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Board elects two members, honors life trustees

May 18, 2018
photo of Liz Bruno and Joe AbramsLiz Bruno ’89, P’18 and Joe Abrams ’74S (MBA), P’02 have been elected to the University of Rochester Board of Trustees.

At its May meeting, the University of Rochester Board of Trustees elected two new board members and recognized two current members who moved to life trustee status.

“The board will benefit greatly from the exceptional qualifications of these two new trustees, and we are delighted to welcome them,” said Board Chair Danny Wegman.

University President Richard Feldman said, “Joe Abrams and Liz Bruno are already engaged with important efforts at the University, and I look forward to working more closely with them in the future.”

New trustees

Joseph W. Abrams ’74S (MBA), P’02 is an entrepreneur, investor and adviser. An expert in emerging growth companies, he is currently an early-stage investor and adviser with Recuiter.com, the online global recruiting service.

Abrams has advised or acted as principal in dozens of mergers and acquisitions and financing transactions, and has been involved with several eco-friendly and socially responsible businesses. He co-founded The Software Toolworks in the early 1980s, and in 1994 it sold to Pearson, PLC for $460 million. In 1999, he co-founded eUniverse, which was later renamed Intermix Media and became the parent company of the social network site MySpace. NewsCorp bought Intermix for $560 million in 2005.

Abrams and his wife, Patricia P’02, are lead supporters of the Simon Venture Capital Fund, an early stage seed fund run by MBA and master’s students at the Simon Business School. He is also a member of the Simon School’s National Council and Advisory Council, and the University of Rochester’s San Francisco Network Leadership Cabinet. In 2017, he received the Simon School’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.

He serves on several private and nonprofit boards, and is co-chair of the Capital Campaign for Marin Hospital in Marin County, California. The Abramses also established, with their son Matthew Abrams ’02 and his wife, Lindsay, the Abrams Family Fund for Myotonic Dystrophy Research.

He received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and an MBA in finance from the Simon Business School.

Elizabeth Pungello Bruno ’89, P’18 is president of the Brady Education Foundation, which is focused on closing the achievement and opportunity gap for children at risk for poor school outcomes due to environmental factors associated with living in poverty. She is also a research associate professor in the Developmental Psychology Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Before shifting her primary professional efforts to the foundation, she was a scientist at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center at UNC-Chapel Hill, where her research focus was on early-care and education environments and school readiness skills. She has published several articles on early education environments, family circumstances and child outcomes.

Bruno serves on the board of directors of Brady Corporation, a public company that manufactures and markets high-performance labels, signs, safety devices, printing systems and software. She also serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Marriage and Family and Early Childhood Research Quarterly, the Frank Porter Graham Executive Leadership Board, and on a number of other non-profit boards.

In 2011, she established the Brady Scholars Program at the University to support undergraduate and graduate first-generation minority students. In 2016, she renewed her support of the program, which now focuses solely on undergraduates. She is a member of the Arts, Sciences and Engineering National Council and the Parents Council.

Bruno received a bachelor’s degree in psychology magna cum laude from Rochester, and a doctorate in developmental psychology from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Life Trustees

At the May meeting, the board expressed its appreciation to trustees Alan F. Hilfiker and Richard Sands as they moved to life trustee status.  They have served on the Board for a combined 40 years and their service and philanthropy has supported the creation of new facilities, scholarships, professorships and other initiatives throughout the University.  “The University has benefited enormously from the dedication and generosity of these two individuals, and we thank them for their contributions over many years,” said Wegman.

A trustee since 1988, Hilfiker has served as a member, chair or vice chair of many Board committees, including Advancement, Compliance and Compensation, Executive, External Affairs, Human Resources, Nominations and Board Practices, Research and Innovation, and Student Life.

He has supported multiple key areas of the University, including service on the River Campus Libraries National Council since 2015, as chair of the College’s Visiting Committee, co-chair of the University Meliora Campaign Cabinet (2011- 2017), and chair of the College’s Venture Fund Steering Committee.

His philanthropic support in the humanities established both the Alan F. Hilfiker Endowed Graduate Scholarship Fund and Alan F. Hilfiker Distinguished Professorship in English, and also helps make possible the Hyam Plutzik Memorial Poetry Series, one of the most distinguished and longest running reading series in the country.

Sands was elected to the Board in 2008 and has served on the committees on Audit and Risk Assessment, and Strategic and Financial Planning.

He has served on the Simon School Executive Advisory Committee, and been active with corporate engagement with the University’s career services and other programs.

Sands has promoted excellence in business, medicine and the arts through his generous philanthropic support, including the annual Sands Leadership Lecture Series at the Simon Business School that has engaged thousands of students and outside thought leaders since its launch in 2006, the establishment the Dr. Laurie Sands Distinguished Professorship in Family and Health at the School of Medicine and Dentistry, significant support for the Intensive Care Unit at UR Medicine’s Thompson Health in Canandaigua, and support of other programs at the Simon School, Medical Center and Memorial Art Gallery.

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