University of Rochester president, CEO Joel Seligman resigns
Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - The president of the University of Rochester has resigned, effective February 28, 2018.
Joel Seligman announced his intention to step down, just hours after a report was issued about allegations of sexual misconduct on campus.
In a statement released to the university Thursday afternoon, Seligman said he informed the Board of Trustees that he intends to resign as president and CEO. He added that the decision was made before the report was released.
Seligman went on to call the presidency "the greatest honor of my life."
"It is clear to me that the best interests of the University are best served with new leadership, and a fresh perspective to focus on healing our campus and moving us forward in a spirit of cooperation and unity," Seligman said in the statement. "I will look forward to working with the interim President when that person is named, and with a permanent President, once that person is identified after a search process."
An interim president will be named to succeed Seligman in the near future as a search is conducted for a permanent successor. In a letter to Danny Wegman, chair of the University of Rochester Board of Trustees, Seligman said he will take a sabbatical year, then return to the faculty as a professor.
Seligman assumed office on July 1, 2005 as the tenth president of the University of Rochester. Under his leadership, the Golisano Children’s Hospital and EJ DelMonte Neuromedicine Institute both opened, as well as the James Wilmot Cancer.
In 2007, Seligman announced he had non-Hodgkins lymphoma that was treated by doctors at the University of Rochester.
He played a key role in economic development of the Rochester and Finger Lakes region, serving as the co-chair of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council from 2011-2016.
The full text of the emailed statement to the University community can be seen below:
To the University Community,
Today, before I or any member of the Board of Trustees received the Mary Jo White report or learned its contents, I informed the Board of my intention to resign as President and CEO of the University of Rochester, effective February 28, 2018. Danny Wegman, the Chair of the Board of Trustees, and I exchanged letters confirming this. The texts of those letters can be read below.
It has been the greatest honor of my life to have served the University of Rochester for the last twelve and a half years. I am grateful to everyone who has served with me and am proud of the progress we have made together. I have worked tirelessly on the University’s behalf, motivated by a single overriding criterion: What is in the best interest of the University of Rochester?
It is clear to me that the best interests of the University are best served with new leadership, and a fresh perspective to focus on healing our campus and moving us forward in a spirit of cooperation and unity. I will look forward to working with the interim President when that person is named, and with a permanent President, once that person is identified after a search process.
There will be more opportunities for me to express this sentiment in the coming weeks, but for now, let me simply say, once again, “Thank you.”
President, CEO and G. Robert Witmer, Jr. University Professor
University of Rochester
Letter from Danny Wegman, Chair, University of Rochester Board of Trustees
January 11, 2018
Thank you for your letter, and for your extraordinary accomplishments as President of the University of Rochester, some of which I have outlined below. On behalf of the University’s Board of Trustees, I accept your resignation, effective February 28.
When I agreed to become the Chair of the University’s Board, I did so because of my respect for you, both as the University’s President and as my friend; and because of my admiration for my fellow Board members. That respect and admiration continues.
You have always put the University of Rochester first, and the fact that you are taking this step is a shining example of that commitment. The University has experienced difficult times lately, but your decision allows us to truly “turn the page” and move forward with respect, resolve, and unity.
There will be ample opportunities in the future to celebrate your achievements, but for now I offer my gratitude and thanks, not just on behalf of the Board, but on behalf of the University and Rochester communities.
Chair, Board of Trustees
University of Rochester
Partial List of Seligman Presidency Accomplishments
• In 2016, the University celebrated the conclusion of the Meliora Challenge Campaign, raising $1.373 billion, the largest capital campaign in our history.
• During the past 12 years, the University fortified its position among the nation’s leading research universities. In 2015, the University ranked 20th among the top funded research universities with $350 million in total sponsored research awards in 2014.
• The student body has grown from 8,329 students in fall 2004 to more than 11,648 in fall 2017, an increase of 40 percent.
• The undergraduate program has grown more talented, more diverse and larger. Two-score SATs have increased in the College from 1304 to 1403 between 2005 and 2017, or from the 86th to the 96th percentile; simultaneously the percentage of underrepresented minority and international students has increased.
• The University is increasingly diverse. Between 2006 and 2017 the percentage of faculty who are women grew from 28.6 to 35.8 percent, a growth in female faculty members from 411 to 759. The percentage of faculty who self-identified as underrepresented minority faculty grew from 2.6 to 4.6 percent, more than doubling underrepresented minority faculty from 37 to 98. Between 2006 and 2017, underrepresented minority employees in Staff Pay Grade 50 and above increased from 5.1 to 8.3 percent. During the same years, aggregate minority student enrollment grew from 7.6 to 10.7 percent.
• Total instructional faculty has grown from 2,009 in fall 2004 to 2,780 in fall 2017, an increase of 38 percent.
• Since 2005 the University has created or received commitments to create 112 new endowed professorships, deanships or directorships.
• New programs have been developed, including the Health Sciences Center for Computational Innovation, Clinical Research Institute, the Del Monte Neuromedicine Institute, the Beal Institute for Film Music and Contemporary Media and 19 new majors in Arts, Sciences and Engineering, among them the Florescue Undergraduate Business program. Many of our programs are the best, or among the best, in the nation, such as the Eastman School of Music.
• Twenty-nine new major facilities have been completed, initiated or planned since 2005 with an aggregate budget of $891 million, including Goergen Hall, the Eastman Theatre Renovation and Expansion, Raymond F. LeChase Hall, Ronald Rettner Hall, the Dennis O’Brien Residence Hall, and Thomas Jackson Court, Wegmans Hall, our new building to house the Goergen Institute for Data Science, and Genesee Hall.
• The Medical Center has been particularly active in its expansion with Wilmot Cancer Center constructed in 2008 and expanded in 2012, the Saunders Research Building and our largest project in history, the Golisano Children’s Hospital.
• Working with private developers, the University has facilitated separately financed projects, including Brooks Crossing, the Riverview Apartments complex, and College Town, which comprises 30 retail outlets, an apartment complex, a parking garage with over 1,600 parking spaces, and the Hilton Garden Inn.
• The University’s role in Rochester has increased over time. It is now the largest employer in the region with more than 30,000 employees in the University and its affiliates. The University is the largest private employer based in Upstate New York and the sixth largest employer in New York State.
• University finances have been strengthened. Our endowment payout rate has declined from 6.9 percent in 2000 to 5.7 percent in our fiscal year 2017 budget. Total net assets have grown from $2.1 billion in March 2009 to $3.5 billion in fiscal year 2017. Our Long Term Investment Pool, largely composed of our endowment, has grown from $1.37 billion in 2009 to $2.4 billion, the highest total in our history.
Letter from Joel Seligman, President and CEO, University of Rochester
January 11, 2018
For the past twelve and one-half years I have given my heart and soul to the University of Rochester. I am grateful to all in the University community for what we have accomplished. We have made great progress for the entire University together. Let us never forget that this is a great University.
In everything that I have done, I have been animated by a single overriding criterion: What is the best interest of our University? I do so again today.
From that perspective, it is clear to me: The felt needs of our University and our nation have changed. The University today needs a new President. I say this with no bitterness, no regret, but seeing facts for what they are. The University today most needs a period of healing. I fully support this process.
I am today announcing that I will step down as University President on February 28. This will give the Board time to select the right interim President and to start focusing on the search for the next permanent President and the other steps involved in the healing process.
I love this University and look forward to remaining part of it. After a sabbatical year, I look forward to returning to the faculty as a professor.
Above all else I hope everyone in our community recognizes how critical it is to be a unified University. At our best, we are a family. Our strength is in unity.
I hope also the University never loses its sense of perspective. The University of Rochester is a complex institution with multiple needs. The University likely now will focus on healing, but I hope everyone appreciates the need to have an effective leader who can address all seven Schools, the Medical Center and many affiliated institutions, help raise sufficient funds to continue the University’s progress and deal with the very challenging issues of how to balance many competing, legitimate interests.
Let me close with my two favorite words: Thank you. Thank you for the opportunity to have served. It has been the honor of a lifetime. I am grateful to each and every member of the University of Rochester community. Let me especially thank the three chairs with whom I have worked: Bob Witmer, Ed Hajim and Danny Wegman. Each has provided yeoman service to advance our University. I will always be a Yellowjacket. I will always love the University of Rochester.
President, CEO and G. Robert Witmer, Jr. Professor
University of Rochester
Bob Duffy, the president and CEO of Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, issued a statment on Seligman's resignation as well.
"I applaud Joel Seligman for making the courageous decision today to put the University of Rochester and the community first. In the various capacities that I have served in Rochester and Albany, I can say emphatically that no leader of the University of Rochester has done more for the community than Joel Seligman. He has broken down walls and created outreach opportunities from education to economic development, impacting almost every area of the fabric of life in the City of Rochester. Joel has been a friend and a colleague for many years. President Seligman has had a profound effect on our local and regional economy as the leader of our largest employer and formerly as co-chair of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. I wish him and the U of R the best as they move forward. I have full confidence in the University of Rochester Board of Trustees as it works to find the university’s next leader. Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce stands ready to assist that process in any way it can.”
Mayor Lovely Warren issued a statement about the resigniation:
Today’s announcement by the University of Rochester is a positive step forward toward establishing a culture at this important local institution that fosters openness in an environment of respect. I wish President Seligman well in his retirement and look forward to working with the new leadership at the University.