University of Rochester

Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

Building name to recognize Goergen's long history of strategic support


The University will recognize Robert B. Goergen's long history of strategic support for the University by naming its new biomedical engineering­optics building in his honor, President Seligman announced March 10. Goergen '60 has pledged $10 million toward construction of the building.

"This is the third transformative gift Bob Goergen has made to the University of Rochester," says Seligman. "The biomedical engineering­optics building is the first new building to be constructed for the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering since 1987. Bob's previous gifts have included $5 million toward the extensive renovation of the University's athletic center (named for Goergen in 2000) and another substantial gift to establish and provide continuous support for the Goergen Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching awarded annually since 1997."

Goergen, a trustee since 1982, chaired the Board of Trustees from 1991 to 2003. He has served the University as a key volunteer leader as well as generous benefactor for several decades, Seligman adds.

"As with the athletic center and the teaching awards, I see my gift for the biomedical engineering­optics building as a way to improve the scholarship, research, and general experience of Rochester students and faculty in a tangible way," says Goergen. "The building will have an impact beyond bricks and mortar. It will be a wonderful hub of activity for a field of growing importance that will transform lives--not only on campus, but around the world. I am very proud to support a project that will be significant for so many academic pursuits of the University."

"Bob Goergen's contributions have been pivotal to the recent progress of our University," notes Seligman. "Bob continues to play a vital leadership role as chairman of the Trustees' Strategic Planning Advisory Committee. As board chair for 12 years, he formed a remarkable partnership with President Tom Jackson that was crucial to the great steps forward made by the University. He is again demonstrating his leadership and commitment to the University with this wonderful gift today."

Artist Rendering
Artist rendering of the new biomedical engineering­optics building

The $37.7 million, 100,000-square-foot biomedical engineering­optics building will house scientists studying both optics and biomedical engineering--two traditionally strong disciplines at Rochester--and facilitate their collaboration. The building will include extensive research facilities, undergraduate and graduate teaching labs, state-of-the-art demonstration halls, a 155-seat lecture hall, and the new Center for Institute Ventures.

Goergen earned a bachelor's degree with honors in physics from Rochester in 1960. He also holds an M.B.A. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. A successful entrepreneur, Goergen is now chairman and CEO of Blyth, Inc., of Greenwich Conn., a publicly traded company with $1.6 billion in annual sales. He is also the founder and chairman of the Ropart Group, a private-equity investment firm based in Greenwich. As an investor and operating executive, Goergen has been responsible for the turnarounds of several firms during his extensive career.

He began his career at Procter & Gamble, moving on to McCann-Erickson, where he became a senior account executive within a few years. Next, he joined consultants McKinsey & Co., Inc., working on sales, pricing, marketing strategy, mergers, and acquisition of consumer goods operations. He was made a principal partner in less than four years. He then became managing general partner of the venture capital group at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenerette, Inc.

The Institute of Optics, founded more than 75 years ago, was the nation's first program of higher education in the field of optics. It has awarded more than 2,400 undergraduate and graduate degrees in optics. The Department of Biomedical Engineering was formally established in 2000, reflecting increasing interest in the emerging discipline. Reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of its work, the department is a part of both the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the School of Medicine and Dentistry. The department offers undergraduate and graduate courses of study.

"In this building, the Institute of Optics, one of the University's oldest departments, is partnering with our newest, the Department of Biomedical Engineering," says Wayne Knox, director of the institute. "At this intersection are some of the most outstanding opportunities for the 21st century."

"Our vision of a joint facility for biomedical engineering and optics will take us beyond combined programs and work space," says Kevin Parker, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. "What we are creating not only will enhance the University's reputation, it is part of a burgeoning business-science collaboration that is moving Rochester and New York State into a new era of high-tech prominence. Just as the University historically has been a worldwide leader in optics, it now stands to become the world leader in this emerging field."

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