April 2016

We recently caught up with Stephen to talk with him about the challenge he put to the University community for the upcoming Day of Giving

April 2016

Meliora! A Message from Our Chair
Nathan Moser ’75, National Chair, George Eastman Circle

Nathan Moser ’75, National Chair,
George Eastman Circle

Dear Friends,

Last year we inaugurated two new University-wide traditions: Thank-a-Giver (TAG) Day and Day of Giving. Both enable the entire Rochester community to celebrate the impact of philanthropy at the University and its Medical Center.

This year’s TAG Day is April 25. More than 500 items, made possible by donor support, will be physically tagged on the River Campus, Eastman Campus, at the School of Nursing, Simon Business School, and the Warner School of Education. This event is truly special because it makes current students aware of the extent of the philanthropic support from which they benefit.

On May 3, the University will hold its second Day of Giving. Last year, more than 1,000 alumni, students, faculty, staff, parents, and friends participated in the inaugural 24-hour event. This included many of you who made a pledge payment or a standalone gift, and for some of you, it was the day you joined the George Eastman Circle. I encourage each of you to participate in this special day by renewing your pledges or making an additional gift.

Additionally, I am excited to share that this year fellow member Stephen Givant ’81 has offered to generously match gifts of any amount on the Day of Giving, up to a total of $100,000, for which we are all extremely thankful. You can learn more about Stephen in this edition’s member profile.

On behalf of the entire University of Rochester community and the George Eastman Circle, thank you for your continued involvement and support.



Nathan Moser ’75
Life Trustee
National Chair, George Eastman Circle

Ever Better Partners

River Campus hosted nearly 200 volunteer leaders from across the country during the University’s inaugural Volunteers in Partnership Conference, held April 8–9. The University engaged volunteers in a two-way discussion on how their involvement could help the University sustain its momentum. Topics of conversation included alumni communications, admissions, reunion programs, regional networks, and others. Through ‪#‎URVIP16, anyone was ‬ able to follow and participate in the conversation on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook‬.

To learn more about volunteering, networking and programming opportunities visit the new University alumni website.

A Conversation with Stephen Givant ’81

Stephen Givant ’81

We recently caught up with Stephen to talk with him about the challenge he put to the University community for the upcoming Day of Giving, taking place on May 3. Through The Stephen Givant $100,000 Challenge, Stephen has generously committed to match any gift made on the Day of Giving up to a total of $100,000.

Where did the idea of the challenge come from?

Stephen Givant: I created the challenge mainly to help get more people involved in giving and being active members in the University community. As an amateur economist, I’m familiar with the behavioral economics concept of a “nudge,” and hopefully that’s what I’m giving to people who were thinking about giving and now think, “Wow, this could really increase the impact of my gift.”

My ultimate goal, though, was to get people engaged, whether they’re giving money or not. Ideally, they would make a gift and then get involved as ambassadors…coming back to campus, talking to students, talking to parents. Just letting people know, to the extent they don’t know already, what a great institution [Rochester] is.

You have some experience in that department as an alumnus. Was there anything in particular about Rochester that made it great for you?

SG: I know a lot of alumni might mention a sports team or a faculty member, but for me, it wasn’t any single factor.

Because there weren’t strict requirements as far as what classes you needed to take, I was able to design my own curriculum and study what interested me, from computer programming to Russian literature to probability and statistics.

I also received excellent guidance regarding what I could do after graduation. Somewhere along the line in my junior year, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in law—the help I needed was there. I also made a lot of lifelong friends.

It wasn’t one thing. It was everything.

Many members cite their student experience as an influence on their joining the George Eastman Circle. It sounds like that might have been the case for you.

SG: I take a great deal of pride in the University and feel a strong sense of loyalty toward it. So I was contributing to the University on a fairly regular basis in small amounts. When the idea of making a long-term commitment and giving at a higher level [through the George Eastman Circle] was presented to me, I joined without hesitation.

I believe in the University’s mission and wanted to play a role in its pursuit. I was excited about what the University has been doing since President Seligman joined.

Is that where your sense of loyalty comes from?

SG: It’s two-fold. I can’t help being excited about what’s been happening at the University over the last 10 years. It’s also based on my experience at the school. I got a first-rate education, and the experience instilled in me a love for higher learning. The University set me on the course that I’m enjoying today.

Stephen is the CFO of Astronautics Corporation of America, a supplier, designer, and manufacturer of avionics equipment. At the University he is a member of the Northern New Jersey Regional Cabinet and cochair of the George Eastman Circle’s Metro New York Leadership Council.

Stephen and his wife, Madelyn, live in New Jersey. The Givants’ son, Josh, recently received an MS through the Simon New York City Program. Strong advocates for education, Steve and Madelyn established the Stephen G. and Madelyn J. Givant Endowed Scholarship to support undergraduate students in the School of Arts & Sciences in 2011. They have been George Eastman Circle members since 2009.

Your Philanthropy at Work

George Eastman Circle members have pledged more than $74 million in annual funds since the program’s inception in 2007. Students, faculty and staff, and patients feel the impact of these gifts every day. Below are some of the areas where your support has helped enable significant advancements and achievements. Learn more about your philanthropy “at work” by following the links below.

Wilmot Cancer Institute

More cancer patients now have access to the institute’s expertise and services closer to their homes. Your gifts have helped build an 11-location network, spread across Rochester and throughout the Finger Lakes region. This has also furthered the ability to bring scientific discoveries directly to the people who need their benefit most.

Strong Memorial Hospital

Strong was recognized as one of the most-connected hospitals for 2015–2016 by U.S. News & World Report. You helped make it happen. Your gifts helped build and maintain the infrastructure needed to support our commitment to improved connectedness across UR Medicine.

School of Arts & Sciences

Two major initiatives and several new academic paths are part of how your support is making the Arts & Sciences ever better. The launch of the Humanities Center and the Institute for Performing Arts are now pillars for multidisciplinary and creative engagement on the River Campus. And new degree options in data science, biology, and other areas further enable our students to learn what they love.

Getting Social


Are you part of our social circle?

The George Eastman Circle LinkedIn group provides an opportunity to network with members from around the world. You can stay up to date on the achievements of current members, and it is an excellent place for you to gain insight on interesting business topics and exchange ideas.

To join this exclusive, members-only group, you need to have a LinkedIn account. Once you have created an account, or if you already have one, visit the George Eastman Circle LinkedIn page, and click “Join” in the upper right hand corner of the screen.

Leading by Example

Wendy Witmer Tobey, Nancy Witmer, Bob Witmer ’59, and Rob Witmer III ’00M (MD)

George Eastman Circle members provide critical funds that enable world-class research and health care, create countless academic opportunities, and cultivate the imagination.

The members featured below have made significant Campaign gifts in addition to their membership commitments or have exemplified Meliora in the areas of academia, health care, arts and culture, and/or research.

Presidential excellence. Endowed professorships ensure the University always has an exceptional faculty. Charter Member and University Trustee G. Robert Witmer, Jr. ’59 has ensured the University will always have an exceptional president. Witmer, board chair emeritus, has established the G. Robert Witmer, Jr. University Professorship, for which the board has approved  Joel Seligman, president and CEO, as the inaugural holder.

Read more about Bob Witmer, his professorship, and why he’s referred to as “Mr. Rochester.”

Between financial aid. One of our members is looking out for the University students who fall in the gray area of financial aid. Her name is Kristen Dean ’72. Dean recently established the Jeffrey S. and Kristen M. Dean Endowed Scholarship for students who fall somewhere between “no financial need” and “receiving assistance, but not quite enough.”

Read more about Kristen Dean, her scholarship, and her experience at the University.

Historical Hoaxes. On March 2, the University community was treated to a lecture that explored fanciful accounts of giants, mermaids, and other fantastical creatures thanks to a gift from Charter Members Ani Gabrellian ’84 and Mark Gabrellian ’79. Presented by the Humanities Center, the lecture from A. Joan Saab, the Susan B. Anthony Professor and associate professor of art history and visual and cultural studies, was the first of the Hagop and Artemis Nazerian Humanities Lectures, named in honor of University Trustee Ani Gabrellian’s parents and their belief in the benefits of a humanistic education.

Watch the lecture online and read a fascinating interview between Ani and her mother.

Power of the Unexpected. Charter member Jeff Beal ’85E is the prolific and much-heralded composer of Netflix’s House of Cards. On March 12, he gave a TED Talks-style keynote address that focused on the creative process at the second annual Meliora on the Road, which featured an array of faculty-led presentations.

Read more about Jeff Beal’s address, Meliora on the Road, and “happy accidents” of the creative process.

Upcoming Events

Through a dedication to philanthropy, the George Eastman Circle helps to shape the future of the University and touches lives around the world. Your five-year commitments provide critical budget-relieving annual funds to specific schools and units of the University and its Medical Center and, ultimately, strengthen the University’s ability to make a profound impact on society.

One of the ways we’re able to thank you is to extend invitations to various regional gatherings, dinners, and University programs.

The Impact of Meliora: Alumni in Technology

April 19, 2016
3165 Kifer Road, Building B
Santa Clara, CA

Get more information or register online, email alumni@rochester.edu, or call 877-635-4672.

49th Annual Garden Party

June 14, 2016
Memorial Art Gallery
Rochester, NY
5:30 p.m.

RSVP to the Office of Donor Relations at 800-281-2055 or DonorRelations@rochester.edu.

Rochester at Tanglewood

August 6, 2016
Lenox, MA
6:30 p.m.—Dinner
8:00 p.m.—Concert

Join fellow University alumni, parents, and friends at Tanglewood for an exciting performance conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero, featuring pianist Daniil Trifonov.

Prior to the concert, enjoy dinner on the beautiful grounds of Tanglewood with Joel Seligman, president, CEO, and G. Robert Witmer, Jr. University Professor, and Jamal Rossi, the Joan and Martin Messinger Dean of the Eastman School of Music.

Tickets for the dinner and concert are $90 per person; $35 for dinner only.

Register online or contact the Office of Donor Relations at 800-281-2055.