Lighting the Way
LEADERSHIP: Robert Goergen ’60, trustee and former board chairman, says he hopes the building will transform the University’s leading work in optics and biomedical engineering.
Robert Goergen ’60 was the first in his family to go to college, so he understands the ways in which higher education can transform lives. The successful entrepreneur and University trustee looks for opportunities that he thinks will help change the lives of future generations.
“I see this building as a way to transform scholarship, research, and the general experience of Rochester students and faculty in a very tangible way,” Goergen says.
The new building is named in the former physics major’s honor in recognition of his $10 million gift to the building’s construction. Goergen, who has served as a trustee since 1982—including a 12-year term as chairman—and his wife, Pamela, have a long history of supporting Rochester. The Goergens donated $5 million to the 2000 renovation of the athletic center (also named in his honor) and made a substantial gift to support annual teaching awards in the College that have been presented since 1997.
The $37.7 million Goergen Hall brings together two of Rochester’s scientific success stories. The Insitute of Optics, founded in 1929, is the nation’s oldest academic program in optics, while biomedical engineering is one of the College’s newest—and one of its fastest growing—departments.
Home to both programs, the building features extensive research facilities, undergraduate and graduate teaching labs, state-of-the-art demonstration and lecture halls, as well as the new Center for Institute Ventures, an initiative to help faculty commercialize their research and discoveries.
Spearheaded by Wayne Knox, director of the Institute, and Richard Waugh, chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Goergen Hall is designed to foster collaboration and interaction among researchers and between faculty and students.
Those efforts included deliberately creating inviting common areas—epitomized by the five-story Munnerlyn Atrium—where colleagues can easily meet and talk about their work, conversations that can spark new ideas for further research.
Planning for the new building began in 1999, and ground was broken in 2004. The building will be formally dedicated during Graduation Week leading up to this May’s Commencement ceremonies.