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From the Senior Vice President

October 1, 2008

“Greatness is not where we stand but in what direction we are moving.”
—Oliver Wendell Holmes

Let me begin my message by congratulating all those who contributed to Advancement’s record financial performance in the past fiscal year. Our success is built on the vision of our Board of Trustees and led by President Joel Seligman. Their efforts have energized donors and volunteers across the entire University community. The hard work and dedication of our many academic and administrative leaders, faculty, and staff have made this a truly shared achievement. I hope you share my pride in these results and are inspired by the promise of even better things to come in the years ahead.

It is critical that we build on our success and maintain our momentum. The year ahead will require a sustained effort toward our Operation Advance Business Plan goals. We will implement programs to build and organize our volunteer network. We will strengthen ties with our most dedicated leaders and build new relationships with individuals who are passionate about a greater University of Rochester.

One measure of a world class university is the range, size, and commitment of its network of support, including alumni, parents, and friends. Harvard University’s endowment has a financial value of more than $35 billion. But perhaps Harvard’s most valuable asset — built over 369 years — is the network of dedicated Harvard supporters, including people who are engaged as major gift donors and Annual Fund donors, people who are engaged as volunteers for Harvard’s schools and units and who are experienced campaign volunteers.

Throughout the coming year and beyond, we will work to expand the University of Rochester’s network of alumni, parents, and friends. We will engage them in the life and work of the University and get them excited about our future. Let me highlight two key programs:

University Leaders Initiative (ULI): This important program has been created for a select group of supporters who share the enduring values of the University. The program will expand the University’s volunteer network in key regions of the country and identify those capable of making leadership gifts in support of University priorities. More than 25 events are planned over the next 18 months.

National Councils: In partnership with our academic leaders, we are forming National Councils to help shape the vision and plans of the University’s schools and major units. By this fall, National Councils will have been established for The College, Eastman School of Music, School of Medicine and Dentistry, Simon Graduate School of Business, and Warner Graduate School of Education. Over the next several months, with the help of Dean Kathy Parker, a National Council for the School of Nursing will be assembled.

During the busy fall season ahead, we will host many events on campus and around the country. Thousands of alumni, parents, students, and friends will join us. No matter what our individual roles are, it is critical that we demonstrate a commitment to excellence, attention to detail, and gracious hospitality in everything we do.

I would like to highlight the George Eastman Circle Gala for Charter Members on Friday, October 17, at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. At this historic event, we will celebrate the spectacular success of the George Eastman Circle’s charter phase with a dinner and featured entertainment by Tony Award winner Christian Hoff, star of the hit Broadway show Jersey Boys. The extraordinary effort to launch the George Eastman Circle was led by a committed group of volunteer leaders, including Trustees Larry Bloch, Tom Sloan, and Gwen Greene. I want to offer my heartfelt and unreserved thanks to them and all those who have joined us. We are truly making history together.  

Advancement’s highest purpose is building enduring institutions that serve humanity. We can best serve this great research institution by working in close partnership with our most faithful supporters and enlarging the University family. In the months and years ahead, we must carry the word from the University of Rochester into the world. And we must bring those in the world who recognize its possibilities and potential into the heart of the University.


James D. Thompson
Senior Vice President
Chief Advancement Officer

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