The Gift of Music. Kodak magnate George Eastman couldn’t read or play music, but he had a great affection for it, and he wanted to share it with others. So he suggested a music school to President Rush Rhees. He subsequently gave $6.5 million to build a school of music in Rochester and establish its endowment and another $3 million for an adjoining concert hall. The Eastman School of Music, which was to be dedicated to the highest levels of artistry and scholarship, first opened its doors in 1921.
Musical wizards. Eastman’s faculty members would have been Mr. Eastman’s heroes because they are some of the world’s most esteemed performers, composers, conductors, scholars, and educators. They are the winners of Grammy and ASCAP Awards, they are Guggenheim fellows, and they are published authors and recorded artists. And unlike professors at many other schools, most Eastman professors consider teaching their professional priority (making endowed professorships an Eastman School priority). This gives students a steady combination of expertise and dedication in a challenging, but supportive, learning environment.
Eat. Sleep. Music. Eastman students’ mantra is a t-shirt, but it is also an actual lifestyle. They take “practice makes perfect” literally. A typical day goes well beyond classes and studying to include individual practice, orchestra and chambers music rehearsals, opera stagings, and other rehearsals outside of the classroom. And somewhere between it all they eat and sleep. Fifteen-hour days are normal, making extra time for a part-time job—or anything else—almost impossible, and that makes scholarships a critical need for most students.
Halls of harmonized sound. One of the best ways to appreciate the musical wizardry possessed by Eastman’s faculty and students is to hear them—and others—play in one of the School’s historic performance halls. Eastman Theatre has been Rochester’s preeminent performance space since 1922 and is home to the Eastman Philharmonia, the RPO, and the concert series Eastman Presents. Kilbourn Hall is considered to be one of the world’s finest chamber music halls and Hatch Recital Hall offers state-of-the-art acoustic and multimedia technology.
I Love Rock n’ Research. Founded by Telegraph tycoon Hiram Watson Sibley in 1904 “for the use of all music-lovers in Rochester,” the Sibley Music Library is the largest music library affiliated with any college or University in the United States. In January 1922, the library’s 8,600 books and scores were moved to the new Eastman School building. Over the next century, its holdings grew to nearly 750,000 items. Today, Sibley Library is one of the world’s preeminent research libraries devoted to all aspects of studying music.
Indiana Stones. Henry A. Ward was professor of natural sciences at the University from 1861 to 1875. He was also a fearless rock hound whose travels around the world enabled him to amass a collection of about 40,000 geological specimens. His aunt assumed his adventures would end with him being eaten by cannibals, falling into a volcano, or being killed by some other danger. None of those happened, but he did contract smallpox, which he promptly bull whipped in the face and kept on collecting. His actual death was fairly pedestrian—a car accident in 1906; he was 72.
Graveboulder? Devastated by the death of his sister, T.T. Swinburne, Class of 1892, committed suicide by jumping into the Genesee River in 1926. Years later, someone probably said, “Hey, you know that 26-ton boulder, near Irondequoit Bay? Wouldn’t that make a great memorial for T.T.?” Rumors that Swinburne’s ashes were buried beneath the boulder—now resting near Interfaith Chapel—were proved to be “boulderdash.” In 1932, Herman L. Fairchild, professor of geology and natural history at the University from 1888 to 1920, waxed geologic about the giant rock’s composition.
Do-lo-mite! Around 400 million years ago, the Rochester area was covered by a warm, shallow sea that was responsible for the formation of the extensive rock unit known as the Lockport dolomite. So what? So, according to Lawrence Lundgren, professor emeritus of geology, the boulders outside of Susan B. Anthony Residence Halls are more or less Lockport nuggets plucked from the bedrock when an ice sheet retreated from the area 10,000 years ago. Some Lundgrens are more appreciative of “rocky” issues than others.
Million-Year-Old Baby. Restored at the University of Rochester… Put on display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington… From the Middle Silurian period… belonging to the genus Arctinurus… Measuring at six-and-one-half inches and approximately 425 million years old… one of the best preserved ancient arthropod fossils in the wor-r-r-l-l-l-l-d… I-I-I-I-It’s a trilobite! Recovered by an amateur fossil hunter in York, N.Y., the trilobite spent 100 hours in restoration at the University, led by Gerry Kloc, a lab technician in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.
Meteormaggedon. There have been five times in the last 500 million years where Earth was the worst place to be. University geologists have contributed to evidence that two of those times Earth was the recipient of an interstellar “bonzai drop” from a massive meteor. The more merciful of the two wiped out the dinosaurs (65 million years ago); the other (185 million years earlier) is known as “The Great Dying.” The second meteor killed 90 to 96 percent of all species. Thanks to Michael Bay, we’re ready for the next one.
First-year fire. A “quad of fire” might sound like a part of a horrifying hellscape, but it’s just part of the University’s annual Candlelight Ceremony. Since 2008, incoming freshmen have surrounded the Eastman Quad with lit candles to learn about the University’s traditions, iconic symbols, and history. And a “fiery furnace” might sound like something from “The Burbs,” but it’s just a metaphor University Dean Paul Burgett ’68E, ’72E (MA), ’76E (PhD) has used for more than 30 years to inspire new classes of students.
The collegiate arts. Somewhere in the ethereal plane, Francis Scott Key is consoling T.T. Swinburne, Class of 1892. Like Key’s anthem for the U.S., only part of Swinburne’s original song for his alma mater is used today. The University only sings the first and third verse of “The Genesee.” In regard to the visual arts, many of the University’s painters can be found underground. Students have been painting the tunnels under the Eastman Quad since 1970. Today, most of the artwork is done to raise awareness for special events or causes.
There is a season, party, party, party. “It’s the [anything] of the school year! Let’s party!” Traditionally, this seems to be the attitude at the University. The school year kicks off with Yellowjacket Weekend. Then there’s homecoming: Meliora Weekend. Since 1934, December has been the time to celebrate boars choking on Aristotle. And more than 60 years ago, the University’s celebration for the end of classes looked a lot like the end of the movie “Grease.” Today, Dandelion Day features activities like live bands, paintball, and rock-climbing walls.
Like benefactor, like student. Joseph C. Wilson ’31 and George Eastman are the unofficial captains of the University of Rochester’s All-Time Super Engaged Rochester Volunteers Interested in Community Enrichment (SERVICE) All-Stars. Everyone knows that. It’s why every year students participate in Wilson Day and the George Eastman Day of Service—both are part of undergraduate orientation. Rooted in their respective namesake’s civic spirit, each day gives students the opportunity to engage in community improvement and outreach projects.
Burying “burying calc” and others. Like the calculus books that were ceremoniously destroyed and buried out of consuming hatred, several University traditions have been put to rest. Among these bygone customs are riding down the hill of Susan B. Anthony Halls on a lunch tray and a brutal contest—similar to capture the flag—that involved a greased pole and the use of rotten eggs and manure as weapons. And there was even a time where yelling “Eighty-fi-yi-ki-yi-zip-boom-Ro-che-ster” was totally normal.
“What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?” On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass posed that question to an audience of nearly 600 people in Rochester’s Corinthian Hall. Invited by the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society to speak in celebration of American independence, Douglass gave an oration that called out American hypocrisy and put a spotlight on injustice and cruelty. Today, it is considered the greatest anti-slavery speech ever given. “This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.”
The Institute. Established in 1986, the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African American Studies promotes the development of African and African-American studies in undergraduate and graduate education and research. The Institute provides a multidisciplinary and interdepartmental program that brings together historical, cultural, psychological, economic, and political perspectives for the study of people of African descent. And a fellowship program helps to further study and intellectual exchange within the community.
Digitizing Douglass. In 2002, the Douglass Institute and the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections initiated an effort to digitize all of the University’s Douglass materials. The job was given to undergraduate student interns to give them the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of this important leader in our history. The effort, now known as the “Frederick Douglass Project,” has provided a digital collection of Douglass correspondence, writings, and images.
Leadership House. If history has told us anything, it’s that we could use more people like Douglass. In February 2013, the University’s Fraternity Quad welcomed an addition created in the Rochester icon’s image: Douglass Leadership House. The leadership house helps members learn or improve their leadership skills and celebrates and raises awareness of black culture, politics, and history while presenting a physical expression of Douglass’s principles, as it serves students, alumni, and the Rochester community.
Where’s Frederick? Literally: Douglass can be visited at his gravesite in Mount Hope Cemetery. Honorifically: On the River Campus there’s the Douglass Institute, the Douglass Leadership House, and Frederick Douglass Commons, which is home to his bust (see banner above). There’s also a Douglass Medal and a statue of him in Highland Park. Metaphysically: Douglass is everywhere. Even today, we are still the beneficiaries of his legacy.
There’s a giving society for that. Anything for a giving streak of two years? Rochester Loyal. Annual commitments to the School of Medicine? Whipple Society. What about annual unrestricted gifts to favorite parts of the University? George Eastman Circle. What about something that celebrates those who establish a planned gift of any amount, for any purpose at the University that also illuminates the legacy of transformational philanthropists Joe and Peggy Wilson? That’s the Wilson Society.
Wilsonmania. Right around the time Yoko Ono was becoming a problem for the Beatles, brilliant industrialist and Xerox founder Joseph C. Wilson ’31, and his wife, Marie (Peggy), were helping to launch Rochester onto the world stage. In 1967, the Wilsons pledged $20 million to the University—the largest private gift to any U.S. University that year. By Joe’s death in 1971, the Wilsons had given the University more than $40 million. Peggy continued to build on their legacy by giving her home, art collection, and other enduring support.
Joe wuz here. So wuz Peg. Go to any corner of the University, and you will find a story about the Wilsons’ leadership or generosity. It’s far from hyperbole. You can see them at the MAG (the Wilson Collection), in our classrooms, fighting cancer (Wilson oncology funding), and on our calendar. Today, we are still benefiting from the vision the Wilsons provided as trustees for more than three decades. If the University had a “Mt. Rushmore,” they’d be on it.
Bequest = flux capacitor. A charitable trust and a bequest in Joe’s will were among the Wilsons’ greatest contributions to the University. These are examples of planned giving. Planned giving is an easy way for donors to integrate their financial and philanthropy goals. It also allows the University to take immediate steps toward current goals, while planning for the future. Minus the time travel and most of the plot, Back to the Future II is basically a movie about planned giving.
Declaration of Commitment. Anyone who funds a life-income gift or establishes a plan to transfer assets to the University from their estate qualifies for membership in the Wilson Society. Anyone who has already done this or establishes a planned gift before June 30, 2016 will be considered a “Founding Member.” All Founders will receive a hardcover copy of Joe Wilson’s biography and will have the option to be listed in a Founders Honor Roll. Questions? Contact Rosanna or Christopher.