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The State of the University


Joel Seligman
Faculty Senate Speech
September 16, 2014

This year we welcome five senior leaders to the Rochester family.  Andrew Ainslie began as the new Dean of the Simon Business School on July 1, after an outstanding career at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, where he most recently served as Senior Associate Dean.  Under Andrew’s leadership, Anderson significantly strengthened its MBA program with substantially increased admissions and placement as well as a revised curriculum.

Jamal Rossi, who for seven years was Executive Associate Dean for the Eastman School of Music, officially began as the Joan and Martin Messinger Dean on July 1.  Jamal has many outstanding achievements already at the University of Rochester, including supervising the renovation and expansion of Eastman Theatre and recently developing a new music leadership conference to be launched in the summer of 2015 at Eastman.

Jonathan Binstock began service in early September as the Mary W. and Donald R. Clark Director of the Memorial Art Gallery.  Jonathan brings an impressive background to our University, having previously served as Curator at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and Assistant Curator at Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts as well as having been Senior Vice President and Senior Advisor in Modern and Contemporary Art for Citi Private Bank’s Art Advisory and Finance Group.

On November 1st, we will welcome Tom Farrell as senior vice president and James D. Thompson Chief Advancement Officer.  As with Deans Ainslie and Rossi and MAG Director Binstock, Tom brings a wealth of experience, having earlier led advancement programs at the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois Foundation.

Gloria Culver, chair and professor of biology, this year is serving as interim Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences during our national search for a permanent dean.  Gloria’s research on ribosomal machinery has contributed to understanding how infections might be controlled.  She has chaired the Department of Biology since 2010.

Last year Advancement’s performance was record breaking.  We raised nearly $126 million in cash, which was over $20 million higher than our previous record year.  We also set records in total commitments – counting future commitments – of nearly $156 million, and Annual Fund giving of $14.2 million.  Cumulative Campaign commitments as of the end of August total $1.108 billion, which is more than 92 percent of the way to our June 30, 2016 goal of $1.2 billion.  George Eastman Circle membership grew by more than 300 members last year, and currently stands at 2,968 members.  We successfully have launched regional campaigns in San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., New York, and San Diego, with a Regional Campaign launch scheduled for Los Angeles on September 21.  Participation for our OneRochester Faculty/Staff Campaign, over the course of The Meliora Challenge, is at 41 percent of our faculty and staff.

Since the Campaign began, we have created 83 endowed professorships and deanships, exceeding our initial goal of 80.

Medical Center CEO Brad Berk and his family, for example, contributed a $1.5 million gift to create a distinguished professorship in support of the University’s cardiovascular care, research and educational efforts.  On May 14 we celebrated the installation of cardiologist Art Moss as the inaugural Bradford C. Berk, MD, PhD Distinguished Professor.  A few months later, in August, Art was awarded a $4 million NIH grant to continue his path breaking work on heart arrhythmias.

University finances last year had a very successful year.  Preliminary financial data show a $393 million or 13.2 percent increase in net assets to $3.37 billion.

Strong Memorial Hospital’s operating margin for the year ending June 30, 2014, for example, was $143.6 million or 10.7 percent.

The investment performance of the University Long Term Investment Pool, largely composed of our endowment funds, similarly reported a preliminary 18.7 percent gain, ending a year for the first time above $2 billion.

On October 17th we will formally dedicate College Town with a rolling opening of College Town’s many shops and restaurants over the next six months or so.  Let me take you on a tour of some of the highlights.

The flagship will be a two level, 20,000 square foot Barnes & Noble University Bookstore.  The bookstore will be notable for its expanded merchandise and a full event calendar, including author visits, game nights, children’s book readings, musical performances, and community activities.

Saxby’s Coffee will be adjacent to Barnes & Noble, offering coffee, smoothies, sandwiches, salads, and more to our highly literate, sometimes caffeine deprived population.

One of the initial books on sale in the Barnes & Noble will be Our Work Is But Begun, a new history of the University of Rochester written by Janice Pieterse.  Our Work Is But Begun tells the story of our University from a small undergraduate program to a robust research university, concluding at the end of Tom Jackson’s presidency in 2005.

On Friday, October 17, during Meliora Weekend, award winning novelist Professor Joanna Scott will be at Barnes & Noble to autograph copies of her new work, De Potter’s Grand Tour: A Novel.

Beginning in October the Mt. Hope Lofts at College Town will provide studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom apartments with granite countertops, large walk-in closets, nine foot ceilings, wood floors and spacious floor plans.  Mt. Hope Lofts will include a fitness center, an on-site market, 24 hour maintenance, and approximately 200 parking spaces.

The 136 room Hilton Garden Inn will open early next year with a full service casual dining Italian restaurant and conference center, a large ballroom, pool and fitness center.  The Hilton will include four meeting rooms for conferences and events.

Constantino’s Market, a 20,000 square foot grocery store, will soon also open in College Town.  Constantino’s will feature fresh fruit and vegetables, a bakery, full service catering, daily deli items, prepared foods, including more than 100 locally sourced products.  Notably, Constantino’s will be within walking distance of our campuses.

The Corner Bakery Café will be a casual café specializing in pastries, breads, breakfast dishes, gourmet sandwiches, homemade soups, and salads.

Jimmy John’s will add another lunchtime meal option with self-proclaimed “Freaky Fast Delivery.”

Insomnia Cookies will serve fresh baked cookies and milk until 3 a.m.

Moe’s will offer casual fare and a salsa bar.

Breathe Yoga will include yoga, cooking classes, food, a spa and boutique.

Hairzoo will be full service hair salon.

The Creator’s Hands will offer a gallery of arts and crafts and home décor, all made in the USA.

Canandaigua National Bank and

TIAA-CREF also will open branches in College Town.

Flaum Optical will come to College Town, offering eye exams and retail eyewear.

College Town will feature a new parking garage with 1,600 spaces.

There also will be 50,000 square feet of new office space in College Town, providing new offices for University Human Resources, University IT, Purchasing, Treasury, and staff for the Emergency Department.

On October 17th, Paprocki Plaza will be dedicated in honor of Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance Ron Paprocki, whose leadership was consequential in creating College Town.

Across the Genesee, we also will soon open Brooks Crossing, which adds housing for 170 upperclassmen in one to four bedroom apartments with full kitchens, individual bathrooms, air conditioning, and wireless Internet.

On the River Campus, thanks to University Trustee Ronald Rettner and the Ronald Rettner Campus Improvement Fund, we have transformed Morey Hall as we begin the revitalization of several of the earliest buildings on the Eastman Quad.  Morey Hall, largely untouched since it was dedicated in 1930, now has an open atrium and event space.

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The lobby area – which will be named the Karen and Ronald Rettner Gallery – has been restored to its original design configuration, including patching and painting walls, reconditioning the terrazzo floor, refinishing the wood paneling, and installing nine-foot oak doors along the corridor.  The offices on the third floor have been refurbished with new lighting, ceiling, fire protection system, and an energy efficient terminal unit to provide heating and cooling.

This summer we renovated two lecture halls and constructed a new lecture hall in Gavett.

In June the University opened the Visualization-Innovation-Science-Technology-Application or VISTA Collaboratory, created with the support of $5 million from New York State after being identified as a priority project by the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council.  The VISTA Collaboratory is located in Carlson Library and will further our integrated, high performance supercomputing initiatives and present to our students cutting edge research. The Collaboratory consists of a display of 24 monitors and is 20 feet wide and eight feet tall with resolution similar to that in IMAX theatres.  VISTA has a direct high speed fiber optic connection to the University’s Data Center and is linked to our IBM Blue Gene/Q and to our BlueHive 2 Linux supercomputer cluster.

And our apocryphally nicknamed Muse of Commerce has returned to a location just outside the Simon School after a 23 year sojourn in the Toronto backyard of former University of Rochester Professor James Carley.  Carley saved the statue from destruction in 1977.  The Muse of Commerce complements similar statues celebrating Astronomy, Geography, Navigation and Science that stand between  Rush Rhees Library and Meliora Hall.

On July 1, the University received approval from New York State to implement a Start Up New York tax free zone for the University’s business incubator, High Tech Rochester, and for two buildings in Eastman Business Park with total space of more than 100,000 square feet.  The University’s Start Up New York plan will attract eligible startup companies in high-tech and life sciences as well as established companies aligned with Eastman Business Park’s technology clusters to create partners in research, training, and infrastructure.

In July 2014, the School of Nursing received national attention with the publication of Dr. Harriet Kitzman’s work in the Journal of the American Medical Association – her longitudinal study over two decades found that early intervention with nurse “in-home” visits reduced the death rates of children and at-risk mothers, in addition to preventing health problems, improving child development, and increasing economic self-sufficiency.  The School of Nursing will also be celebrating the installation of Dr. Sally Norton as the Inaugural Independence Foundation Chair in Nursing and Palliative Care next month.

In August, the Medical Center opened Strong West, a new 9,400 square foot emergency department, in the former Lakeside Memorial Hospital in Brockport.  Patient visits are projected to be 11,000 in the first year, growing to 14,000 by the third year.

At the end of this academic year, the Medical Center will open the largest project in University history, the new Golisano Children’s Hospital.  This $145 million building will have eight floors and approximately 245,000 square feet of space.

Golisano Children’s Hospital has been designed to cultivate an atmosphere of patient and family care, quality, and safety.

The Hospital will bring together a talented clinical, research, and education workforce, with strong community ties and administrative support, with a focus on the contiguity of services for children.

Golisano will be home to many outstanding programs such as the congenital heart disease program, led by Dr. George Alfieris, which provides surgical and intensive care and neonatal care to patients referred by cardiologists throughout Upstate New York.

Our academic programs continue to progress.  This year’s first year class in Arts, Sciences and Engineering may be the strongest in our history, with two score equivalent SATs at a record 1375, up by 75 points from 2005.  To put this in different terms, our two score equivalent SATs have increased from the 87th percentile to the 93rd percentile of all applicants since 2005.  Simultaneously, there has been a substantial increase in enrollment of underrepresented minorities, from 12.2 percent in 2005 to 15 percent in 2014, and in enrollment of first year international students, which has increased from 3.3 to 23 percent, coming from a record 75 countries.

We are proud, for example, that the University of Rochester has become the number one destination for graduates of the African Leadership Academy, a leading college preparatory program in South Africa.

Let me also note our culinary success.  According to the Daily Meal, which should know, of a survey of 2,000 colleges, the University of Rochester was rated the sixth best college for food in America in 2014.  The University had the second highest Yelp rating and was credited for efforts of the dining program to make meals that are sustainable, delicious and fun.  Let me extend congratulations to Cam Schauf, Director of Campus Dining Services, and all those who feed us so well.

For our faculty, this already is a notable year.  On October 1, 2014, the School of Medicine and Dentistry will welcome Dr. David Linehan to be the new Chair of the Department of Surgery and Seymour I. Schwartz Professor in Surgery.  David also will serve as Director of Clinical Cancer Services and Co-Director of the James P. Wilmot Cancer Institute.  David comes to us from Washington University where he was Chief of Surgical Oncology and is internationally recognized as a leading cancer surgeon and basic scientist in cancer immunology.

Dr. Bruce Smoller began in July as Chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.  He was formerly Chair of the Department of Pathology at the University of Arkansas and most recently Executive Vice President of the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology.

Biology Professor Vera Gorbunova was awarded a five year, $9.5 million grant from the National Institute on Aging for a study of aging based on her research with Andrei Seluanov concerning why naked mole rats are never stricken with cancer.  The naked mole rat has an average life span of 32 years and may hold a key to delaying human aging.  Professor Andrei Seluanov also received a separate $1.5 million NIH grant for a study of the Regulation of Genome Stability.

Dr. Fred Rogosch of our Mt. Hope Family Center received a five year NIH award of $2.7 million to study Child Maltreatment and Children’s Trust.

Professor of Microbiology and Immunology Deborah Fowell and her team were awarded a five year, $9 million program project NIH grant for Tissue Regulation of T Cell Function.  This research will develop imaging techniques to enable views of the immune system while it is actively responding to an infection or fighting a disease.  Having that ability may allow clinicians to manipulate the immune system’s response in the future and, among other applications, could lead to better treatment for everything from allergies to arthritis.

Dr. Harris Gelbard, director of the Center for Neural Development and Disease, and others have received a $3.4 million grant from NIH to study an experimental drug combination that appears to rid white blood cells of HIV and keep the infection in check for long periods.  The experimental drugs’ long lasting effects suggest the possibility of an HIV treatment that could be administered monthly, or even less frequently, instead of daily.

Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics Lynne Maquat, the J. Lowell Orbison Distinguished Service Alumni Professor, was awarded a prestigious MERIT award by NIH to further her work in RNA biology.  MERIT, which stands for Method for Extending Research In Time, was established in 1986 to provide stable, long term grant support to leading scientists to pursue ambitious research projects which require longer time to develop.  Scientists cannot apply for MERIT awards – they are awarded to less than five percent of NIH funded investigators.

Gary Morrow, the Benefactor Distinguished Professor of surgery, received an NIH grant with $3.7 million per year in total costs for the University of Rochester-National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) Research Base.  This research focuses on improving the quality of cancer care and decreasing the toxicities and side effects stemming from the cancer.

Pediatrics Professor Jill Halterman was awarded $3.6 million by NIH to work with the Rochester City School District to study how teens can keep their asthma symptoms in check by providing them with medications and motivational counseling in school.

Musicology Professor Michael Alan Anderson recently published a fascinating book, St. Anne in Renaissance Music: Devotion and Politics, the first study to explore the music that honored this saint and her veneration in some of the most prominent court cultures of western Europe.

Professor Douglas Crimp, the Fanny Knapp Allen Professor in Fine Arts, was celebrated this August at a gathering of leading scholars, artists, and critics from around the world at the Arsenal Institute for Film and Video Art in Berlin.  He is one of the leading American academics in art history and cultural studies.

Dr. Gretchen Birbeck, who joined us in 2013, is spending up to six months annually in Africa, collaborating in cerebral malaria research and Neuro-HIV clinical trials in Zambia and Malawi.  She is making a difference.  In these two countries with 40 million people, there currently are two neurologists and two psychiatrists.  Dr. Birbeck’s work has made it possible for more than 3,000 patients with epilepsy to receive treatment they otherwise would not have received and to change national policy that potentially could help more than 150,000 people.

Let me also salute Neurology Professor Catherine LaVigne, who on August 24th began a cross-country bicycle trip to raise funds and awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.  Professor LaVigne is bicycling in honor of her late mother and anticipates averaging 90 to 100 miles of biking each day over a 45 day journey.

Last year was a spectacular year for our University of Rochester Fulbright students who were among the top three in the country in rate of success of applicants.

Lauren Bailey (Class of 2015) of the women’s swimming team and Adam Pacheck (Class of 2014) of the men’s cross country/track and field teams were named Academic All-Americans.

The magazine Downbeat, sometimes described as “the Bible of jazz,” recognized the Eastman Chamber Jazz Ensemble under director Jeff Campbell for outstanding undergraduate college performance in its 37th annual Student Awards competition.  Downbeat also recognized Eastman musician Michael Conrad for the best original composition for a large ensemble.

Few issues recently have received more attention in higher education than sexual assaults.  Any case involving a sexual assault at our University is one case too many.  Our aspiration is clear.  We seek to maintain a University free from assault.  In the last few years, we have taken several steps to improve our ability to prevent and discourage sexual assault and our capabilities to appropriately deal with complaints of sexual misconduct when they are made.  These include our recently revised Student Sexual Misconduct Policy, which stresses “only yes means yes”; the training of six female security officers, who, among other things, will initiate investigations and stay involved with cases and student victims; and the active involvement of our Board of Trustees, in this instance led by Gwen Greene and the Student Affairs Committee, who are helping address the broad panoply of issues that can cause harm to our students.

The single most important thing we can do about sexual assault is to try to prevent it.  During undergraduate orientation week and throughout this year, we have programming aimed, for example, at helping students learn how to intervene effectively for others.

We recognize we can never eliminate the possibility that an incident may occur.  If an allegation of sexual misconduct occurs, we have ensured that we will have security officers available to work with the student victim and that our discipline process affords prompt and fair review of the case.

We recognize also that all individuals in our University community, including those accused of any misconduct, have rights.  The reason we diligently investigate complaints and require proof by a preponderance of the evidence is to ensure that we proceed in as fair and just a manner as is possible.

We always will seek to be ever better.  But we should not lose track of how many extraordinarily good people there are on our campus.  They study, teach and work here because this is a supportive environment and one which is rewarding and a source of pride for our entire community.

The Health Plan Committee has finished its work formulating revisions to the University’s employee health plans.  The committee has received valuable input from members of the Senate Benefits, Budget, and Executive Committees and held many meetings and focus groups.  I have accepted the Committee’s recommendations, which are designed to: (1) simplify the health plans while providing options and preserving employee decision-making; (2) help employees manage costs and maintain or improve their health; and (3) provide access to quality, integrated health and wellness programs.  A great deal of thought has been given to the transition to the new plans.  During the month of October, detailed information regarding the plans will be distributed to all faculty and staff.  There will be group presentations, opportunities for individual consultation, and online tools to assist employees in making their choices.  The new plans will take effect in January 2015.

In October, the University Board will hear reports on the first year’s progress on our Aiming Higher Strategic Plans (2013-2018).  Given the recent hiring of new Deans at Eastman and Simon and the new Director of the MAG, their reports will not be presented until later.  There has been much progress.

Let me begin with the Warner School.  East High School is the largest and one of the most historic high schools in Rochester.  East was on the verge of being closed by New York State because of inadequate performance.  We were asked by the Rochester City School Board if we would consider assuming the role of an Educational Partnership Organization, under a special statute that addresses low performing high schools.  The Educational Partnership Organization structure means that the University would perform the role of the superintendent during the term of the agreement for East High School.

For several weeks a number of our Warner School of Education faculty, led by Dean and Frederica Warner Professor Raffaella Borasi and Professor Steve Uebbing, developed a preliminary Educational Partnership Organization plan which was submitted to the School Board for approval.  This plan, among other things, seeks to double East High School graduation rates from the current 42 percent to 84 percent over a seven year period.  This will be accomplished by incorporating best practices in school leadership, curriculum design and implementation, teaching, social and emotional support and school and community partnerships.  The plan contemplates an upper school (grades 10 to 12) and a lower school (grades 6 or 7 to 8) with a separate ninth grade academy.  Students will be grouped into “families” of five to nine students who will meet with the same adult mentor each day.  School days would be lengthened and counseling and professional development for faculty would be strengthened.

This Plan potentially could revitalize a public high school, doing so with unionized employees, fully protecting their financial benefits.  Thanks to the flexibility shown by all inside and outside the University involved, we signed Memoranda of Agreement with the four relevant unions at East High School, and our plan to develop an Educational Partnership Organization agreement was approved by the Rochester City School Board and by the State Education Department in July.

The Warner School team is now preparing a full operational plan by December which will require additional approvals.  The operational plan is being developed collaboratively with East High School teachers, parents, students and all other stakeholders.  This is a complicated process, but one that can substantially improve the lives of students at East High School and potentially create a model of how challenged high schools can be revitalized.  There also will be significant academic advantages to the students and faculty at the University’s Warner School.  No one should have any delusions that this is easy.  The jury is still out as to whether this will succeed, but I am guardedly optimistic given the spirit of cooperation and collaboration that has been widely evidenced to date.

Let me now turn to the Medical Center, which is involved in several aspects of its strategic plan implementation.  Its clinical strategy has two goals:  To increase the population served while simultaneously decreasing costs.  The Medical Center approach builds on the distinction between complex and specialized services, tertiary and quaternary care, in contrast with more routine health care.  Over time the Medical Center is evolving into a health system where increasingly tertiary and quaternary care will be referred to our flagship hospital, Strong Memorial, while routine cases more often will be handled at locations throughout our region.  We are particularly focusing on becoming the referral center of choice for pediatrics, cancer, cardiovascular, neurology, and orthopedics.

Inside the Medical Center, the transformation of the University of Rochester Medical Faculty Group, under the leadership of Dr. Mike Rotondo, is a pivotal means to move to a fully integrated, multi specialty group practice.  This involves an evolution from the current department model to one where multiple aspects of health care, health care policies and finances are subject to common standards.  The transformation will reset strategic goals for the Medical Faculty Group; reorganize governance; improve financial performance; develop internal strategies to address access, quality and service; create short term initiatives focusing on more convenient destination centers; and create long term initiatives addressing the evolution of the current fee-for-service model for health care to one that may involve bundled payments for health care or techniques to reduce the cost of care through more generalized health care contracts.

During the first year of the Medical Center strategic plan, our accountable care network, Accountable Health Partners, has grown to 1,643 primary care and specialized physicians who will share in cost savings with the Medical Center, participate in our electronic medical record system and often refer patients to Strong and our other hospitals when it is appropriate.

Our hospital system has now grown to include FF Thompson as well as Highland Hospital and three collaborating institutions, Noyes Memorial Hospital in Dansville, Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville, and Wyoming County Community Health System in Warsaw.

The centerpiece of Dean Mark Taubman’s School of Medicine and Dentistry educational strategic plan is the Institute for Innovative Education (IIE), whose goal is to create a national model for innovative inter professional education.  This means that the IIE will span all educational components of the School of Medicine and Dentistry and the School of Nursing.  Among other early projects of the IIE is the development of a curriculum designed to teach health care providers how to use electronic medical records in a patient friendly way. This past year Sarah Peyre was named Director of the IIE and became Assistant Dean for Interprofessional Education.  She was awarded a Macy Foundation grant to aid in the development of the IIE.

Simultaneously Dean Taubman has begun a broad curricular review, which among other things seeks to reduce classes during the first two years of the MD program to less than 50 percent of scheduled contact hours to provide more time for independent learning.

The College of Arts, Sciences and Engineering this year also made notable progress, increasing the size of its faculty from 351 to 362, the largest one year increase in Arts, Sciences and Engineering in 25 years.

Simultaneously, undergraduate applications rose to a record 16,340.  The systematic growth in applications reflects increased recognition of the distinctive Rochester Curriculum and the powerful impact of a wider selection of new majors, last year including Business, Environmental Health and soon Computational Biology.  In the past five years, the Hajim School enrollment has doubled from 730 students to 1528.  This year, a record 480 first year students, or 30 percent, have declared their primary interest in studying engineering.

At the same time, our master’s programs have also grown substantially to 282 in last academic year with a projected 325 this year.

Data science is the University’s top priority for the 2013-18 strategic plans that were adopted by the Board of Trustees in October, 2013.  We have made substantial progress in developing the Institute for Data Science and the University’s future Science and Engineering Quadrangle.  This year we will welcome 14 new faculty in data science or cognate applications, including Tom Howard, professor of computational linguistics and robotics, with a joint appointment in Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering, and secondary appointments in Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering; and Gourab Ghoshal, professor of network science whose primary appointment will be in Physics, with secondary appointments in Math, Computer Science, and Biology.

The State of New York last year created a Center of Excellence in Data Science at our University and awarded this Center of Excellence $872,333 in annual support.  Within the past few weeks, the Fingers Lakes Regional Economic Development Council recommended the Institute for Data Science as a high priority project.  If Finger Lakes is the recipient of a $25 million award in October, Data Science is in line to receive $2.5 million from that award.

The Hajim School is working with the College Curriculum Committee toward beginning new undergraduate and graduate programs in data science for the next academic year.

The Institute for Data Science now has an organizational structure, led by Director Henry Kautz, an internal Steering Committee and an External Advisory Committee that includes such high-tech industry leaders as

Eric Horvitz, Managing Director of Microsoft Research; Oren Etzioni, the Director of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence and Richard Scheuermann, Director of Informatics at J. Craig Venter Institute, who will provide external advice.

In addition to a previously announced $10 million commitment from The Wegman Family Charitable Foundation for the Institute, we also have arranged further support that has made it possible to begin architectural work on the Institute building.  I look forward to the dedication of the new hall which will bear the Wegman family name on the Science and Engineering Quadrangle at Meliora Weekend in October 2016 and the Institute for Data Science building being fully operational by early 2017.

Let me now look further over the horizon.  In 2007 the University adopted a Campus Master Plan which has been instrumental in guiding our facilities expansion during the past seven years.  The Campus Master Plan was envisioned as being applicable for up to a 30 year period.  Nothing in a University is immutable.  In August of this year, I charged my Senior Leadership Group with a review of where we will be going over the next 10 years in terms of strategy and facilities. This is not the equivalent to a new set of strategic plans, but a first step in terms of thinking through the optionality we will need to address our next set of strategic plans which may include additional expansion as well as such issues as what facilities may be replaced during the next 10 years and what possible land acquisitions or infrastructure system augmentations may occur.

A good illustration of this type of planning is suggested by a proposed River Campus Libraries Draft Master Plan.  In this document, which will be the subject of much review, Mary Ann Mavrinac, the Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of River Campus Libraries, and others associated with our River Campus Libraries imagine a transformation in our library – from one that historically was an information repository to one that increasingly over time will be involved in knowledge creation through the development of 21st century scholarly spaces that house digital-physical spaces while preserving rare books and other volumes that will not be accessible online.  The implications of this transformation for the Library are profound.

Dean Mavrinac envisions use of library space for projects such as the iZone, a hub of innovation for undergraduate and graduate students who want to become entrepreneurs.  The iZone would offer centralized and focused support, space for learning new skills, research, networking, mentoring, and showcasing success, a strong technology infrastructure, and state-of-the-art interactive technology to enhance and support experiential learning, idea development, innovation, and collaboration.

The River Campus Libraries Master Plan is timely.  In the years to come, the number of hard cover volumes in the Rush Rhees Library inevitably will decline.

What is particularly inspiring about the Library Plan is that it attempts to address a core facility of our University not in the short term, but for the foreseeable future, in an impressive assimilation of the implications of our digital age.  There will be many additional conversations about the future of Rush Rhees with our University community in the months and years to come.

Universities succeed when they do not stand still.  Our work is never done.  As our Strategic Planning and Campus Master Plan initiatives have and will illustrate, we progress most effectively when we challenge ourselves to think boldly, to stretch to achieve ennobling goals.  We are a University whose very motto asserts “Ever Better.”   We always will be a work in progress.