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Richard Handler ’83 elected University Board chair at October meeting

October 5, 2018

The University of Rochester Board of Trustees elected Richard B. Handler ’83, CEO and director of the Jefferies Financial Group, as Board chair at its October meeting. Handler begins his term as chair immediately and succeeds Danny Wegman, who in July informed the Board of his intention to step down as Board leader. Wegman has served as a University trustee for nearly 20 years and Board chair since 2016.

Wegman, chairman of Wegmans Food Markets, now becomes University board chair emeritus, but will remain an active member of the Board. He has been a long-time supporter of the University, and led the Board through the recent presidential transition. He has worked closely with President Richard Feldman in strengthening the University’s Culture of Respect. Among other activities, he will continue to co-chair the Trustees’ Presidential Search Committee, and will serve as a member of the White Report Oversight Committee, which provides Board guidance to the University’s administration on the White Report recommendations and connected structural and cultural transformation initiatives.

“I’m humbled by the honor my fellow Trustees have bestowed on me,” stated Rich Handler. “I’m a proud University of Rochester alum, and I credit the University with providing me the foundation, perspective, education, and skills that have served me well throughout my life and career. Those who know me know that some of my most important priorities in life are equality, empowerment, diversity, and fairness, qualities that the Board and members of the University community also embrace.

“Meliora is our motto, and I know that being ‘ever better’ doesn’t happen without talented and committed people coming together to do hard work. I am looking forward to working closely with my fellow Trustees, Rich Feldman and his senior leadership team, and the new president whom we hope to identify and have in place by July 1, as well as our esteemed faculty, hardworking staff, proud alumni, the citizens of Rochester, and, of course, the stewards of our future – our students. I am excited about our future together, and I look forward to meeting and working with many of you in the years to come. I am ‘all-in’ and truly excited about our future together.”

Handler earned his bachelor’s degree in economics magna cum laude with high distinction from the University in 1983, and his MBA from Stanford University in 1987. He began his career as a bond trader and joined Jefferies in 1990, where he still works.  Rich is the longest serving CEO on Wall Street and has worked with his many partners during these past three decades to transform Jefferies from a small equity trading boutique into the largest, independent, full service, global investment and merchant bank.

Handler was first elected to the University Board in 2005. He serves on the Board’s Executive and Advancement Committees and has been chair of the Board’s Investment Committee since 2007. Handler was a co-chair of The Meliora Challenge, the University’s historic $1.37 billion capital campaign, which successfully concluded in 2016.  Most recently, he chaired the Board’s Special Committee, which oversaw the independent investigation by Debevoise & Plimpton led by Mary Jo White.

For more than a decade, Handler has been committed to the Alan and Jane Handler Scholars program, a scholarship he designed at the University for undergraduates of diverse backgrounds, exceptional academic and leadership potential, and high financial need. Rich and his wife Martha established the program in 2007 with an ultimate commitment of $25 million, and named the scholarship in honor of Rich’s parents. The scholarships provide an all-expenses-paid education for these exceptional students.  To date, 76 Handler Scholars have either enrolled or graduated from the University.  Each year going forward in perpetuity, one percent (currently 14) of the entering freshman class will be awarded this prestigious scholarship once admitted to the University of Rochester. The Handlers have four children: Max, Shane, Hunter, and Skylar.  The entire Handler family has been actively and personally involved with the Handler Scholars.

“Rich has demonstrated his commitment to the University and the Board in very meaningful ways since first being elected in 2005,” said University President Richard Feldman. “He is both a key adviser to the University and a dedicated alumnus who helped The Meliora Challenge surpass its ambitious fundraising goal.  He freely gives of his time to speak with students while on campus, and he’s committed to seeing that talented students of limited financial means can attend and graduate from the University. I very much look forward to continuing to work with Rich on advancing key strategic initiatives in anticipation of a new University president next summer. I’m also extremely thankful for everything Danny has done and will continue to do for the University,” said Feldman, “and I look forward to continuing to work with Danny as a Board member.”

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