Tools Search Main Menu


June 5, 2007

Remarks at the Garden Party, Memorial Art Gallery

The year 2006-2007 was a year of notable developments at the University of Rochester.

In August 2006, our University was listed as one of 25 schools named a "New Ivy" in the Kaplan/Newsweek "How to Get into College Guide."

In October, the University of Rochester was ranked 21st among United States universities in the annual global listing issued by the Times of London, up from 29th the prior year.

Also in October, the National Institutes of Health chose the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry as one of the 12 inaugural recipients of its new Clinical and Translational Science Award. The School of Medicine will receive $40 million from NIH over a five year period and will establish a Clinical and Translational Science Institute. This is the largest NIH award ever received by our University and will strengthen the School of Medicine's ability to be an international leader in these rapidly growing fields of applied medical research.

In January, Moody's Investors Service revised its outlook for the University from stable to positive, stating in part: "The positive outlook is primarily driven by continued improvements in the University's student market..., growing operating income at the hospital, and a reinvigorated focus on development efforts."

Separately, three Rochester scientific achievements were listed in Discovermagazine's Top 100 List for 2006, including the FDA approval of a vaccine for cervical cancer in part based on the research of University of Rochester scientists Richard Reichman, William Bonnez and Robert Rose.

Two distinct University of Rochester research projects that help us understand biodiversity, one led by biology Professor H. Allen Orr and another by Daven Presgraves, were together listed in Science magazine's top ten scientific breakthroughs of 2006.

In April 2007, NIH granted the University of Rochester Medical Center $26 million to establish the New York Influenza Center of Excellence to study how to make future influenza pandemics less deadly.

It is against this background of accomplishments that I want to focus today on the University and the community.

Throughout its 157 year history the University has been committed to the greater Rochester community. We are proud to be an urban university; proud to be a major health care provider in this region; proud that our students, faculty, alumni, and staff are deeply involved in community service; and proud of the role we perform as employers, consumers, and neighbors in a community and region we dearly love. We have become the largest employer in our immediate geographic area and the generator of an increasing number of new businesses.

We serve our community best by striving to be the most outstanding university we can be. Universities are catalysts for the economic progress that is the key to success in an increasingly knowledge-based society. Our ties to Rochester are vital and inextricable, and they are growing.

Today I want to focus on these ties, describing economic development, education, health, arts and culture, and our future together.


We all know that our community has economic challenges. No university alone can be an economic savior. But the University of Rochester is playing a vital role in the revival of the Rochester economy.

Earlier I asked the Center for Governmental Research to prepare an analysis of the University of Rochester's economic impact. Let me share with you today some of the preliminary results. The Center estimates that the University of Rochester directly or indirectly generates almost 31,000 jobs and $1.4 billion in payroll to our five-county region that would not exist without the University.

The University directly spent $423 million on goods and services in 2006, of which $145 million was in the Rochester area. Between 2002 and 2006, the University separately spent over $700 million in capital related expenses.

The University and Strong Partners Health System directly employ the full-time equivalent of approximately 19,500 people, in addition to 5,000 students in part-time positions.

Approximately 4,300 of the University's undergraduate and graduate students and medical residents live off campus, contributing their living expenses to the Rochester area economy.

Visitors to the University account for more than 21,000 hotel room reservations annually in our region.

Patients are drawn to the Medical Center from an area reaching Buffalo, Syracuse, and the Southern tier. Patients from outside Monroe County represent as much as 60 percent of total clinical services in some specialized areas.

University-based research boosts the Rochester economy in other significant ways. In the year ending June 30, 2006, the University received $351 million in funding for sponsored research, a 39 percent increase since 2002.

The University of Rochester is among the top ten United States universities in licensing revenue, earning approximately $40 million in 2006. The cervical cancer vaccine, the first commercial anti-cancer vaccine, is the most recent significant addition to our licensed technologies.

Since 1996, the University has been involved in the start-up of 29 new companies, most of these in the last three years. These companies span the fields of optics, imaging, software development, energy, genomics, and biotechnology. One notable example, VirtualScopics, a developer of image-related biomarkers, has been traded on the Nasdaq stock market since May 2006.

Our Center for Electronic Imaging Systems generated a record $114 million in economic development for New York State in 2006. Over the past five years, this Center has delivered $315 million in economic impact in New York State in new jobs, revenues, cost savings, capital improvements, and acquired funds.

Our Center for Entrepreneurship is making use of a $3.5 million grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and a further $7 million in matching funds to make entrepreneurship integral to courses and schools across the University. Entrepreneurship-focused programs include the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, which helps children in grades 6 through 12 develop real businesses; the Kauffman Entrepreneurial Year program, which allows undergraduate students to devote an extra year, tuition free, to the study and practice of entrepreneurship; the Institute for Music Leadership at the Eastman School; and the Center for Nursing Entrepreneurship.

A major aspect of the University's contribution to the local economy involves construction. On May 17, the University dedicated the new Robert B. Goergen Hall for Biomedical Engineering and Optics, a 100,000 square foot facility which will allow us to strengthen our position of national leadership in optics and build upon the momentum of one of our fastest growing departments. A new Cardiovascular Research Institute, located on Bailey Road, will be completed later in 2007. The new James P. Wilmot Cancer Center—a 163,000-square-foot facility to be opened in 2008—will substantially increase patient capacity and improve the quality of care. The Center for Governmental Research projects that the Wilmot Cancer Center will create 1,000 new permanent jobs through direct and indirect employment, provide 750 construction jobs, and lead to approximately $18 million annually in additional research funds. We also recently have begun design work on a Clinical Translational Science Building, a 150,000 square foot facility proposed to be located on Crittenden near the School of Nursing. The Center for Governmental Research estimates that this project will potentially provide nearly 600 new jobs and add approximately $30 million annually to the local economy.

Taking a walk along the Genesee River soon will be a quite different experience—for both city residents and the University of Rochester community. Brooks Landing—the privately-funded waterfront development between Brooks Avenue and Genesee Street—will provide the beginnings of a type of college town, with an 80-room hotel as well as a retail and office building occupied in part by the University. This development should be completed by the spring of 2008.

Nearby, the University is partnering with private developers to bring a five-building, 120-unit apartment complex to South Plymouth Avenue that will provide housing to about 400 University students. These Riverview Apartments are scheduled to open by the fall of 2008.

Early in 2006 I asked the University Board of Trustees Facilities Committee to initiate a master facilities review. The Committee's chair, University trustee Roger Friedlander, is now working with University Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance Ron Paprocki on a Master Facilities Plan that will serve the University for at least the next 20 years. An initial draft of this plan was presented to the University Board of Trustees at a March retreat. A final version of the plan will be presented to the Board during the next academic year.

Already key themes are emerging from our Master Facilities Plan.

Compared to many of our peers, the University of Rochester is land-rich with approximately 600 acres of land available for future growth without expanding the University beyond its current footprint. We have the potential, over time, to increase the space currently devoted to education, dormitories, and medicine using land immediately contiguous to our existing River and Medical campuses, in a way that both provides exciting opportunities for growth and can be sensitive to green space and issues of sustainability.

We look forward to the possibility of developing a second college town neighborhood along Mount Hope Avenue between Elmwood and Crittenden Avenues in what we call the Mount Hope Corridor. This may include a combination of medicine, academic use, retail, and housing and will be preceded by detailed discussions with our surrounding communities as well as government leaders as part of the analysis of this project.


Let me now focus on education. The University of Rochester first and foremost is an academic institution, with a pronounced commitment to teaching. We are particularly proud that many of our education programs are available to the community.

The Eastman Community Music School notably serves approximately 1,300 students—students who range in age from less than one year to more than 90. The Eastman Community Music School is home to the acclaimed Early Childhood program, as well as the first New Horizons Band, Orchestra, and Chorus program, an ensemble program for adults.

Since 1997 Eastman Pathways—a collaborative partnership between the Rochester City School District and the Eastman School—has offered quality music education to promising city youth.

For 18 years, Wilson Day has brought more than 1,000 students, staff, and faculty each year to some 60 community agencies in the city of Rochester. The University of Rochester was the first in the country to develop this type of community service component of its fall freshman orientation—an innovation that earned the attention of Time magazine.

Separately 85 area college students have served at least 30 different organizations since the Urban Fellows program began in 2002. Run by the local nonprofit Leadership Rochester with our College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering, the Urban Fellows have produced policies to prevent lead paint poisoning, an education initiative about juvenile diabetes, and two block watch programs, among many others.

A recent $3.8 million federal grant has created a partnership between the University's Warner School of Education and the Rochester Catholic Schools to establish Rochester preschools as centers of excellence. Its ScienceStart! curriculum capitalizes on children's natural curiosity about the world around them and uses science as a vehicle to develop their language, literacy, and school readiness. In the past six years, 1,700 children have participated in the ScienceStart! program and 1,800 families have taken part in its family literacy component.

Each summer, our Laboratory for Laser Energetics holds an eight-week research program for highly motivated high school students, and the Department of Physics offers programs for K through 12 students and teachers.

The Life Sciences Learning Center at the University's School of Medicine provides a separate science education laboratory working to increase young people's interest in science, providing them with a chance to experience state-of-the-art biomedical research equipment. More than 6,000 students and 250 teachers have participated in the Center's programs.

Each of these, and many other initiatives involving education, highlights the ways in which the University and the community have recognized a shared future and are working together. Our students learn from the community. Our faculty and staff are committed to the greater Rochester community.


In few areas is this commitment to the greater Rochester community more apparent than healthcare.

When George Eastman made a gift to found the Medical School in the 1920s, he directed the University to make Rochester the "healthiest community in the nation." Today, community health is a core mission of the Medical Center.

In 2006 the Medical Center reinvigorated this commitment through the creation of the Center for Community Health. This Center is intended to build stronger partnerships, support faculty efforts to develop innovative new programs, and integrate community health across the Medical Center's missions.

Lead poisoning is a challenge to many older urban areas and is one of the greatest environmental health threats facing children in Rochester. Virtually all of Rochester's housing stock was constructed before the ban on lead paint, and almost one out of every four Rochester children has elevated blood lead levels—ten times the national rate.

The University was instrumental in assembling a broad community partnership whose goal is to make Rochester "lead safe" by 2010. Last year, working with the cooperation of the Southwest Area Neighborhood Association and the Rochester Fatherhood Resource Initiative, the University opened the Healthy Home in southwest Rochester. Visitors to the Healthy Home learn how to eliminate health hazards in their homes, including lead, asthma triggers, toxic chemicals, and indoor air hazards such as carbon monoxide and radon.

Across the country, urban African Americans over the age of 65 are 40 percent less likely to receive an annual flu vaccination than their white peers in the suburbs. The University of Rochester, in cooperation with Monroe County and many community partners, has been at the forefront of national efforts to eliminate this type of disparity. In 2002 Rochester was chosen as one of five sites across the country to implement the Racial and Ethnic Adult Disparities in Immunization Initiative.

Collectively, these programs have helped reduce the disparities between white and minority and inner-city and suburban populations in Monroe County. Rochester now has one of the highest immunization rates for children and the elderly in the country, and our success has created a model for other communities.

Oral health is also a major health problem for children living in poor inner-city and rural communities. Former Surgeon General David Satcher, a University of Rochester alumnus, described dental and oral diseases as a "silent epidemic" disproportionately affecting America's poor. In Rochester, an estimated 23 percent of kindergartners have never visited a dentist.

The University of Rochester's Smilemobile program, a dental office on wheels, brings oral health services year-round to children who would otherwise not have access to much needed dental care. The program consists of three mobile units that rotate between inner-city elementary schools during the academic year and rural locations during the summer. On an annual basis, the three units provide services to 2,700 children and teens.

The University separately contributes to the early detection of cancer, a critical element in successful treatment. The Women's Health Partnership is a unique University-supported program that consists of more than 40 community-based organizations and more than 100 health care providers. Working with partners such as the Highland Hospital Breast Care Center, the Women's Health Partnership helps uninsured women understand breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer risks and receive regular screenings and necessary diagnostic follow up. Last year, the program provided screenings to more than 2,300 uninsured women.

In all, last year the University of Rochester Medical Center:

  • Participated in more than 120 community health programs;
  • Served more than 90,000 people through these community health programs;
  • Provided more than $33 million in uncompensated and charity care, and contributed $12 million more toward the cost of treatment for Medicaid patients; and
  • Worked with more than 70 community partners, including the Rochester City Schools and the Monroe County Department of Health.

Let me particularly highlight the significance of care for the uninsured and underinsured. The University's hospitals, Strong and Highland, have become a vital part of the safety net that provides health care to all Rochesterians. It is well known that our Emergency Departments are often busy. I want to stress a larger point: This is because our hospitals attempt to be there for all in our community.


Carved into the stone façade of the Eastman Theatre are the words, "For the Enrichment of Community Life." Their prominence reflects the ongoing partnership in arts and culture between the University and the local community.

The Eastman School of Music offers more than 800 world-class orchestral, wind ensemble, chamber music, jazz, and opera performances each year, many of them free.

The Eastman School's crown jewel, the Eastman Theatre, is Rochester's preeminent performance space, home to the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and a venue for the International Jazz Festival and many other events sponsored by other community organizations. The recently announced $20 million project to renovate the theater—funded in part by an $8 million grant from the State of New York—will significantly enhance this Rochester landmark.

For community members who do not come to the Eastman School, music comes to them. Each year the Music for All program sends more than 40 chamber music groups into the community. They perform some 90 concerts each year for audiences of preschoolers, senior citizens, and those in between.

The Memorial Art Gallery is one of the few university-affiliated art museums that is also a museum for the community. It is recognized as one of the finest regional art museums in the nation. The collection spans 5,000 years, from the ancient world to the 21st century, and includes masterworks by such artists as Monet, Cézanne, Matisse, and Homer.

Last year ended with two major traveling exhibitions— My America: Art from The Jewish Museum Collection and Georgia O'Keeffe: Color and Conservation. The O'Keeffe exhibit attracted 50,000 people, making it one of the most popular shows in gallery history.

The Memorial Art Gallery is also a community resource. Its Creative Workshop today has 3,500 students, one of the largest museum art schools in the country.

The University's contributions to cultural life in Rochester extend beyond the Eastman School of Music and the Memorial Art Gallery. The River Campus also plays a vital role. Particularly significant have been frequent events open to the public at the Strong Auditorium such as our annual Martin Luther King, Jr. lecture, which this year featured the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and ongoing programs such as the Plutzik Reading Series, which during the past four decades has presented over 250 writers, including Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee and United States Poet Laureate Rita Dove.


Two themes ultimately emerge from our first 157 years together.

First, the University has and will continue to grow, and our growth will be in Rochester. The pace of this growth is inspiring. In 1900 we were a university with approximately 200 students, none of whom were women. Now we are a university with over 8,800 students, approximately half of whom are women. A useful way to measure the pace of change is by focusing on the square footage of University buildings. In 1930, largely after the enormous expansion associated with the creation of the River Campus, the Eastman School of Music, and the Medical campus, there were approximately 2 million square feet of facilities at the University of Rochester. By 1950, this total had grown to 3 million square feet. In the next six decades, the University has added 8 million more square feet and now directly owns 158 buildings with additional lease arrangements just shy of another three quarters of a million square feet of property.

Second, what is particularly striking about the nature of the University's relationship to the community is its breadth and cultural richness. When the Places Rated Almanac recently voted Rochester as number six among the best places to live in the United States, they were in part recognizing a metropolitan area with an outstanding university and college community, cultural resources including Eastman Theatre and the Memorial Art Gallery, and first rate health care.

For the greater Rochester community, the fundamental challenges remain economic development and job creation. There are no simple or rapid answers. But the University of Rochester is playing and intends to play a vital role in our evolving future. For many communities, research universities have become the pivotal economic actors. In Los Angeles, for example, the University of Southern California is now the largest employer; in St. Louis, it is Washington University; for the entire state of Maryland, Johns Hopkins plays this role. These research universities, like the University of Rochester, produce new knowledge through research; generate spinoffs and royalty income; provide the highest quality health care; and educate students in a wide array of fields from the humanities and social sciences to life sciences and engineering to education and business in ways that allow their home cities to compete in the global knowledge economy while enriching these communities through arts and culture.

Our challenge at this University is to accelerate our progress. We look forward to working with our partners in all levels of government, the business community, and our neighbors to help build a greater Rochester. If universities were ever like cities on a hill, separate and apart from their surrounding communities, those days are long over. We are part of the greater Rochester community. And we are proud to be part of this wonderful community.