University of Rochester

Joel Seligman Named University's 10th President

December 1, 2004

The University of Rochester’s Board of Trustees today named Joel Seligman as the University’s 10th president. Seligman, Ethan A. H. Shepley University Professor and dean of the School of Law at Washington University in St. Louis, will take office July 1, 2005.

One of the nation’s leading experts on securities law, he is the co-author, with the late Louis Loss, of the 11-volume Securities Regulation, the leading treatise in the field, and author of The Transformation of Wall Street: A History of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Modern Corporation Finance. “In multiple dimensions, Joel Seligman shows himself to be a person of remarkable vision, someone who can lead a national research university like ours toward its greatest potential,” said G. Robert Witmer, Jr., chairman of the Board of Trustees. “As law school dean at Washington University and previously at the University of Arizona, his energy and accomplishments have been nothing short of astonishing.”

Seligman will succeed Thomas H. Jackson, another former law school dean (at the University of Virginia) who has served as Rochester’s president since 1994. “Tom Jackson’s administration has strengthened our University in fundamental and deeply felt ways,” Witmer said, “and I have no doubt that Joel Seligman will allow us to continue our upward trajectory.”

He joins a host of former law school deans now heading the nation’s leading universities, including—in New York State alone—Cornell, Columbia, and New York University. While Rochester has no law school, “we go for the best and the brightest,” Witmer said. “Dean Seligman, like Tom Jackson, shows a breadth of ability that makes him well equipped to lead any of the nation’s distinguished universities.”

“Meliora—‘ever better’—is our motto; it symbolizes change and improvement, and it guided Tom Jackson’s presidency,” said Nicholas Bigelow, Lee A. DuBridge Professor of Physics and chair of the University Advisory Committee. “As we scoured the nation in our search for presidential candidates, Joel Seligman really stood out. He has a passion for excellence and equity, he is a true scholar, and he is committed to improving the lives of people around him, be they students, faculty, staff, or his local community. So many things about Joel Seligman seemed to personify Meliora and we are very excited about having him come to Rochester as our 10th president.

“Joel’s skills and experiences are only equaled by his enthusiastic, attentive style,” Bigelow added. “He is a leader who will be both respected and liked across the University.”

“Over time I have admired Dean Seligman’s work, both as law school dean and as a distinguished scholar in his field,” President Jackson said. “Everything he does is meticulous, thoughtful, and creative. Dean Seligman clearly knows higher education and, now, this University. He resonates with its aspirations; he has the vision, skills, and enthusiasm to lead this great institution forward with the right values. I know that the search and advisory committees have done careful and wonderful work, and that Dean Seligman will be a superb president. I look forward to working closely with him during the transitional months ahead.”

Seligman, 54, has been dean at the Washington University School of Law since 1999. A 1971 graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles and a cum laude graduate of Harvard University School of Law in 1974, he served on the law faculty of Northeastern University (1977-83), George Washington University (1983-86), and the University of Michigan (1986-95). He was named dean of the University of Arizona College of Law in 1995.

He also has served as reporter for the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, Revision of Uniform Securities Act (1998-2002); as chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission Advisory Committee on Market Information (2000-01); and as a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Professional Ethics Executive Committee. He is currently a member of the board of NASD (National Association of Securities Dealers).

He is the author or co-author of 20 books and over 40 articles on legal issues related to securities and corporations. He is the co-author (with John C. Coffee, Jr. of the Columbia University law school faculty) of the leading casebook Securities Regulations: Cases and Materials and author of the casebook Corporations: Cases and Materials.

At Washington University, Seligman is credited with masterminding a strategic plan that has helped to raise the law school’s national and international profile. Elements of the plan include guaranteeing second- and third-year students placement in the highly ranked Clinical Program; opening a new Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic; adding faculty positions; and launching a Center for Interdisciplinary Studies and an Institute for Global Legal Studies, both designed to bring world leaders, policy makers, and distinguished academics to campus.

“Joel is a person who gives new meaning to the term ‘indefatigable,’ ” colleague Daniel L. Keating, associate dean for academic affairs at Washington University’s law school, told the university’s weekly newspaper a few years ago.

Seligman and his wife, Friederike, have two children, Andrea, 20, and Peter, 18.

The University of Rochester is a private, national research university including the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering, Eastman School of Music, School of Medicine and Dentistry, School of Nursing, William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration, and Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development. Other components include the Memorial Art Gallery, Laboratory for Laser Energetics, and, at the Medical Center, Strong Memorial Hospital as well as other health care affiliates through the Strong Health network.

The University is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU). It is one of the most collegiate in character among AAU institutions, due to its compact size—one that gives undergraduate and graduate students distinctive opportunities at a nationally ranked institution. The University consistently ranks among the top 30 colleges and universities nationwide in federally financed science, engineering, medical, and other research.

The University has 4,450 undergraduates and 3,890 graduate students across the campuses and 1,090 tenure-track faculty. The University and Strong Health together have 16,555 full- and part-time employees. The institution is the second largest employer in the Greater Rochester area.

Note to Editors: A high-resolution photo of Seligman can be downloaded from the Presidential Search site at, where other background materials are also available.

President Designate, University of Rochester

“I am delighted to accept the opportunity to serve the University of Rochester and to live in the city of Rochester. The University of Rochester is a national institution with a well deserved reputation for outstanding scholarship and wonderful teaching. In recent years, under the inspired leadership of Tom Jackson, the undergraduate program and the Medical Center have been strikingly strengthened. I have been so impressed by the enthusiasm, collegiality, and dedication of the faculty, administration, students, and trustees I have met! I am honored to join you.”

Chancellor, Washington University in St. Louis

“Joel Seligman is an accomplished academic leader and will be a wonderful president for the University of Rochester. During his tenure as Dean of the School of Law at Washington University, he has contributed significantly to the progress of the school and has served the university in many ways. His dedication to students and faculty is a genuine strength, and he inspires the entire community he serves. He has the ability to develop a strategic plan and to lead its execution.

“His departure from Washington University in St. Louis is a loss for us, but he is destined to make contributions to American higher education as the president of a major research university, and I welcome the opportunity to work with him in his new capacity as a fellow leader of a member university in the Association of American Universities. I will look forward, too, to friendly competition when the Washington University Bears take on the University of Rochester Yellowjackets in University Athletic Association league play!”

President, Columbia University

“I’ve known Joel for nearly two decades, since he first joined the faculty at the University of Michigan law school. I knew him then as an outstanding scholar and teacher and also someone who was very engaged in public service. And, now, Joel has turned out to be one of the most successful academic leaders in the country. Recently I was able to spend some time with him and found myself truly and deeply impressed by his abilities to think through complicated issues and find just the right resolution. This is someone of amazing talents for the role that he now is going to assume; he understands every single dimension of what’s involved in being president of a great university.”

President, Cornell University

“Congratulations to Rochester on a splendid choice! It is wonderful to know that our sister institution in upstate New York will be building on Tom Jackson’s legacy of leadership with a person of Joel Seligman’s distinction. Joel is a rare intellect, equally at home in conversations about political philosophy, securities law, and baseball. He has already made great contributions within the legal academy. I look forward to close collaborations with him as we work together to promote the contributions of higher education to the life of the region.”

President, New York University

“I have known and admired Joel Seligman for well over a decade. He makes each institution he touches better. Now, as he joins a great university as its president, his impact will be felt not only at the University of Rochester but throughout all of higher education. Congratulations on a great choice!”

Former Chairman (1993-2001), Securities and Exchange Commission

“Joel combines those qualities of scholarship, creativity, and compassion that in my judgment make him the ideal leader to steer the University of Rochester through the challenging economic and political times that confront us. I wish Joel the very best in his new position as a university president.”

Senior Counsel, Boylan Brown Attorneys at Law, Rochester, N.Y., and NYS Uniform Law Commissioner

“As vice-chair, and then chair, of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws’ Drafting Committee to revise the Uniform Securities Act, I have had the opportunity to work closely with Joel Seligman over a period of several years starting in 1998. Joel was the committee’s ‘reporter,’ the expert who advises the committee on the intricate issues of law and public policy, proposes the statutory language, and assists the committee in bringing the various interested constituencies to consensus. Given his eminence in the field, we were delighted to have him work with us. He has a brilliant mind, seemingly total recall, and an encyclopedic knowledge of securities laws and regulations. Joel was truly instrumental in helping us to find ways of bridging differences and finding common ground—and he’s a pleasure to work with. I am personally thrilled that he’s coming to the University. He’s fortunate and the University is fortunate. It’s a great marriage.”


Since its founding in 1850, the University has had nine chief executive officers:

Martin Brewer Anderson (1853-1888)

The trustees operated the University for three years before the appointment of Anderson, 38, a Baptist minister and editor of a Baptist periodical.

David Jayne Hill (1889-1896)

A Baptist minister, Hill, 39, previously had been president of Bucknell University.

Rush Rhees (1900-1935)

Rhees, 40, was a professor at Newton Theological Seminary when he became the University’s president.

Alan Valentine (1935-1950)

Valentine, 34, had been a teacher and administrator at Swarthmore and Yale, among other institutions, before coming to Rochester.

Cornelis W. de Kiewiet (1951-1961)

De Kiewiet, 49, was a historian and teacher who served as dean and then provost at Cornell University before his appointment at Rochester.

W. Allen Wallis (1962-1975)

Wallis, 49, had been professor of statistics and economics and dean of the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago before he was named to lead Rochester.

Robert L. Sproull (1975-1984)

Sproull, 55, a physicist, had been vice president and provost at Cornell before serving as provost at Rochester.

George Dennis O’Brien (1984-1994)

O’Brien, 53, a philosopher by training, was president of Bucknell University before coming to Rochester.

Thomas H. Jackson (1994-2005)

Jackson, 44, was dean of the University of Virginia’s School of Law, and then vice president and provost of that university before his appointment at Rochester.


On March 5, 2004, Thomas H. Jackson, the University’s ninth president, announced to the University community that he would step down as of July 1, 2005. After a year’s sabbatical, he intends to return to teaching as Distinguished University Professor with faculty appointments in the College’s Department of Political Science and in the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration.

At the same time, Board of Trustees Chairman G. Robert Witmer, Jr. announced that he would chair the search for a new president. Writing to the University community—including its more than 95,000 alumni—he solicited comments and nominations, while convening a Trustees’ Search Committee and appointing a University Advisory Committee. The latter committee, chaired by Lee A. DuBridge Professor of Physics Nicholas P. Bigelow, was composed of faculty and academic deans representing the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering, Eastman School of Music, School of Medicine and Dentistry, School of Nursing, William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration, and Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development. In addition, the University Advisory Committee included two students and a staff liaison; they, in turn, chaired student and staff advisory groups to provide additional advice and counsel during the search process.

The search firm A. T. Kearney also assisted committee members in identifying candidates and assembling information about them.

Following months of considerable work on the part of the committees, the process today led to a meeting of the full Board of Trustees at which the selection of Joel Seligman as 10th president was formally approved.

Trustees’ Presidential Search Committee

G. Robert Witmer, Jr. ’59
Chair, Board of Trustees, and Chair, Trustees’ Presidential Search Committee

Laurence H. Bloch ’75
Sheila Blumstein ’65
William M. Carpenter
Steven Chu ’70
Roger B. Friedlander ’56
Robert B. Goergen ’60
Edmund A. Hajim ’58
Gail Lione ’71
Peter Standish ’64
Carl Williams ’75

Staff to the Committee: Paul Burgett, Vice President and General Secretary

University Advisory Committee
Nicholas Bigelow (The College, Physics), Chair, University Advisory Committee

Judith Baggs (School of Nursing)
Raffaella Borasi (Dean, Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development)
Arnab Datta ’06 (The College, Political Science, Math, and Philosophy; Co-chair, Student Advisory Group)
Kenneth DeHaven (School of Medicine and Dentistry, Orthopaedics)
Howard Federoff (School of Medicine and Dentistry, Neurology)
Donna Brink Fox (Eastman School of Music, Music Education)
William Scott Green (Dean, The College)
David Guzick (Dean, School of Medicine and Dentistry)
Fredrick Harris (The College, Political Science)
Barbara Iglewski (School of Medicine and Dentistry, Microbiology and Immunology)
Alexis Spilman Lanning ’01 (The College, graduate student, Optics; Co-chair, Student Advisory Group)
Elissa Newport (The College, Brain and Cognitive Sciences)
Kevin Parker (Dean, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences)
Kathleen Parthé (The College, Russian Studies)
Douglas Ravenel (The College, Mathematics)
Peter Robinson (Medical Center, Vice President and COO; Chair, Staff Advisory Group)
Jerold Zimmerman (Simon School of Business, Accounting)

Staff to the Committee: Lynne Davidson, Associate Provost

Staff Advisory Group

Cindy Becker, Chief Operating Officer, Highland Hospital
Holli Budd, Associate Dean, Alumni Relations and Development, Simon School
Jon Burdick, Dean, Admissions and Financial Aid, The College
Thomas Cassada, Executive Director of Development, Arts, Sciences, and Engineering, and Secretary to the Trustees’ Alumni Council of the College
Andrew Deubler, Associate Vice President for Development, Medical Center
Susan Gibbons, Assistant Dean for Public Services and Collection Development, River Campus Libraries
Steven Goldstein, CEO, Strong Memorial and Highland Hospitals
Vicky Hines, President and CEO, Visiting Nurse Service
Grant Holcomb, The Mary W. and Donald R. Clark Director, Memorial Art Gallery
Brenda Lee, Assistant Dean, Medical Education and Student Affairs, School of Medicine and Dentistry
David Lewis, Director of Telecommunications and Networking
Gunta Liders, Associate Vice President for Research Administration
Chuck Murphy, Associate Vice President for Human Resources
Lisa Norwood, Assistant Dean, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, The College
Bill Passalacqua, Senior Director, Finance and Administration, School of Medicine and Dentistry
Susan Robertson, Senior Associate Dean for Advancement, Eastman School of Music
Peter Robinson (Chair), Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Medical Center; Executive Director, University Government Relations
Toni Smith, Associate Director of Nursing Support Operations, Strong Memorial Hospital
George VanderZwaag, Director, Athletics and Recreation, The College
Patricia Witzel, Chief Nursing Officer, Strong Memorial Hospital

Student Advisory Group

Chris Antola, M.B.A. student, Simon School
Tara Arndt, M.D. student, School of Medicine and Dentistry
Natalie Baptiste ’06, The College
Arnab Datta ’06 (co-chair), The College
Nick Delahanty-Swauger ’05, The College
David Fang ’05, The College
Megan Fish ’05, The College
Damian Garcia ’06, The College
Shaza Khan, Ph.D. student, Warner School
Rachel Kraus, Ph.D. student, School of Nursing
Pete Nabozny ’05, The College
Jose Perillan, Ph.D. student, The College
Alexis Spilman Lanning (co-chair), Ph.D. student, The College
Jeffrey Willy ’05, Eastman School of Music