(Note to Editors: Hajim is pronounced: "Hey-Jim")
Today, the University of Rochester announced that its engineering school will, effective July 1, be officially named the Edmund A. Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
The naming recognizes alumnus Edmund Hajim's many decades of service and contributions to the University, including his $30 million gift commitment last fall to the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Hajim earned his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering at Rochester in 1958, has had a highly successful career as a senior executive for several Wall Street firms, has served for the past year as the Chairman of the University's Board of Trustees, and has been a member of the Board since 1988.
"Ed Hajim's gift commitment is the largest single gift commitment in the history of the University," said University President Joel Seligman. "It is all the more remarkable that he made this commitment during an economic emergency. Ed's conviction that education is the answer to nearly every social problem and his devotion to the University of Rochester are inspirations to all of us. He has been a great leader on our Board of Trustees in helping us solve university-wide problems. Now he is the greatest type of leader in a different sense—one who leads by example."
"I have been proud to be associated with the University of Rochester for more than 50 years," Hajim said. "And I now consider myself lucky to be able to make a long-term contribution to its growth and the training of its students. This University will remain a leader in addressing the many challenges facing society, and I am honored to play a role in and be associated with that important legacy."
University celebrations for the naming are planned for Meliora Weekend, Oct. 8-11, 2009, including a formal dedication ceremony and an engineering symposium. The events will feature distinguished guest speakers Charles Vest, president of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and president emeritus of MIT, and Henry Petroski, member of the NAE and professor of civil engineering and history at Duke University, and author of more than a dozen books on engineering and design, including To Engineer Is Human (1985) and The Toothpick: Technology and Culture (2007).
Before the Hajim gift, the largest gifts in the University's history were two separate $17 million gifts from George Eastman, a $15 million gift from Marie C. and Joseph C. Wilson in 1967, a $26 million gift from Charles F. Hutchison in 1976, and a $14 million gift from Tom Golisano in 2002.
"I can think of no better time for the University to announce the naming of our engineering school than in its golden anniversary year, especially as we work to expand current programs and launch new ones so our students are prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century," said Robert Clark, Dean of the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. "Ed's contributions will make all of this possible, as well as provide increased financial support for students with need. This is a truly historic occasion for engineering at Rochester."
Growing up in a single parent household during the Great Depression and World War II, Hajim recounts having to learn the value of self-reliance and perseverance at an early age. He later received an NROTC scholarship that allowed him to pursue an undergraduate education at the University of Rochester.
"I was of modest means, but with that scholarship, and a number of on and off campus jobs, I was able to work my way through college," said Hajim. "That time at Rochester as a student was profoundly transformative for me. It taught me how to think critically and confront tough problems, and it also taught me to work hard. Those are lessons I hope to help impart to future generations of Rochester students as well."
Hajim has served the University of Rochester on committees and councils for more than 30 years and as a trustee for more than 20. He was elected chairman of the University's Board of Trustees on May 19, 2008, succeeding G. Robert Witmer Jr.
After receiving an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School in 1964, he began a remarkable investment career and has held senior positions with the Capital Group, E. F. Hutton, and Lehman Brothers. In 1983, he went on to become chairman and CEO of Furman Selz, which he sold twice, first to Xerox in 1987 and then to ING Group in 1997. At ING, he was chairman and CEO of ING Aeltus Group. In 2002, he started his own investment funds and became a director of Morgan Joseph.
Hajim's dedication to causes about which he cares deeply is evident in his service as a member of the board of trustees of the Nantucket Conservation Foundation and the Ocean Reef Foundation. Previously, he has served as president of the Harvard Business School Alumni Association and the Dean's Advisory Committee, chairman of the board of trustees of the Brunswick School, as a trustee and chairman of the investment committee at Greenwich Hospital, as a trustee of the American Craft Museum, and as a member of the investment committee at the Brookings Institution. He is also a founder and member of the board of directors of the Nantucket Golf Club.
Hajim's longstanding commitment to higher education has also been demonstrated through his establishment of scholarship funds at the Harvard Business School, University of Vermont, University of California at San Diego, University of Denver, and the Brunswick School, in addition to those at the University of Rochester.
During his undergraduate years at Rochester, he was a member of the Keidaeans, a University student honor society, and the finance committee chair for the Students' Association. He was also president of the Engineering Council, the social chair of his fraternity, and the founder and editor of the University's first humor magazine, UGH, the title of which was an acronym for undergraduate humor.
Hajim is beginning his fifth term as a University trustee and served as chairman of the Investment Committee from 1988 to 2003. He also served on the Development, Executive, and Presidential Search Committees. He served as national reunion co-chair in 2000, honorary co-chair of the 50th Reunion Committee for the Class of 1958 in 2008, the chair of the Campaign for Sports and Recreation from 1998 to 2001, and a member of the President's Leadership Council from 1975 to 1980.
His gifts to the University include the Hajim Scholarship Fund, and in 1999 he made a major gift to help fund construction of the Robert B. Goergen Athletic Center that includes the Edmund A. Hajim Alumni Gymnasium. In 2006, he provided funding for the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration's Summer Business Institute, an immersion program for college juniors, seniors, or recent graduates. And in 2007, he was awarded the Hutchison Medal, the University's highest alumni award.
About the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
The Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in biomedical, chemical, electrical and computer, and mechanical engineering, as well as optics and computer science. The school is home to the renowned Institute of Optics, one of the world's premier locations dedicated to the application and study of light, and the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, which boasts one of the most powerful lasers on Earth. With 85 faculty members, and close collaborations with the University of Rochester's other schools, the Hajim School provides students with an interdisciplinary education that connects mathematics and science to creative expression and humanistic design in service of society. More information on the school is available at www.seas.rochester.edu.