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April 15, 2015

‘A race to the finish’

The Meliora Challenge surpasses its initial goal more than 15 months ahead of schedule

Pamela and Robert Goergen
Trustee Robert Goergen ’60 and his wife, Pamela, have made an $11 million commitment to the Institute for Data Science. In recognition of their commitment, the institute will be named the Goergen Institute for Data Science.

The Meliora Challenge, the University’s comprehensive fundraising campaign, has surpassed its initial $1.2 billion goal, thanks in part to an $11 million commitment from Robert and Pamela Goergen to the University’s Institute for Data Science.

In recognition of the Goergens’ commitment, the institute will be named the Goergen Institute for Data Science.

“Bob and Pam have again provided us with a transformational gift that demonstrates their remarkable commitment to the future of our University,” says President Joel Seligman. “I am deeply grateful to them for helping the institute to become a generative hub for education, research, and innovation in data science. The Goergen Institute will forever honor all they have done to make our University, and help make the world, ever better.”

In 2013, Seligman announced the University was committing $100 million to greatly expand the University’s research in data science. The initiative included plans to recruit top faculty members in the field and create a hub for collaboration among programs in medicine, science and engineering, the humanities, education, business and other disciplines where the analysis of mass quantities of data informs new discoveries and helps develop new applications.

“Data science is introducing exciting new research possibilities and discoveries at the University, as well as new degree programs and robust academic opportunities for students involved in a variety of studies,” says Bob Goergen ’60. “Science, engineering, and mathematics are the University’s sweet spots, so being at the forefront of data science and maximizing our capabilities in high performance computing and calculating is very exciting. We are in a great position to help students become well-trained, highly skilled data scientists and meet the national demand for this kind of expertise.”

“This is an important time for the University, and we are happy to support this growth,” says Pam Goergen. “Making a difference is really why we give the way we give, and we hope our gift inspires others to contribute and make the University of Rochester an even better place for education and research.”

The Goergens join Robin and Tim Wentworth and the Wegman Family Charitable Foundation among lead donors to the institute. In February, the University announced the Wentworths’ $3 million commitment to endow the directorship of the institute. And in April 2014, the Wegman Foundation committed $10 million to the institute. The new building, which will bear the Wegman name, will serve as the home for the recently designated New York State Center of Excellence for Data Science.

Bob Goergen ’60 has been a University trustee since 1982 and served as chairman from 1991 to 2003. He is also an honorary chair for the Campaign.

The Goergens have a distinguished history as philanthropists and University patrons, and their generosity includes several significant, strategically important gifts.

Their $10 million gift in 2007 led the construction of the Robert B. Goergen Hall for Biomedical Engineering and Optics as a new home for the Institute of Optics and biomedical engineering programs. In 2000, the Goergens provided $5 million for renovations to the River Campus athletic and fitness facility, which today is the Robert B. Goergen Athletic Center. And in 1997, Bob and Pam established the Goergen Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, presented annually to outstanding faculty members at the College Convocation.

men hold a sign up reading $1,206,508,910
President Joel Seligman celebrates the campaign milestone with former board chair Bob Witmer ’59 (left), current chair Ed Hajim ’58, and former chair Bob Goergen ’60.

Building on momentum

Launched in 2011, The Meliora Challenge is the largest campaign in the University’s history. Fundraising efforts will continue to build on the $1.2 billion mark until the Campaign’s conclusion in June 2016.

“When we publicly launched The Meliora Challenge campaign, I said that together we would make history. Now, fewer than four years later, I am delighted that we have achieved our initial goal,” Seligman says. “We still have far to go. Great university campaigns typically exceed their initial goals by 10 to 20 percent. Over the next 15 months, we have the opportunity to build on our momentum and take our University to the next level. Let me reflect my great gratitude to our devoted alumni, friends, parents, faculty, staff, and students. Together we are the Rochester family. Together we have demonstrated there is so much that we can achieve.”
Thomas Farrell ’88, ’90W (MS), senior vice president and chief advancement officer, praised the efforts of the University community but also emphasized the importance of sustaining the Campaign’s momentum until its finish date.

“The Campaign has demonstrated remarkable performance to this point, but we have aspirations that go well beyond The Meliora Challenge,” says Farrell. “It is with these goals in mind that we need to stay focused and close out the Campaign strong. It’s a race to the finish!”

“Our Campaign’s performance is a reflection of President Seligman’s inspirational vision,” says Board of Trustees Chairman Ed Hajim ’58. “And we have been fortunate to have dedicated leaders, like Campaign cochairs Richard B. Handler and Cathy E. Minehan, who are working tirelessly to make this vision a reality.” Hajim and his wife, Barbara, are among those leading Campaign giving, committing $30 million in 2008 to fund student scholarships and to support the endowment in the Hajim School of Engineering & Applied Sciences.

“We have reached this point in the Campaign because of forward-thinking donors whose transformative gifts are not only changing the face of the University but also inspiring others to offer their support in whatever way they can,” says Handler ’83, who with his wife, Martha, has contributed $25 million toward scholarships.

“It’s been a community effort the whole way,” says Minehan ’68. “We really can’t say thank you enough to those who have already made gifts and those who will continue to help us reach goals we have to support our students and facilities.”

Last year, Minehan and her husband, E. Gerald Corrigan, added $1 million to the Cathy E. Minehan and E. Gerald Corrigan Endowed Scholarship they created in 2004, which provides assistance for students with significant financial need in the School of Arts & Sciences. Since the beginning of the Campaign, Minehan and Corrigan have contributed more than $4 million, which also includes a professorship.


Golisano Children’s Hospital
Golisano Children’s Hospital

Ronald Rettner Hall for Media Arts and Innovation
Ronald Rettner Hall for Media Arts and Innovation
Joel Seligman, Ed Hajim and Rob Clark hold a Hajim Engineering sign

study space


Campaign highlights

  • The University has met—and exceeded—its Campaign goals for faculty ($350 million) and the Annual Fund ($130 million).
  • Campaign support to date has established 93 new endowed professorships throughout the University, topping the original goal of 80.
  • Members of the George Eastman Circle, the University’s leadership annual giving society, have played a major role in fundraising efforts for the Annual Fund, nearly tripling the amount of available unrestricted funds since the start of the Campaign.
  • OneRochester, the faculty and staff fundraising campaign, reports a 42 percent participation rate.
  • The University had its best fundraising performance in history during its 2014 fiscal year, when more than 51,000 donors contributed a total of nearly $156 million in new commitments.
  • Ed Hajim and his wife, Barbara, are among those leading Campaign giving, committing $30 million in 2008 to fund student scholarships and to support the endowment in the Hajim School of Engineering & Applied Sciences. Other lead campaign donors include Eastman Kodak Company; the Goergens; B. Thomas Golisano; Richard and Martha Handler’ E. Philip Saunders’ Trustee Thomas Sloan ’65, ’67 (MS) and his wife, Linda Sloan ’67; the James P. Wilmot Foundation and Wilmot family; and the Wegman Family Charitable Foundation. In 2014, the Wegman Foundation provided a $10 million gift—in addition to $7 million to the Golisano Children’s Hospital—to the Institute for Data Science.
  • There have been 320 endowed scholarships and fellowships established. The University’s scholarships initiative will continue to be a fundraising priority.
  • The campaign has made possible several new facilities. Among them are the Ronald Rettner Hall for Media Arts and Innovation and Raymond F. LeChase Hall—home to the Warner School—both of which opened in 2013.
  • Most notable among campaign capital projects is the largest in University history: the 245,000-square-foot Golisano Children’s Hospital, scheduled to open in July.
  • Funding for the new children’s hospital represents a major portion of the Medical Center’s $650 million campaign for The Meliora Challenge. The Medical Center  campaign, led by campaign vice chairs University Trustee Richard Aab and Rochester businessman E. Philip Saunders, and honorary chair University Trustee Danny Wegman, recently crossed the $600 million milestone.

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