June 20, 2008
“There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt
In the history of every great university, we can identify defining moments that signaled new eras of extraordinary transformation. Movements began with a small group of leaders who were deeply committed to the institution. These leaders worked together as partners to address the challenges of a changing world and to shape a vision for the institution’s future. Their visible energy, enthusiasm, and support helped to inspire many others.
In the early 20th century, George Eastman believed that Rochester deserved a place on the world’s music stage. In 1918, as a first step toward that vision, he worked in partnership with President Rush Rhees to create a world-caliber music school at the University of Rochester. Eastman’s partnership with Rhees then helped to create the School of Medicine and Dentistry, Eastman Dental Center, and River Campus. The dramatic transformation of the University of Rochester had begun. Seemingly overnight, we became a player on the national stage.
Let me highlight several recent events that signal the beginning of another era of transformation for the University of Rochester.
On April 2, the University hosted a Gala celebration for the Charter Members of the George Eastman Circle at the Mandarin Oriental in New York City. The evening honored the University’s greatest benefactor and celebrated the tremendous success of the Charter Phase of the University's newest donor recognition society. Gala highlights included remarks by George Eastman Circle Co-chairs Larry Bloch and Tom Sloan, Gwen Greene, chair of annual giving programs, and President Joel Seligman. Two highlights were the keynote address by noted historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, and the unveiling, reading, and ceremonial signing of the George Eastman Circle Charter statement. All Charter Members in attendence were invited to establish a new tradition of signing the Charter. Hard work and collaboration among our donors, volunteers, academic leaders, and advancement staff helped to create a wonderful celebration and historic evening for the University.
On April 11, on the Eastman Theatre stage, Antonio Perez, chairman and CEO of Eastman Kodak Company, announced that Eastman Kodak Company would provide $10 million toward the Eastman Theatre renovation and expansion project. This leadership support will help to fulfill George Eastman’s vision for the Theatre and provide 21st century facilities for the Eastman School of Music and Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, our partners in the project. The renovated and expanded Theatre will also dramatically enrich and benefit the Rochester community and support the cultural revitalization taking place in the city. Kodak’s commitment is a wonderful example of the power of partnership. Upon the completion of the project, the main performance hall in the Theatre will be renamed “Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.”
On May 15, the University dedicated the new home for the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center. At the ceremony, President Seligman, Medical Center CEO Bradford Berk, Wilmot Cancer Center Director Dr. Richard Fisher, and campaign co-chairs Judy Wilmot Linehan and James Ryan Jr. announced that the comprehensive campaign had surpassed its $42.5 million fundraising goal. The Wilmot Cancer Center is a center of excellence for the University of Rochester Medical Center and will serve the community and world for generations to come. The campaign was supported by leadership gifts from the Wilmot Family and James P. Wilmot Foundation, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, John W. Rowe, M.D., the Davenport-Hatch Foundation, Joan and Harold Feinbloom, Dorothy and Henry Hansen, and Xerox Corporation. Thousands of individuals ultimately contributed. Without a community effort, this extraordinary success — involving four years of hard work — could not have been realized.
Our aspiration to rise among of the nation’s greatest research universities is bold. We must generate support on an unprecedented scale in order to accelerate the pace of ascent. Our goal is to build upon success.
In the months and years ahead, we will celebrate many more milestones that signal our institutional transformation. With unwavering commitment to creating partnerships between donors, volunteers, academic leaders, and this great University, together we can build the road for future generations.
James D. Thompson
Senior Vice President
Chief Advancement Officer