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Spring 2017: Welcome Back

Welcome back.  Spring 2017 will be an exciting semester.

On December 20, I convened the first meeting of the Presidential Diversity Council, which consists of senior University leaders tasked with promoting and encouraging the University’s race and diversity activities and establishing methods of accountability for continued progress.  As its initial act, the Council voted unanimously to recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a University holiday, commencing in 2018.  The Council will consider a number of issues affecting students, faculty and staff over the course of subsequent meetings.

Wegmans Hall, home to the Goergen Institute for Data Science, is scheduled for full occupancy later this semester.  

In December, Simon Business School held its third annual Tech Trek, in which Simon MBA and MS students visited prominent companies in Silicon Valley.  Corporate hosts included Facebook, Google, Intel, Juniper Networks, Intuit, SanDisk, and Symantec.  

The new 72,000-square-foot residence hall overlooking the University’s Brian F. Prince Athletic Complex is due to open next fall.  The finished building will feature four residential floors to house approximately 150 new beds, meeting rooms for study groups and workshops, a new locker room facility, and training rooms for our athletic programs.

This semester the Humanities Center will host a number of inspiring programs.  Christopher Celenza, co-director of the Singleton Center and Charles Homer Haskins Professor of Classics and German Romance Languages and Literatures at Johns Hopkins University will present the Ferrari Humanities Symposia lecture.  Wendy Doniger, a much noted scholar in the area of History of Religion from the University of Chicago Divinity School, will be the Distinguished Visiting Humanist in March.

The University was selected to be a host campus for the 2017 Hult Prize, the world’s largest social entrepreneurship competition.  The Simon School hosted the event on November 19 and a team of undergraduates was selected to advance to a regional semifinal competition this March.  The students on the winning team are Min A ’18, Edgar Alaniz ’18, Carlos Yuki Gonzalez Roman ’17, Ibrahim Mohammad ’17, and Omar Soufan ’17.

Nominees for the 59th Grammy Awards include Eastman School of Music alumni Steve Gadd ’68E; Bob Ludwig ’66E, ‘01E (MM); Sean Connors ’04E; Kristian Bezuidenhout ’01E , ‘04E (MM); Gene Scheer ’81E, ’82E (MM); and Christopher Theofanidis ’92E (MM).  Winners will be announced on Sunday, February 12.

Dr. Joy DeGruy, nationally and internationally renowned researcher, educator, author and presenter and assistant professor  of social work at Portland State University, will present the University of Rochester’s 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Address on Friday, January 27 at 6:00 pm in Strong Auditorium.

Winterfest Weekend will take place during the first weekend in February, and will feature Winter Wonderland, occurring inside and outside of Wilson Commons and offering free s’mores, fun winter carnival activities, build-a-buddy, cookie decorating, music by WRUR, an ice carving demonstration, and huskies.

The Student Programming Board will host W. Kamau Bell as its spring speaker on February 10.  Bell is a critically acclaimed sociopolitical comedian and host of the Emmy-nominated hit CNN docu-series United Shades of America, described by the New York Times as “the most promising new talent in political comedy in many years.”

On March 3, David Skorton, the leader of the Smithsonian Institution, will present a Humanities Center lecture on the topic of shaping the future at the Smithsonian.

Our eighth Annual Diversity Conference will take place on March 31, and will feature a keynote speech by Dr. Shakti Butler, filmmaker and Founder and President of World Trust.

This has been an extraordinary year for our faculty.

Kevin Parker, the William F. May Professor of Engineering, whose discoveries have been widely applied in medical imaging and image processing, has been named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.  

Nina Schor, the William H. Eilinger Chair of Pediatrics and the pediatrician-in-chief at Golisano Children’s Hospital, and Daniel Weix, associate professor of chemistry, were named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society.

Richard Feldman, professor of philosophy and dean of the College, has been named the Romanell-Phi Beta Kappa Professor in Philosophy for 2017-18.  Awarded annually to scholars in the field of philosophy, the professorship recognizes the recipients’ considerable achievements and contributions to the discipline.

Mary Ann Mavrinac, vice provost and the Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of River Campus Libraries, was elected as the vice president/president-elect of the Association of Research Libraries.  

The Ontario HIV Treatment Network selected LaRon Nelson, assistant professor of nursing and the University’s Center for AIDS Research associate director for international research, as its inaugural research chair in HIV Program Science for African, Caribbean, and black communities.  

Cardiac surgeons and cardiologists with the Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation completed the 200th heart transplant on August 24.  Strong Memorial is the only comprehensive heart failure and transplant center in upstate New York.

Emily Helenbrook ’16 was one of four vocalists chosen as finalists in the 2017 Getting to Carnegie Voice Competition, which The Huffington Post has called “Carnegie Hall meets America’s Got Talent.”  The final round took place on January 11 at Carnegie Recital Hall, where the audience pronounced Emily the winner.

Dan Bronson ’18, a microbiology major from Lockport, New York, and quarterback of the University’s football team, was honored by New York State police after he helped foil a robbery attempt in Lockport.

Three fall sports teams competed in the NCAA National Championships: men’s soccer, field hockey and women’s cross country.  Field hockey star Sayaka Abe ’17 was named a first-team All-American.

The University’s men’s basketball team entered the season 12-0 for just the eighth time in the program’s 116-year history.

Alexandra Leslie ’18 became the second fastest player in University of Rochester women’s basketball history to reach 1,000 career points, reaching the milestone in her 64th game.

Women’s swimming and diving won the Liberty League team championship for the eighth consecutive year.

I hope you all had a wonderful winter break.