University of Rochester

Distinguished Speakers, New Spaces Debut on Meliora Weekend

October 7, 2009

Events Include Dedications of Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, the Edmund A. Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and First-ever Statue of George Eastman

High-profile speakers, led by U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, will help celebrate the University of Rochester's ninth Meliora Weekend on Oct. 8 to 11 with fanfare and once-in-a-lifetime dedications.

Renovated and entirely new spaces around the University will create a memorable framework for the dozens of invited speakers, departmental programs, athletic events, and artistic productions that will fill the weekend. Concert lovers will converge for the Oct. 8 opening of a revitalized Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre on the Eastman School of Music's downtown campus. The University will celebrate the dedication of the Edmund A. Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences on the River Campus Oct. 9, and the Oct. 10 dedication of a statute of George Eastman to pay tribute to the most generous benefactor in the University's history and to commemorate the annual giving society that bears his name.

More than 5,500 alumni, parents, students, faculty, and friends of the University are expected to attend the combined Reunion, Family Weekend, and Homecoming. (Registration has ended, but a list of all programs can be found at

Secretary Chu, who earned his bachelor's degree from Rochester in 1970, will deliver the keynote address at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 10. He is the co-winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize for Physics and has had a distinguished career as a scientist, educator, and public servant. In the first year of the Obama administration, Chu has voiced support for a revolution in clean energy technologies to help fight the threat of climate change.

The annual "Presidential Symposium on Great Issues of the 21st Century" will focus on the future of financial regulation, a crucial topic since the near collapse of the financial markets and the ensuing economic recession of the past year. Hugo Sonnenschein, University trustee, alumnus, and president emeritus and Adam Smith Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, will welcome a distinguished panel at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 10.

The featured panelists are: Richard Breeden, past chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission and current chair of Breeden Capital Management; E. Gerald Corrigan, past president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and a current managing director of Goldman Sachs; Mary Schapiro, chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission; and Rochester alumnus Richard Thaler, the Ralph and Dorothy Keller Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, where he is also director of the Center for Decision Research and one of the nation's leading scholars of behavioral economics.

At 3:30 p.m., a statue dedication and reception will honor the University's greatest exemplar of visionary philanthropy, Eastman Kodak founder George Eastman, and commemorate the launch of the George Eastman Circle, the University's new annual giving society. Eastman's philanthropy in the early 20th century accelerated the transformation of the University of Rochester into a national research university. The commissioned work is by Marc Mellon, one of America's foremost representational sculptors, and it will be located on the Eastman Quadrangle between Lattimore and Morey halls. All members of the University community are invited to attend.

Saturday's 4:15 p.m. presentation of "Miller's Court" will be hosted by celebrated constitutional law professor Arthur R. Miller, a Rochester alumnus. This year's topic, "The Price of Fame and Celebrity," will feature alumni panelists Elaine Dutka, former entertainment writer for the Los Angeles Times; Richard Leibner, owner of N.S. Bienstock, a leading New York talent agency; and Rochester alumnus Robert Forster, Academy Award-nominated actor for his 1997 role in Jackie Brown.

Comedian Bill Maher, of Comedy Central's Politically Incorrect and now the host of HBO's Real Time, will entertain a sold-out audience late Saturday.

A special highlight on Friday's schedule is a symposium from 2 to 5 p.m. Oct. 9 in the Edmund A. Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The symposium features Charles M. Vest, president of the National Academy of Engineering and president emeritus of MIT, and Henry Petroski, the Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering and professor of history at Duke University, in the Robert B. Goergen Hall for Biomedical Engineering and Optics.

A short distance away, at the entrance to a grassy quadrangle surrounded by the University's engineering buildings, now stands a completed brick-and-limestone wall identifying the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The Hajim School was named in recognition of alumnus Edmund Hajim's many decades of service and contributions to the University, including a $30-million gift commitment in 2008 to the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Hajim has had a highly successful career as a senior executive for several Wall Street firms, is chairman of the University's Board of Trustees, and has been a member of the board since 1988.

Near the end of Friday's events comes the opportunity to see the transformed Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. Just 24 hours after the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra officially opens the hall, the Eastman Philharmonia will perform a free concert at 8 p.m. Oct. 9. The Eastman School musicians will play Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5, led by conductor Neil Varon, as well as The Consecration of the House Overture (Op. 124) by Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme. The Eastman Theatre originally opened Sept. 4, 1922, a year after the Eastman School of Music was founded.

Also on Friday evening, an invitation-only program with Malcolm Gladwell, the New Yorker writer and author of three No. 1 New York Times bestsellers, will be hosted.

During Meliora Weekend, seven alumni will be honored with awards for exceptional service and contributions:

In Arts, Sciences, and Engineering: Donald C. Winter, who has led research and development efforts on national defense systems and served as U.S. Secretary of the Navy from 2006 to 2009, the Distinguished Alumnus Award; Richard A. Leibner, co-founder and president of N.S. Bienstock, Inc. talent agency in New York, the James S. Armstrong '54 Alumni Service Award; and Mark S. Zaid, an attorney who specializes in litigation and lobbying on matters relating to national security, foreign sovereignty, and diplomatic immunity, the John N. Wilder Award.

From the School of Nursing, Loretta C. Ford, founding dean of the School of Nursing and an internationally renowned nursing leader best known for co-founding the nurse practitioner model, the Dean's Medal.

From the Simon Graduate School of Business: J. L. "Jack" Davies, founder and former president of AOL International who led the global expansion of AOL and CompuServe into key markets around the world, the Distinguished Alumnus Award; David M. Khani, senior managing director and director of research at FBR Capital Markets, a leading investment bank, the Alumni Service Award; and Ralph "Roy" Whitney Jr., University trustee and chairman emeritus of Hammond, Kennedy, Whitney & Company, Inc., one of the nation's oldest private equity firms, the Dean's Medal.

The weekend festivities carry the name of Meliora, meaning "ever better," which is the University's motto, and is inscribed at the center of its seal and on many campus landmarks.