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The Meliora Challenge campaign surpasses $1.2 billion initial goal

March 25, 2015
group of men with sign reading $1,206,508,910President Joel Seligman celebrates the campaign milestone with former board chair Bob Witmer ’59 (left) current chair Ed Hajim ’58, and former chair Bob Goergen ’60.

More than 15 months ahead of schedule, it’s now a ‘race to the finish’ for the University of Rochester’s historic fundraising campaign

The Meliora Challenge, the University of Rochester’s comprehensive fundraising campaign, has surpassed its initial $1.2 billion goal. The campaign’s primary objective was achieved thanks in part to an $11 million commitment from Robert and Pamela Goergen to the University’s Institute for Data Science.

President Joel Seligman made the campaign milestone announcement at a Board of Trustees leadership retreat on March 25. Launched in 2011, The Meliora Challenge is the largest campaign in the University’s history. Fundraising efforts for The Meliora Challenge will continue to build on the $1.2 billion mark until the campaign’s conclusion in June 2016.

“When we publicly launched The Meliora Challenge campaign, I said that together we would make history.  Now, fewer than four years later, I am delighted that we have achieved our initial goal,” said Seligman. “We still have far to go.  Great university campaigns typically exceed their initial goals by 10 to 20 percent.  Over the next 15 months, we have the opportunity to build on our momentum and take our University to the next level.  Let me reflect my great gratitude to our devoted alumni, friends, parents, faculty, staff and students.  Together we are the Rochester family.  Together we have demonstrated there is so much that we can achieve.”

Thomas Farrell, senior vice president and chief advancement officer, praised the efforts of the University community, but also emphasized the importance of sustaining the campaign’s momentum until its finish date.

“The campaign has demonstrated remarkable performance to this point, but we have aspirations that go well beyond The Meliora Challenge,” said Farrell. “It is with these goals in mind that we need to stay focused and close out the campaign strong. It’s a race to the finish!”

The University had its best fundraising performance in history during its 2014 fiscal year, when more than 51,000 donors contributed a total of nearly $156 million in new commitments.

“Our campaign’s performance is a reflection of President Seligman’s inspirational vision,” said Board of Trustees Chairman Ed Hajim. “And we have been fortunate to have dedicated leaders, like Campaign co-chairs Richard B. Handler and Cathy E. Minehan, who are working tirelessly to make this vision a reality.” Hajim and his wife, Barbara, are among those leading Campaign giving, committing $30 million in 2008 to fund student scholarships and to support the endowment in the Hajim School of Engineering & Applied Sciences.

In addition to the Hajims, lead campaign donors include Eastman Kodak Company, the Goergens, B. Thomas Golisano, Richard and Martha Handler, E. Philip Saunders, Thomas and Linda Sloan, the James P. Wilmot Foundation and Wilmot family, and the Wegman Family Charitable Foundation. In 2014, the Wegman Foundation provided a $10 million gift—in addition to $7 million to the Golisano Children’s Hospital—to the Institute for Data Science, a top priority for the University and a flagship of The Meliora Challenge. A new, 50,000-square-foot facility for data science will break ground this spring and will bear the Wegman name.

“We have reached this point in the campaign because of forward-thinking donors whose transformative gifts are not only changing the face of the University, but also inspiring others to offer their support in whatever way they can,” said Handler, who with his wife, Martha, has contributed $25 million toward scholarships.

“It’s been a community effort the whole way,” said Minehan. “We really can’t say thank you enough to those who have already made gifts and those who will continue to help us reach goals we have to support our students and facilities.” Last year, Minehan and her husband, E. Gerald Corrigan, added $1 million to the Cathy E. Minehan and E. Gerald Corrigan Endowed Scholarship they created in 2004, which provides assistance for students with significant financial need in the School of Arts & Sciences. Since the beginning of the campaign, Minehan and Corrigan have contributed more than $4 million, which also includes a professorship.

Thus far in the campaign, 320 endowed scholarships and fellowships have been established, assisting talented students in earning a University degree. The University’s scholarships initiative will continue to be a fundraising priority moving forward.

The campaign has also made possible several new facilities that have enhanced the University’s learning, performance, teaching, research, and patient care spaces. Among the most recently completed projects are the Ronald Rettner Hall for Media Arts and Innovation and Raymond F. LeChase Hall—home to the Warner School of Education—both of which opened in 2013. Most notable among all campaign capital projects is the largest in University history: the 245,000-square-foot Golisano Children’s Hospital, scheduled to open this July.

Funding for the new children’s hospital represents a major portion of the University of Rochester Medical Center’s $650 million campaign for The Meliora Challenge. The Medical Center campaign, led by campaign vice chairs University Trustee Richard T. Aab and Rochester businessman E. Philip Saunders, and honorary chair University Trustee Danny Wegman, recently crossed the $600 million milestone.

“The new Golisano Children’s Hospital facility will be a tremendous asset to our region, helping doctors and nurses better serve the emergency needs of children locally, as well as being a destination for families that seek a better treatment or cure for their child’s condition,” said Aab.

On the way to $1.2 billion, the University has met—and is currently exceeding—its Campaign goals for faculty ($350 million) and the Annual Fund ($130 million). Campaign support to date has established 93 new endowed professorships throughout the University, which has exceeded the original goal of 80. Members of the George Eastman Circle, the University’s leadership annual giving society, have played a major role in fundraising efforts for the Annual Fund, nearly tripling the amount of available unrestricted funds since the start of the Campaign. And OneRochester, the faculty and staff fundraising campaign, is reporting a 42 percent participation rate.

For more information on The Meliora Challenge, visit: http://campaign.rochester.edu.

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