Fast Forward: The University of Rochester Advancement E-Newsletter

June 16, 2011

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Values and Action

Jim Thompson

“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” is the definition of insanity that is attributed to Albert Einstein. In 2007, Dr. Ray Mayewski, the Chief Medical Officer for Strong Memorial and Highland Hospitals, reminded me of this definition. As my personal physician, he was referring to my ongoing issue with my weight.

Managing my weight was a problem off and on in my life. During school I was a physically fit, all-county football player. I could have easily played college ball. But everybody else kept getting bigger and I stopped growing. I liked the position I played and knew I didn’t really want to change, which I would have had to do. I also went to a school where football was not a good option. So when I stopped playing, the first 20 pounds was easy to put on and not terribly noticeable. By the time I realized I had a longer-term weight problem, it was an unfortunate habit.

Thirty years later and with two heart stents, diabetes that required two kinds of insulin, elevated blood pressure, and back problems, I was beginning to run out of options. I had tried almost everything with insignificant success. Doing the same thing over and over again was not going to improve my health. In fact, someday it was probably going to kill me.

Dr. Mayewski’s personal concern, incredible expertise, and interpersonal skills were clearly evident when he told me about our bariatric surgery program. I knew I needed to enroll. I met Dr. William O’Malley, the Director of the Bariatric Surgery Center at Highland Hospital. He was a pioneer in the field of bariatric surgery, and the Center is truly national in scope. People come from all over for this very comprehensive approach to successful weight loss.

I had the surgery in August of 2008, with tremendous support from Ray Mayewski, Joel Seligman, the trustees, the leadership of the Medical Center, alumni, my staff, friends and family. I woke up with eight small incisions and had a very successful recovery. I took six weeks off from my job, which was very difficult for a multi-generational workaholic, but I needed the time off to commit to a change in lifestyle. The surgery probably saved my life. I learned first hand what we mean at Rochester by “Medicine of the Highest Order.”

It is the tremendous quality of the people who make up and surround Rochester that makes it such an outstanding University. As one of the great national research universities, it is hard to think of a field of human endeavor where we do not have exciting people making significant contributions. Rochester’s “Meliora ethos” creates an environment where so much of that work is at a life-changing and internationally important level. This was just one of my “Meliora Moments” since arriving at the University of Rochester in 2005. It is an amazing place with amazing people, and I can say it probably saved my life. For this I will always be grateful.


James D. Thompson
Senior Vice President
Chief Advancement Officer

You can read more about the Meliora Moments project, read others’ moments, and submit your own at



Discovery Ball Honors Richard T. Bell

Discovery Ball photo

For the 12th time since its inception, the annual James P. Wilmot Cancer Center’s Discovery Ball was a night of philanthropy and inspiration.

On May 21st, this year’s event, chaired by Bob Kessler, the current chair of the Wilmot Cancer Center National Advisory Board, and his wife, Sue, hosted over 700 guests and raised $651,995, including $155,000 pledged via text message.

Held at the Robert B. Wegman Conference Facility, guests enjoyed the company of friends and family amidst beautifully displayed food stations, all while supporting the fight against cancer.  Guests also had the opportunity to win one of the fabulous Discovery Packages. The evening ended on a high note with dancing to the sounds of ‘Tower of Power,’ a soul music band.

The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the powerful video honoring Richard T. “Dick” Bell, this year’s Inspiration Award recipient. The honor is well-deserved, and partly belongs to his inspiration, his “little princess”, Alyssa. Alyssa was a young girl diagnosed with a brain tumor, who was receiving radiation treatments at the same time as Bell. “I knew she had to be scared to death, but she always found time to smile and say hello,” said Bell. Bell was recognized for the compassionate support he freely provided to numerous cancer patients after beating Stage IV throat cancer, and for his generosity in establishing a professorship in honor of his radiation oncologist, Dr. Yuhchyau Chen.

No one describes the act of giving as eloquently as Dick Bell. “Giving comes from the heart. We are all here tonight because we're givers and we care about the people in our community. I gave this gift to help others facing cancer, that they will have even better options to beat this disease.”

Click here for a photo gallery of the 2011 Discovery Ball.

New Messinger Deanship Announced for Eastman School of Music

Messinger and Lowry

Through a generous commitment by University Life Trustee Martin Messinger ’49 and Joan Messinger, Douglas Lowry, the Eastman School’s sixth dean, will be named the first Joan and Martin Messinger Dean of the Eastman School of Music. The endowed deanship provides a source of permanent funding in support of programming and areas of critical need for the dean of the Eastman School.
This announcement came shortly before Joan Messinger’s passing on April 25, 2011. The University of Rochester community is deeply saddened by her absence, but her inspirational commitment to the University will be long remembered at Rochester. With her husband Marty, she built an extraordinary philanthropic legacy that will live on, enriching the academic experience of students and faculty for generations to come. President Joel Seligman and Doug Lowry among others represented the University at Joan’s memorial service on April 27.
Marty Messinger, a long-time friend and supporter of the University, has been a member of the Eastman School’s Board of Managers since 1997 and the Eastman School National Council since 2008. He and his family have supported programs and initiatives across the University, including new and enhanced student spaces inside Rush Rhees Library. The Messingers have also established funds supporting the Judaic studies program, the student Debate Union, and the Messinger Library Recognition Award.
“I am deeply honored that Joan and Marty so generously endowed the deanship of the Eastman School of Music. Marty has been a steadfast believer in the University, and his support of Eastman has been truly inspirational,” Lowry said. “Joan and Marty’s values, wisdom, and sense of family are only a few of their admirable traits, and we treasure their being part of the Eastman family.”

Lowry will be officially installed in the new deanship this fall.

Click here to read more about the Messinger Deanship.

Joseph F. Cunningham Endows Professorship in History

Cunningham photo

Joseph F. Cunningham ’67 (MA), founder of the Washington, D.C-area law firm Cunningham & Associates, and his wife, Andrea, have made a generous $1 million gift commitment to establish a professorship in history in the School of Arts and Sciences. The Joseph F. Cunningham Professorship supports a scholar in the area of history, particularly modern European or American history. The first recipient of the newly endowed chair is Robert Westbrook, an eminent and prolific scholar, dedicated teacher, and long-serving member of the history department. Cunningham says he endowed the professorship out of “gratitude for the spontaneous generosity that the University extended to me when I wanted to pursue graduate studies.”

Cunningham co-authored the Virginia State Bar Monograph on Insurance Law, has published widely in legal journals, and is a frequent lecturer at Georgetown Law Center, the University of Maryland, and the University of Virginia. He endowed a chair in insurance and commercial law at Columbia University School of Law, where he received his law degree in 1960. Two years later, Cunningham began to sample the University’s academic offerings under a tuition scholarship, and eventually earned his master’s degree in history.

“Joseph Cunningham is one of our truly admired University graduates,” said President Joel Seligman. “His decision to endow a chair in history demonstrates a deep commitment to higher education.”

Click here to read more about the Cunningham Endowed Professorship.

2011 Simon New York City Conference

Simon Conf photo

On May 19th the Simon School hosted its second annual conference highlighting and responding to key issues facing corporations today: Emerging Risks to America’s Financial Stability at the Sentry Center in New York City. Among the industry notables and preeminent faculty presentations was New Jersey Governor Christopher Christie. Peter Simon ’08S (HNR) was instrumental in organizing Governor Christie’s participation. This year’s conference focused on the opportunities and challenges of managing risks, with specific focus on global issues and the impact of regulation through presentations and panels such as “Impact of Global Financial Regulation Changes” and “Effectively Managing Risk in the Current Economy.”

Edmund A. Hajim ’58, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the University of Rochester, and President Joel Seligman, presented Peter G. Peterson ’94S (HNR), Founder and Chairman of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation the inaugural “Executive of the Year Award” in recognition of his longstanding efforts to promote understanding of the key fiscal challenges of America’s future.  Peterson is former United States Secretary of Commerce; he has also held the positions of Chairman and CEO of Lehman Brothers, Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, and he co-founded the private equity firm, the Blackstone Group. Additional panels and presentations featured Simon School Professors Clifford W. Smith Jr. and Robert Novy-Marx, Dean Mark Zupan, UBS Wealth Management COO Anita Sands, SEC Director of Enforcement Robert Khuzami ’79, and Steve Levitt, author of the bestsellers Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics.

Click here to read more about the Simon School New York Conference.

Career Center Named for Gwen Greene

Gwen GreeneFor more than 20 years, University of Rochester alumna and Board of Trustees member Gwen Greene '65 has provided encouragement, support, and mentoring for students hoping to break into the financial world. In recognition of her continued support and new $1 million commitment to the College's career center, the center will now be named the Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center.
“Gwen Greene has been an extraordinarily generous mentor to Rochester students and alumni for many years," said Joel Seligman, president of the University. "This latest gift is another wonderful demonstration of how fortunate our students and alumni are to have Gwen in their corner."
The Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center supports a number of services for students at Rochester, including career counseling and graduate and pre-professional school advising, as well as networking opportunities. Throughout the 2009-2010 academic year, the Center's 11 counselors held more than 3,500 one-on-one sessions with students, helping them create résumés and cover letters and honing their interview skills and job search strategies. 

Gwen has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 2000, where she chairs the Student Affairs committee, serves as chair of annual giving programs for the entire University, is a member of the Trustee Development Committee, and also is a Charter Member of the George Eastman Circle, the University's leadership annual giving society.

Click here to read more about the Gwen M. Greene Career and internship Center.

Bay Area Alumna Makes $1 Million Commitment

Karps in SFCarol D. Karp ’74, P’11 has made a commitment of $1 million to support the endowment of internships, the University Technology Development Fund, and the College, River Campus libraries, and School of Medicine and Dentistry annual funds.

In making the gift to endow internships, Carol and her husband, Victor Glushko, Ph.D., P’11, expressed a strong desire to give Rochester students meaningful opportunities to explore work in their field in a way that could help shape their future goals. “Our daughter, Sarah, completed two internships that had a major impact on her Rochester experience. We want to provide direct support for students and help them develop into future leaders."

Carol and Victor were also inspired by the University’s commitment to enhance technology transfer opportunities, and bring a wealth of experience on the successful transfer of technology from academia to the commercial marketplace. Carol serves on the University’s Technology Fund Committee, and both she and Victor have volunteered to serve as advisors to University faculty on technology transfer initiatives.

Carol and Victor are Charter Members of the George Eastman Circle, and active members of the Parent’s Council. Carol is also a San Francisco Bay Area Regional Cabinet member. In recent months they hosted an admissions reception and an alumni gathering in their Hillsborough, CA home. Their daughter, Sarah Karp ’11, will be returning to the University next year as a Take Five Scholar.

Alumni Donate $1 Million to Medical Center

SutherlandsLongtime supporters of the University Karen Webb Sutherland ’61N, P’85 and her husband, Robert M. Sutherland ’66M (PhD), P’85 have committed $1 million to fund an endowed scholarship and an endowment for research and technology commercialization. 

In honor of Karen’s 50th Reunion, the Karen Webb Sutherland ’61N, P’85 and Robert M. Sutherland ’66M (PhD), P’85 Endowed Nursing Scholarship Fund will boost scholarships and financial aid for students. “Having been the recipient of an alumni scholarship as a student, I realize the great impact this kind of assistance can have” Karen notes. The Robert M. Sutherland ’66M (PhD), P’85 and Karen Webb Sutherland ’61N, P’85 Endowed Medical Technology Development Fund – established in memory of Robert’s brother Pierce – will be competitively awarded to faculty of the School of Medicine and Dentistry to provide gap funding for discoveries and emerging technologies before they are ready for commercially motivated investment. “This is an investment that Karen and I hope will impact Rochester for many years to come,” said Sutherland.  

Charter Members of the George Eastman Circle, Karen and Robert Sutherland have been generous and steadfast supporters of the University. They are also members of the San Francisco Bay Area Regional Cabinet. Karen Webb Sutherland is a past member of the School of Nursing Dean’s Advisory Council and was also active in the School’s Future of Care campaign. Bob is a former member of the URMC faculty, who served on the School of Medicine and Dentistry’s Alumni Council and currently serves on the School’s National Council. Currently, Bob is Senior Investment Officer for the Ontario Institute for Cancer research. The Sutherlands live in Menlo Park, CA. 

Click here to read more about the Sutherlands’ gift commitment.

161st Commencement

Burns and Bruning commencement

“I would encourage all of you to follow the example of the University and embrace change and learning. Do it willingly and with a sense of excitement and wonder.” These were the inspirational words Commencement Speaker, University of Rochester Trustee Ursula Burns, bestowed upon the Class of 2011. Burns, chairman and CEO of Xerox, also received the Eastman Medal, along with retired president and CEO of Corning Tropel Corporation, University of Rochester Trustee John Bruning.
The Eastman Medal recognizes individuals who through their outstanding achievement and dedicated service have embodied the high ideals of the University. Bruning has been published extensively and holds 26 patents, and Burns has provided influential leadership to community, educational, and non-profit organizations. 
On a rainy day of celebration, President Joel Seligman captured the spirit best saying, “There are no unhappy commencements.” The University’s 161st saw the conferring of 1077 combined degrees from the School of Arts, Sciences and Engineering, 211 combined degrees from the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, 204 combined degrees from the Eastman School of Music, 168 combined degrees from the School of Nursing, 107 degrees from the School of Medicine and Dentistry, and 85 degrees from the Warner School of Education.
There were also 82 Ph.D.s conferred. On June 12, the Simon School graduated 438. 

Click here for more photos of the University of Rochester’s 161st Commencement.

Fast Forward Archive

April 29, 2011
March 4, 2011
January 27, 2011
December 31, 2010

Fast Forward is published by the University of Rochester, Department of Advancement Communications.
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