A New Home for the Rochester Family
Rochester dedicates a new center for alumni and
Photography by Richard Baker
Text by Scott Hauser
As alumni, friends, and families return to campus this
fall for Meliora Weekend, they will find a new “home
base” to help them stay connected to the University and to
This fall the University opens a new alumni and
advancement center designed as a national headquarters in service
to alumni, parents, and friends of the University. The newly
renovated building features meeting spaces, reception areas, and
other facilities that can be used for organizational meetings and
RECEPTION: Nancy Jones Lyke ’47, ’73W (Mas),
Peter DiPasquale ’52, and Jean Conner Ferris ’47 talk
with Kevin Wesley, executive director of alumni relations.
“The new center recognizes the importance of
alumni, parents, friends, and community leaders in the life of the
University,” says Jim Thompson, senior vice president and
chief advancement officer. “Their connection to the
University can and should be lifelong. Whether they are volunteer
leaders returning to work on a committee or visitors returning to
campus to catch up with friends, the facility will be a welcoming
and comfortable home.”
NEW ROOMS: Jean Conner Ferris ’47 and Nancy Jones
Lyke ’47, ’73W (Mas) catch up in the new board conference room, which is used by a variety of volunteer leadership groups for organizational meetings.
The grounds surrounding the new alumni and advancement
center will be formally dedicated during Meliora Weekend in honor
of Elmer B. Milliman, a member of the Class of 1919.
Milliman, a former president of Central Trust Company
and former chairman of the board of Rochester Management Inc., was
an active Rochester civic leader and a former trustee of
The new building also recognizes former trustee Matthew
Fairbank ’30, ’35M (MD) and his wife, Ruth Harmon
Fairbank ’31. The former home of many of Rochester’s
alumni programs was named in their honor in 1980. The
center’s primary event space, the Fairbank Lounge, is named
Located on the grounds of the former St. Agnes High
School, a property that the University has owned since 1982, the
center brings the organizations and programs responsible for
advancement under one umbrella.
During Meliora Weekend, the new center will be the site
of a number of events, including Board of Trustees meetings, a
reception, and student performances. Alumni and friends of all the
University’s schools and units are invited to think of the
new center as theirs.
“The center is really the best of all possible
worlds,” says Kevin Wesley, executive director of alumni
relations. “It has wonderful formal space and a warm
atmosphere. The space allows alumni to have a home away from home
when visiting campus, whether for a committee meeting, a formal
alumni event, or simply to browse through yearbooks. Come by, have
a cup of coffee, and say hello!”
What Became of St. Agnes?
OLD SCHOOL: Opened in 1954, St. Agnes High School
closed in 1982, and the University purchased the property.
At about the same time as women students at the
University were preparing to move from the Prince Street campus to
the then newly built River Campus, there were other, younger
Rochester girls getting ready for a momentous change of their
In the fall of 1954, the doors opened at St. Agnes High
School, a new home for a Catholic school originally founded in 1906
as the St. Agnes Institute of Art and Music. Named in honor of
Mother Agnes Hines, superior general of the Sisters of St. Joseph
from 1882 until 1921, the new school on East River Road was one of
several built by the diocese in response to growing student
enrollment after World War II.
Outgrowing their site in downtown Rochester, the
Sisters of St. Joseph in 1948 had purchased 37 acres south of the
River Campus. In 1953, ground was broken for the 800-student
school, which also included a chapel and a convent for the sisters
who taught there.
When the order closed St. Agnes in June 1982, the
University, which had already bought some of the original land as a
site for graduate student housing, purchased the remaining land,
including the school and its buildings.
Since then, the site has been used by the University
for a variety of programs. This summer, with renovations completed
on many of the buildings, the old St. Agnes school was reborn as
the University’s new home for alumni and advancement