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The Campaign for the University of Rochester

The Campaign for the University of Rochester begins today. While it is too early to specify a monetary goal or to establish a time line, it is not premature to state that this effort will be the largest in the history of this institution and will have the general purpose of accelerating our recent progress.

To date, a number of important preparatory steps have begun:

* Jim Thompson, currently Associate Vice Chancellor for Development at Washington University, has agreed to be the Senior Vice President for Advancement and Chief Advancement Officer at the University of Rochester beginning on or about September 1, 2005. I cannot overstate how delighted I am that Jim will be joining us. At Washington University, Jim performed a pivotal leadership role in the University’s recently completed $1.55 billion capital campaign, particularly focusing on principal and major gifts, campaign direction, regional development programs, corporate and foundation relations, campaign communications and services, and stewardship and donor relations. As his colleague at Washington University, I have been impressed by the high regard members of that academic community have for Jim and for his thoughtful study of peer institutions and campaign strategy. I also respect Jim’s realism. We have a long way to go to build the infrastructure that will make possible a major capital campaign. This is an important first step. Before Jim begins, Andy Deubler, Associate Vice President for Development at the Medical Center, will be the interim leader of our University efforts.

* Several schools have taken steps to develop strategic plans to articulate their objectives for the next planning period. This will be an ongoing process which is most likely to succeed if there is a general sense in each school that its strategic plan reflects the consensus of the faculty, administrators, students and alumni.

* Trustee Robert Goergen, Chair of the Board of Trustees from 1991 to 2003, has agreed to chair a Board of Trustees Strategic Planning Advisory Committee. The purpose of this committee will be to provide a basis for detailed Board review of school strategic plans and to help the University articulate institution-wide themes for the campaign.

* Separately, I have reappointed Charles Phelps as Provost for the next two years and have appointed Lynne Davidson, Associate Provost since 2000, as my deputy. Chuck has been the academic leader of the University during the past eleven years and his reappointment represents an important means of continuing the successful academic programs of the Jackson presidency. Lynne will strengthen my ability to effectively address what will be an ambitious external and internal agenda.

We build on considerable strength. The legacy of Tom Jackson is that of a President who left the University considerably stronger than when he began. Notable among his achievements are the empowerment of the schools and divisions in pursuit of their respective missions; revitalization of the Medical Center through the 1996 strategic plan and the construction of several pivotal new facilities including the Arthur Kornberg Medical Research Building and the Medical Research Building Extension; the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering’s Renaissance Plan; the recent surge in rankings of the Simon School; the creation of innovative new programs within the School of Nursing; the impressive growth of the Warner School’s sponsored research and outreach; the Eastman School of Music’s continued prominence as one of the nation’s leading music schools; and the recent extension to the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, named for President Emeritus Robert Sproull, that so significantly expands the lab’s capabilities.

To be sure, my work as President also begins with challenges. Every presidency does. But lack of clarity about the top priorities for the University is not a challenge. The Presidential Search Committee, along with its faculty and student advisory committees, the University Board of Trustees, the senior administrators, the deans, and the Faculty Senate, have consistently articulated their aspirations. This University is deservedly proud of its academic achievements and outstanding programs. But it needs more resources. My first priority is to build the infrastructure that will make possible the largest feasible capital campaign and annual giving program in the years to come.

Strategic planning will be a pivotal task for many of us in the University community. University campaigns succeed not only because they seek support, but because the University is able to communicate what is different and special about its faculty, students, and programs; where the University is going; and why alumni and friends of the University should be proud to support this effort.

I already have begun a “listening tour” involving each school and affiliated program, to date largely focusing on senior administrators and deans. In the months ahead, I look forward to broadening this effort to meet with each department chair and with the faculty of each department, as well as with students, administrators, staff, and alumni leaders. I want to hear about your work and your thoughts about the state of your University.

The fundamental purpose of a national research university is to provide outstanding teaching, scholarship, and research. Nonetheless, being a great academic center is not inconsistent with playing a major role in our community as the University of Rochester already does in Rochester. I also look forward to spending considerable time meeting community, political, and business leaders in the Rochester area.

Let me also highlight both an institutional and personal belief that a great university should simultaneously pursue academic excellence and diversity. We live in a competitive multicultural world. Over time not only academic excellence, but the ability to work effectively with persons of different nationalities, different races, different religious beliefs, and different genders will be increasingly recognized as essential to success. The University of Rochester can be viewed as having a unique historical mission in this regard. Few institutions have been so unmistakably touched by such champions of gender equality as Susan B. Anthony. Few cities can be as proud of the legacy of such a persuasive advocate of racial equality as Frederick Douglass.

I am proud to begin service today as the 10th president of the University of Rochester. This is a great University. You have deeply honored me by the opportunity to serve and I pledge my unremitting effort.

On my desk in my office is a paperweight that includes the full text of the finest graduation speech I ever heard. The speech stated in its entirety: “Aim high.” This is my personal version of Meliora. I look forward to working with you in a campaign to make a great University even stronger.