Fast Forward Newsletter | March 2016
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March 2016

March 2016

A Historic Gift for Simon Business School

Gleason Hall, Simon Business School

At the outset of Simon Business School’s $85 million campaign for The Meliora Challenge, University Trustee Janice Willett ’78S (MBA), chair of the Simon School’s campaign, penned an encouraging message to the Simon community that began by invoking the legacy of William E. Simon.

Willett wrote “He would not have put his name on our school without being very certain that we would live up to his expectations. And I believe we have.” She then cited the accomplishments and quality of Simon’s alumni and faculty, the prestige of Simon’s programs, and amidst all of this, the school’s humility.

It is only fitting that the “quiet school” would have the largest single commitment in its history made by a University alumnus who preferred to be unnamed.

At a Board of Trustees meeting on March 10, Joel Seligman, President, CEO, and the G. Robert Witmer, Jr. University Professor, announced the Simon School had received a $20 million deferred commitment, propelling it beyond its campaign goal.

To learn more about this transformative commitment, take a look at the gift announcement.

Snow and Scholarships

Kristen Dean with her daughter, Laurie, and her son, Kyle

A native Hawaiian, Kristen Dean ’72 grew up where snow exists almost exclusively in pictures and on screen. Being able to see it, touch it, and make angels in it was a favorite part of her University of Rochester experience.

“The only other time I had seen snow was in Europe,” said Dean, a now retired resident of Seattle. “It was somewhere in the Alps, and there was very little. So a winter in Rochester, for me, was special.”

Dean feels most mainlanders take winter’s white bounty for granted. She has similar feelings about the availability of financial assistance for higher education.

Dean was fortunate enough to be able to attend the University with the help of a partial scholarship and federal and personal loans. Later, she was able to find ways of sending her children to college without having them incur a lot of debt. There are many students and families who struggle to or are unable to do this, and it was with them in mind that Dean established the Jeffrey S. and Kristen M. Dean Endowed Scholarship.

The scholarship, which was created in memory of her late husband, Jeffrey Dean ’71, aims to help the growing number of students who fall between “no need” (they’ve received a full merit scholarship or are self-financing) and “partial support” (they’ve received some financial aid, but not what they need).

In addition to mitigating the financial burdens students face, scholarships also ensure the University remains a diverse learning community, which is important for developing worldly students. Dean contributed to this effort by adjusting her classmates’ perceptions of people from the Aloha State. She let them know that “not all people in Hawaii live in huts and wear grass skirts,” which according to her, a lot of students genuinely thought that was the case.

Being far from home presented Dean with her own cultural learning opportunities. Due to the high cost of air fare, she couldn’t afford to fly home when school was not in session. That meant during most holidays, she was adopted by her friends’ families whose ethnic backgrounds were different from her own.

“I celebrated Hanukkah and Passover more than Christmas and Easter,” said Dean. “It was a cool experience for me. I think it’s important for students to live away from their families.”

The time she spent with her adoptive families helped her form friendships that have lasted almost 50 years. Aside from her education, this is the gift from the University she treasures most.

Truth and Eyes: A Look at Historical Hoaxes

A. Joan Saab discussed the FeeJee mermaids (shown on screen) as part of her lecture on hoaxes.

Prior to the 19th century, seeing was the foundation of believing. But then people were introduced to the telescope, the camera, and other technologies, which affected their ideas of what was real and what was not.

On March 2, A. Joan Saab, the Susan B. Anthony Professor and associate professor of art history and visual and cultural studies, explored the Cardiff Giant, the fantastical creatures of P. T. Barnum, and other fanciful accounts in “Making Sense of What We See: Hoaxes and the American Visual Imagination.”

Presented by the Humanities Center, the lecture was the first in the Hagop and Artemis Nazerian Humanities Lectures, an annual series made possible by a gift from University Trustee Ani Gabrellian ’84 and Mark Gabrellian ’79, in honor of Ani’s parents and their belief in the benefits of a humanistic education. Recently, Ani sat down with her mother, Artemis, to talk about the importance of the humanities and more.

To learn more about the Humanities Center, visit

Bringing the Best of Rochester to New York

Around the minute mark of the main title sequence for Netflix’s House of Cards, train tracks are shown and a guitar can be heard as a train runs through the time-lapsed scene. The music’s composer, Jeff Beal ’85E, was surprised by how many listeners pointed to specific moments like this. He was equally intrigued by the meaning that was given to the juxtaposition of what was seen and heard, as the combinations were not consciously planned, but rather “happy accidents” of the creative process.

Beal discussed the idea that art continues to be shaped by how it is perceived at the second annual Meliora on the Road, a University program that brought the best of Rochester to the Westin New York Grand Central on March 12.

In his TED Talks-style keynote address, “Music, Image, and the Power of the Unexpected,” Beal, a prolific and much-heralded composer for film, media, and the concert hall, explored the interplay of music and image in films and how the listener/viewer plays a role in that relationship. He also examined how improvisation and musical “surprises” further engage the individual and enhance the story in their mind.

Prior to Beal’s address, University alumni, parents, and friends heard state-of-the-University remarks from Joel Seligman, President, CEO, and the G. Robert Witmer, Jr. University Professor. They were then able to attend faculty-led presentations that covered race and diversity at the University and exciting new initiatives at the Ernest J. Del Monte Neuromedicine Institute.

To see a full list of presentations and speakers, visit

I Heart Rochester Day

Thomas Bentley ’14, Teddy Rycroft ’18, Laura Zhao ’16, and Eudora Erickson ’16

Rochester, how do I love thee? Let me show you the ways. Through handwritten notes and social media posts (#iHeartUR), the University community shared its affection for its home along the Genesee during the fourth annual I Heart Rochester Day and the first I Heart Eastman Day on February 2.

As part of the celebration, students from the College and the Eastman School of Music combined to write more than 900 thank you notes to first-time donors.

There was no shortage of gratitude and Rochester pride. Take a look.