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JANUARY 18, 2012

Welcome back!  We are midway through a memorable year with many exciting events scheduled to occur in the spring semester. 

As I reported to you on September 26, we have five overarching University goals this academic year:  (1) publicly launch our capital campaign; (2) begin work on the new Golisano Children’s Hospital; (3) secure funding for the Interstate 390/Kendrick Road Interchange to resolve our road network issues and support future expansion; (4) expand the University-IBM-New York State initiative to strengthen our Health Sciences Center for Computational Innovation; and (5) begin the Mt. Hope College Town.  To date, we have achieved or made substantial progress on the first four of these goals and are continuing to move closer to the initiation of College Town.

(1)  On October 21, the University launched the public phase of The Meliora Challenge: The Campaign for the University of Rochester, the largest and most comprehensive capital campaign in our 161-year history, seeking $1.2 billion to strengthen support for our students, faculty, programs, and clinical care.  Through year-end 2011, we had raised $785 million, or 65 percent, of our goal and reached a key milestone with more than 2,000 George Eastman Circle members.   I cannot overstate my gratitude to Senior Vice President Jim Thompson and the entire Advancement operation as well as to the many who have contributed their treasure or labor to make our University ever better.  Our campaign is well launched!

(2)  Early in this academic year Tom Golisano pledged $20 million to help the Medical Center begin work on what is now a $134 million, stand-alone Golisano Children’s Hospital.  One week after the public launch of The Meliora Challenge, the Medical Center publicly launched its $100 million Golisano Children’s Hospital campaign, a significant part of the Medical Center’s overall $650 million campaign efforts.  This will be the largest community fundraising effort in our capital campaign and will significantly strengthen our ability to provide “Medicine of the Highest Order” for our region’s children.  The new Golisano Children’s Hospital will be a six-story, 244,300 square foot building, constructed near the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center and Strong Memorial Hospital on Crittenden Boulevard.  It will be, as Department of Pediatrics Chair Nina Schor aptly stated, “space designed with a child in mind.”

(3)  Early this month, the press reported that Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to announce a $100 million project to upgrade Interstate 390 in Rochester as part of his efforts to boost infrastructure in New York State. A formal announcement is expected shortly. 

The I-390/Kendrick Road Interchange project will be transformational for our region and for our University.  By December 31, 2011, the University of Rochester had grown to 20,340 full time equivalent employees, with an increase last year of 353 full time equivalent employees.  Our ability to continue to add academic, clinical, residential, and other programs, however, will be profoundly limited after we complete College Town and the Golisano Children’s Hospital unless we receive help to solve the fundamental bottleneck of road networking.  Simply put, under current zoning requirements, we face a cap on our future growth.   

By increasing capacity, easing congestion and improving safety, the I-390/Kendrick Road project will remove this roadblock to the University’s ability to grow on our River and Medical Center campuses.  The I-390 project will make possible significant improvements to traffic flow that specifically will enable the University to further develop Crittenden Boulevard and College Town and will assist establishments along Mt. Hope Avenue.  Over the next decades, I-390 will enable the University to create thousands of jobs and strengthen our position as one of the leading research universities in the early 21st century.   

Let me express the University’s gratitude to Governor Andrew Cuomo without whom this project could not have moved forward and to Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy, Assemblymen David Gantt and Joseph Morelle, and Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald for their leadership in advocating for this project as one of the region’s leading infrastructure projects.

(4)  In December 2011, New York State awarded $68.8 million to projects prioritized by the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, which University Trustee Danny Wegman and I co-chaired.  One of the highest priorities recognized in the Finger Lakes Strategic Plan was the University of Rochester Health Sciences Center for Computational Innovation (HSCCI), which was awarded $5 million by New York State as an initial payment toward what potentially will be a $100 million project combining the resources of the University, IBM, and New York to create one of the world’s most powerful computer systems dedicated to health research.  Since IBM gifted an initial Blue Gene/P computer to the University in 2008, the HSCCI, under the leadership of Provost Ralph Kuncl, has been instrumental in helping University faculty receive approximately $90 million from competitive sponsored research grant applications.  Notably, this included $4.7 million that the Medical Center recently received from NIH to create a center to study lung diseases. A key to the contract, which could amount to $35–50 million over the seven-year life of the contract, is the partnership between the University and IBM.  David Topham, professor of microbiology and immunology, has done a stellar job leading this impressive initiative.

(5)  We continue to make progress on our College Town project.  We are optimistic that College Town will be launched sometime during the next few months. This fall, our development partner, Fairmount Properties, partnered with Gilbane Development, enhancing the expertise and financial resources of the development team. The University, led by Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance Ron Paprocki, is negotiating the ground lease and other agreements and awaiting final approval of governmental funding streams, including tax credits and Department of Housing and Urban Development financing. This project is enthusiastically supported by the community and local government, and its provision of retail and dining, housing, hotel and conference facilities—and perhaps a YMCA and transit center—will strengthen student, faculty and staff life and enhance our connections to our nearby neighbors.

There were many other highlights these past few months as well.

On January 12, Mary Ann Mavrinac was named the next Vice Provost and Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of River Campus Libraries.  Dean Mavrinac is currently chief librarian at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus, part of the University of Toronto Libraries that ranked fourth among academic research libraries by the Association of Research Libraries.  She lectures widely on the future of libraries in the digital age and has published on such topics as “The E-book turning point.”  Dean Mavrinac will join us on June 1, 2012.

Earlier this year Raffaella Borasi was appointed to a third term as the dean of the Warner School of Education.  She and the Warner School are looking forward to the completion of the new Raymond F. LeChase Hall, scheduled to open early in 2013. Warner recently received two $1.25 million grants—one to increase the number of teachers trained to work with students who have significant disabilities, and the other to evaluate and replicate in Washington state and in Michigan the school’s STARS program, which encourages girls from minority groups or low socioeconomic status to study science.

The Medical Center has begun developing a new strategic plan to respond to dramatic changes that today face all academic medical centers.  Ongoing health care reform efforts have created new imperatives for transparency about cost, quality, and integration of patient care across health care providers.  Dr. Brad Berk, CEO of the Medical Center, anticipates that a new strategic plan will be completed during the summer of 2012.

The Medical Center is in the final stages of its ambulatory eRecord implementation, which will extend the Medical Center’s electronic medical record system to 160 outpatient practices.  Separately the Medical Center is upgrading its hospital eRecord system, which among other things will facilitate appropriate interchange of patient records with other health providers.

The University has been honored by the American Heart Association as a Platinum-Level Start! Fit-Friendly Company for our efforts to create a culture of wellness. The University also has been chosen as one of a select group of AHA 2011 Worksite Innovation Award recipients in recognition of our leadership in developing and implementing innovative and effective programs to motivate employees toward healthier lifestyles.

The College of Arts, Sciences and Engineering is on its way to another record year in admissions, having received more than 14,000 applications by January 1, a 10 percent increase year over year.

Design is under way for the new Media Arts and Innovation Center, scheduled to open in August 2013.  The proposed building will be connected to Morey Hall and located east of Wilson Commons. We anticipate beginning construction on this new center later this year.

A few weeks ago, the Eastman School of Music was once again very well represented among Grammy nominees, with nine alumni—including Renée Fleming and jazz bassist Ron Carter—nominated for these prestigious awards.  

On January 12, the University completed the purchase of Block F, a 1.5-acre lot diagonally across from the Eastman Theatre.  Block F will provide potential space for future development of the Eastman School or a mixed-use development similar to College Town. 

Eastman continues to fly Rochester’s flag internationally, for example, with its contemporary chamber ensemble Eastman Broadband performing for the fourth time in five years at the prestigious Chihuahua International Festival in Mexico. Eastman student Tomasz Arnold ’13 earned first prize at the Percussive Arts Society Anniversary Solo Competition last fall.

On January 15, the Memorial Art Gallery concluded its highly successful Extreme Materials 2 exhibition.  MAG is also achieving notable fundraising success. MAG has announced that its new Centennial Sculpture Garden, scheduled to open in 2013, will contain installations by noted artists Wendell Castle, Jackie Ferrara and Albert Paley.

On November 15, the University celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies with a lecture and demonstration by Garth Fagan.  On that occasion, the Tony-Award–winning choreographer received the Frederick Douglass Medal for his leaderships in the arts. 

The Fall 2011 semester was particularly memorable for many on our faculty.

Riccardo Betti, professor of mechanical engineering and physics, was one of nine recipients of the 2011 Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award for outstanding contributions in research and development supporting the United States Department of Energy.  Betti was recognized for theoretical discoveries in the physics of inertial confinement fusion.  Betti’s work supports the experimental efforts at our Laboratory for Laser Energetics.

In 2011, Simon Professor Robert Novy-Marx was awarded the 2011 Spängler Institute Prize for the Best Paper published in the journal Review of Finance. Novy-Marx also has been receiving national publicity for his work on government pensions and earlier this year testified before Congress on that topic.

John Marcellus, professor of trombone at the Eastman School of Music, received the 2011 International Trombone Association Lifetime Achievement Award and its 2011 Neil Humfeld Award.

Allan Schwartz, associate professor of clinical psychiatry and senior staff psychologist at the University Counseling Center, this fall received one of two Lifetime Achievement Awards given by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors.

Curtis Haas, URMC’s director of pharmacy, was selected as president-elect of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy. 

Jacqueline P. Williams, research professor of radiation oncology at the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center, has been selected to chair the Scientific Research Council of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).   This fall she was also named president of the Radiation Research Society and elected Councilor-at-Large of the International Association of Radiation Research. 

Margaret-Ann Carno, assistant professor of clinical nursing and pediatrics for the School of Nursing, was one of 142 nurse leaders inducted as a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.

Dr. Tom McInerny, associate chair for clinical affairs in URMC’s Department of Pediatrics, was named the next president-elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

Dr. David G. Hicks, URMC’s director of surgical pathology, received the CAP Excellence in Education Award from the College of American Pathologists in recognition of his outstanding contributions to continuing education programs designed to improve the diagnosis of breast cancer.

Last week, I had the honor of participating in the 25th anniversary celebration of the University Athletic Association (UAA) at a gala dinner at the NCAA Hall of Fame in Indianapolis, Ind.  The event saluted the student-athletes of our University and the seven other UAA members, all of whom share a commitment to attracting and nurturing athletes as students first.  Impressively, at each UAA school these student-athletes perform as well as or better than students who are not athletes.

Twelve Rochester undergraduates were recently awarded Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships for spring 2012.

This year our women’s basketball team is off to a 14–0 start.  The streak, which includes a seventh straight title at the Wendy’s Collegiate Classic, has vaulted the team to a No. 5 ranking.  Our men’s and women’s swimming teams also have done particularly well, each winning the Liberty League crown. 

The YellowJackets returned from their fall run on NBC’s The Sing Off to receive the key to the City of Rochester from Mayor Tom Richards. They followed that with two sold-out shows at Kodak Hall that included a performance with students that they have mentored from the City of Rochester’s World of Inquiry School.

There will be many notable events during our spring semester.

A weeklong celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life will culminate with the 2012 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Address on Friday, January 27, delivered by Michael Eric Dyson, professor of sociology at Georgetown University.  Dyson, host of an hour-long news show on NPR and political analyst for MSNBC, has written extensively on prominent figures in the civil rights movement, including King.  In 2007 Dyson won an American Book Award for Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster.

Noted philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah will visit our campus February 21–24 as the inaugural Distinguished Visiting Humanist.  Appiah will meet with faculty and students from across the university, address the Frederick Douglass Institute and present a general lecture, “Islam and the West.”  Appiah is the Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy at Princeton; serves as president of the PEN American Center, a writer’s organization devoted to advancing free expression and global literary fellowship; and is chair of the Board of the American Council of Learned Societies.  His most recent books are Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers, Experiments in Ethics, and The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen.

On March 28, we will hold a presidential symposium on “Energy in the 21st Century.”  Distinguished speakers from industry, government laboratories, and academia will join our faculty in sharing their visions of alternative energy and also the social, political, and economic impact of existing and new forms of energy.

Our commitment to creating a more diverse and inclusive campus will continue with our third annual University-wide diversity conference, “Changing the Conversation.”  On April 20, more than 200 administrators, trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members will gather to discuss programs and policies related to issues of diversity and inclusion. The conference is organized through the Office for Faculty Development and Diversity under the leadership of Dr. Vivian Lewis.

The Simon School will present two Dean’s Medals this semester, the first on January 19 to Peter Simon as part of the 25th anniversary celebration of the naming of the school and in recognition of his extraordinary leadership, service, and philanthropy.  In early February the Dean’s Medal will be awarded to Barry Florescue in honor of his dedication and commitment to the school, particularly for his leadership in establishing the Barry Florescue Undergraduate Business Degree Program. 

For the first time in the 30-year history of the event, the Simon School has been selected as host of the annual Graduate Business Conference, the preeminent gathering of graduate student leaders from among the top business school leaders around the world.  The conference will be held March 29–31in Rochester. 

Also in March, the Simon School will be enrolling its second cohort of students for the Master of Science in Finance program for working professionals in New York City. 

On May 3 Simon will  host its third annual New York City Conference, featuring James Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase; Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric; Rich Cordray, recently appointed director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and Larry Kudlow ’69, host of CNBC’s The Kudlow Report.

While many events at our University are strikingly positive, let me close by reminding us all that the University continues to face significant challenges.  High unemployment, sustained levels of federal government deficits, likely declining government support for sponsored research and our health care clinical programs are external realities that today all research universities in our country confront.

The University of Rochester in recent years has done an outstanding job in addressing the 2008–2009 recession and the implications of likely future federal and state budget cutting.  At every step, we have emphasized the need to “protect our core,” which means the jobs of our talented and dedicated employees. 

Our efforts to address ongoing budget challenges will continue this year and will be the subject of future messages. 

We are running and will continue to run a tight ship.  As a University we have accomplished much in the past years by never forgetting that our support comes in part from the hard-earned dollars of those who pay tuition or taxes to provide government support.

I am proud to be associated with a University that is providing outstanding education to our students, strong support for our faculty and staff, and community leadership.