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‘A bit like the first day of school’

July 1, 2019
group of people smiling and talking as they walk across campus on a sunny day.President Sarah C. Mangelsdorf, center, joins a tour of River Campus led by Bruce Bashwiner, senior associate vice president for facilities, and Jessica Robbins ’20, right, a Meridian tour guide, who together with Holly Crawford, senior vice president for administration and finance, and others introduced Mangelsdorf to the River Campus during her first day as Rochester's 11th president. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

President Sarah C. Mangelsdorf begins her “listening and learning tour” with an early morning visit to parts of the River Campus.

Rochester’s new president, Sarah C. Mangelsdorf, promised she would spend considerable time on a “listening and learning tour” during the first part of her time as the University’s chief executive. She jumped right in early Monday morning with a two-hour tour of parts of the River Campus.

group of students speaking with President Mangelsdorf

Mangelsdorf talks with student sustainability fellows, from left, Ruth Agwaze ’22, Reanna Salvador ’21, Christina Krewson ’21, and Ekene Nnadika ’21 during a stop near the Paul J. Burgett Intercultural Center in Douglass Commons. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Led by Meridian tour guide Jessica Robbins ’20, a psychology and political science major from Brighton, and Bruce Bashwiner, senior associate vice president for facilities, Mangelsdorf had a firsthand look at some of the University’s iconic spaces—Rush Rhees Library, Douglass and Wilson Commons, the Eastman Quadrangle (and its tunnels)—and newer facilities like the Barbara J. Burger iZone, the Humanities Center, and the Hajim Science and Engineering Quad.

Along the way, she introduced herself to some of the staff, faculty, and students who contribute to the University’s success.

Sarah Mangelsdorf shaking hands with Joan Rubin as others look on in a beautiful library setting.

Joan Shelley Rubin, right, the Dexter Perkins Professor in History and the Ani and Mark Gabrellian Director of the Humanities Center, greets Mangelsdorf outside the Humanities Center in Rush Rhees Library. Mangelsdorf also visited the Barbara J. Burger iZone and Evans Lam Square in Rush Rhees Library. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)


“I want to see the campus, I want to meet people, I want to see people where they work,” Mangelsdorf said as she spoke briefly with members of the media on the steps of Wallis Hall. “I don’t want to be closeted away. I want to get to know the University community.”

Most recently the provost at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Mangelsdorf is a highly regarded academic leader who has held teaching, research, and key administrative positions at some of the nation’s leading public and private research universities. She’s earned recognition for her leadership on issues of academic quality, educational access, and diversity and inclusion.

Sarah Mangelsdorf greets workers in hard hats.

Mangelsdorf looks in on a project to renovate the Starbucks in Wilson Commons, where she talks with trades supervisor Brian Snyder, center, and Tom Calvert, facilities manager, about the project. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

The University’s Board of Trustees named her as Rochester’s 11th president in December, following a nationwide search in a process that included committees comprised of faculty, students, and staff.

She officially became president on Monday.

Even with her successful background in academia, Mangelsdorf admitted that her first day as Rochester’s president prompted the same feelings that everyone has when they the start a new school year at a new school. In a message to the University community, she said that while she has the usual trepidation about starting anew and knows there will be challenges in learning a new institution, she’s also excited and is anticipating a “new year filled with new opportunities and new learning.”

Sarah Mantgesdorf surrounded by reporters with microphones and cameras.

Mangelsdorf talks with representatives from Rochester-area media outlets during a stop in Munnerlyn Atrium in Goergen Hall. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

She said that she and her husband, Karl Rosengren, who himself is joining the University as a tenured faculty member in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and in the Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, joked that Monday felt like the first day of school.

“My husband dropped me off here and afterwards he said, ‘I forgot to take a picture of you!’ And I said, ‘I don’t have my Rocky the Yellowjacket backpack for my first day and my lunchbox.’ But it does feel like the first day of school.”

large group of people walking through tunnels colorfully painted.

Robbins and Bashwiner lead Mangelsdorf through the tunnel that connects the north and south sides of the Eastman Quadrangle. For decades, members of student organizations have painted the tunnel as a way to call attention to their organizations, programs, and activities. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Mangelsdorf reiterated that she plans to spend time learning from members of the University community and then work with campus to map out specific plans for the future.

“As someone who has been in higher education a long time, I know the reputation of this place,” she said. “And I think I know some of its strengths and some of its challenges, but I’d like to hear that from people for whom this is their home. What are the things that they think are most important? And that will help us figure out the things that we need to work on first.”

group of people in a control room looking at data on a bank of large computer screens.

Members of the central utilities team — Scott Carlton (at the counter) along with Eric Feuerherm, Elon Hunter, Bill Czudak, and Alex Gales — highlighted some of the systems the University uses to monitor the production and distribution of electrical power throughout the University. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

She also highlighted the notable role that the Rochester region has played in the nation’s political, artistic, and social history, particularly in the realms of suffrage and in abolition. “Rochester is a famous place in American history,” she said.

Mangelsdorf is planning to take similar tours of other parts of the University in the coming weeks.

President Mangelsdorf wearing a hard hat.

Mangelsdorf was presented with her own Central Utilities hard hat by the central utilities staff. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

University community members are encouraged to contact her at She also will have an Instagram account as @urochestermangelsdorf.

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