Tools Search Main Menu

End of Year Letter

August 7, 2017

To:               The University Family   
From:           Joel Seligman
Re:               End of Year Letter

I have waited to send an end of year letter to include some late breaking good news.  

On July 26, we announced publicly that our Medical Center has been awarded an additional $19 million from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the NIH to coordinate a network of more than 50 institutions across the country that aims to help researchers turn scientific discoveries into health benefits faster.  We are proud that the University of Rochester Clinical and Translational Science Institute was one of the first 12 institutions to be funded by the CTSA program in 2006.  In its first 10 years, the CTSI provided pilot funding and training that helped researchers and students secure approximately $58 million in additional external funding to advance their studies.

Governor Cuomo also recently announced a total of $21.8 million in state grants to improve services and facilities for patients at four regional hospitals: Strong Memorial, Jones Memorial in Wellsville, Noyes Memorial in Dansville, and St. James Mercy in Hornell.

The new Golisano Children’s Hospital opened in July 2015.  Its innovative design has already helped numerous patients and families to feel at home and has enabled doctors to work more efficiently.  Phase II brings new surgical and patient-care capabilities to our new hospital.  In September, we will be ready to open two new floors – adding our new pediatric operating rooms, a dedicated pediatric cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology laboratory, a gastroenterology procedure suite, and a new pediatric intensive care unit.

This fall we will welcome the strongest undergraduate class ever to Arts, Sciences and Engineering.  For the first time, applications exceeded 18,000 and our two-score SAT will cross 1400 for the first time, continuing a rise from the 86th percentile in 2005 to the 97th percentile for the entering class.  Importantly, the incoming students, like our current students, reflect the diversity, intellectual curiosity, and academic excellence that characterizes our student body.

Nor is the good news limited to one school. The School of Medicine and Dentistry accepted only 4.2 percent of the 6,200 applicants to its M.D. program next year – an admission rate that appears to be as good or better than virtually every school of medicine in the country.

The Eastman School of Music will welcome seven new faculty in the fall – including three internationally renowned piano professors, a Grammy award winning viola professor and a six-time Emmy award-winning composer to be the inaugural director of the Beal Institute for Film Music and Contemporary Media. 

School of Nursing researchers were involved in the launch of several innovative collaborative projects, including Mary Tantillo’s Project ECHO® Eating Disorders telemedicine clinic, the first of its kind in the world, and Tobie Olsan’s interprofessional geriatric home visit program.  The School’s Master in Nursing Education program, launched in 2015, had its first two graduates at Commencement in May.  Professor Hyekyun Rhee, Endowed Chair for Nursing Science, was inducted as a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing in October.  And the Center for Employee Wellness continues to grow, now with 13 employers under contract (serving more than 25,000 lives) with a 99 percent satisfaction rate for its services.

The Warner School of Education has continued to make great progress in its “Learning in the Digital Age” strategic priority.  The school has secured a $2.8 million research grant from the National Science Foundation to study online professional development and coaching for rural teachers, and has launched a Digital Conversion Consortium to support K-12 schools in the region that are investing in digital technology as a way to transform teaching practices and improve student outcomes. 

The Simon Business School hired a top marketing researcher from Stanford, and recruited three finance professors from the faculties of Wharton, Wisconsin, and Yale.  The Barry Florescue Undergraduate Business Program launched new tracks in Accounting, Business Analytics, and Entrepreneurship.  75 percent of Simon’s master’s programs are now STEM certified, allowing foreign graduates to remain in the country for up to three years after completing their degrees.  Students have excelled in case competitions throughout the world, including taking second place in the Venture Capital Investment Competition, besting teams from top MBA programs, including MIT and Yale.

In June the Eastman Institute for Oral Health celebrated its 100th anniversary, building on the vision of George Eastman that oral health is fundamental to the health of all of us.  Eastman’s support for the predecessor of the Eastman Institute was a precursor to his support for the University Medical Center. 

In August, Genesee Hall, our newest residence hall, will open and house first-year students.  Genesee Hall is the latest addition to the Brian F. Prince Athletic Complex, and will also include the Boehning Varsity House, named after our trustee and donor Christopher Boehning ‘87, ‘88 (MS) and his wife Julie.  The new facility will include locker and equipment rooms for our sports teams as well as vibrant living spaces.

By June 30, 2017 the University and its affiliates had grown to 30,142 full- and part-time employees, crossing the 30,000 employee threshold for the first time.  Last year, including our affiliates, we increased by 1,219 employees, and have increased by 7,399 employees in the last five years.  The University today is the sixth largest private employer in New York State.  

Our joint program with East High School is beginning to show measurable progress.  Our dream – showing that a challenged urban public high school can perform as well as outstanding suburban schools – is starting to be realized.  After two years of operations, suspensions, behavior incidents and fights are down substantially.  Graduation rates have significantly improved, and, after the first year, the passing rate for first-time ninth graders was 80.2 percent, compared with 48.8 percent before the University’s partnership with East.  This year Warner launched a new Center for Urban Education Success to leverage the work of the East EPO so that the lessons learned from this project can benefit other urban schools.

In 2017, according to the World University Ranking, the University of Rochester was ranked among the top ten best universities in the United States in the performing arts. 

The key to the University’s success is our people.  Our greatest strength is our ability to welcome and support faculty, students and staff of enormous talent regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, military status, or disability and to recognize all individuals who work, research, teach and study here.  Together we have accelerated our progress as a University.  Together we are building an ever better future.

Let me recognize just a few of our outstanding faculty and students.

Assistant professor of urology Ahmed Ghazi and neurosurgery resident Jonathan Stone have developed a technique to produce life-like replicas of organs with the help of a 3-D printer.  Similar to the type of simulation used to train airplane pilots, these organs enable doctors to practice a difficult surgery before an actual operation and has led to safer and more successful surgical results.  As with airplane simulations, it is incredibly realistic – organs look real, bleed, and give the surgeons the opportunity to test different approaches before the actual surgery. 

LaRon Nelson, assistant professor of nursing and Dean’s Endowed Fellow in Health Disparities, has been selected as a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing for next year and was named to the National Institutes of Health’s Adolescent HIV Prevention and Implementation Science Alliance, which will seek to overcome implementation challenges to the treatment of HIV among adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Wendi Heinzelman was installed as dean of the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences this past year.  She is the first female dean of the Hajim School.  During her installation remarks, Wendi addressed the importance of increasing opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities in engineering. 

Jeffrey Runner, professor and chair of the Department of Linguistics in the School of Arts, Sciences and Engineering, was appointed dean of the College of Arts, Sciences and Engineering, succeeding Richard Feldman’s highly successful eleven year deanship. 

Kylee Bartlett ‘19 became Rochester’s first national champion since 2006 when she won the pentathlon at the NCAA Division III indoor track and field national championship.

During the season, the University’s squash team was ranked No. 1 by the College Squash Association for the first time in the team’s 59 year history and finished fifth at the end of a memorable season.

Twelve University of Rochester students won Fulbright awards in 2016-2017.

For those enjoying the fine Rochester weather, the remainder of the summer should be exciting.  On August 8-13, Rochester will be the host city to the Gateways Music Festival, which celebrates the history, participation and achievements of classical musicians of African descent.  More than 125 of the most talented professional and classical musicians from major American symphony orchestras, music school faculty and renowned freelance artists will participate in the festival that takes place at the Eastman School and throughout the Rochester community.  Eastman graduate Lee Koonce ‘96E (MM) is serving as the inaugural president and artistic director of Gateways.

The 2017 KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival, of which the University has been a supportive sponsor since its debut in 2012, will take place between September 14 and 23.  In five short years, the 10-day, a multi-disciplinary visual and performing arts event featuring international, national, and local artists has demonstrated extraordinary growth in the number of venues, performances, and visitors, and become one of the most successful festivals of its type in the nation. 

Our 17th Meliora Weekend will take place October 12-15, with a keynote address by television broadcaster and co-anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America, Robin Roberts.  Best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Peggy Noonan will bring her thoughtful analysis to a Presidential Symposium, and CNN Senior Analyst Jeffrey Toobin will join Arthur Miller ‘56, ‘08 (LLD), Judge Robert Sack ‘60, John Sexton ‘05 (LLD), and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, to discuss legal issues shaping our world.  Chick Corea and Steve Gadd’s ‘68E musical partnership will hit the stage at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theater.  There will be much more to enjoy at our annual intellectual feast.

Enjoy the rest of summer, and Meliora.  2017-2018 will be another spectacular year.