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May 17, 2011

Celebrating the class of 2011

women hugging, wearing graduation garb
Newly minted School of Medicine and Dentistry graduates Emily Hahn of New York City (left) and Claire Shannon of Toronto celebrate after commencement.

More than 3,000 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees were conferred at the University’s commencement ceremonies May 13–15. The Simon School will hold its commencement Sunday, June 12. For more photos, video, and audio from the University’s 161st commencement, visit

Ursala Burns“We live in a world of both sobering challenges and awesome opportunities,” Ursula Burns, chairman and CEO of Xerox, told graduates at the Arts, Sciences, and Engineering ceremony. “I would encourage all of you to follow the example of the University and embrace change and learning. Do it willingly and with a sense of excitement and wonder.”

Seligman and Borasi greet graduatePresident Joel Seligman and Warner School Dean Raffaella Borasi greet Joseph Jones as he receives his PhD at the Warner School commencement.

President Joel Seligman told the
graduating class of the School
of Nursing: “Each one of the 249
graduates today is a hero. You were
chosen to go where your heart and
passion leads you.”

Nursing students stand in Kodak HallJeff Beal“The arts are the social and spiritual glue that holds society together—they give us joy, transcendence, and catharsis,” said Jeff Beal ’85E, an Emmy-winning composer who delivered the Eastman School’s commencement address. “And while society may not seem to need the arts, in reality we need them more than ever.” Beal also was awarded the school’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Vol. 38, No. 12

Genome duplication encourages rapid
adaptation of plants

By Peter Iglinski

Plants adapt to the local weather and soil conditions in which they grow, and such environmental adaptations are known to evolve over thousands of years as mutations slowly accumulate in plants’ genetic code. But Justin Ramsey, an assistant professor of biology, has found that at least some plant adaptations can occur almost instantaneously, not by a change in DNA sequence, but simply by duplication of existing genetic material.

Ramsey’s findings are published in the current Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

While nearly all animals have two sets of chromosomes—one set inherited from the maternal parent and the other inherited from the paternal parent—many plants are polyploids, meaning they have four or more chromosome sets.

“Some botanists have wondered if polyploids have novel features that allow them to survive environmental change or colonize new habitats,” Ramsey says. “But this idea had not been rigorously tested.”

Plant breeders have previously induced polyploidy in crop plants, like corn and tomatoes, and evaluated its consequences in greenhouses or gardens. Such an experimental approach had never been taken in wild plant species, Ramsey says, so it was unknown how polyploidy affected plant survival and reproduction in nature.

Ramsey performed his own test by studying wild yarrow (Achillea borealis) plants that are common on the coast of California. Yarrow with four chromosome sets (tetraploids) occupy moist, grassland habitats in the northern portion of Ramsey’s study area; yarrow with six sets of chromosomes (hexaploids) grow in sandy dune habitats in the south.

Ramsey transplanted tetraploid yarrow from the north into the southern habitat and discovered that the native hexaploid yarrow had a five-fold survival advantage over the transplanted tetraploid yarrow. The experiment showed that southern plants are intrinsically adapted to dry conditions; however, it was unclear whether the change in chromosome number was responsible. Over time, natural hexaploid populations could have accumulated differences in DNA sequence that improved their performance in the dry habitats where they now reside.

To test that idea, Ramsey took first-generation, mutant hexaploid yarrow plants that were screened from a tetraploid population and transplanted them to the sandy habitat in the south. Ramsey compared the performance of the transplanted yarrow and found that the hexaploid mutants had a 70 percent survival advantage over their tetraploid siblings. Because the tetraploid and hexaploid plants had a shared genetic background, the difference of survivorship was directly attributable to the number of chromosome sets rather than the DNA sequences contained on the chromosomes.

Ramsey offers two theories for the greater survivorship of the hexaploid plants. It may be that DNA content alters the size and shape of the cells regulating the opening and closing of small pores on the leaf surface. As a result, the rate at which water passes through yarrow leaves may be reduced by increased chromosome set number (ploidy). Another possibility, according to Ramsey, is that the addition of chromosome sets masks the effects of plant deleterious genes, similar to those that cause cystic fibrosis and other genetic diseases in humans.

“Sometimes the mechanism of adaptation isn’t a difference in genes,” says Ramsey, “it’s the number of chromosomes.” While scientists previously believed polyploidy played a role in creating gene families—groups of genes with related functions—they were uncertain whether chromosome duplication itself had adaptive value.

Ramsey says scientists “should pay more attention to chromosome number, not only as an evolutionary mechanism, but also as a form of genetic variation to preserve rare and endangered plants.”


See “Genome duplication,” page 9

Seeing a bright future

Members of the Class of 2011 await the start of the Arts, Sciences, and Engineering commencement ceremony on the Eastman Quadrangle. See more photos from the University’s 161st commencement on page 12. Read more about this year’s teaching award recipients on page 5.


Lynne Marquat elected to
National Academy of Sciences.


Medical Center leads push for new
approaches to brain injury

By Leslie Orr

In the race to more accurately diagnose the severity of head injuries quickly and without a CT scan, a Medical Center expert has a leading role in two nationwide studies that are launching this spring.

The first project involves testing a small, handheld instrument that assesses the brain’s electrical activity and other functional data after a concussion. The device, originally designed for the military to use in the field, is designed to triage head injury severity in three minutes, in a setting such as the Emergency Medicine Department.

In the second project, researchers will begin collecting blood and other baseline brain function data from two diverse cohorts: healthy university athletes and brain-injured patients receiving intensive care treatment. Having a broad spectrum of data will provide Medical Center scientists and other researchers across the country the infrastructure to test or validate emerging laboratory findings. For example, the blood samples could be used to quickly confirm whether a newly identified protein is clinically useful for diagnosing head trauma.

“This is clinical-translational research at its best,” says Jeffery Bazarian, the principal investigator on both projects and an associate professor of emergency medicine, neurology, neurosurgery, and community and preventive medicine. “The problem today with traumatic brain injury research is that we make an interesting finding in the lab but we have no easy way to proceed to the next step. So, by setting up the infrastructure first, we are taking a faster, more rational approach to move the findings into the clinic and improve the care of our patients.”

Head injuries are a common and growing problem in the United States. Researchers estimate that more than 1.6 million sports-related head injuries alone occur each year, yet many of them are dismissed or misdiagnosed as mild concussions,

until further damage occurs or symptoms become worse.

Unless the injury is severe enough that a physician suspects bleeding inside the brain, diagnosis is very difficult. Physicians routinely use a CT scan to rule out bleeding, but recent studies suggest the radiation doses in CT scans, particularly in children, might have future negative consequences that outweigh the benefits. Currently there is no other technology widely available to objectively assess brain injury.

The National Institutes of Health recently awarded Bazarian more than $870,000 to build the database. He will conduct the second study in collaboration with BrainScope Company Inc., a private firm that develops portable, noninvasive devices to triage head trauma patients at the initial point of care. BrainScope added the Medical Center as one of 10 clinical sites to test its system.


Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon among finalists for Pulitzer Prize in Music



Cilas Kemedjio to lead Frederick Douglass Institute.


J. Adam Fenster

university communications

Career center named for trustee
Gwen Greene

by Melissa Greco Lopes

When students begin to explore career options, encouragement, support, and mentoring can bolster their success for securing employment. For more than 20 years, University trustee Gwen Greene ’65 has provided just that for students hoping to break into the financial world. In recognition of her continued support and new $1 million commitment to the College’s career center, the center will be named the Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center.

“Gwen Greene has been an extraordinarily generous mentor to Rochester students and alumni for many years,” says President Joel Seligman. “This latest gift is another wonderful demonstration of how fortunate our students and alumni are to have Gwen in their corner.”

Greene, whose own college education at Rochester was made possible through scholarships, loans, and on-campus jobs she received, has over the last 10 years supported many students in similar situations. In 2000, Greene established the Gwen Meltzer Greene ’65 Endowed Scholarship, which provides financing for students who would not be able to attend the University without scholarship aid. Greene has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 2000, where she chairs the Student Affairs Committee, and serves as chair of annual giving programs for the entire University. She also is a charter member of the George Eastman Circle, the University’s leadership annual giving society. In 2005, the University awarded her the James S. Armstrong Alumni Service Award for her significant contributions to undergraduate life on campus.

Additionally, Greene has generously made use of her experience as vice president of JP Morgan Securities to help students explore internships or launch careers in global investment banking, securities trading, or brokerage, among other paths.

“I am passionate about our Career Center and mentoring current and former students to help them begin their careers,” says Greene. “I have a strong conviction that our students are as qualified as any to get those coveted jobs, and it is alumni and friends of the University who can help them compete successfully.”

The center supports a number of services for students at Rochester, including career counseling and graduate and preprofessional school advising, as well as networking opportunities. Throughout the 2009–10 academic year, the center’s 11 counselors held more than 3,500 one-on-one sessions with students, helping them create résumés and cover letters and honing their interview skills and job search strategies. Additionally, the center maintains a large database of career postings and recruiters and is home to the Hyman J. V. Goldberg Library, which includes printed and electronic materials to assist students in researching careers and companies.

“Throughout my time at Rochester, Gwen has been a champion of the center’s mission and offerings,” says Burt Nadler, director of the center. “Her willingness to engage with undergraduates by participating in networking events and mentoring students seeking internships and jobs is a shining example of how alumni can have a true impact on the student experience at Rochester.”



See “Gwen Greene,” page 10

The next issue of Currents will be published in September. Send submissions to


University introduces its new mission statement.


In Brief

President Seligman gives report to Faculty Senate

In an address to the Faculty Senate this month, President Joel Seligman highlighted progress on four core project priorities: the public launch of the University’s capital campaign; the Mt. Hope College Town project; improvements to the I-390 interchange to improve traffic flow and facilitate growth in the University area; and the development of the Health Sciences Center for Computational Innovation, a partnership between the University and IBM. Read the full address at

President Seligman issues diversity report

In his fifth annual diversity report, President Joel Seligman says “Our task as a University is to welcome all to join our community based on their talents. I am convinced that progress in achieving greater diversity is vital to our success as a great research University. I am gratified to be associated with a University where a commitment to diversity is consistently reflected in the decisions of our board and our senior leadership.” Read the report at

Discount cards available to University employees

The Regional Area Recreation and Employee Services Association (RARES) offers University employees a discount on hundreds of area and national products and services ranging from amusement parks to car washes to movie tickets to zoo admissions. RARES ID cards for 2011 are available at several on-campus and off-site locations.

More information is available at

Last call: Exhibitors for Clothesline Festival

A limited number of exhibitor spaces remain at the M&T Bank Clothesline Festival, a juried fine art and crafts festival held on the Memorial Art Gallery grounds. The annual event, which takes place Sept. 10 and 11, showcases artists from all 62 New York counties. Visit for an application and more information.

New lender joins home-buying program

Chase is the latest financial institution available to work with University employees interested in the University Home Ownership Incentive Program. Since 2008, faculty and staff have closed on 130 homes in nearby city neighborhoods and qualified for incentives from the University, the City of Rochester, and the lending institutions toward down payments or closing costs. The other lenders in the program are Canandaigua National Bank & Trust, Advantage Federal Credit Union, and M&T Bank. Contact the Benefits Office at 275-2087 to begin the eligibility process. Learn more at

Register by May 23 for Faculty Development Colloquium

The annual faculty development colloquium—including lectures, interactive workshops, and a poster session—will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, June 1, at the School of Medicine and Dentistry. A complete list of workshops and registration materials are available at
colloquium.cfm. For more information, call 276-3782 or email

Fiscal year-end finance announcements

As the end of the fiscal year approaches on June 30, faculty and staff are reminded to submit requests for payment or payment allocation by Friday, June 10. All payment forms require the signature of an immediate supervisor or the individual with FRS/ledger account responsibility. Up-to-date forms are available online. Learn more at

Course covers best practices in weight management

Registered dietitian Nellie Wixom, along with a team of behavior and exercise specialists, will teach a credit-bearing course this summer on Best Practices in Nutrition and Weight Management for the Health Professional. Based on national guidelines for the treatment and prevention of obesity, the course is designed to help health professionals implement the theories learned in the class directly into their practice. The course is online, with four in-class sessions on June 8, 15, 22, and 29 from 4 p.m. to 7:50 p.m. in Helen Wood Hall. For more information, call the Center for Lifelong Learning at 275-0446 or visit

Conference on Oral
Biology planned for June

The Center for Oral Biology will host a conference entitled “Rochester Conference on Oral Biology: Post-Genomics for the Oral Microbiome” from June 16 to 18 at the School of Medicine and Dentistry. The purpose of the meeting is to bring together oral microbiologists and immunologists with scientists working on multiorganism problems outside of the oral environment. The objective is to broaden the scope of research and to develop new approaches for understanding the nature of oral polymicrobial diseases and human responses. More information is available at

A reminder about equipment hazards

The Occupational Safety Unit of the University’s Environmental Health and Safety Department reminds professors, instructors, and staff to be on guard against the hazards associated with moving parts. Exposure to rotating parts and loose clothing or hair presents one of the most dangerous combinations, as evidenced by the recent death of a Yale University student working in a machine shop. A workplace assessment helps identify hazards in the work environment. For assistance conducting an assessment, call the Occupational Safety Unit at 275-3241 or visit

Cognos 8 upgrade available for financial reporting

Cognos 8, a tool for financial reporting and data warehouse reports, has been upgraded. Current Cognos users need to replace their current bookmarks with the new link that has been emailed to them. For more information, visit the Data Warehouse website at For support questions, contact the University IT Help desk at 275-2000.

Students showcase engineering projects

University exceeds 2011 United Way goal

UniversityJohn Spina (left) and Frank Wolfs demonstrate the Stand-Aid Wheelchair at Hajim School Design Day. Developed by mechanical engineering students Spina, Wolfs, Marissa Braverman, Brent Gordon, Bill Mansfield, and Bennett Peterson, the device is designed to help people who use wheelchairs to move to a standing position, allowing them to gain more independence in their activities. United Way Campaign leaders thank all of the University affiliates, faculty, staff, and retirees who have raised $1,393,768 to help make the community a better place to live and work. Campaign leaders offer a special “thank you” to campaign coordinators who, along with their volunteers, have helped the University reach 107.2 percent of its $1.3 million goal. The departments listed at have achieved a participation rate of more than 60 percent and are recognized for their outstanding support of the 2011 campaign.


Lynne Maquat elected to National Academy of Sciences

By Emily Boyton

Lynne Maquat, the J. Lowell Orbison Chair and Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics and director of the Center for RNA Biology, has been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences—one of the highest honors possible for a scientist—for her work in the field of RNA biology. Maquat will be inducted next April with 71 other newly elected members during the academy’s 149th annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Maquat is internationally recognized for her research on nonsense-mediated mRNA decay, a cellular mechanism that derails the production of unwanted proteins in the body that can disrupt normal processes and initiate disease. The mechanism removes flawed RNA molecules that, if left intact, would lead to the creation of such proteins.

Maquat has made many major discoveries in the field and is considered a pioneer on the subject. Her work has been widely published in journals such as Cell and Nature.

“Dr. Maquat is an outstanding researcher who sets very high standards for her science, regularly publishing in the most prestigious journals, training highly successful research fellows, and speaking across the country and around the world about her work,” says Bradford Berk, CEO of the Medical Center. “She is one of the premier RNA scientists in the world, and we’re extremely proud that she is a part of our institution and has been recognized with this tremendous honor.”

Upon her induction in April 2012, Maquat joins more than a dozen University faculty members elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Other academy members from the University include Fred Sherman, also a faculty member in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Richard Eisenberg, Elissa Newport, Esther Conwell, John Huizenga, Richard Fenno Jr., Ronald Jones, Rene Millon, the late Leonard Mandel, the late Lionel McKenzie, the late Marshall Gates, and the late Wallace Fenn.

“Election to the National Academy of Sciences is something every scientist aspires to, but few achieve,” says Mark Taubman, dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. “Dr. Maquat is very well deserving of this outstanding achievement and joins an elite group of individuals from Rochester who have also accomplished great things in their respective areas of science.”

Maquat says “research science is a very exciting and, at the same time, very humbling undertaking. Discovering new cellular pathways and clues to the molecular basis of human disease is absolutely wonderful, but there is so much to know and to learn along the way, and the process is very labor intensive. Over the course of my career I’ve worked hard, read widely, and followed my instincts. I asked questions I thought were important, obtained data using more than one experimental approach, and probed a few questions deeply rather than many questions superficially in any one project.”

According to Maquat, “My accomplishments would not have been possible without years and years of wonderfully committed and talented graduate students and postdocs in my laboratory.”

Maquat joined the Medical Center in 2000, after spending 18 years at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. In addition to serving as director of the Center for RNA Biology, Maquat also created and leads the University’s Graduate Women in Science program, one of several programs she initiated as principal investigator of a National Institutes of Health graduate student training grant in cellular, biochemical, and molecular sciences.

Attorney Joseph Cunningham endows history professorship

By Susan Hagen

Robert Westbrook, an intellectual historian of 20th-century America, is the first Joseph F. Cunningham Professor of History, a position established by Joseph Cunningham ’67 (MA), founder of the Washington, D.C–area law firm Cunningham & Associates.

“Joseph Cunningham is one of our truly admired University graduates,” says President Joel Seligman. “He has litigated thousands of cases, is an expert in commercial and insurance law, and has led his own firm for the past four decades. His decision to endow a chair in history demonstrates a deep commitment to higher education.”

Cunningham coauthored the Virginia State Bar Monograph on Insurance Law, has published widely in legal journals, and is a frequent lecturer at Georgetown Law Center, the University of Maryland, and the University of Virginia. He endowed a chair in insurance and commercial law at Columbia University School of Law, where he received his law degree in 1960.

After completing his legal training, Cunningham returned to Rochester, his childhood home. In 1962, the newly minted attorney began to sample the University’s academic offerings, eventually pursuing a master’s degree in history, for which he was awarded a tuition scholarship.

Cunningham says he endowed a professorship out of “gratitude for the spontaneous generosity that the University extended to me when I wanted to pursue graduate studies.”

Westbrook, the first recipient, is an eminent scholar, dedicated teacher, and longtime member of the history department.

His first book, John Dewey and American Democracy, which won the Merle Curti Award of the Organization of American Historians for the best book in American intellectual history published in 1991–92, remains the standard scholarly biography of Dewey and sparked a renewed interest among historians, literary critics, and historians in the philosophy of pragmatism.

Westbrook’s subsequent works, Why We Fought: Forging American Obligations in World War II, Democratic Hope: Pragmatism and the Politics of Truth, and more than 40 essays and papers have secured his reputation as one of the “foremost interpreters of pragmatism and the American moral conscience at work today,” says Thomas Slaughter, Rochester’s Arthur R. Miller Professor of History.

Westbrook currently serves as the history department’s director of undergraduate studies. During his 24 years at Rochester, he has supervised 22 doctoral dissertations, many of which have become important books, and for five years led the department as chair.

He joined the University in 1986, following eight years on the Yale University faculty. He holds a doctorate in history from Stanford University.



Michael Tanenhaus named to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

By Alan Blank

Michael Tanenhaus, the Beverly Petterson Bishop and Charles W. Bishop Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Linguistics, has been elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The honorary society, founded in 1780, has a broad membership that includes scientists, politicians, business leaders, and artists.

Tanenhaus primarily studies how humans glean information from spoken language. Although it seems like a simple task on the surface, understanding a stream of spoken words is a complex undertaking. In essence, the listener is given a series of syllables, separated in time, and it’s not trivial to pick out which sounds combine to form words or to determine meanings moment by moment.

One of Tanenhaus’s groundbreaking findings is that the human brain is continually guessing what word a speaker is trying to say before the speaker has even finished the word. To do this, the brain uses multiple sources of information, including the visual context and the speaker’s likely intentions. The predictions allow humans to keep up with the daunting task of processing long strings of spoken words as they are being said.

Tanenhaus and his students pioneered a method of study known as the visual world paradigm, which has been widely used in language processing studies since its advent in 1995. In using the method, scientists track the eye movements of study participants and use their gaze as a way to infer what they are thinking as a stream of speech progresses. In addition to being used with adults, the method has proven particularly valuable in studying how young children understand language before they are articulate enough to speak coherently themselves.

Tanenhaus joined the University’s faculty in 1983. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Cognitive Science Society, and the Association for Psychological Science. He won the University Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching in 2002.



Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon a Pulitzer Prize finalist

By Helene Snihur

Composer Ricardo Zohn-
Muldoon, an associate professor of composition at the Eastman School, was a finalist for a 2011 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his work “Comala,” which the Pulitzer committee described as an “ambitious cantata that translates into music an influential work of Latin American literature, giving voice to two cultures that intersect within the term ‘America.’” The Pulitzer Prizes were announced on Monday, April 18; the winner of the prize for music was Zhou Long for his opera Madame White Snake. Only one other composer, Fred Lerdahl, was named a finalist in the category.

Zohn-Muldoon’s “Comala” was released in June 2010 by Bridge Records. Based on the novel Pedro Páramo by Mexican novelist and short story writer Juan Rulfo, the cantata unfolds in 13 continuous scenes from the point of view of Juan Preciado, the son of the title character of the book, who dies midway through the novel.

“Comala,” which appears on the recording Cantos, features the Eastman BroadBand ensemble, tenor Scott Perkins, soprano Tony Arnold, and associate professor of composition Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez as the narrator, under the direction of Juan Trigos.

“We are thrilled that Eastman’s Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon was a Pulitzer finalist,” says Eastman School Dean Douglas Lowry. “His ‘Comala’ is an inspiring work that does more than musically blend two cultures; it unearths their inherent tensions and harmonies to startling effect and creates quite another dimension for the deeply textured literary work of writer Juan Rulfo.”

Prior to joining the Eastman faculty in 2002, Zohn-Muldoon held positions at the school of music at the University of Guanajuato in Mexico and the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. His music has been praised for its detailed sculpting of concise musical ideas that unfold in contrapuntal “kaleidoscopes” of intense rhythm and color.

Zohn-Muldoon’s honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Tanglewood Music Center (Omar del Carlo Foundation), Camargo Foundation, Endowment for Culture and the Arts of Mexico, and a Mozart Medal from the Embassy of Austria in Mexico.

Cilas Kemedjio to lead
Frederick Douglass Institute

Three new faculty planned for institute’s expanded role

By Susan Hagen

Cilas Kemedjio, an associate professor of French and Francophone studies, has been named the new director for the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies.

“Professor Kemedjio will bring vision and scholarship to the institute during a period of growth,” says Peter Lennie, senior vice president and the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences and Engineering. “During the coming year, the University is committed to searching for three additional tenure-track faculty members to broaden the institute’s expertise and intellectual reach.”

For the past quarter-century, the Douglass Institute has provided critical focus and support for scholarship and teaching in African and African-American studies. The institute is a major campus center for multicultural programming, hosting regular film and lecture series and organizing conferences. Eighteen faculty currently teach courses that serve the major and minor in African and African-American studies.

During his three-year appointment, Kemedjio plans to strengthen the institute’s role as a research center by bringing to campus leading scholars for extended stays, from a week to entire semesters. In the search for the new faculty hires, Kemedjio looks forward to “working with all departments within the College in an effort to expand intellectual diversity.”

Kemedjio also sees the institute continuing the work of its namesake through its commitment to transnational black studies and to the civic mission that was at the heart of Frederick Douglass’s struggle for civil rights. “The spirit of Frederick Douglass is his intellectual activism, which is also the foundation of black studies in the 1960s,” says Kemedjio.

Kemedjio, who served the institute for the past decade, most recently as curriculum director, succeeds interim director Victoria Wolcott, an associate professor of history.

Kemedjio is an expert on Francophone African and Caribbean literatures, French theory, and the French novel during the 20th century.


Leadership changes announced

School of Nursing names associate deans

School of Nursing Dean Kathy Parker has announced the appointment of two associate deans.

Lisa Norsen has been named associate dean for innovation, entrepreneurship, and community outreach, and Daryl Sharp has been appointed associate dean for faculty development and diversity.

Norsen, who most recently had been serving as an interim associate dean, will oversee the expansion of the school’s current business lines and lead the development of new business lines and mutually beneficial educational opportunities and relationships within the community. She will also work to build on the school’s collaboration with the Healthy Living Center within the Medical Center’s Center for Community Health. She will retain administrative responsibilities for the school’s master’s programs, which have grown significantly under her direction.

In her new role, Sharp will support the school’s faculty toward their career goals within the context of the school’s strategic plan while addressing diversity issues, strengthening inclusiveness, and facilitating communication. She will continue to work in close collaboration with the Medical Center through her role on the clinical team of the Healthy Living Center. She is also working with Vivian Lewis, vice provost for faculty development and diversity, on the study “Researcher Resilience through Multidimensional Mentoring—an Upstate New York Initiative,” which will evaluate the impact of mentoring and peer groups on the retention of women and minorities in academic careers.

Due to the shift in Norsen’s and Sharp’s responsibilities, the school’s doctor of nursing practice program, which Sharp previously directed, will be overseen by Pamela Herendeen. Additionally, Patrick Hopkins was named director of care of children and families specialty, and Craig Sellers will serve as associate director for the master’s of science/nurse practitioner program.

Co-deans of library selected

Library deans Katie Clark and Michael Bell have been tapped to serve as interim co-deans of River Campus Libraries. Their terms begin July 1.

The pair will lead the libraries during the national search for a successor to Susan Gibbons, vice provost and Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of River Campus Libraries, who is leaving to lead the Yale University library system.

“Katie Clark brings to the position a thorough knowledge of library management and the deep admiration of her colleagues; Michael Bell brings a wealth of technical know-how, command of finances, and creative energy,” says University Provost Ralph Kuncl. “Together they form an outstanding team, and in fact for some time they have already demonstrated that they are an effective team in day-to-day operations.”

Kuncl has designated Joanna Olmsted, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, to chair the search committee. She will be supported by Kim Weems, assistant to CIO David Lewis. Other members of the committee will be named shortly and will include key constituencies.

Clark, a professional librarian who worked at Texas A&M, Pennsylvania State, and Houston universities before coming to Rochester in 1999, has been involved in the library’s leadership for the past decade. She was originally hired as the director of the Science and Engineering Libraries and since 2008 has served as the associate dean for public services and collection development. Clark has master of library science and master of science degrees from the University of Hawaii.

Michael Bell, as head of information technology at River Campus Libraries—most recently as assistant dean—has spearheaded the development of many of the new online services. He oversaw the Medical Center’s Blackboard website that provides online learning and training for more than 10,000 employees and students, and he supervised the creation of UR Research, the online repository for faculty and graduate student research. Bell also oversaw the eXtensible Catalog, a new tool for simultaneously searching multiple academic databases.

Before joining River Campus Libraries in 2005, Bell served as manager of information systems at the Edward G. Miner Library in the Medical Center for eight years and as computing manager for two. Bell earned both an MBA and a bachelor’s degree from Rochester and is currently completing his master of science degree in library and information science from Drexel University.

Hajim School
announces changes

Wayne Knox, director of the Institute of Optics, is stepping down from that role after 10 years to become associate dean of education and new initiatives at the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He will succeed Tom Hsiang, who has decided to return to the faculty.

Knox led the institute through a period of substantial growth, which included the construction of the $37 million Robert B. Goergen Hall for Biomedical Engineering and Optics, the development of the Robert E. Hopkins Center for Optical Design and Engineering, and the addition of the Center for Institute Ventures.

Gary Wicks, who has served as associate director of the Institute of Optics, will become interim director while a search is conducted for a permanent successor.

Hsiang, the current associate dean for education at the Hajim School, guided the school through the recent successful accreditation of all of the ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) undergraduate engineering programs. Hsiang has also been instrumental in implementing the GEAR program, which attracts undergraduates to the University’s engineering program, and expanding “Senior Design Day” beyond the biomedical engineering department to highlight the real-world innovations across the entire Hajim School.

The administrative changes will take effect July 1.


Commencement 2011 teaching awards

Philippe Fauchet

The William H. Riker University Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching

Philippe Fauchet is the Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and chair of the department in addition to being a professor of optics, biomedical engineering, materials science, and physics, and a senior scientist at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics.

Since joining the faculty in 1990, he has brought three large multi-investigator grants to the University and has graduated 30 PhD students from five departments.

“One thing is certain: I have learned from each one of my students and my postdocs, and my life has been enriched by them,” Fauchet says.

Before coming to Rochester, Fauchet was on the faculty at Princeton and Stanford universities and was one of the originators of Princeton University’s Center for Photonics and Opto-Electronic Materials.

In 1998, Fauchet created the Multidisciplinary Center for Future Health and served as its founding director until December 2004. In the 1990s, Fauchet created and ran the Femtosecond Laser Facility at the University’s Center for Optoelectronics and Imaging. More recently, he spearheaded the integration of the University’s research efforts in energy, with the aim of creating a permanent Energy Research Institute. That initiative won the University funding from the National Science Foundation to create a graduate program in solar energy.

Fauchet has 30 years of experience in nanotechnology and nanoscience, especially silicon photonics, silicon quantum dots, optical biosensors, electroluminescent materials and devices, optical interconnects, solar cells, and ultrathin membranes. His research on porous silicon and nanoscale silicon and their applications has led to nearly 100 invited publications, plenary or invited presentations at international conferences, and seminars at universities or research laboratories.

Fauchet received an IBM Faculty Development Award in 1985, an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award in 1987, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in 1988, and the 1990–93 Prix Guibal & Devillez for his work on porous silicon. He is the author of more than 400 publications, has edited 11 books, and holds several patents. He was elected a fellow of the Optical Society of America, the American Physical Society, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Materials Research Society, and the International Society for Optics and Photonics, and he serves on various boards for industrial and governmental entities.

Fauchet received a PhD in applied physics from Stanford University in 1984, an MS in engineering from Brown University in 1980, and his electrical engineer’s degree from Faculté Polytechnique de Mons, Belgium, in 1978.

Jonathan Baldo

Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in
Undergraduate Teaching

Jonathan Baldo has taught in the humanities department at the Eastman School since 1983.

Faculty colleagues say he is an “unsung hero of the profession” who is a “brilliant teacher and insightful scholar.”

Upon accepting the award at the Eastman School commencement, Baldo credited his students’ “curiosity and passion” for his teaching success. “It’s exciting to see the spark of understanding jump from student to student,” he said.

In 2000, Baldo was awarded a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, which enabled him to take a year’s leave of absence to write a book on the rising national consciousness in Elizabethan England as reflected in Shakespeare’s plays.

Baldo’s first book on Shakespeare, The Unmasking of Drama: Contested Representation in Shakespearean Tragedy, was published in 1996. He has also published numerous articles and reviews in publications such as English Literary Renaissance, Shakespeare Quarterly, Renaissance Drama, Modern Language Quarterly, and Journal of the Kafka Society of America. His second book, Memory in Shakespeare’s Histories: Stages of Forgetfulness in Early Modern England, will be published later this year by Routledge in their prestigious Studies in Shakespeare series.

Baldo has presented papers throughout the United States, Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom, including at the Shakespeare Association of America, the Northeast Modern Language Association Conference, and the World Shakespeare Congress. On four occasions he has won the open submission competitions held by both the International Shakespeare Association and the Shakespeare Association of America. Other awards and honors include a Bridging Fellowship from the University in 1990, the University Junior Faculty Award in 1989, and a Tuition Fellowship from Northwestern University’s School of Criticism and Theory in 1983.

Baldo has invented interesting courses, ranging from Shakespeare to Hitchcock, and he cofounded the cluster of Film Studies with the humanities department. His in-depth knowledge and expertise, enthusiasm for his subjects, imaginative teaching style, intellectually stimulating classroom discussions, and his dedication to students outside the classroom have earned him a reputation as one of the most sought-after professors at Eastman. Respected and admired by his students both as a person and as a teacher, Baldo has distinguished himself among world-class musicians by receiving high praise for his nonmusic courses.

Baldo received his bachelor of arts degree in English from Yale University and a PhD in English from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Before joining the Eastman faculty, he was a lecturer in the English department of the University of Florida.

Eleana Kim

The G. Graydon Curtis ’58 and Jane W. Curtis Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Nontenured Member of the Faculty

Eleana Kim, an assistant professor of anthropology, is admired for her ability to help students to become deeply engaged.

Her first book, Adopted Territory: Transnational Korean Adoptees and the Politics of Belonging, published by Duke University Press last fall, explores the history of Korean adoptions for the past half-century. The book reexamines the experience of an estimated 200,000 South Korean children adopted into white families in Western countries. The ethnography is the first to trace the emergence of a distinctive transnational adoptee community in the age of the Internet and globalization.

Kim was awarded an American Council of Learned Societies fellowship for research on a second book about the environmental and political transformation of the Korean demilitarized zone. Beginning this July, Kim will spend a year interviewing environmentalists, politicians, local residents, and others to turn the militarized border between North and South Korea into a greenbelt of peace.

She is admired for her skill at guiding discussions of challenging material, her respect for students, and her accessibility. She has developed innovative methods for incorporating social media and other new technologies into teaching, and last year she organized an innovative miniresearch conference for undergraduates. She is frequently sought out by students for letters of recommendation and career counseling and this year advised two of the department’s three senior honors theses.

Richard Feldman, dean of the College, called Kim a “highly sought-after mentor” who is a “student magnet,” during the Arts, Sciences, and Engineering commencement ceremony.

Kim has taken a lead role in the design of the anthropology department’s curriculum and is now the department’s director of undergraduate studies. She is helping to develop interdisciplinary programs and serving on several dissertation committees in the Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies.

Kim completed her master’s degree and doctorate in anthropology at New York University and a postdoctoral fellowship at UCLA before coming to Rochester in 2007. She is a frequent presenter at academic conferences and is the recipient of numerous research grants, including fellowships from the Korea Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, and the Fulbright Institute of International Education.

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Jeanette Colby, calendar editor

Project connects families
to local resources

By Katie Sauer

Sometimes the help a family needs comes from the most unlikely place. The Children’s Center, which cares for 3,000 to 3,500 local children annually while their family members attend court hearings at the Monroe County Hall of Justice, has launched a new initiative to help connect families with resources they could greatly benefit from.

Abigail Kroening, a third-year pediatric resident at Golisano Children’s Hospital, has been at the helm of the Children’s Center project to make connections between families and services they need. Working in close collaboration with staff at the center, which is overseen by the Department of Psychiatry and funded by the Office of Court Administration and the Health-e-Access program at Golisano Children’s Hospital, Kroening has extended and enhanced the center’s program to better serve local families.

“I knew that I wanted to work with the Children’s Center and the family court from the moment I walked into the center for a site visit,” says Kroening. “The way I saw the Children’s Center offering compassionate care to families was so unexpected and uplifting to see. It’s really shown the community that the court house cares about the future of families facing difficult situations.”

A menu offers easily identifiable images that represent 13 different services available to families. Parents can check the boxes of any services they are interested in, which include assistance programs like a health and nutrition program for women, infants and children (WIC); the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP); asthma care services and dental services.

Thanks to a one-year grant from the Community Pediatrics Advisory Council, Kroening hired a part-time nurse at the center to help connect families with services and to conduct pediatric telemedicine visits with health care providers. The web-based telemedicine visits are done in collaboration with the Health-e-Access program, run by Ken McConnochie, a professor of pediatrics at Golisano Children’s Hospital, and Nancy Wood, senior health project coordinator at Golisano Children’s Hospital. The telemedicine visits involve using special equipment to share images and audio recordings with a health care provider remotely during a child’s examination.

Kroening is hopeful that the telemedicine component will help prevent families who have already taken time off work to go to court from having to take off additional time to see the child’s primacy care physician. Another hope is that the on-site visits will reduce unnecessary and costly visits to the emergency department.

“The goal is not to make the courthouse a health clinic, per se, but really to bridge these children to their pediatrician or health home,” Kroening says.

Kroening’s project was made possible by Pediatric Links with the Community (PLC) program at Golisano Children’s Hospital. She worked with the Children’s Center on PLC’s CARE (Child Advocacy Resident Education) Track, available to second- and third-year pediatric residents at the Medical Center. To learn more about the track, visit

Genome duplication

Continued from page 1

More online

To see an interview with Abigail Kroening about the project, visit

Grant to continue
Sibley Music Library’s digitization program

By Helene Snihur

Sibley Music Library at the Eastman School has received a National Endowment for the Humanities Preservation and Access Award of $300,000 to support its continuing efforts to digitize music scores in the public domain.

This is the second NEH grant that the library has received for the project, which provides free online access to rare and unique scores that are no longer protected by copyright, are not widely held by other libraries, and are not digitized elsewhere. The 2009 award resulted in the digitization of 9,600 public domain scores, a total of 303,000 pages of digitized music.

The program has become an important source of music for scholars and musicians around the world. To date, Sibley has digitized more than 11,000 public domain scores and books, accounting for more than three million downloads from the University’s Digital Repository “UR Research” (

The new grant will support the digitization of 9,500 additional scores from May 2011 through September 2012. The award supports the hiring of two additional staff members. Administering the project are library staff members Alice Carli, conservator, and Jim Farrington, head of public services. Linda Blair, head of cataloging, provides bibliographic assistance.

J. Adam Fenster

University leaders share advice

The Young Leaders @ UR hosted its first Professional Development Panel and Social April 26, featuring a discussion with executive leaders of the University. From left: Simon School Dean Mark Zupan moderated the panel, which included Vivian Lewis, deputy to the president and vice provost for faculty development and diversity; Douglas Lowry, dean of the Eastman School; Bill Murphy, vice president for communications; Lisa Norwood, assistant dean at the Hajim School; Peter Robinson, vice president and chief operating officer at the Medical Center and Strong Health; Sue Stewart, senior vice president and general counsel; and Paul Burgett, vice president and general secretary.


Vitamin D linked to breast tumor progression, blood pressure

Aggressive breast tumors linked to vitamin D deficiency

By Leslie Orr

Low vitamin D levels among women with breast cancer correlate with more aggressive tumors and poorer prognosis, according to a new Medical Center study highlighted at the American Society of Breast Surgeons meeting in Washington, D.C.

The study is one of the first to examine vitamin D and breast cancer progression. Previous research has focused on vitamin D deficiency and the risk of cancer development. The Medical Center epidemiology study associates suboptimal vitamin D levels with poor scores on every major biological marker that helps physicians predict a patient’s breast cancer outcome.

“The magnitude of the findings was quite surprising,” says lead researcher Luke Peppone, a research assistant professor of Radiation Oncology at the Wilmot Cancer Center. “Based on these results, doctors should strongly consider monitoring vitamin D levels among breast cancer patients and correcting them as needed.”

Peppone and senior investigator Kristin Skinner, an associate professor of surgery and director of the Wilmot Comprehensive Breast Care Center, examined prognostic factors for 155 women who underwent surgery for breast cancer between January 2009 and September 2010. They also obtained blood tests that provided vitamin D status for all the patients within the one-year period before or after surgery.

Meanwhile, researchers collected relevant breast cancer data on each patient, including age, race, menopause status, stage of cancer at diagnosis, estrogen and progesterone status, HER2 expression, gene expression, and Oncotype Dx score. The Oncotype is a newer diagnostic test for early-stage breast cancer that looks at a group of 21 genes within a woman’s tumor sample and issues a score between 0 and 100 that correlates with the likelihood of a recurrence. A higher risk of recurrence is usually reflected in scores greater than 30.

A statistical analysis showed that cancers known to be more aggressive, such as triple-negative tumors, correlated with low vitamin D levels. Triple-negative cancers are often associated with younger women and minority women, and Peppone’s study also found that both premenopausal women and black women tended to have suboptimal vitamin D levels, compared to older, Caucasian women.

A growing number of physicians are already monitoring cancer patients and healthy people for vitamin D. Last fall the Institute of Medicine announced new daily recommended intakes of vitamin D for nearly all adults and children in the United States and Canada. Although the institute did not specifically address vitamin D and cancer, it reported that 600 IUs daily meets the needs of most people. Higher amounts are often prescribed to cancer patients; sometimes a weekly dose of 50,000 IUs is necessary to treat severely deficient people.

Further research is needed to explore the biological basis of the relationship between D and tumor markers, but Peppone says his study highlights the importance of obtaining vitamin D levels in women diagnosed with breast cancer.

Gwen Greene

Continued from page 1


Keynote covers diversity in higher education

Daryl Smith, a professor of education and psychology at the Claremont Graduate University and author of Diversity’s Promise for Higher Education: Making it Work, addresses the audience at the University’s second annual diversity conference, “Why Diversity.” Throughout the day, conference participants attended a variety of presentations on campus climate and culture, the graduate student experience, the impact of support staff on student life, diversity in learning styles, and underrepresented minorities in business, among other topics. “There’s no doubt we’ve made progress,” Smith said about diversity in higher education. “But it is also now clear that our future will rest on finishing the business of our history.” Watch Smith’s keynote online at

Vitamin D may help explain racial differences in blood pressure

By Leslie Orr

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is more common and often more deadly in blacks than in whites, and a new Medical Center study shows that low vitamin D levels among black people might be a powerful factor that contributes to the racial differences in hypertension.

The findings, published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, are consistent with growing evidence that lower vitamin D status is associated with higher blood pressure, and that people with darker skin generally produce less vitamin D.

“Our study confirms that vitamin D represents one piece of the complex puzzle of race and blood pressure,” says lead author Kevin Fiscella, a professor of family medicine. “And, since black-white differences in blood pressure represent thousands of excess deaths due to heart disease and stroke among blacks, we believe that simple interventions such as taking vitamin D supplements might have a positive impact on racial disparities.”

Fiscella and colleagues analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2001–06. Their sample included nearly 2,000 blacks and approximately 5,100 non-Hispanic whites, ages 20 and older. Researchers specifically compared the average systolic pressure and blood levels of vitamin D among the study participants.

Most vitamin D is produced by the skin in response to sunlight and metabolized in the liver where it is converted to 25 hydroxyvitamin D or 25(OH) D, the form used to determine a person’s vitamin D status through a blood test. Deficiency is usually defined as less than 20 nanograms per milliliter; lower than 15 ng/ml is inadequate to maintain bone health and normal calcium metabolism.

Many people around the world have low concentrations of vitamin D. Genetic factors common to blacks, such as darker skin, reduce vitamin D synthesis. In addition, a higher incidence of lactose intolerance among blacks, which can eliminate vitamin-D fortified milk from the diet, contributes to lower dietary intake, previous research has shown.

Notably in Fiscella’s data, 61 percent of blacks compared to 11 percent of whites had vitamin D levels in the lowest one-fifth of the population sample, whereas only 2 percent of blacks compared to 25 percent of whites had vitamin D levels in the highest group.

However, Fiscella notes some limitations to the study and said that vitamin D did not fully explain the racial differences in blood pressure. “It is likely that other factors beyond vitamin D, such as psychological stress, medication adherence, and discrimination could contribute to this disparity,” he wrote in the article. “Further study using more refined measures of skin color is needed to tease apart the complex relationship between skin type, stress, vitamin D, and hypertension.”

The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute funded the research.


Patrick Davies, a professor of psychology, has been awarded a James McKeen Cattell Fund Fellowship for 2011–12. Given each year to a handful of psychology researchers, the national award will provide Davies with extended sabbatical leave for research on how children respond to conflict in families from early childhood through adolescence. The fellowship will be announced at the Association for Psychological Science annual conference May 26 to 29, in Washington, D.C.

Thomas Campbell, the William Rocktaschel Professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the Medical Center, was recently named president-elect of the Association of Departments of Family Medicine. Association members elected Campbell to the position at the organization’s 2011 Winter Meeting in Charleston, S.C. His term extends through 2014. Campbell has previously held the positions of program chair and member-at-large on its board of directors. Campbell is nationally recognized for his work on the role of the family in medical practice and the influence of the family on health.

Arthur Moss, a professor of cardiology at the Medical Center and world-renowned expert on electrical disturbances of the heart, received the Heart Rhythm Society’s Distinguished Scientist Award May 6, at the society’s 32nd Annual Scientific Sessions in San Francisco. The award is given annually to an individual who has made major contributions to the understanding and treatment of heart rhythm disorders.

History doctoral student Kira Thurman has been awarded the University of Notre Dame’s Erskine A. Peters Fellowship, one of the more competitive graduate scholarships in the country. The 10-month residential fellowship will provide Thurman with mentorship, visiting faculty status, access to the extensive resources of Notre Dame, and uninterrupted time to complete her dissertation, “A History of Black Musicians in Germany, 1870 to 1961: Race, Performance, and Reception.”

Douglas Crimp, the Fanny Knapp Allen Professor of Art History and Professor of Visual and Cultural Studies, spoke at an event held in his honor at the Centre Pompidou, a national museum and cultural event space in Paris. As part of a larger lecture cycle named for its host, French art historian and critic Patricia Falguiéres, Crimp was asked to discuss the history of art criticism, queer theory, and AIDS activism in the 1970s, interrelated movements in which he is a major figure.

Judy Marquez Kiyama, an assistant professor in educational leadership, has been selected as a 2011 Emerging Scholar by the American College Personnel Association. She is one of five scholars who are being recognized as emerging contributing scholars in student affairs and higher education.

Students awarded fellowships
for graduate research

Twelve students have been named recipients of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships. The fellowship provides up to three years of graduate study support for students pursing doctoral or research-based master’s degrees. Since the program’s inception in 1952, it has supported nearly 50,000 students conducting research in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and selected social science disciplines.

The fellowship includes a three-year annual stipend of $30,000, a $10,500 educational allowance to the institution, and international research opportunities.

Danielle Benoit, an assistant professor in biomedical and chemical engineering, says the financial support provides students the flexibility to attend conferences, participate in training programs, and travel to meet with other researchers in their field.

“For young students, earning an NSF fellowship really shows that they have substantial ability in conducting research,” she says. Benoit, who was awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship in 2004, says that by going through the application process, students also gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the fiscal side of research.

Belinda Redden, director of fellowships, says the application process is demanding. “It is a significant undertaking, requiring three separate essays on past research, proposed plan of research in graduate school, and a personal statement. I am very proud to see this level of success for Rochester students and alumni in such a prestigious fellowship competition; they are expected to be future leaders in their fields, and this early public affirmation of their potential is tremendously important.”

The following students received fellowships:

Alexander Federation ’11, chemistry;

Francis Ferraro ’11, computer science, mathematics, minor in linguistics;

Benjamin Freedman ’11, biomedical engineering;

Caitlyn Rose Kennedy ’11, chemistry;

Adam Kozak ’11, biomedical engineering, minor in optics;

Victoria Massie ’11, anthropology, African and African-American Studies;

Christina Rossi ’11, mechanical engineering;

Hannah Watkins ’11, biomedical engineering, minors in chemical engineering, biology;

Laura Ackerman, doctoral degree candidate in chemistry;

Cory Bonn, ’10E, ’06E, doctoral degree candidate in brain and cognitive sciences;

David Kleinschmidt, doctoral degree candidate in brain and cognitive sciences;

Randy Sabatini, doctoral degree candidate in chemistry.





Student project honored

As part of a senior design class, Swapna Kumar ’11 (left), Jacy Krystal Bulaon ’11, and Frances Bell ’11, whose project is called DonDoff Solutions, devised a system to help back-surgery patients get into (don) and out of (doff) their back braces throughout the recovery process.

The brace itself has also been modified to include simpler fastening and tightening systems for individuals with limited mobility and dexterity. The team has working prototypes of the system and is preparing for feedback from clinicians and patients.

DonDoff Solutions won third-place honors in the New York State Business Plan Competition and tied for second place in the Charles and Janet Forbes Entrepreneurial Competition at the University. The team is also a finalist in the 2011 RESNA Student Design Competition to be held in Toronto in June. RESNA is the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America, whose goal is help people with disabilities through the application of technology.



J. Adam Fenster

“We live in a world of both sobering challenges and awesome opportunities,” Ursula Burns, chairman and CEO of Xerox, told graduates at the Arts, Sciences, and Engineering ceremony. “I would encourage all of you to follow the example of the University and embrace change and learning. Do it willingly and with a sense of excitement and wonder.”

President Joel Seligman and Warner School Dean Raffaella Borasi greet Joseph Jones as he receives his PhD at the Warner School commencement.

J. Adam Fenster

Newly minted School of Medicine and Dentistry graduates Emily Hahn of New York City (left) and Claire Shannon of Toronto celebrate after commencement.

J. Adam Fenster


Celebrating the class of 2011

More than 3,000 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees were conferred at the University’s commencement ceremonies May 13–15. The Simon School will hold its commencement Sunday, June 12. For more photos, video, and audio from the University’s 161st commencement, visit

“The arts are the social and spiritual glue that holds society together—they give us joy, transcendence, and catharsis,” said Jeff Beal ’85E, an Emmy-winning composer who delivered the Eastman School’s commencement address. “And while society may not seem to need the arts, in reality we need them more than ever.” Beal also was awarded the school’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.

University introduces new mission statement

“Meliora” has been the University’s motto for generations of students, alumni, and faculty members. Now, for the first time ever, it is being complemented by a carefully developed and enthusiastically received mission statement. Created under the leadership of Provost Ralph Kuncl and Associate Provost Kathleen Moore, the 10-word statement, “Learn, Discover, Heal, Create—and Make the World Ever Better” was revealed to the campus community and trustees in the days just before commencement, to the rousing approval of both groups.

“A mission statement is not a statement about the future but rather about what is enduring,” Kuncl says. “It encapsulates and articulates the purposes, characteristics, and values of an institution, the core purposes and the actions that derive from them. It should explain what drives us, and what it is we are trying to create.”

J. Adam Fenster

President Joel Seligman told the graduating class of the School of Nursing: “Each one of the 249 graduates today is a hero. You were chosen to go where your heart and passion leads you.”

J. Adam Fenster

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