This year, the University Faculty Senate has addressed, naturally enough, a variety of faculty concerns, ranging, among others, from computing services to patent policy to the inevitable one of faculty salaries. It has also addressed, equally naturally, issues of deep concern to students, such as the Residential College Commission, or to both students and faculty alike, such as those involving the library, admissions, and sports and recreation. All such discussion, of course, takes place in the context of a changing Rochester, call it re-engineering, Renaissance, initiatives, or strategic plan. I believe such changes were not only desperately needed, but we are repositioning ourselves in a positive way.
There is a story, probably apocryphal, about a New York concert given by Sergei Rachmaninoff at the piano with Fritz Kreisler playing the violin. Kreisler, ever the romantic, had a tendency occasionally and briefly to lose his place in the music. This happened at this concert and he whispered to Rachmaninoff, "Where are we?" Rachmaninoff, missing not a beat, whispered, "Carnegie Hall." Perhaps Kreisler should have known that Rachmaninoff was born on April Fool's Day.
In the middle of our Rochester transition it is important to ask not only "Where are we?," but also what do we mean by "Where?" and "Where are we going?" With respect to the College and undergraduates, we seem to be in a pretty good place, getting better. The quality of applicants and enrollees is going up and there are signs that the discount rate in going down. Nevertheless, there is a cloud on the horizon--at present, no bigger than a man's hand--and, with some effort, we can hope to keep it from growing larger. I am speaking about the early retirement or departure of a number of high-quality faculty. This means the need to recruit and retain others of equal or better quality; for if the faculty decrease in quality, we stand in danger of losing the improved quality of students. Granted, we are downsizing to a smaller faculty for a smaller student body, but the high quality of each supports and attracts the high quality of the other. Such concerns are, of course, general ones of downsizing. I believe George Fisher recently spoke of the need to build loyalty and dedication in a high-quality atmosphere at Kodak--such needs are even more vital at a university.
In the Medical School there has been some agitation--perhaps that is the best word. But no changes, especially needed ones, come without disturbance. Nevertheless, while things may be improving in this regard, and the Sen ate has been active in trying to facilitate that improvement, care needs to be taken to prevent unintended consequences.
I have mentioned the College and the Medical School and alluded to various other parts of the University. These may seem disparate and this idea of separateness is reflected in another Carnegie Hall story, in which I hope you'll indulge me. At Jascha Heifetz's American debut both the noted romantic violinist Mischa Elman and the pianist Leopold Godowsky--sometimes known as the pianist's pianist--were in the audience. Heifetz was 16 and had already been an acclaimed prodigy for several years. Apparently, Elman turned to Godowsky and said," It's warm in here tonight." To which Godowsky immediately replied: "Not for pianists."
One might think the Medical School and the College as separate as violinists and pianists, but I would argue that the good and bad of the one can reflect upon the other. They are all parts of the same University, and there are academic and intellectual connections between them. If the University is to be healthy and thrive, it must do so in all its parts.
As if to show that the musical world also recognizes its unity, I should remark that the same story I just told you is also told in a slightly different way. The principals are still Elman and Godowsky--the scene is still Carnegie Hall--but the debuting prodigy is now Vladimir Horowitz, and the person who feels warm is now the pianist Godowsky.
This is the third, and presumably last, time I have had the privilege of addressing you. Each time I have tried to stress in different ways that, while the University has many parts, both structural and human, and while we all have different viewpoints and responsibilities, we are all really concerned with the same project, the betterment of Rochester as a university--with the stress on the first two syllables.
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