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MELIORA CHALLENGE ‘A Race to the Finish’ With 15 months to go, a $1.2 billion fundraising initiative surpasses its initial goal. By Sara Miller
melioraJOB WELL-DONE: President Joel Seligman (second from right) celebrates the campaign milestone with (from left) former Board of Trustees chair Bob Witmer ’59, current chair Ed Hajim ’58, and former chair Bob Goergen ’60. The campaign was launched in 2011. (Photo: University Advancement)

The Meliora Challenge, the University’s comprehensive fundraising campaign, has surpassed its initial $1.2 billion goal.

An $11 million commitment from University Trustee Robert Goergen ’60 and his wife, Pamela, to the Institute for Data Science put the Campaign over its primary goal 15 months ahead of schedule.

In recognition of the Goergens’ commitment, the institute will be named the Goergen Institute for Data Science.

“Bob and Pam have again provided us with a transformational gift that demonstrates their remarkable commitment to the future of our University,” says President Joel Seligman. “I am deeply grateful to them for helping the institute to become a generative hub for education, research, and innovation in data science. The Goergen Institute will forever honor all they have done to make our University, and help make the world, ever better.”

In 2013, Seligman announced the University was committing $100 million to greatly expand the University’s research in data science. The initiative included plans to recruit top faculty members in the field and build a new facility to serve as a hub for collaboration among programs in medicine, science and engineering, the humanities, education, business, and other disciplines.

“Data science is introducing exciting new research possibilities and discoveries at the University, as well as new degree programs and robust academic opportunities for students involved in a variety of studies,” says Bob Goergen. “Science, engineering, and mathematics are the University’s sweet spots, so being at the forefront of data science and maximizing our capabilities in highperformance computing and calculating is very exciting. We are in a great position to help students become well-trained, highly skilled data scientists and meet the national demand for this kind of expertise.”

“This is an important time for the University and we are happy to support this growth,” says Pam Goergen. “Making a difference is really why we give the way we give, and we hope our gift inspires others to contribute and make the University of Rochester an even better place for education and research.”

The Goergens join Robin and University Trustee Tim Wentworth and the Wegman Family Charitable Foundation among lead donors to the institute. In February, the University announced the Wentworths’ $3 million commitment to endow the institute’s directorship. In April 2014, the Wegman Family Charitable Foundation committed $10 million to the institute, and the University announced that the new data science building will bear the Wegman name.

Bob Goergen has been a University trustee since 1982 and served as chairman from 1991 to 2003, and he is an honorary chair for the Campaign. The Goergens have a distinguished history as philanthropists and University supporters. Their $10 million gift in 2007 led to the construction of the Robert B. Goergen Hall for Biomedical Engineering and Optics as a new home for the Institute for Optics and biomedical engineering programs. In 2000, the Goergens provided $5 million for renovations to the River Campus athletic and fitness facility, which today is the Robert B. Goergen Athletic Center. And in 1997, the couple established the Goergen Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, presented annually to outstanding faculty members at the College Convocation.

Launched in 2011, The Meliora Challenge is the largest campaign in the University’s history. Fundraising efforts will continue to build on the $1.2 billion mark until the Campaign’s conclusion in June 2016.

Just over one half of the Campaign’s goal—$650 million—is to benefit research, education, and care at the Medical Center, an effort that surpassed the $600 million threshold this spring. The new Golisano Children’s Hospital, a funding priority, is set to open this summer (see sidebar).

“When we publicly launched The Meliora Challenge campaign, I said that together we would make history. Now, fewer than four years later, I am delighted that we have achieved our initial goal,” Seligman says. “We still have far to go. Great university campaigns typically exceed their initial goals by 10 to 20 percent. Over the next 15 months, we have the opportunity to build on our momentum and take our University to the next level. Let me reflect my great gratitude to our devoted alumni, friends, parents, faculty, staff, and students. Together we are the Rochester family. Together we have demonstrated there is so much that we can achieve.”

Thomas Farrell ’88, ’90W (MS), senior vice president and chief advancement officer, praised the efforts of the University community, but emphasized the importance of sustaining the campaign’s momentum until its finish date. “The campaign has demonstrated remarkable performance to this point, but we have aspirations that go well beyond The Meliora Challenge,” says Farrell. “It is with these goals in mind that we need to stay focused and close out the campaign strong. It’s a race to the finish!”

“Our campaign’s performance is a reflection of President Seligman’s inspirational vision,” says Board of Trustees Chairman Ed Hajim ’58, noting the leadership roles of Campaign cochairs Richard Handler ’83 and Cathy Minehan ’68.

Hajim and his wife, Barbara, committed $30 million in 2008 to fund student scholarships and to support the endowment in the Hajim School of Engineering & Applied Sciences, putting the couple among the Campaign’s leading supporters.