directly from my parents.”

Over the course of five decades, he’s discovered that the values his family instilled in him—ideas about character, the power of ethical values, and an appreciation for life’s opportunities—are readily found among the people he has studied and worked with at Rochester.

“I have forged relationships with a phalanx of people who embody the same values that I embody,” Burgett says. “How much more fortunate can someone be than to live his life in the company of those whose values parallel his own? Whose intellectual values parallel his own, whose concerns about quality of life he shares? A community that, by and large, is a compassionate community?

“How much more can someone ask than to have the privilege of doing that? That only came about because of my time at the University of Rochester—as a student, as a faculty member, and as a dean and vice president.”

Burgett, University vice president and dean, expects to share his story widely over the next few years as he helps lead Rochester’s new effort to encourage faculty and staff to become donors to the University. He is joined by Lissa McAnarney, chair emerita of the Department of Pediatrics at the Medical Center, and Kevin Parker, dean emeritus of the Hajim School of Engineering, in chairing the OneRochester Campaign.

The initiative is the first unified effort to engage Rochester’s 20,000-plus employees to consider providing regular, ongoing support to the University. Part of The Meliora Challenge: The Campaign for the University of Rochester, the University’s $1.2 billion fundraising drive that was publicly launched in October 2011, the faculty-staff campaign is intended to have a life beyond the scheduled completion of the Meliora Challenge in 2016.

The goal of the new initiative is to build on the established generosity of faculty and staff, increasing the percentage of employees who give regularly to the University.

“We have very generous employees, with more than one-third of all faculty and staff already supporting the University with financial commitments,” says Martha Krohn, executive director of annual giving programs.

“That makes a tremendous difference in the success of the University’s programs and its plans for the future.” That record of strong faculty and staff support helps demonstrate that the University is setting an example for students, patients, alumni and friends, Krohn says.

“When the University goes to private foundations, to alumni and friends, one of the important questions that’s asked is, ‘What’s the level of support on campus?’”

To help make it easier for employees to consider regular gifts, the University has launched an online payroll deduction site that offers faculty and staff the option to simply designate a regular amount from each pay period to any areas of the University they care most about.

Giving to the OneRochester campaign is voluntary and information about donations will not be shared with colleagues or supervisors.

Burgett says he hopes the campaign can encourage faculty and staff to think about giving—even if the amounts are small.

“The idea is that no matter what you can do, that matters in ways you may not have considered.”

The campaign also encourages faculty and staff to give to programs that are important to them, offering more than 5,000 designations, ranging from programs within single departments to initiatives that encompass the University.

As he prepares to talk with faculty and staff, Burgett says he hopes his experience of finding a sense of ownership among faculty and staff, as they routinely carry out their work to support students, advance scholarship, and care for others, will resonate.

“If people feel that their presence and their participation made the institution the great institution that it is—on a day-to-day basis and on the strengths of the relationships they forge, not only with the students, but with their colleagues—that’s ownership,” he says. “That really is ownership.”

For more about the OneRochester, and how to make a donation, visit www.rochester.edu/OneRochester or call 273-5887.

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