Fast Forward: The University of Rochester Advancement E-Newsletter

March 11, 2010

Make a Gift

Values and Action

Jim Thompson

The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.”
— Epicurus

We are noting warmer and sunnier days here in Rochester, heralding spring’s arrival. I see the possibility of a similar trend emerging in our nation’s economy. In my travels, more and more of the University’s leaders and supporters are expressing guarded optimism concerning a recovery.

As winter departs, I am inspired by the story of John W. Sterling. A Yale alumnus (1864), he died in 1918 during a short but very sharp post-WWI recession. He bequeathed more than $18 million to his alma mater, equivalent to about $250 million today.

In that era, this was the largest gift Yale had ever received. Sterling’s generosity also made history because it was the largest non-founding gift ever made by an individual to a private university. Sterling designated that some portion of the funds be used to create “one magnificent and useful building.” He achieved far more.

His gift financed a construction boom that produced the Sterling Chemistry Laboratory, Sterling Hall of Medicine, Sterling Memorial Library, Sterling Law Buildings, Sterling Divinity Quadrangle, Sterling Tower, and the Hall of Graduate Studies. It also established 36 endowed professorships as well as an all important maintenance fund. 

John Sterling’s story is tremendous testimony to the fact that philanthropy thrives even in hard times. We are seeing similar examples at the University of Rochester. We are strengthening what is already one of the finest research universities in the world. Thanks to our dedicated alumni, friends, and parents, we continue to make steady progress. This issue offers several stories that reflect unwavering belief in the University’s enduring contributions across generations through a time of adversity and doubt. Here are three highlights:

  • The first annual, University-wide endowed scholarship dinner on April 8. This important event recognizes generous supporters of endowed scholarships and their exceptional scholarship recipients. It also is part of a greater movement to recognize and increase the critical support scholarships provide.
  • A generous gift from William and Sheila Konar to establish an endowed professorship for clinical research into new ways to treat and prevent diseases of the brain. Endowed professorships are essential for attracting, retaining, and supporting the crucial work of top faculty.
  • The launch of Regional Cabinets for the University. These key volunteers are building momentum across the nation, helping to increase the University’s visibility in their regions. They will provide valuable feedback on our strategic direction as we position the institution to launch the greatest capital campaign in its history.

Spring is again approaching. Nature itself provides new energy and focus, reminding us of the endless possibilities sparked by renewal and growth. We move forward together, knowing the University of Rochester will be made greater by our steadfast commitment and hard work. 


James D. Thompson
Senior Vice President
Chief Advancement Officer



Regional Cabinets Launched

In late January, the first Regional Cabinets for the University were launched. Essential to engaging alumni, parents, and friends across the nation, Regional Cabinets consist of key volunteer leaders who hold prominent positions in their communities and for the University.

Cabinet members meet twice each year for an operational meeting and for an annual dinner with President Seligman or other University leaders. They also participate in a variety of outreach and engagement activities, helping to increase the visibility and profile of the University in their regions and providing valuable feedback on the institution’s strategic direction. Part of a continuing effort to enhance the Rochester community at a local level throughout the country, Cabinets also will play a key role in helping launch and successfully complete the University’s impending capital campaign.

Inaugural operational meetings were held for the Los Angeles Regional Cabinet, which is chaired by Dr. Harindra de Silva ’84S (MBA), on January 25, and for the San Francisco Bay Area Regional Cabinet, chaired by Charles R. Munnerlyn ’69 (PhD), on January 26. More Regional Cabinets will be formed across the nation in the months ahead, with inaugural operational meetings planned for Boston and Chicago Cabinets in the spring and early summer.

LA Regional Cabinet

Los Angeles Cabinet members who attended the inaugural operational meeting on January 25 included: Chair Dr. Harindra de Silva ’84S (MBA), ’85S (MS); Jane Cohen ’67; Dr. Larry Cohen ’66; Kathy Garmezy ’71; James Edward Kennedy ’75; Evans Y. Lam ’83 ’84S (MBA); Warren B. Phelps III ’73S (MBA); Francis L. Price ’74, ’75S (MBA), trustee; Robert W. Rubin ’77; William E. Simon Jr., Esq.; and guest Larry Bloch ’75. Members not present: John E. Conlin ’80; Jeanine C. Cushman ’63W; David I. Lesser ’75; Diane Lesser ’77; and Barry M. Meyer ’64. Also participating was Jim Thompson, senior vice president and chief advancement officer.

San Francisco regional cabinet

Members present at the San Francisco Bay Area inaugural operational meeting on January 26 included: Chair Charles R. Munnerlyn ’69 (PhD), trustee; Josephine K. Bennington ’62E (MA); Leslie Hope Braun ’71; Michael Alan Braun ’71, ’72S (MBA); Dr. Louis Lange III ’70, trustee; Colette Weil Parrinello P’11 and James Parrinello P’11; Karen J. Sutherland ’61N; and Dr. Robert Melvin Sutherland ’66M (PhD). Members not present: Joseph W. Abrams ’74S (MBA), P’02; Ernest A. Bates ’62M (MD); Philip A. Pizzo ’70M (MD); Harvey Schloss ’65; and Lynn G. Seppala ’74 (PhD). Also participating was Jim Thompson, senior vice president and chief advancement officer.

Medical Center Leadership Announcements

Berk & Taubman

On March 1, Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D. (left) returned as the full-time CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center. Also at that time, Mark B. Taubman, M.D. became the tenth dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry.

In response to the much-anticipated announcement of his return, Berk said, “I am excited to return as CEO and I’m immensely grateful to all those who maintained the Medical Center’s progress in my absence. This experience has provided me with a fresh view of what it’s like to be a patient. There are huge opportunities for us as an institution and an organization. I’m very energized by the great things we can accomplish at the Medical Center.” Read more about Dr. Berk's inspiring journey in Rochester Review and Rochester Medicine.

The former chair of the Department of Medicine, Taubman had been serving as acting CEO of the Medical Center since Berk suffered a serious spinal cord injury on May 30, 2009. President Seligman said, “Mark has performed admirably over the last several months as acting CEO …. I wholeheartedly support his selection as Dean of the Medical School.” Read more.

Inaugural Dinner Honors Endowed Scholarship Supporters

Hajim with scholarship students

On April 8, the first University-wide Endowed Scholarship Dinner will bring together generous supporters of endowed scholarships with accomplished scholarship recipients for an evening of recognition and celebration. President Joel Seligman will be one of the featured speakers at the event, which will take place in Rochester at the Sarah Flaum Atrium at the Medical Center.

Endowed scholarships are crucial to the University, attracting and retaining the brightest and most talented students regardless of their economic background. These funds help alleviate the prohibitive burden of student loans, ensuring a diverse learning environment and enriching students’ University of Rochester experience. Especially during these challenging economic times, support for endowed scholarships is critical. By supporting endowed scholarships, alumni and friends of the University create a legacy of educational opportunity.

For more information about establishing an endowed scholarship, please contact Jim Thompson, senior vice president and chief advancement officer, at (585) 273-2158 or

William and Sheila Konar Establish Professorship

Prof. Porsteinsson

With a generous gift of $1.5 million, William B. and Sheila Konar have established an endowed professorship at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Anton P. Porsteinsson, M.D., (left) professor of psychiatry in the School of Medicine and Dentistry, has been named the University’s first William B. and Sheila Konar Professor.
The Konars established the professorship to support clinical research that will lead to new ways to prevent and treat diseases of the brain that affect memory, thinking, and mood — particularly Alzheimer’s Disease. Dr. Porsteinsson’s clinical and research interests are in dementia, especially the cognitive deficits associated with the disorder as well as behavioral changes.

The Konar endowment is believed to be the largest gift devoted to supporting clinical research into Alzheimer’s disease that the University has received. “We are immensely grateful for this gift, the most recent in a long history of support for our programs by William and Sheila Konar,” said then URMC Acting CEO Mark B. Taubman, M.D. “In light of the sheer number of people with Alzheimer’s disease or a related condition, this is a gift that will make a difference in the lives of many, many Rochester families.” Read more.

For more information about establishing an endowed professorship, please contact Jim Thompson, senior vice president and chief advancement officer, at (585) 273-2158 or

New Gallery Honors Helen H. Berkeley

Helen Berkeley

More than 200 guests gathered at the University’s Memorial Art Gallery on December 15, 2009 to honor Helen H. Berkeley (left) whose $1 million gift created the Helen H. Berkeley Gallery of Ancient Art.

The Berkeley Gallery, which opened to the public the next day, features works from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, including objects never before on view. “Helen’s magnificent and visionary gift honors the Gallery’s collection, mission, and near 100-year legacy,” said Director Grant Holcomb. “Her generosity and personal commitment underscore the community-based support that has made the Gallery one of the finest regional museums in the country.”

Helen Berkeley has been a member of the Memorial Art Gallery for more than 30 years and has provided invaluable support and leadership as an enthusiastic volunteer. Her gift is one of the largest made by an individual in the Memorial Art Gallery’s history. Additional support for the project was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and state funds secured by New York State Senator Joseph E. Robach. Read more about the Berkeley Gallery here.

To view images from the Berkeley Gallery, click here.

Top Honors Recognize University Advancement Fundraising Efforts

Establishing a new level of distinction for Advancement communications efforts, the University recently accepted three major awards in recognition of exceptional advancement work.

ULI video frameThe University Leaders Initiative video won the Silver 2010 Accolades Award for DVD Alumni and Fundraising Features from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. The video is part of an effort to expand the University’s volunteer network and build a national network of support. It shows present-day scenes of campus and looks back on some unique and meaningful experiences from the past while delivering key messages about the way the University has transformed the world.

Eastman siteThe Eastman Theatre Renovation and Expansion Web site won top honors for cultural non-profit site and the Silver Award for best overall Web site from the Rochester Business Journal’s 13th annual Best of the Web competition. The site was selected from hundreds of nominations and was evaluated based on content, usefulness, design quality, e-commerce, and the amount of repeat business drawn by the site. The Theatre’s renovation and expansion Web site is the result of a great team effort by University Advancement, the Eastman School, and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.

Eastman Virtuosi Concert Includes Special George Eastman Circle Event

Eastman virtuosi

Eastman Virtuosi, a chamber ensemble of faculty members and outstanding student performers from the Eastman School of Music, will perform at 8:00 p.m. in the Merkin Concert hall at Kaufman Center in New York City on March 27. The program includes works by Telemann, Dvořák, Sebastian Currier, and Poulenc. A special pre-concert reception with Eastman School Dean Douglas Lowry will be held at 6 p.m. at Bar Boulud, 1900 Broadway, for George Eastman Circle members. Members will also have an opportunity to meet with Virtuosi musicians following the concert. To attend, George Eastman Circle members can purchase tickets through the Office of Donor Relations at (800) 281-2055 or visiting

Save the Date – Meliora Weekend is October 14-17, 2010

Eastman Statue

Motivated to create an “Ever Better” experience, planning is already under way for Meliora Weekend 2010. Mark your calendars now and plan on spending an unforgettable weekend filled with high-quality programs and fun. Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with the current University community, join old friends, and make history.

In recent years, Meliora Weekend has also been an occasion to honor and celebrate the George Eastman Circle. The tradition will continue in 2010 with special events throughout the weekend for members. Watch for more information about planned events in the next issue of Fast Forward.

Fast Forward Archive

December 31, 2009
June 10, 2009
February 17, 2009
December 22, 2008