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Garden Party 2013


June 4, 2013 

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:                      We shall not cease from exploration
                             And the end of all our exploring
                             Will be to arrive where we started
                             And know the place for the first time.

:  We began as a University in 1850, opening in what was then the United States Hotel with a SLIDE 4
:  faculty of eight and an enrollment of 82 students.  It is hard to overstate the excitement of the University’s first commencement.

:  “Thousands lined the streets July 9, 1851 to see a splendid procession,” reports Janice Pieterse in a forthcoming history of the University of Rochester.  “A brass band led the way from the U.S. Hotel to the city’s majestic Corinthian Hall… where the first ten graduates would receive degrees.”  SLIDE 6
:  The Rochester American wrote of the event as “the largest and finest civic procession” that had ever been seen in the streets of [our] city.”

:  “Marching behind the band were the University janitor; grammar school students and teachers, University freshman, sophomores, and juniors; city and county officials; guests; founders of the University; local church leaders and prominent judges.  Next were the graduating seniors; faculty; members of the Board; Chancellor Ira Harris and Board President John N. Wilder; and last, the county sheriff.”

:  Martin Brewer Anderson, the University’s first President, was not hired until 1853.  He was an extraordinarily successful academic leader in his day, committed to “high Christian Education,” consistent with the norms of many universities of the day and his Baptist religion, who nonetheless welcomed students who were Catholic, Presbyterian, and Jewish.

:  For 35 years, Anderson would provide a steady hand at the helm, guiding the University through a near fatal decline in enrollment during the Civil War.  On November 23, 1861, University Treasurer William Sage “read a trustee resolution that the [University’s  new building] … mainly obtained by the zeal, labors, and the self-sacrificing spirit of its noble-hearted president would be called Anderson Hall.”  University historian Arthur May explains, “Caught by surprise and deeply moved, the normally austere President could not conceal his emotions, but gravely bowed in response to the hearty applause which the … announcement touched off.”  President Anderson subsequently oversaw the move of the University to Anderson Hall, located on a dandelion strewn cow pasture on Prince Street, donated by Azariah Boody.  SLIDE 10
:  In 1893, “Dandelion yellow” officially became the University color.

          SLIDE 11
:  Anderson had some decidedly strong views that would not work well today.  He did not believe that students should live in dorms.  He disapproved of sports such as football as “relics of barbarism.”  Here he may have been on to something.  Our first football game in 1899 resulted in a score of Cornell 106, Rochester 0.

:  Anderson also did not believe that a college could properly perform its job with more than 200 students.  When he stepped down in 1889, the University had an enrollment of 172.  But Anderson possessed the most important qualification you can seek in any administrator in a high-pressure job, a sense of humor.  He once described the role of the president to a friend:

             The College president is expected to be a vigorous writer
and public speaker.  …. He must be a financier able to extract money from the hoards of misers, and to hold his own with the
trained denizens of Wall Street.  He must be … a scholar among scholars; distinguished in … one or two departments of learning; gentle and kindly… in his relations to the students, and still be able to quell a “row” with the pluck and confidence of a New York Chief-of-Police.  If he fails in any one of these elements of character, he is soon set down as unfit for the position.  … [I]n looking back over my career, I am simply astonished at having been able to bear up under the responsibilities as long as I have.

But bear up Anderson did.  All that we have achieved in the 20th and 21st centuries would not have been possible without the exemplary start the University of Rochester experienced under Anderson’s leadership.

:  We have come an extraordinarily long way.  A few weeks ago the University held seven ceremonies for most of this year’s 2,788 graduates.  SLIDE 14
:  Our commencement speaker, Nobel Laureate and recent Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a 1970 graduate of the University of Rochester, memorably remarked, “Do something you love, do something that matters. When you are old and gray and you look back on your life, you will want to be proud of what you have done.”

The pace of change at our University today is accelerating.

:  Groundbreaking for College Town occurred May 2, 2013 with Senator Chuck Schumer, Mayor Tom Richards, and many other dignitaries attending.  SLIDE 16
:  College Town will open in the fall of 2014 and will be a 500,000 square-foot, mixed-use development on 14 acres on Mt. Hope Avenue between Elmwood and Crittenden, combining street-level retail stores, restaurants with outdoor patios, a grocery store, and spacious sidewalks and boutiques with office space and residences in the floors above, a Barnes & Noble Bookstore, a 150-room Hilton Garden Inn and Conference Center, and a new parking garage with 1,560 parking spaces.

:  On December 19, 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, which I co-chair with University Trustee Danny Wegman, was selected as a “Best Plan” awardee, receiving $96.2 million to fund 76 projects, including $4 million for College Town and $5 million for the Health Sciences Center for Computational Innovation, our partnership with IBM.

:  In May, the University held a dedication ceremony for Raymond F. LeChase Hall, the new home for the Warner School of Education.  Raymond LeChase was the father of University Trustee R. Wayne LeChase, a pioneer in the Rochester construction industry and a noted philanthropist and supporter of education.  SLIDE 19
:  LeChase Hall is the first major building to be constructed in the Wilson Quadrangle in 30 years.  A four-story, 65,000-square-foot facility, LeChase Hall includes 14 classrooms on the first floor that will serve the College of Arts, Sciences and Engineering during the day and the Warner School in the evening.

:  This will be a momentous 100th year for the Memorial Art Gallery.  SLIDE 21
:  On May 22nd, the MAG held a ribbon cutting ceremony to inaugurate its new Centennial Sculpture Park, featuring new commissioned works by Wendell Castle, Jackie Ferrara, Tom Otterness, and Albert Paley.  To symbolize the MAG’s involvement in the Rochester community, the Museum also has removed portions of its wrought-iron fencing.  The MAG is open to the public and proud to be part of a vibrant neighborhood.  In October, the original MAG building will be rededicated 100 years to the day after its opening.

:  Two of our musical groups were invited to Washington, D.C. for special events.  On January 21, violinists Che Ho Lam and Markiyan Melnychenko, violist Kelsey Farr, and cellist Hyeok Kwon performed at President Obama’s inaugural luncheon, playing, among other numbers, a notable instrumental version of our alma mater, The Genesee.  SLIDE 23
:  On December 8, Vocal Point, our all-female a cappella ensemble, gave a holiday performance at the White House.

:  In February, two Eastman School of Music graduates received Grammy Awards at the 55th annual awards show.  Renée Fleming was awarded her fourth Grammy for Best Classical Vocal Solo award for Poèmes, her album of four French orchestral song cycles.  And Bob Ludwig, the recipient of   two earlier Grammy awards, won as the master engineer for Babel, the Album of the Year winner by Mumford & Sons.

:  In March, the Medical Center’s Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation was ranked No. 1 in the nation in National Institutes of Health funding for orthopaedic research. 

:  Recently the Medical Center was named a Center for Aids Research by the National Institutes of Health, which will bring $7.5 million over five years to further our work on HIV/AIDS and places us among the country’s leading institutions engaged in preventing, detecting, and treating this disease.

:  “Our Differences, Our Strength,” our fourth annual diversity conference on April 12, explored how diversity can be a source of strength in our academic community.  Lani Guinier, prominent civil rights attorney and the first tenured African-American woman professor at Harvard Law School, delivered the keynote address.

:  In March, Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Entrepreneurship held its inaugural event, which brought together 36 women from 20 academic units across campus.  WiSTEE chair and founder, University scientist Jie Qiao, launched the event by sharing her vision for the group—to promote women in leadership in science, technology, engineering, and entrepreneurship, and to increase connectivity and mentorship among colleagues.

:  Next year’s College of Arts, Sciences and Engineering class set a new record with 16,156 applications received, 9 percent higher than last year’s record number of applications.

:  The Meliora Challenge Capital Campaign, our first comprehensive University campaign since 1924, has now reached $935 million in gifts and commitments, 78 percent of our $1.2 billion goal. The campaign will continue until June 30, 2016.

:  Our progress so far has meant that we have created 64 new endowed professorships toward our campaign goal of 80 and raised $156 million for student support toward our goal of $225 million.  Important as well is the support from over 2,600 University friends and supporters who have joined the George Eastman Circle and are providing multiyear support for University annual programs. 

:  Notable recent gifts include those of Georgia Gosnell, who committed $5 million to name the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the new Golisano’s Children’s Hospital and created two new professorships in the School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Indeed, our University has been blessed with 14 new endowed professorships during the past year, including:

:  The Alan F. Hilfiker Distinguished Professorship in English, created by longtime Trustee and alumni leader Alan Hilfiker, who also committed additional support to the existing Alan F. Hilfiker Endowed Graduate Scholarship Fund, to help students pursue academic careers of distinction in English, and the Alan F. Hilfiker Endowed Undergraduate Scholarship Fund, for students who are the first in their families to attend college and plan to study English or humanities. 

:  On April 24th, we celebrated the installation of History Professor Ted Brown in the Charles E. and Dale L. Phelps Professorship in Public Health and Policy.  Between 1994 and 2007, Chuck Phelps was our University provost.  Dale Phelps, a professor of pediatrics, served as chief of the Medical Center’s neonatology division in the Department of Pediatrics from 1989 to 2000.  This is a remarkable show of support for our University by faculty.

:  Let me praise our faculty further!  Physics World recognized University of Rochester researchers, including Professors Kevin McFarland, Arie Bodek, and Steve Manly, who were part of a collaboration on one of the top ten breakthroughs in physics in 2012 for their work demonstrating that neutrinos, a subatomic particle that travels near the speed of light, may be used in communications.  This creates the potential for communications between any two points on Earth without using satellites or cables. 

:  Bonita Boyd, professor of flute, was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Flute Association in recognition of her remarkable career as a performer, mentor, teacher, and artist.

:  Dr. James R. Woods was the recipient of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Lifetime Achievement Award for District II in recognition of his contributions to the advancement of women’s health care.

:  David Higgs, chair of Eastman’s Department of Organ and Historical Keyboards, was awarded the Paul Creston Award by St. Malachy’s–The Actors’ Chapel in recognition of excellence in composition, performance, and pedagogy.

:  Dr. Nina F. Schor, William H. Eilinger Chair of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and Professor of Pediatrics and of Neurobiology and Anatomy, was voted president of the Child Neurology Society.

:  Dr. Steven E. Feldon, director of the Flaum Eye Institute at the University of Rochester Medical Center, similarly was named president of the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology.

:  David Williams, the William G. Allyn Professor of Medical Optics and director of the Center for Visual Science, received the Antonio Champalimaud Vision Award at a ceremony chaired by the president of Portugal in Lisbon.  The jury described Williams’ work on adaptive optics technologies as a "major breakthrough in the understanding and/or the preservation of vision," and said that Williams and his research group had "revitalized the field of physiological optics, producing year after year truly beautiful, technically brilliant and groundbreaking work." 

:  No Garden Party speech would be complete without an update on our progress in rodent research.  For years I have lauded the research of Biology Professor Vera Gorbunova and Assistant Professor Andrei Seluanov, who have made important strides in uncovering why naked mole rats do not develop cancer. SLIDE 43
:  This year, they broadened their research to include blind mole rats, which employ a unique “scorched earth” strategy, releasing a suicidal substance called interferon beta, which destroys precancerous cells.  Professor Gorbunova generalized: “This project is a great example of how studies of unusual long-lived animals can lead to discoveries with the potential to benefit human health.”

:  Not that all of our breakthrough animal research this year was limited to mole rats.  Impressive work by Jessica Cantlon, assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences, demonstrated that baboons possess basic quantitative ability.  "A lot of people don't realize how smart these animals are,” Cantlon notes, adding, “In the same way that we underestimate the cognitive abilities of non-human animals, we sometimes underestimate the cognitive abilities of preverbal children.”

:  And in an instance of art imitating science, Spiderman made a much ballyhooed visit to downtown Rochester, landing, as you will note, immediately in front of the Eastman School of Music.

:  This spring a record 13 of our students were chosen to receive highly selective Fulbright Scholarships to study, teach, and conduct research abroad.

Our athletic teams also were especially strong.

:  Under the leadership of Coach Wendy Andreatta, the field hockey team made its first-ever trip to the NCAA tournament, setting a new University record for most wins in a season. 

:  Men’s soccer competed in the NCAA Championships for the seventh time in the last eight years.

:  The men’s squash team captured its sixth straight Liberty League title and finished fifth at the College Squash Association championships in late February.

:  Head women’s basketball coach Jim Scheible became the winningest coach in University of Rochester’s women’s basketball program’s history with a win over RIT on November 27, his 400th career win.

:  The Yellowjackets won the Men’s Liberty League Swimming and Diving Championship, winning every swimming event.   

: The men’s basketball team tied for the UAA championship.  Senior guard John DiBartolomeo was named the Men’s Basketball Player of the Year and a First Team All-American. He was also named the DIIINews Player of the Year, and achieved First Team All-American honors from four groups.

:  The women’s basketball team also finished strong.  Sophomore guard Ally Zywicki was named an Honorable Mention All-American by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, and made First Team All-University Athletic Association.

:  Project Fusion, an award-winning saxophone quartet composed of Eastman School of Music students Dannel Espinoza, Matt Evans, Michael Sawzin, and Matt Amedio, won the Grand Prize at the 2013 Plowman Chamber Music competition and first place in the 2013 Music Teachers National Association Chamber Music Wind Competition. 

:  Soprano Adelaide Boedecker, also a student at the Eastman School of Music, won first place in the Scholarship Division of the National Opera Association’s 2013 Vocal Competition. 

:  Our major challenge next year will be developing a new generation of strategic plans.  We have largely achieved the objectives of our 2008 strategic plans:

  • SLIDE 57
    :  When normalized for faculty size using the most recent year for which we have data, we rank 15th in federal research funding among the 126 leading research universities, with more than $400 million in total sponsored research during the prior two years and $348 million in 2012.
  • SLIDE 58
    :  Faculty and instructional staff have grown from 2,009 in 2004 to 2,557 in 2012. 
  • SLIDE 59
    :  We have seen corresponding growth in our student body from 8,300 total students in 2004 to 10,510 this past year, effectively achieving a goal of our 2008 strategic plans. 
  • SLIDE 60
    :  New programs have been developed throughout the University, including the Health Sciences Center for Computational Innovation, our partnership with IBM and New York State, and 14 new majors in the College of Arts, Sciences and Engineering, such as those in international relations, public health, and the Barry Florescue Undergraduate Business Program.
  • SLIDE 61
    :  Twenty new major facilities projects have been completed or initiated since 2005 with an aggregate budget of $701 million, including Eastman Theatre Renovation and Expansion, SLIDE 62
    :  Rettner Hall, currently under construction,  and
  • SLIDE 63
    :  O’Brien Hall.  In addition, we have helped facilitate the separately financed development of Brooks Landing and College Town.
  • SLIDE 64
    :  The Medical Center has been particularly active with new facilities projects, including the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center, the Saunders Research Building, and the Golisano Children’s Hospital.  The Medical Center starting in June 2012 implemented a comprehensive inpatient and ambulatory Electronic Medical Records system.  A regional affiliation was completed with Thompson Health System in Canandaigua, New York.
  • SLIDE 65
    :  Since 2004 we have grown to be the region’s largest employer with 21,881 full time equivalent jobs, the seventh largest private employer in New York State, with an increasing role in the community as the provider of approximately 47,000 direct and indirect jobs, $2.4 billion in direct and indirect wages, approximately $70 million in uncompensated health care, and, since 1996, 53 start-up companies using University-licensed technology.


:  Nonetheless, we face a more challenging external environment today than we faced in the 2006-2008 planning period.  Let me highlight four significant aspects of the changed landscape: 

  • Academic Health Care
  • Sponsored Research
  • Tuition and Technology
  • Our Competitive Set



:  In 2012, 81.3 percent of the consolidated University $2.8 billion budget originated in the Medical Center; 66 percent of the overall University budget involved patient care. The high magnitudes for health care in the University budget are not new.  As of 2005, 79.6 percent of the University budget was in health care.

:  What is new is the increased pressure on academic health care finances after the 2008-2009 recession and the enactment of the Affordable Care Act.  With provider reductions in that Act, probable future reductions in third-party payor support for our hospitals, and a systematic effort to “bend the cost curve” in Medicare and Medicaid, our Medical Center faces substantial financial challenges to its clinical enterprise. 

Academic health care finance is the greatest area of risk to the University and the greatest area of uncertainty during the next five years.  As we always have, we will manage this risk.  But in preparing for a new generation of strategic plans, we, like hospital systems throughout the country, are highly conscious of the substantial challenges of academic health care finance.


:  In 2012, 14 percent of the University’s overall budget or $348 million, originated in federal, state, and corporate and foundation sponsored research.  The majority of this total came from federal sponsored research programs, most significantly the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy.

There is little likelihood that federal sponsored research will significantly increase in inflation-adjusted dollars during this Congressional session. This is markedly in contrast with the period immediately following the 2008 election, when the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for two years increased federal sponsored research and the open question before the 2010 Congressional elections was whether this level of increased funding would be continued.


:  In recent years an increasing number of outstanding domestic and international students have sought admission to the most academically successful United States universities and colleges in what has been called a “flight to quality.”  At the University of Rochester, the higher levels of applicants coincident with higher costs is consistent with a widespread belief on the part of students that higher education is a fundamentally important investment in their future and that education from a leading institution is the best type of educational investment.  The accompanying chart illustrates the greater economic value of a bachelor’s, master’s, professional, or doctoral degree in terms of average compensation and lower unemployment rates. 

:  Monetary value or lower unemployment far understates the value of University undergraduate and graduate education.  We are proud of our commitment to liberal arts education.  We are justifiably proud of our ability to teach critical thinking, to expose our students to areas of learning that are difficult to effectively comprehend though self-learning, to offer our students access to the extraordinary talents of our faculty, to provide classmates whose intellects, diversity, and energy often inspire the best in our students as well as providing lifelong friends, relationships, or colleagues. 

:  We also are sensitive to the impact of tuition increases at the University of Rochester, both because of the potential burden on our students and their parents and because of the practical significance of tuition to the budgets of several of our schools. 

:  We will continue to be unrelenting in our efforts to be as cost efficient as is reasonable and to moderate the rate of tuition increases at our University.  To illustrate how these efforts have proceeded, in the five years from 2004 to 2008, when rates of tuition increases were adjusted for inflation, they averaged 4.4 percent; in the last five years, they have averaged 1.1 percent. 

:  We are not alone in this.  In recent years, the cost of higher education has been a focus of intense public discourse.  In the 2012 national elections, for example, the leaders of both parties emphasized reducing the rate of increase of the costs of higher education. 

:  One fundamental question with respect to tuition is whether tuition costs in the future can be reduced because of online technology.  The evidence at this time is mixed.  An increasing number of programs at research universities, including those at our School of Nursing, have had success offering hybrid courses combining online and in-class teaching.  In 2012, for example, 32 percent of all courses at the School of Nursing and 28 percent of its tuition revenue came from online courses. 

There are little data so far, however, that suggest that online education will result in reductions in cost increases at leading research universities.  None of the nation’s leading research universities has committed to a shift in the residential undergraduate teaching model.  More likely, new teaching technology will coexist with the residential undergraduate teaching model.   University education in our country is distinguished for its ability to assimilate change.  In recent decades, for example, we have been particularly successful in using computer technology to amplify research and to provide information resources. 


For several decades, three macro factors have been most significant for leading research and liberal arts colleges.

In recent years, the segmentation of higher education has accelerated.  As Moody’s Investors Service stated in U.S. Higher Education Outlook for 2012:  “We anticipate an ongoing bifurcation of student demand favoring the highest quality and most affordable higher education options.”

:  Second, there is a widening difference in endowment resources between the best endowed and the less well endowed universities in what I call “red shift” because of the way returns on endowment accelerate this differential.  For example, if Harvard University with a $30.4 billion endowment in 2012 experiences a 10 percent annual growth in endowment values, this would increase its endowment by $3 billion; at the University of Rochester with a $1.6 billion endowment that year, a 10 percent annual growth would equal a $160 million increase.

:  Third, there has been a progressive weakening of the leading public research universities as a result of systematically reduced state support as well as limits on tuition revenue and flexibility with respect to student matriculation.  It is striking that during the past three years when our undergraduate College of Arts, Sciences and Engineering has increased from 37th to 35th to 33rd in U.S. News rankings, there are now only five public universities ranked higher than we are, beginning with the University of California at Berkeley, which is ranked 21st.  In 2001, when the University of Rochester was ranked 36th, there were nine public universities ranked with or ahead of us.

I anticipate that these dynamics will continue for the next five years.


Against this background, we are developing our next generation of University, Medical Center, and School strategic plans.  The University Board began this effort last October. We intend to adopt new University, Medical Center and School plans by October 2013.

:  Three themes are being emphasized in this process:


While we have made considerable progress in implementing our 2008 strategic plans, there is more to achieve to fully complete these plans:

  • We have raised 78 percent of our Campaign goal, ahead of schedule.  We will raise the remaining $265 million by the June 2016 goal.  We are incredibly grateful to all those who have or will support us. 
  • SLIDE 79
    :  There are several capital projects to complete as part of our 2008 Campaign, most notably the Golisano Children’s Hospital, and several key goals that can be more fully achieved.


While we face many new or increased challenges, the combination of efforts in federal and state governmental programs “to bend the cost curve” of clinical health care and the seemingly permanent federal budgetary crisis dwarfs all other challenges for our planning. 

  • The most significant strategic consequences of the new external environment will be reflected in the Medical Center strategic plan. 
  • For all academic divisions, there will be a need to plan with the assumption that budgets will have to be disciplined during the next five years, with an overarching need to balance pursuit of existing or new strategic objectives with fiscal discipline.  


:  Among the most important objectives of our next cycle of strategic planning is to continue to focus on our paramount University objectives.  Our fundamental objective is to be one of this nation’s leading research universities, which at the University of Rochester means strength not only in research but as a university based on a liberal arts undergraduate program, with professional schools in business, education, medicine and nursing, and an unrelenting commitment to the creative arts led by the Eastman School of Music and the Memorial Art Gallery.

There are significant opportunities now available to us because of our institutional strengths and momentum that will be a particular focus for the next generation of strategic plans:

  • SLIDE 81
    :  An emphasis in the balance of the Campaign will be on strengthening our faculty and our student body and developing or enhancing ennobling programs such as data science or the Hajim School-School of Medicine and Dentistry Center for Medical Technology Innovation.
  • SLIDE 82
    :  The College of Arts, Sciences and Engineering will build on its successful momentum in its residential teaching model to sharpen the distinction or communication of its programs by adding new majors or degrees, making greater use of technology to improve teaching, seeking higher levels of student retention, and identifying greater opportunities for student research. 
  • SLIDE 83
    :  The Simon School has begun steps toward implementation of a new branch campus in New York City in conjunction with the School of Nursing and the Warner School.   
  • SLIDE 84
    :  The Medical Center regional clinical strategy is anchored by formation of an Accountable Care Network termed Accountable Health Partners, LLC, that will align physicians and hospitals throughout the 19-county primary and secondary care service area.
  • SLIDE 85
    :  Eastman is contemplating new programs that may extend its undergraduate and master’s programs, for example, potentially to new programs that involve music management or new technology.
  • SLIDE 86
    :  Warner is developing plans to add new online education programs.


:  Like all universities and colleges today, we face challenges.  And yet more than any other social institution in our country today, universities like the University of Rochester combine freedom, creativity, incredibly bright faculty, students and staff, loyal alumni, and friends who share a vision that we are moving toward a better world.

I view our leading research universities as capable of a type of perpetual existence.  Faculty at research universities will continue to assimilate ideas, methodologies, and technologies that are new, while teaching the very finest students and preserving the most important elements of our ever-evolving culture.  We will continue to do this well because we have consistently shown the judgment to effectively balance what is enduring in what we study and teach with the challenges of the future.

Our next generation of strategic plans gives us the opportunity to articulate who we are and where we are going.  We build on tremendous momentum and with the knowledge that we have successfully executed much of our previous generation of strategic plans.  We will not be daunted by our challenges.  We will continue to “dream no little dreams.”  Our work is never done.  I am thrilled to be a part of a community of people who are so talented, dedicated, and enthusiastic.  We will continue to make the University of Rochester “ever better.”