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Ron Paprocki to retire after more than 45 years working at the University

May 19, 2015
Ron Paprocki

Ronald J. Paprocki, senior vice president for administration and finance, CFO, and treasurer at the University of Rochester, will retire in Jan. 2016 after a distinguished career at Rochester, President Joel Seligman announced today.

“For the past 15 years, Ron has been an anchor of our University, a senior vice president of administration and finance, and chief financial officer par excellence,” said Seligman. “His wisdom, sensitivity to the broad scope of our University, and ability to both see the big picture and manage a broad portfolio of responsibility have made Ron my closest associate. The secret to running a successful university is to surround yourself with talented people and support them in their hard work. Ron long has been a stalwart of our University. After a decade of working closely with Ron, often seeing each other four or five times a day, we have evolved to a point where I believe that I can read his mind and I am sure that he believes he can read mine. He is the best. I wish Ron the happiest retirement. He and Cathy have earned all the joy that life can provide.”

“In all the years I’ve known Ron, his leadership has been indispensable in so many areas of the University,” said Board of Trustees Chairman Ed Hajim. “With his quiet, unassuming manner, he is always willing to work as hard as necessary to get the job done, and has been outstanding at assembling groups to complete projects of great importance to the University on time and on budget. With his hand at the finance and administration helm, Ron has had the complete confidence of the entire Board. He has done a remarkable job.”

Paprocki first arrived on River Campus in 1966 as an undergraduate. He earned his bachelor’s degree with high distinction from the University in 1969, and would later earn an MBA from the Simon School of Business.

His career at the University spans more than 45 years and five Rochester presidents. Just after graduation, Paprocki began work in the College, first serving in academic support and counseling positions, and later advancing to budgeting and planning work.

He joined the central administration in 1986, was named the University’s vice president for budgets and financial planning in 1992, and then senior vice president for financial affairs and planning in 1998.

In 2000, he was named senior vice president for administration and finance and chief financial officer for the University.

A focus of Paprocki’s leadership as CFO has been assembling key business and central administrative functions into one coordinated Administration and Finance team. These units include finance, budget, audit, campus planning and design, facilities, purchasing, auxiliary services, human resources, public safety, and environmental health and safety. In collaboration with many of these units, Paprocki also leads the University’s overall emergency preparedness planning and operations.

“Ron has been a remarkable partner for the schools and their faculties,” said Peter Lennie, provost and the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences & Engineering. “His early career in the College equipped him with an unusually deep understanding of the academic enterprise and the needs of the faculty and students, and we have benefitted enormously from this and his many powerful insights about how to make the University a better place for all of us.”

As CFO during one of the nation’s biggest economic downturns in 2008, Paprocki effectively navigated the University through the challenging financial crisis with his strategic planning and guidance, as well as fiscal discipline. In part due to his financial leadership during the recession, the University was able to avoid the disruption and steep layoffs seen at some peer institutions. In 2008, Paprocki was named the Financial Executive of the Year for large nonprofit organizations in the Rochester area, presented by Rochester Business Journal and the local chapter of Financial Executives International.

“Ron brought a fiscal discipline to the University that was never more apparent than when we were challenged with the national economic crisis in 2008,”said Michael Goonan, longtime chief financial officer for the Medical Center, who retired this past December. “Thanks to his strategic financial plan and leadership, the University not only weathered the storm, but continued to grow despite the downturn. He has a remarkable ability to grasp both capital and operating priorities of the Medical Center, and to see these in the context of the full University. His intellect, collegiality, humor and depth of experience made him a pleasure to work with even through the most difficult challenges.”

Also in 2008, Paprocki presented the University’s Campus Master Plan, providing a 20-year framework for the development of the University’s lands and facilities, specifically designed to meet the pattern of University growth and the need for increased classroom, meeting, office, research, residential, and clinical spaces. Related to the Master Plan, Paprocki also emphasized the need for a sustainable and reliable utility infrastructure for the University’s campuses. As part of this, he supported the chilled water plant expansion and upgrade of 8,000 tons of chilling capacity—an improvement of fundamental importance to a utility system supporting health care, research, education, and residential life activities.

In 2012, Paprocki established the team and working groups to manage the large institutional undertaking of modernizing the University’s financial records system. The multiyear UR Financials project, which replaces a 40-year old financial and accounting system, creates new reporting efficiencies across the institution as well as a sustainable system for the future.

Paprocki was the University’s leader for the development of College Town, a transformational $100 million mixed-use project on 14 acres of University property in the City of Rochester’s Mt. Hope corridor. He and his team were responsible for negotiating every aspect of the development agreement and ground lease for the University’s land, including careful attention to financing, legal requirements, the design plan and overall construction details, and environmental issues. He helped establish multiple key partnerships at the city, state and federal level to advance the project, as well as ensured that Mt. Hope community members and business leaders were engaged at every phase of College Town’s development.

man and woman next to poster of building

Ronald J. Paprocki and wife Cathy stand at the unveiling of the plaza that bears his last name at College Town.

In May 2013, Paprocki was honored at the College Town groundbreaking for the central role he played in making the shopping, dining, business, hotel and residential project a reality. At the groundbreaking, Seligman announced on behalf of the University Board of Trustees and community that a new plaza within College Town would be named for Paprocki. In Oct. 2014, Paprocki Plaza was dedicated at the crossroads of College Town with a plaque placed outside of the University of Rochester Barnes & Noble Bookstore.

Paprocki helped implement several other community enrichment projects over the course of his tenure that have created stronger connections between the University and its neighboring communities. He was instrumental in the development of Brooks Landing, a hotel, retail, business center and student residential development joined to the University by a footbridge over the Genesee River. Paprocki initiated ways to leverage the University’s employee and student populations to be an anchor tenant in office space and student housing in Brooks Landing, which today has 570 undergraduate students housed in two student apartment settings.

He also introduced the University Home Ownership Incentive Program, giving employees an added incentive for living in the historic 19th Ward and Plymouth Exchange city neighborhoods. In 2008, the University teamed up with the City of Rochester and several banks/credit unions to offer regular full-time and part-time faculty and staff mortgage grants toward the purchase of a primary residence in the city neighborhoods closest to the River Campus and the Medical Center. Since the program’s founding, $804,000 in financial incentives have helped University employees achieve the dream of homeownership.

Paprocki also led the initiative to train and install sworn peace officers within the Department of Public Safety. This transition—a process that began in 2012 and required legislation signed by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo—strengthened Public Safety’s incident prevention and response efforts by allowing specific power of arrest authorities, as well as new investigative capabilities for these sworn peace officers. In fall 2013, the University’s first 25 sworn peace officers were installed, followed by 27 more in spring 2014.

A national search to identify Paprocki’s successor is underway. The search committee is being chaired by Seligman, and includes:

  • David Bushinsky, John J. Kuiper Distinguished Professor, Department of Medicine; chief of the Nephrology Unit, Strong Memorial Hospital; chair, Faculty Senate Budget Committee; and member, Faculty Senate Benefits Committee
  • Rob Clark, senior vice president for research and dean of the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • David Kirshner, CFO, University of Rochester Medical Center
  • Peter Lennie, provost and Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences and Engineering
  • Gail Norris, vice president and general counsel
  • Doug Phillips, senior vice president for Institutional Resources
  • Peter Robinson, vice president and COO, University of Rochester Medical Center; vice president, Government and Community Relations
  • Mark Taubman, CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry
  • Lamar Murphy, staff to the committee; general secretary and chief of staff

The search committee will be advised by a Trustees and Friends Advisory Group chaired by John Davidson and including Bill Carpenter, Lance Drummond, Roger Friedlander, Bob Keegan, Tom Sloan, Kathy Waller, and Roy Whitney.

Further information will soon be available about the search firm and the process for nominating candidates.

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