University of Rochester

Meliora Weekend Cultivates Excitement for the World of Ideas

October 14, 2010

A tradition of intellectual, artistic, and personal exploration, which was sparked by the University of Rochester's 150th birthday celebration in 2000, returns this week with a spectacle of speakers and programs representing the full scope of the University.

Meliora Weekend—from the University's motto meaning "ever better"—will offer more than 225 events from Oct. 14 to 17. Signature programs will include presentations by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN chief medical correspondent and practicing neurosurgeon; Paul Frommer, alumnus and creator of the Na'vi language spoken by the otherworldly beings in the hit movie Avatar; Gloria Feldt, author and trailblazer for women's rights; and Junot Diaz, the 2008 Pulitzer Prize winner for his book The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

Dr. Bradford C. Berk, University of Rochester Medical Center CEO, also is among the featured speakers. He and his wife, Mary, will discuss his rehabilitation from a severe spinal cord injury and how the experience has transformed his views on care giving at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 16 in the Interfaith Chapel.

Many of this year's programs coalesce around the theme of medicine, healing, and patient care. The Presidential Symposium on Great Issues of the 21st Century, for instance, will tackle questions still swirling about the future of health care while a panel discussion on faith and healing will engage guests at an anniversary event celebrating the 40th year of the Interfaith Chapel on the River Campus.

More than 6,400 alumni, parents, students, faculty, staff, and friends of the University have registered. Reunions for graduates of all schools are scheduled, with the Eastman School of Music drawing guests into the fully renovated Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre and giving sneak peeks at the Eastman Theatre expansion.

The University community is the prime audience for Meliora Weekend, but certain events are open to the public. While some programs are filled to capacity, on-site registration for the University community can be completed on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 15 and 16, on the River Campus, the School of Medicine and Dentistry, and the School of Nursing. Go to for details. The basic $10 registration fee is waived for students, faculty, and staff.

During Eastman Weekend, which runs concurrently, "The Gift of Music: The Rhythm of Life" concert will blend student and faculty talents through a spectrum of musical styles at 8 p.m. Friday in Kodak Hall. Entrance is free with University identification, $10 for the public. Jazz bass legend and alumnus Ron Carter will introduce his quartet in concert at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Kilbourn Hall. Tickets, which benefit the Ron Carter Scholarship at the Eastman School, are available at the RPO box office or online at Carter will receive an honorary degree, Doctor of Music, at the conclusion of the concert.

Saturday's 1:30 p.m. presidential symposium on health care will be hosted by Hugo Sonnenschein, University trustee, alumnus, and president emeritus and Adam Smith Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. Featured panelists will include Dr. Gupta; Steven I. Goldstein, president and CEO of Strong Memorial and Highland hospitals; and Dr. Philip Pizzo, alumnus and dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Carl and Elizabeth Naumann Professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology and Immunology.

"Miller's Court: Sports and Society" will gather experts on the impact of sports in everyday life for a roundtable discussion led by alumnus, noted law professor, and television host Arthur Miller. Joining him at 4:15 p.m. Saturday will be alumnus Dr. Tim Benson, a Boston-based sports psychiatrist who works with professional athletes; alumnus Dr. Don Catlin, an expert on performance-enhancing drugs and founder of Anti-Doping Research, Inc.; alumna Myra Gelband, former senior editor for Sports Illustrated and a senior trustee of the University; and former NBA basketball player and coach Bob Weiss.

Free evening entertainment will be performed in multiple venues with student groups on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Tickets for comedian, actor, and writer Jim Gaffigan of Comedy Central are still available for the 10 p.m. show. Gaffigan's 7:30 p.m. performance is sold out. Both performances will be held Saturday in the Alexander Palestra. Tickets for the 10 p.m. show are $20 for UR undergraduates; $25 for faculty, staff, graduate students, and alumni; $40 for the general public, and can be purchased at the Common Market in Wilson Commons and at Meliora Weekend on-site registration in Hirst Lounge in Wilson Commons.

An invitation-only event will bring humorist and author David Sedaris to a Friday night gathering for members of the George Eastman Circle, a University leadership group of Annual Fund donors. Sedaris is considered a master of satire and one of the most observant writers addressing the human condition today.

The Interfaith Chapel discussion on "The Role of Faith in Healing: Exploring the Mind, Body, Spirit Connection" will draw faculty experts from different schools within the University at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. Presenters include: alumna Mary-Therese Bahar Dombeck, a School of Nursing professor who teaches epistemology, psychotherapy, and cultural sensitivity; Douglas Guiffrida, associate professor of counseling and human development in the Warner School of Education and licensed mental health counselor; Dr. Michael Krasner, associate professor of clinical medicine at the School of Medicine and Dentistry who practices primary-care internal medicine; and Anne Merideth, assistant professor of religion in the College where she teaches the history and literature of ancient Judaism and Christianity.

On Saturday evening, the Memorial Art Gallery will preview its latest exhibition, Psychedelic: Optical and Visionary Art Since the 1960s, with a party from 7:30 to 11 p.m. The public is invited and tickets will be sold at the door. For more information, call (585) 276-8939.

During the weekend, 12 alumni and one alumni family will be honored with awards for exceptional service and contributions to the University:

In Arts, Sciences, and Engineering: Nomi Bergman '85, president of Bright House Networks, the John N. Wilder Award; Laurence Bloch '75, a University trustee since 1998 who is the national co-chair of the George Eastman Circle, the James S. Armstrong Alumni Service Award; Robert B. Goergen '68, chair of the University Board of Trustees from 1991 to 2003, the Dean's Medal; Dr. Louis Lange '70, a University trustee since 1998 and chairman and CEO of CV Therapeutics, the Distinguished Alumnus Award, School of Arts and Sciences; and John Major '67, founder and president of MTSG, a strategic consulting business, the Distinguished Alumnus Award, Hajim School of Engineering.

In the School of Medicine and Dentistry: Dr. Richard Hodes '82M, who oversees the medical care of immigrants to Israel from Ethiopia, the Humanitarian Award; Dr. Ruth Lawrence, '49M, '58M (Res), professor of pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology known for her efforts to improve the health of women and their children, the Distinguished Alumna Award; Dr. Frederick Parker Jr., '58, '62M, a cardiac surgeon and chairman of the Department of Surgery at Upstate Medical University, State University of New York, from 1990 until his retirement in 2001, the John N. Wilder Award; and Robert Scala '56M (MS), '58M (PhD), former Senior Scientific Advisor at Exxon Biomedical Sciences and a past president of the Society of Toxicology and the American Board of Toxicology, Alumni Service Award.

In the Simon School of Business: Jay Steven Benet '76S (MBA), vice chairman and chief financial officer of St. Paul Travelers and a member of the Executive Advisory Committee of the Simon School, Distinguished Alumnus Award; and Evans Lam '83, '84S (MBA), senior vice president, Wealth Management and Portfolio Manager at Citigroup Smith Barney, the John N. Wilder Award.

In the School of Nursing: Dr. Bernard B. Brody '51M, Rachel B. Bandych, and Sarah A. Epstein, members of the Brody family who have shown dedication to perpetuating the legacy of the late Ruth Miller Brody '42N, '46 W (EdM), the School of Nursing's third director, the Dean's Medal; and Evelyn Lutz '55N, '63, who has given more than four decades of service to nursing practice and academia, and is a charter member of the George Eastman Circle, the John N. Wilder Award.

Meliora Weekend guests are encouraged to share their experiences by posting updates on Facebook, checking into "Meliora Weekend" and other locations around campus on foursquare, and sharing conversations and photos on Twitter and Flickr using the common hashtag #meliora.