Outgoing University President Joel Seligman spoke of his future vision for UR and the community in his farewell address this past Tuesday at the Memorial Art Gallery.

“I have no regrets; I have no bitterness,” Seligman said. “Being president of the University of Rochester involves far more joy than pain.”

Seligman reflected upon the job and his personal achievements in the position to a crowd of over 100 people.

He explained that despite the difficulty of the job, he pushed forward, motivated by a passion for service.

“Above all else, you’re charged with having the judgement to balance a never-ending series of conflicting requests for resources with a certainty you will never have enough to satisfy everyone,” he said.

Seligman did not explain his reason for resigning, nor did he directly reference the scandal over his administration’s handling of sexual misconduct claims, which has beleaguered the close of his tenure. Instead, he referred to the importance of healing and maintaining a focus on the future.

Seligman detailed his own successes as he discussed the specific challenges that came with his job.

“As a colleague in academic administration once told me, if 80 percent of the days are good days, you are doing fabulously,” Seligman said. “I did fabulously.”

Specifically, he mentioned his achievements in increasing research excellence, expanding the fields of neuroscience and data science, and the completion of projects like Wegmans Hall and the Humanities Center.

Seligman detailed his positive outlook on projects in the works that will benefit UR and the Rochester community.

He also pointed out two challenges for the future. He reiterated that our discourse needs to be built on the ideals of mutual trust and respect and that the University must select a new president who will be an effective leader and help improve the institution.

“To succeed, we must be one university,” Seligman said.

With a serious topic, Seligman often interjected humor to lighten the mood. While discussing the difficulties of the job of a University President, he joked, “Getting all this down, Rich?” while looking to soon-to-be President Richard Feldman.

Feldman served as Dean of the College from 2006 to 2017, during which he created and implemented the Rochester curriculum, among other accomplishments. Seligman emphasized his confidence in Feldman.

Seligman’s presidency featured many successful construction projects, including major renovations to facilities at the Eastman School of Music, construction of academic buildings such as LeChase Hall, and completion of new residential projects, such as Genesee Hall. He also oversaw successful fundraising campaigns and improvements in research and community development.

He thanked many people who helped him throughout his tenure, including administrators, janitors, faculty members, doctors and nurses, officials from the Department of Public Safety and Parking, and philanthropists such as Danny Wegman.

Following his speech, which lasted about 25 minutes, he received a standing ovation that lasted over a minute.

Seligman’s term as president began in 2005 and his resignation will take effect on Feb. 28. After a year-long sabbatical, he intends to return to UR as a professor.

“We now need a new period of mutual trust and mutual respect,” Seligman said. “I am hopeful by rallying around a new leader that will occur.”

Tagged: Seligman

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