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Welcome Back – Spring 2013

Welcome back!  We have been busy during winter break.
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 the University’s College Town and $5 million for the Health Sciences Center for Computational Innovation, our big data partnership with IBM.  This is a real shot in the arm for our region, which in recent years has led the state in job creation. 

That same day we announced our public commitment to College Town.  A groundbreaking ceremony is being planned early in the spring semester.  College Town is anticipated to open in the summer 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.  College Town will include a Barnes & Noble Bookstore, a 150-room Hilton Garden Inn and Conference Center, and a new parking garage with 1,560 parking spaces, including 948 reserved for University employees.

In December, the Warner School moved into its new home, LeChase Hall.  Named for the father of University Trustee R. Wayne LeChase, this 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.  LeChase Hall opens for classes on January 16.

Arts, Sciences & Engineering subsequently will take over Dewey Hall.  Visual and Cultural Studies has already had its graduate student offices relocated.  The Office of Minority Student Affairs, the Center for Study Abroad and Interdepartmental Programs, the Intercultural Center, Debate, Open Letter Press, University IT – Blackboard support offices, and a seminar classroom are all set to be complete and ready for occupancy by the end of the month.  The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning will see part of its new home completed by the end of the month and the remainder ready later this spring.  The Music Department’s renovations will begin in the spring and will be completed in summer 2013.

By January 4, the College of Arts, Sciences and Engineering had set a new record with more than 15,700 applications received, 9 percent higher than last year’s record number of applications.

Our Meliora Challenge Campaign continues to make substantial progress.  Preliminary figures for year-end indicate that the campaign has received $890 million of our $1.2 billion goal or 74 percent, and generated $150 million in commitments to scholarships, fellowships, and other aid for students, created 58 new endowed professorships, and provided critical lead and support gifts that have helped our University initiate or complete 20 new major facility projects since 2005 with an aggregate budget of $663 million.

In December, the Medical Center opened the Upstate Stem Cell cGMP Facility, housed in the Del Monte Neuromedicine Research Institute, to create, study, and use stem cells in early-phase experimental human therapies. 

Our community also was touched by tragedy. On December 24 a sole gunman ambushed firefighters responding to a house fire in Webster.  The gunman killed 2 firemen and injured 2 others before killing himself.  These horrific events happened just days after 20 children and 6 adults were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary school.  Our hearts go out to the Rochester and Newtown communities. 

On January 4, the Association of American Universities (AAU) issued a statement on gun violence in America that I, along with virtually all of my AAU colleagues, supported.  “As leaders of public and private universities, we strongly urge the President and the Congress to seek effective means of mitigating this scourge of American life. We believe that strong, meaningful action needs to occur in three domains: gun control, care of the mentally ill, and the culture of our contemporary media.”

The safety of our employees, students, and visitors is of critical importance to the University of Rochester, and we continue to take steps to ensure that we provide a secure environment for our campus community.

Several on our faculty received notable recognition throughout the fall 2012 semester.

Physics World recognized University of Rochester researchers, including Professors Kevin McFarland, Arie Bodek, Steve Manly, and 15 other University scientists as 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, could 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. Judith Baumhauer, professor of orthopedics and recipient of the 2012 Athena Award, was selected from a pool of more than 6,000 past and present Athena Award recipients to be one of 30 recognized at the Athena International Leadership Summit in Chicago in mid-October.

Professor Douglas Cline was presented the 2012 Marian Smoluchowski Medal in recognition of his research achievements in physical science and role in promoting physics and physics education in Poland.

Professor Michael Alan Anderson received the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers Deems Taylor Award and the American Musicological Society’s Noah Greenberg Award for excellence in both scholarship and performance.

Professor John Ferejohn was honored with the William H. Riker Prize in Political Science in recognition of his scholarly achievements in the development of positive political theory and its application to the study of legal and political institutions and behavior. 

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 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.

Professor Elizabeth Marvin was chosen to receive the Gail Boyd de Stwolinski Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Music Theory Teaching and Scholarship.

Professors Mark Bocko, Alison Frontier, and Richard Kaeuper received the 2012 Goergen Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. 

Eric M. Phizicky, dean’s professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his contributions to our understanding of tRNA (transfer RNA) and genome technologies. 

Abraham Seidmann, Xerox Professor of Computers and Information Systems and Operations Management at the Simon School, was one of three global scholars to earn a Distinguished Fellow Award from the Institute of Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) and the Information Systems Society of INFORMS.  Professor Seidmann received the award in recognition of his outstanding intellectual contributions to the Information Systems discipline.  He is the first faculty member at the University of Rochester to win the prestigious award.

In December, four Eastman School of Music alumni received a total of seven Grammy nominations.  Eastman graduate Robert Ludwig received four nominations for musical engineering.  Renée Fleming was nominated in the Best Classical Vocal Solo category for Poèmes, an album of French songs.  Composer, arranger, and pianist Bill Cunliffe was nominated in the Best Instrumental Composition category for his work Overture, Waltz and Rondo.  Gene Scheer will compete in the Best Contemporary Classical Competition with August 4, 1964, a concert drama he co-wrote with Steven Stucky.  Winners of the 55th Annual Grammy Awards will be announced on February 10, 2013.

Our athletic teams had especially strong showings this fall.

Under the leadership of Coach Wendy Andreatta, the women’s field hockey team made its first-ever trip to the NCAA tournament, reaching the final eight and setting a new University record for most wins in a season.  Madison Wagner and Katie Flaschner were named All-Americans.

Men’s cross country earned its second consecutive trip to the national championship meet and finished 21st overall. Lauren Norton earned All-America honors for women’s cross country at the NCAA Championships. She finished 27th in a field of 277 runners.

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

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.  This milestone coincided with his 400th career win.

The men’s basketball team won 12 straight games through early January and was ranked fourth nationally. Rochester won the Wendy’s Classic for the 11th time.

The men’s squash team captured its sixth straight Liberty League title.

The Yellowjackets won the Men’s Liberty League Swimming and Diving Championship, posting 1,144 points and winning every swimming event.  Brian Wong was named the male Swimmer of the Year.  Dylan Sharkey was awarded men’s Rookie of the Year honors. The women’s swimming and diving team won its fourth consecutive Liberty League title.  Lauren Bailey was named the female Swimmer of the Year.  Vicky Luan was named the women’s Rookie of the Year.
We will have a very exciting spring semester.  Let me highlight a few of many scheduled events.   

Melissa Harris-Perry, noted scholar and host of her own MSNBC current affairs program, will deliver the 2013 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Address on Thursday, January 17.  

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 will perform at President Obama’s inaugural luncheon, playing, among other numbers, a notable instrumental version of our alma mater, The Genesee.  On December 8, Vocal Point, our all-female a capella ensemble, gave a holiday-themed performance at the White House.

An inaugural ceremony to mark the investiture of Kathy Rideout, EdD, PNP-BC, FNAP, as the fifth dean of the University of Rochester School of Nursing will take place on January 25.

On April 12, the University will host our fourth annual University-wide diversity conference, “Our Differences, Our Strength.”

The Simon School of Business will host its annual New York City Conference, “Reform at a Crossroad: Economic Transformation in the Year Ahead,” on May 9.  The event will feature Forbes Media chairman and CEO Steve Forbes, former IBM chairman and CEO Lou Gerstner, Diker Management President and Board of Trustees Chairman Ed Hajim, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia President and CEO Charles I. Plosser, and Simon School Dean Mark Zupan.  They will join some of the country's top CEOs, senior executives, media experts, and preeminent faculty as they discuss how to manage worldwide financial reform.

This year, the USA Today College Guide featured Rush Rhees Library on its cover.  We are an iconic university not only because of our architecture but because of our values – academic freedom, academic excellence, diversity, and community.  There are few joys quite equal to returning to a University each January in which teaching and learning are valued, supporting the whole student is cherished, discourse between faculty and students is robust, and the ambition and idealism of our campus is prized.  Welcome back.  We are a University on the move.