University of Rochester
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History and Distinctions


Brief History Rochester Firsts and Foremosts Notable Alumni

Brief History

Founded in 1850 as a Baptist-sponsored institution. First master's degrees awarded in 1897. Due in large part to the efforts of Susan B. Anthony, women were first admitted in 1900.

Under President Rush Rhees (1900-1935), the University grew expansively. It was during his tenure that George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak, became a major donor, and the Eastman School of Music and the School of Medicine and Dentistry were founded. The renowned Institute of Optics opened in 1929. The first Ph.D. was awarded in 1925, and by 1930 several departments had begun to train candidates for the doctorate. Also under Rhees, ground was broken in 1927 for the present main campus on the Genesee River.

In 1955, the Colleges for Men and Women were merged into what is now the College. In 1958, three new schools were created in engineering, business administration, and education. The Laboratory for Laser Energetics was founded in 1970, and the School of Nursing was created from the Department of Nursing in 1971.

In 1986, the business school was named for William E. Simon, entrepreneur and former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.

In 1993, the education school was named in honor of Margaret Warner Scandling '44, lifelong University supporter and wife of philanthropist and businessman William Scandling.

In 1998, the Eastman Dental Center was added to the School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Rochester Firsts and Foremosts

A sampling of Rochester facts and distinctions:

  • Rochester faculty and alumni have included eight Nobel Prize winners and 12 Pulitzer Prize winners.
  • The Eastman School of Music ranks first in graduate music programs in the country in the latest survey by U.S. News & World Report. The School of Medicine and Dentistry ranks 30th overall among medical schools, and its primary-care program ranks 17th among primary-care medical schools. The Simon School is ranked 23rd among graduate business schools. Other recent U.S. News surveys have cited Rochester graduate programs in political science, physics, economics, nursing, clinical psychology, computer science, chemistry, biology, and community health. The University ranks among the top 50 national research universities.
  • In research productivity, the University ranks 12th among leading private universities nationwide in a study that accounts for differences in institutional size.
  • The School of Medicine and Dentistry ranks in the top one quarter of all medical schools in research grants funded by the federal government, with more than $135 million in National Institutes of Health funding.
  • Eastman School alumni are members of all of America's leading orchestras and other prominent orchestras around the world. Five Eastman-trained composers have been awarded the Pulitzer Prize in music, and several other alumni have won Grammy, Tony, and Emmy Awards.
  • The Institute of Optics was founded in 1929 as the nation's first educational program devoted exclusively to optics. It is widely considered one of the nation's premier optics schools and is a leader in basic optical research and theory.
  • Rochester's electronic imaging research and teaching programs are considered to be among the most innovative in the country.
  • Rochester is a leading user and charter member in the University Research Association, which manages Fermilab, the world's highest-energy accelerator, in Batavia, Illinois.

Notable Alumni

  • Francis Bellamy, wrote the original Pledge of Allegiance, published in 1892
  • George Abbott, legendary director of such Broadway hits as Pal Joey, The Pajama Game, and Damn Yankees
  • Steven Chu, Nobel laureate in physics
  • Renee Fleming, Grammy Award-winning operatic soprano
  • Robert Forster, Academy Award-nominated actor known for his roles in movies such as Jackie Brown
  • David Kearns, former CEO of Xerox and former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education
  • Galway Kinnell, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and MacArthur Fellow
  • Arthur Kornberg, Nobel laureate in medicine
  • Mitch Miller, conductor, record producer, and TV producer
  • Cathy Minehan, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
  • David Satcher, former U.S. Surgeon General

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Last modified: Wednesday, 11-Apr-2007 13:32:45 EDT