University of Rochester

Rochester Renaissance Plan for The College

November 16, 1995

On November 16, 1995, University of Rochester President Thomas H. Jackson announced a sweeping "Rochester Renaissance Plan" for the College, which includes the arts and sciences and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

"The best universities don't stand still; they are always improving themselves," said Jackson, who became Rochester's ninth president 17 months ago. "With strong undergraduate applications -- to date, up 15 percent from the record levels of the past two years -- we are refocusing the University from a position of strength and will make our excellent undergraduate and graduate programs significantly stronger by carefully redirecting our resources and energy.

"Through these moves, we increasingly complement the distinctions of our Eastman School of Music, William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration, Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development, School of Medicine and Dentistry, and School of Nursing," he added.

The five-year plan was endorsed unanimously by the Board of Trustees last weekend. Its elements include:

  • A new curriculum forged by the College faculty that deepens undergraduates' exposure to the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences/engineering. At the same time, the program allows students to follow their own academic interests.

  • Smaller undergraduate class sizes and more course sections.

  • An improved student-faculty ratio.

  • More emphasis on the residential character of the College.

  • More merit aid for the most competitive enrolling students.

  • Additional investments in computer networking, libraries, and campus facilities.

  • Competitive stipends for graduate students.

  • A cost control program for central administrative "overhead."

As part of the plan, the undergraduate student enrollment will be reduced over the next four years from 4,500 to 3,600 (starting with the next freshman class, enrollments will be limited to 900 each fall), resulting in an even higher quality student body. Those students will be able to take advantage of a more intimate academic setting with a new curriculum designed to broaden their horizons as well as mesh with their own intellectual interests.

In graduate studies, the College will concentrate on 16 programs. To do so, full-time graduate enrollment will be reduced from 1,100 to 850, enrollment in doctoral programs in comparative literature, linguistics, mathematics [Note: New mathematics PhD. program subsequently announced], and chemical engineering will be suspended, and four other doctoral programs (history, earth and environmental sciences, philosophy, and mechanical engineering) will be refocused and reduced in size.

The plan follows nearly a year of analysis and discussion in the University community. Faculty were asked for advice on the process and received a series of communications on the developing plans. Provost Charles E. Phelps and College Dean Richard Aslin met in individual sessions with more than 75 faculty members.

"When he was named Rochester's president, Tom Jackson's principal charge from the trustees was to position a very distinguished national university for the future, responding creatively to the difficult times for all of higher education," said Robert B. Goergen, chairman of the board and a 1960 graduate of the University. "He has done so, in a very bold and courageous way, and I expect that this will set a new standard for other leading institutions."