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A Message to the University Community

January 26, 2011

Many from the University of Rochester attended a Celebration of the Life of Jeffrey Bordeaux at Aenon Missionary Baptist Church on January 21. Jeffrey's mother, Delores Forest, set the tone, speaking not in sadness or in anger, but remembering with great fondness a wonderful son, who was devoted to his family and his church. She and many others spoke movingly of wanting to strengthen our community. No one ever seeks a tragedy like the one that occurred at our University on January 15. I am nonetheless proud to be part of a University and greater community which has rallied to support each other and is determined, as Jeffrey himself put it, "to step up our game" in our support and in strengthening the bonds that link our University and Rochester.

Jeffrey's family has asked that gifts of kindness be shown in the form of a donation to the Jeffrey Bordeaux Jr. Scholarship Fund, c/o Tony Jordan Youth Sports Foundation, P.O. Box 13702, Rochester, NY 14613.

I want to report to all of you in this letter on much else that is occurring at the University.

On January 25, Ronald Paprocki, the University's Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance, announced that the University had selected Fairmount Properties to be our development partner in the Mt. Hope College Town project. The Fairmount proposal envisions a 400,000 to 500,000 square foot combination of retail space, including shops and restaurants; office space; apartments; and a hotel and conference center. The project would be located on 16 acres on Mt. Hope Avenue between Elmwood and Crittenden. The YMCA has expressed interest and is exploring the possibility of creating a health and wellness program in a "Y" along with fitness facilities and childcare. The University and Fairmount also are working with the Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority about creating a transit center in a parking facility planned for the site.

This Mt. Hope development has tremendous potential. The combination of the success of Brooks Landing, where we also are planning an additional project, and this future Mt. Hope development will strengthen student, faculty, and staff life and our connection to our immediate neighbors.

The choice of Fairmount is a critical step in this development. Over the coming months, the University and Fairmount will assess the feasibility of the development and work with potential additional partners, neighborhood groups, and government agencies to draft a more specific plan and development agreement. If these elements all occur, we will seek full Board of Trustees approval later this year. If the project does go forward, construction may be completed as early as 2013.

Let me also report on another facilities development. Last summer a major renovation in Wilson Commons transformed the dining center popularly known as "The Pit" into "The Commons." During the summer of 2011, we will take another step forward in the renovation of our dining facilities by completely renovating Danforth Dining Center, one of the main dining facilities for our undergraduates.

We continue to be a bulwark of the greater Rochester community. In calendar year 2010, the total number of full-time equivalent employees at the University and its affiliates grew by 377 to 19,987. Soon we likely will employ our 20,000th full-time equivalent employee, making us one of only six private institutions in the state of New York to achieve that milestone.

In my September 2010 message to the community, I was proud to report that for the first time the University of Rochester total sponsored research had exceeded $400 million in one year. The first six months of FY '11 have continued a high level of activity, with $197.3 million in sponsored research generated. Our position as a national leader among research universities was illustrated by a November 2010 Global Research Report from Thomson Reuters that found the University of Rochester tied at 17th among United States universities in terms of relative science citation impact, which takes into account the number of citations and the prominence of the publication in which the citations appear.

Similarly, revised data for the School of Medicine and Dentistry found that non-American Recovery and Reinvestment Act National Institutes of Health funding rose 20.4 percent between Fiscal Year 2009 and 2010 from $159.5 to $192 million.

Research is important not because of numbers, but because of what it can do to improve human lives. Recent work at our University has examined the effectiveness of cardiac defibrillators; established the safety and efficacy of a new vaccine for pandemic influenza; and developed a new way to isolate neural stem cells, which may prove to be consequential in the treatment of conditions of the nervous system such as Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases.

In November of this past year, Professor Esther Conwell became the first University of Rochester faculty member to be awarded the National Medal of Science in a ceremony at the White House. This medal recognizes her work in understanding electron transport, research that has proven vital in the development of modern semiconductors, which are at the heart of computers and cell phones.

Our Laboratory for Laser Energetics celebrates its 40th anniversary this year as a leader in applications of laser research, focusing on the investigation of the interaction of intense radiation with matter. The Laser Lab today is working on the development of inertial fusion energy as an alternative, safe, and inexhaustible energy source. Since its founding, the Lab has generated more than $1.5 billion in funding and more than 200 students have received their PhD degrees for work conducted at the Laboratory.

The University's Center for Research Computing, launched in July 2008—with 34 pilot researchers to enhance University-wide research through high performance computing—has grown to more than 350 University researchers this fall.

This academic year has already been one of great faculty achievements. Hajim School Dean Rob Clark in January 2011 was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Eastman School of Music Professor Roger Freitas won the Philip Brent Award from the American Musicological Society for Portrait of a Castrato: Politics, Patronage and Music in the Life of Atto Melani; Eastman School of Music Professor Ralph Locke was honored by the American Musicological Society with the Ruth A. Solie Award for his path-breaking study of the operaCarmen; Mechanical Engineering and Physics Professor Riccardo Betti received the 2010 Fusion Power Associates Leadership Award; History Professor Stewart Weaver won the Eiseman Writers Award for Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes (which he coauthored with Maurice Isserman '79, PhD); History Professor Michael Jarvis won the American Historical Association's 2010 James A. Rawley Prize in Atlantic History for In the Eye of All Trade: Bermuda, Bermudians, and the Maritime Atlantic World, 1680–1783; Tracy H. Harris Professor of Chemistry Richard Eisenberg received the 2011 Nobel Laureate Signature Award for Graduate Education in Chemistry from the American Chemical Society; Denham Ward, Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology, was named the next president of the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research (FAER); Professor of Pediatrics Dale Phelps won the Landmark Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics; and Associate Professor of Nursing Nancy Watson was named the 2010 New York State Distinguished Nurse Researcher by the Foundation of New York State Nurses.

In December 2010, we celebrated the opening of a new wing of the Eastman School of Music, completing a $47 million project that achieved George Eastman's full dream for the Eastman Theatre, which first opened in 1921. The full project—which included renovations of the Eastman Theatre performance hall, now named Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, as well as the addition of the new east wing with the Hatch Recital Hall, the Wolk Atrium, and new teaching, rehearsal, and performance space—will have an Official Gala on February 20, at 3 p.m., with Eastman graduate Renée Fleming as the featured artist. We are very proud that Renée Fleming is not only regarded as the most celebrated soprano in the world today, but also is an Eastman alumna.

This past fall semester the University began work on two collaborations which may prove of great value to our community in the years to come.

In August, the Medical Center's James P. Wilmot Cancer Center and Roswell Park Cancer Institute, located in Buffalo, began discussions that may lead to a formal research collaboration between upstate New York's two largest cancer research facilities.

In December, the University of Rochester and the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, the nation's preeminent museum of imaging, entered the most extensive university and photographic alliance in the nation to further research and education in the arts and sciences of imaging, including applications in optics, digital technology, and film preservation.

Applications to the College through early January have again risen to a record number, for the first time exceeding 13,000. The School of Arts and Sciences approved a new undergraduate business major which will be jointly overseen by the Department of Economics and the Simon Graduate School of Business; the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences began a new doctoral program focused on solar energy.

The Simon Graduate School of Business was ranked the nation's top private United States business school for return on investment byBloomberg Businessweek. Bloomberg Businessweek also ranked Simon third overall in accounting, fifth in analytical skills, and eighth in most innovative curriculum.

The University's resources remain strong. For the calendar year, the value of our endowment increased by approximately 7 percent from $1.5 billion to over $1.6 billion. Fitch Ratings assigned the University's outstanding revenue bonds a rating of AA- with a stable outlook, explaining:

  • UR's AA- rating is underpinned by its health system's dominant and growing share in an underserved health care market.
  • The University benefits from a strong research program bolstered by increased federal grant funding in recent years and stable academic operations with consistently solid demand, continued high selectivity, and stable matriculation rates.
  • UR's rating further reflects a solid financial cushion provided by a sizable endowment portfolio, improved fund raising and philanthropic efforts, and a low debt burden with adequately hedged variable rate debt.

In March, the Simon School will begin a new Master of Science degree program with a concentration in Finance in New York City.

In March, Strong Memorial Hospital will "go live" with its new inpatient electronic medical record system, which will integrate hospital operations with the laboratory, pharmacy, and other ancillary departments.

In April, the Clinical and Translational Science Building (CTSB) is scheduled to be dedicated. This 200,000-square-foot building will provide an integrated academic home for the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, with more than 600 scientists, physicians, nurses, statisticians, research administrators, and support staff. The new building, the first of its kind in the United States, will be located on Crittenden Boulevard and will be connected to the School of Nursing with which it will share an atrium, symbolizing the close connection between clinical research at the School of Medicine and Dentistry and the School of Nursing. Among other programs, the new CTSB will house:

  • Clinical Trials Coordinating Center
  • Heart Research Center
  • Neuromuscular Disease Center
  • Nursing Research
  • Smoking Cessation Center
  • Physician-Patient Communication and Disparities Research
  • Cancer Control
  • Oral Health
  • Center for Disease Control National Center for Deaf Health Research

The CTSB also will serve as a home for the Upstate New York Translational Research Network, a consortium of 10 major medical institutions from Albany to Buffalo that fosters regional collaboration throughout our region.

The Memorial Art Gallery has begun design work on a Centennial Sculpture Park to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2013. The Park will stretch across the museum's full University Avenue frontage from Goodman Street to Prince Street and include significant new works by Wendell Castle, Tom Otterness, and Jackie Ferrara.

The year 2011 also will have notable challenges. Above and beyond the enduring impact of high unemployment and slow economic growth, both the new United States Congress and the new State government are likely to focus on budget cutting. I will report later in this year on the changes that occur or are likely to occur, but I anticipate that our Medical Center's hospitals will face at best a reduced rate of increase in Medicaid and Medicare finance while they simultaneously analyze how best to respond to the new federal health care legislation. I also anticipate that federal support for student programs such as Pell Grants will be subject to review as will be pivotal sponsored-research programs such as those funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy.

At the state level, new Governor Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State address on January 5 emphasized his priority to address a $10 billion state budget deficit.

Against this backdrop, I am delighted by the strong support that our alumni and friends are giving us as we move toward the October 2011 public announcement of our comprehensive capital campaign. Let me especially thank the more than 1,600 of our alumni and friends who had joined the George Eastman Circle by December 31, 2010. They have been the driving force behind our ability to double support for our Annual Fund in the past five years.

In the past three months alone, our alumni and friends have made extraordinary commitments to support student scholarships, professorships, patient care, the humanities, and the expansion of Eastman Theatre.

For all of us at the University of Rochester, let me express gratitude to our alumni and friends for their faith in our University. We are especially mindful at this time of the strength we draw from supporting one another during times of great and unexpected challenge. Together, we will continue to build something very special on the banks of the Genesee.