University of Rochester Trustee Ronald Rettner wants to ensure that the purpose and utility of River Campus buildings last for generations to come. With a particular focus on revitalizing the Eastman Quad's historic academic buildings and spaces, he has established the Ronald Rettner Campus Improvement Fund.
Beginning in summer 2014, the fund will initiate a multi-floor renovation of Morey Hall, which connects to Ronald Rettner Hall for Media Arts and Innovation. Most notable is a renovation of the hall's main lobby and corridor. Rettner has worked with University architects and designers to create a warm, open design that includes a new multifunctional space for events and meetings, and cosmetic updates will add comfort and vibrancy. Rettner emphasized that this project will protect the building's existing beauty, including preserving its terrazzo flooring and enhancing its woodwork.
"A project such as this is especially important because it helps preserve the historical foundation of our University," said President Joel Seligman. "I am deeply grateful to Ron for starting and supporting this fund. He understands there is great value in nurturing and transforming existing facilities so that they may benefit our University community for years to come."
"When I became a University trustee in 2012, the first thing I did was walk through all of the buildings on the Eastman Quad. I walked every floor, every room, every inch," said Rettner. "They are beautiful buildings with classic character and tremendous potential, but are functionally obsolete.
"My vision is to facilitate the transformation of the buildings, making them state-of-the-art. We can change the ambiance of these spaces, making them attractive, highly functional, bright and stimulating, and do it for a small fraction of the cost of a new building," said Rettner.
Rettner, president of Rettner Management and managing partner of Baron Associates in Yonkers, N.Y., is a passionate proponent and supporter of educational and community advancement and has worked with numerous organizations on redevelopment projects that have revitalized business districts and neighborhoods. Under his leadership as director, the Morris B. Rettner Foundation, Inc.—an organization named in honor of his father—has funded scholarships, research, civic projects, and university facilities since 1975.
Rettner earned his undergraduate degree with honors at Washington University in St. Louis, and master's degrees in business administration and urban planning from Columbia University. By night, he attended Fordham Law School; by day, he worked as a securities analyst, co-founded the Vitamin Shoppes, and managed real estate.
Most recently, he provided the lead gift to build Ronald Rettner Hall for Media Arts and Innovation, providing students with a place to gain both practical skills and a theoretical understanding of digital technology. Opened in fall 2013, Rettner Hall is an 18,900-square-foot, three-story facility featuring an engineering fabrication lab where students can build prototypes, a multipurpose learning studio, group study areas and exhibit space, as well as sound and video recording studios, high-end computers, and 3-D printers.
Facilities are a priority of The Meliora Challenge: The Campaign for the University of Rochester and constitute $120 million of the Campaign's overall $1.2 billion goal.