University of Rochester

University of Rochester Celebrates May, June Commencements

May 8, 2009

U.S. House Leader Louise Slaughter, Kodak CEO Antonio Perez Among Those to be Honored

The 159th commencement ceremony for Arts, Sciences and Engineering at the University of Rochester will be held at 9 a.m. Sunday, May 17, with U.S. Rep. Louise M. Slaughter addressing graduating seniors and their guests, and Eastman Kodak Company Chairman of the Board and CEO Antonio M. Perez receiving an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree.

At 11:15 a.m. that day, Christopher Seaman, music director of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, will receive an honorary Doctor of Music degree at the Eastman School of Music commencement in Eastman Theatre. Mark Volpe, an Eastman School 1979 alumnus and managing director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, will deliver the Eastman School's commencement address and receive the school's Alumni Achievement Award.

Throughout the May 15 to 17 weekend, the University will recognize the achievements of students earning a total of 2,624 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees, and will bestow awards on prominent men and women for accomplishments in their fields. University President Joel Seligman will preside at each of the commencement ceremonies.

The final 2009 commencement ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Sunday, June 14, for the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration. Edmund A. Hajim, chairman of the University Board of Trustees, chairman and CEO of MLH Capital LLC, and a 1958 alumnus of the College, will receive the David T. Kearns Medal of Distinction and will deliver the commencement address. Hajim also will give the keynote address at the School of Nursing commencement ceremonies on May 15.

During the Arts, Sciences and Engineering ceremony on the Eastman Quadrangle of the River Campus, Slaughter will receive the George Eastman Medal, which is awarded for exemplary service and accomplishments. In her 24 years of representing the 28th Congressional District of New York, the congresswoman's distinguished career and leadership have benefited the nation and her home base in Western New York through legislative efforts to expand breast cancer research, strengthen U.S. border protections, and revive urban neighborhoods, among many initiatives. She is now chair of the House Committee on Rules and the first woman to hold that influential post.

Slaughter's education as a microbiologist drove her to champion a bill, which is now law, to protect Americans from discrimination by employers and insurance companies based on their genetic information. She holds a bachelor's degree in microbiology and a master's degree in public health from the University of Kentucky.

Kodak's Chairman and CEO Perez, who since 2003 has led the company in its transformation from traditional film to a business based primarily on digital technologies, has forged innovations in imaging and printing for consumers and commercial customers. Perez's 25 years at the Hewlett-Packard Company were steeped in digital imaging and electronic publishing. He also was president and CEO of Gemplus International, a "smart card" pioneer that he took public in the United States and France. He is a member of the board of directors of Schering-Plough Corporation and is the chair of the CEO Leadership Initiative of Diversity Best Practices. Perez studied electronic engineering, marketing, and business in Spain and France.

The ceremony also will include the presentation of two University awards. William D. Jones, the C. F. Houghton Professor of Chemistry, will receive the Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, and Jason Middleton, assistant professor of English and in the Film and Media Studies Program, will receive the G. Graydon '58 and Jane W. Curtis Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Nontenured Member of the Faculty.

Jones, who also has served as chair of the Department of Chemistry, has advised more than 45 undergraduate researchers during his 30-year career, and has been a valued mentor to many students. One teaching assistant wrote about Jones, "I feel that having experienced being a TA for Dr. Jones is more like being a TA with him." Students marvel at his concern and willingness to help them schedule a Study Abroad semester, for example, around the rigors of a chemistry major or to help them develop the patience and persistence to succeed on a research project. Jones earned a doctorate in chemistry from California Institute of Technology in 1979.

Middleton, an assistant professor at Rochester since 2006, is known for his dynamic style and substance in the classroom. In a letter supporting Middleton's nomination, an alumnus who is now a first-year graduate student recalled that Middleton's course on documentary "has become one of the most beneficial foundations for my career, giving me the ability to participate and discuss on par with fellow graduate students in their third and fourth years of study." Middleton also engages with the community by programming an annual series of experimental films at the Visual Studies Workshop. He received his doctorate from Duke University in 2002.

The ceremony also will include the announcement of the recipients of the Singer Family Prize for Excellence in Secondary School Teaching, which was created by Paul Singer, a 1966 alumnus of the College. The winners are: Michael Roche, High Technology High School in Lincroft, N.J., nominated by senior Kristin Beck; John Knudsen, The Williams School in New London, Conn., nominated by senior Sarah Green; Eileen Ponto, Oswego County BOCES in Mexico, N.Y., nominated by seniors Kathryn Harter and Kaitlin Schulz; and Nancy Brady, Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart in Buffalo, N.Y., nominated by senior Caitlin Powalski. The award also will be given posthumously to Kathy Sipher, Potsdam Central High School in Potsdam, N.Y., nominated by senior Eve Privman.

There are 969 candidates for a bachelor's degree and 219 candidates for a master's degree in Arts, Sciences and Engineering.

Commencement ceremonies for other University divisions are:

  • School of Nursing, Friday, May 15: 1 p.m. in Eastman Theatre

There are 203 candidates for bachelor's degrees and master's degrees.

Keynote speaker Edmund Hajim has built a remarkable career as a senior executive for some of the nation's top financial companies. His work on behalf of the University through planning groups and committees, and then as a trustee since 1988, has placed Hajim among the most dedicated to the advancement of the institution. He also is well-known and respected for his engagement in community and philanthropic endeavors beyond his connections at Rochester. In addition to a chemical engineering degree, Hajim also received an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School in 1964.

  • School of Medicine and Dentistry (for M.D. candidates), Friday, May 15: 4 p.m. in Eastman Theatre

There are 89 candidates for medical doctor degrees.

Eastman Medal recipient and commencement speaker Dr. Carola B. Eisenberg has shared the Nobel Peace Prize as a founding member of Physicians for Human Rights, and has taken her pledge to protect human rights around the world. A native of Argentina, Eisenberg received her medical degree from the University of Buenos Aires in 1944, and has been honored with numerous awards for her work at medical academic institutions and as a consultant to international organizations.

Joining Eisenberg in receiving the Eastman Medal, the University of Rochester's recognition for outstanding achievement and dedicated service, will be Dr. William Bonnez, Dr. Richard C. Reichman, and Robert C. Rose—the trio of University virologists who developed the technology that produced the vaccine against cervical cancer and the human papillomaviruses (HPV).

Bonnez, an associate professor of medicine, received his medical and scientific training in France before coming to the University in 1983 to specialize in the study of infectious diseases. Reichman, who is now professor emeritus of medicine, earned his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania. From 1991 to 2008, he served as director of the Infectious Diseases Division in the Department of Medicine at Rochester. Rose, an associate professor of medicine and of microbiology and immunology, came to the University to pursue graduate studies in microbiology and immunology, and earned his doctorate in 1994. He serves on the School of Medicine and Dentistry's National Council.

  • Doctoral degree candidates (all University divisions), Saturday, May 16: 9:30 a.m. in Eastman Theatre

A total of 278 doctoral degrees (Ph.D., D.M.A., Ed.D.) will be awarded.

The ceremony to award degrees to doctoral candidates also will celebrate the accomplishments of four scholars—all with close associations to the University. The Lifetime Achievement Award in Graduate Education will be awarded to Nelita True, Eastman Professor of Piano; Rochester Distinguished Scholar Awards to alumnus Clifford P. Kubiak of the University of California at San Diego and alumna Barbara Sinclair of the University of California at Los Angeles; and the William H. Riker University Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching to Robert K. Boeckman Jr., the Marshall D. Gates Jr. Professor of Chemistry at Rochester.

True, a much admired pianist who has traveled the world to perform and to conduct master classes, has witnessed many of her students win top prizes nationally and internationally, including an unprecedented five First Prizes at the Music Teachers National Association competitions. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Michigan, True went on to The Juilliard School to study, and then earned a doctor of musical arts degree at the Peabody Conservatory of Music. She joined the Eastman faculty in 1987.

Kubiak is one of the nation's leading authorities on the chemistry of carbon dioxide. Now the Harold C. Urey Chair of Chemistry at UC San Diego, he continues to lead other researchers in some of the most innovative science in inorganic chemistry, including developing the field of molecular electronics. His Rochester Distinguished Scholar Award is a fitting tribute to his many achievements—from his pioneering days developing chemical nanotechnology to his current work of applying principles of nanotechnology to energy research. Kubiak received his doctorate in chemistry from Rochester in 1980.

During the last 30 years, Sinclair has become one of the most influential scholars of the U.S. Congress. Like her mentor, Rochester's Distinguished University Professor Emeritus Richard F. Fenno Jr., Sinclair's work combines probing, on-the-scene research with quantitative analysis to explain policies and processes. Her books, including Legislators, Leaders, and Lawmaking: The U.S. House of Representatives in the Postreform Era (1995) and Transformation of the U.S. Senate (1989), are authoritative sources in the field. Now the Marvin Hoffenberg Professor of American Politics Emerita at UCLA, Sinclair received her doctorate in political science at Rochester in 1970.

For Boeckman, the Riker Award for teaching excellence acknowledges his history of dedication to graduate students. He joined the Rochester faculty in 1980, and since then he has mentored 46 doctoral students as well as 48 postdoctoral fellows. As a colleague has observed, Boeckman's approach to research "is highly analytical, critical, and innovative," an effective combination when teaching graduate students. Nomination letters affirm not only his excellence as a teacher, but also his abilities to create a team of scientists while still understanding individual strengths. Boeckman, now chair of the Department of Chemistry, earned his doctoral degree from Brandeis University in 1971.

The University Dean's Award for Meritorious Service in Ph.D. Defenses will be presented to four faculty members who have demonstrated their commitment to graduate education by serving as chairs of oral examination committees. They are: Cheeptip Benyajati, associate professor of biology; Thomas H. Foster, professor of imaging sciences; William Hauser, professor of history; and Robert McCrory, vice provost and director of the Laboratory for Laser Energetics. The award acknowledges the important work of faculty members who accept this role and are appointed by the University Dean of Graduate Studies.

  • School of Medicine and Dentistry (for master's degree candidates), Saturday, May 16: noon, Kilbourn Hall, Eastman School of Music

There will be 101 master's degree candidates.

Dr. C. McCollister Evarts, Distinguished University Professor and professor of orthopaedics, will deliver the commencement address at the ceremony. The CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center from 2003 to 2006, Evarts began his medical career as a graduate of the School of Medicine and Dentistry and served his internship and residency in orthopaedic surgery at Strong Memorial Hospital. During his 10 years at the Cleveland Clinic, he headed the orthopaedic residency program and ultimately served as chair of the orthopaedics department. Evarts returned to Rochester in 1974 as chair of a newly created Department of Orthopaedics, and left in 1987 to become senior vice president for health affairs and dean of the College of Medicine at Pennsylvania State University and the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center until his return in 2003. He currently serves on the School of Medicine and Dentistry's National Council.

  • Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development, Saturday, May 16: 2 p.m. in Strong Auditorium

There are 105 candidates for a master's degree and 49 candidates who have completed professional certificates.

In celebrating the accomplishments of Warner graduates, the Warner School ceremony will include the reading of biographies for master's and doctoral degree graduates and certificate recipients. Recipients of the Walter I. Garms Award for Educational Leadership, the Eleanore F. Larson Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Harold Munson Counseling and Human Development Award, and the Tyll van Geel Award also will be announced. Associate Dean Brian Brent will present these special student awards to Warner graduates for their exceptional academic performance and commitment to education.

  • Eastman School of Music, Sunday, May 17: 11:15 a.m. in Eastman Theatre

There are 94 candidates for a bachelor's degree and 107 candidates for a master's degree.

Looking ahead to his 12th season with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Music Director Christopher Seaman has advanced the symphony's reputation and forged strong bonds between the RPO and the greater Rochester community during his tenure. His honorary Doctor of Music degree acknowledges and celebrates all of his achievements. The British conductor has directed orchestras and made repeat performances in many cities in North America, Eastern Europe, Australia, Asia, and in his own homeland. As a guest conductor, he is recognized for his command of a broad repertoire. Seaman's recordings include performances with the Royal Philharmonic, the Philharmonia Orchestra, and the National Youth Orchestra of Britain, and with the RPO.

Mark Volpe, managing director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and alumnus of the Eastman School, will deliver Eastman's commencement address and will receive the school's Alumni Achievement Award. With the BSO since 1997, he holds the Eunice and Julian Cohen Managing Directorship. Volpe has overseen changes in music leadership, directed fund-raising campaigns, and brought significant capital improvements to the orchestra's home. He earned a law degree cum laude from the University of Minnesota, and received his bachelor's degree in music with a major in clarinet performance from the Eastman School in 1979. He serves on the Eastman School's National Council.

  • School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Sunday, May 17: 2:30 p.m. Eastman Theatre

Stephen D. Fantone, president and CEO of Optikos Corporation and the recipient of the School of Engineering's 2009 Distinguished Alumnus Award, will address bachelor's and master's degrees graduates in engineering at their diploma ceremony. A graduate of the Institute of Optics, Fantone received his doctorate in optics in 1979. Optikos, which he founded in 1982, is an engineering consulting and manufacturing firm that produces equipment for the measurement of optical image quality. The firm has designed the optics for many commercial and industrial optical products ranging from photographic systems to medical instruments. He serves on the Arts, Sciences and Engineering's National Council.

  • William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration, Sunday, June 14: 10 a.m. Eastman Theatre

There will be 410 master's degree candidates.

Simon School commencement speaker and Board of Trustees Chairman Edmund Hajim has been selected for the school's Kearns Medal for "significant achievement in business, public service, and education." The medal is named for David T. Kearns, a Rochester alumnus, former chairman and CEO of Xerox Corp., and leader in the movement to restore educational excellence in the United States. Hajim's career in business and finance included leadership positions with the Capital Group, E. F. Hutton, Lehman Brothers, and Furman Selz.

The Simon School also will present Edward J. Ackley, a 1953 alumnus of the College who earned a master's degree in business administration at Simon, with its Distinguished Alumnus Award in recognition of his career success and for serving the school and the community in lasting ways. Mr. Ackley and his wife Agnes, a 1954 alumna of the College, established in 2005 the Edward J. and Agnes V. Ackley Executive Professorship in Entrepreneurship, currently held by Simon faculty member Dennis Kessler. Mr. Ackley is owner and president of The Filter Store in Mendon. Previously, he was CEO of Consler Corporation, which he built into a multimillion-dollar company before selling it to Graver Technologies.

The total number of degrees to be awarded in all schools: 2,624 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees.