The University of Rochester was founded in 1850 as a Baptist-sponsored institution. The impetus to form the university came primarily from the little town of Hamilton, New York, which has been home to Colgate University since 1819. In 1848, the Baptist Education Society planned to move Colgate University (Then known as Madison University) to the city of Rochester, but was halted by legal action. Dissenting Colgate trustees, faculty, and students founded the University of Rochester, receiving a charter from the Regents of the University of the State of New York on January 31, 1850. Classes began that November, with approximately 60 students enrolling, including 28 transfers from Madison.
University of Rochester's campus was originally in downtown Rochester at the United States Hotel, which was located on Buffalo Street near Elizabeth Street, which today is West Main Street near the I-490 overpass. In 1853, the campus moved east to a then-suburban location on what is now University Avenue. Local businessman and Congressman Azariah Boody donated of land for the new campus, and the University purchased a further 17 acres from him. UR would remain on this campus until the current River Campus was constructed in 1930, and the university continues to own a small part of the University Avenue campus (where the university-owned Memorial Art Gallery is located).
The first women students were admitted in 1900, the result of an effort led by Susan B. Anthony and Helen Barrett Montgomery. During the 1890s, a number of women took classes and labs at the university as "visitors" but were not officially enrolled nor were their records included in the college register. President David Jayne Hill allowed the first woman, Helen E. Wilkinson, to enroll as a normal student, although she was not allowed to matriculate or to pursue a degree. Thirty-three women enrolled among the first class in 1900, and Ella S. Wilcoxen was the first to receive a degree, in 1901. When the River Campus was completed in 1930, male students moved there while the female students remained on the University Avenue campus until 1955.
Major growth occurred under the leadership of Rush Rhees, during his 1900-1935 tenure. During this time, George Eastman became a major donor, giving more than $50 million to the university. The first Ph.D. was awarded in 1925. In 1955, the separate colleges for men and women were merged into The College. In 1958, three new schools were created in engineering, business administration, and education.
In 1995, university president Thomas H. Jackson announced the launch of a "Renaissance Plan" for The College that, among several changes, reduced enrollment and created a more selective admissions process. The plan also revised the undergraduate curriculum significantly, creating the current system with only one required course and only a few distribution requirements (known as "clusters").
The university is headed by a board of trustees, with G. Robert Witmer, Jr. being the chairman. The board appoints the president of the university, currently Joel Seligman, who replaced Thomas H. Jackson on July 1, 2005.
Presidents of UR
The original buildings of the campus were dedicated in 1930. The main academic buildings, designed in the Greek revival style, are centered around the Eastman Quadrangle (generally referred to as the academic quad) which is formed by Rush Rhees Library and Dewey, Bausch & Lomb, Morey, and Lattimore Halls. The Eastman Quad is widely considered the best landscaped area of the university. Rush Rhees Library, the unofficial symbol of the university, is also home to the Hopeman Memorial Carillon, the largest carillon in New York State, featuring 50 bells that chime on the quarter hour. During the summer, the carillon features a recital series in which various artists perform on the instrument.
Over the course of the last several decades, other academic buildings have been built south of the Eastman Quad, including Meliora Hall (1972), Hoyt Hall (1962), Harkness Hall (1946), Gavett Hall (dedicated with the Eastman Quad in 1930), and the Hopeman Engineering Building (1963). The southernmost part of the River Campus contains the new Science and Engineering Quadrangle: Hutchison Hall (1972), Hylan Building (1971), the Computer Studies Building and Carlson Library (1987), Wilmot Building (1961), and Goergen Hall (completed in March 2007).
Students often congregate outdoors during the warmer months on the various quads. Other centers of student life include Todd Union, Frederick Douglass Dining Center, various locations inside Rush Rhees Library, and Wilson Commons, a student union designed by I.M. Pei. Many academic buildings, including Rush Rhees Library, are connected by a series of tunnels, which are used extensively, especially during unfavorable weather. Most academic buildings, the Eastman Quad, Wilson Commons, and Susan B. Anthony, Gilbert, and Hoeing Halls also have authenticated Wi-Fi internet access.
The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) is the primary campus for the university's medical education and research as well as the main patient care facility. The Medical Center is located adjacent to the River Campus and is dominated by Strong Memorial Hospital, the School of Medicine and Dentistry building and the Arthur Kornberg Medical Research Building. URMC also houses the School of Nursing and a variety of research centers, including the Wilmot Cancer Center, the Aab Institute of Biomedical Sciences, and an under-construction Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute.
The Eastman School of Music is situated on its own campus in downtown Rochester, which includes a residence for students, classroom and performance facilities, and the Eastman Theatre, a 3,094-seat concert hall which also serves as the primary venue of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. The campus also features the Sibley Music Library, which is the largest academic music library in North America, as well as the largest privately owned collection of sheet music. Students are housed at 100 Gibbs Street, a dormitory building constructed in 1991.
The South Campus is located in Brighton, NY, immediately south of Rochester proper. The campus includes the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, the Center for Optics Manufacturing, the Center for Optoelectronics and Imaging, and the now defunct Nuclear Structure Research Laboratory (NSRL). Graduate student housing is also provided at the Whipple Park complex.
The defining feature of the undergraduate program at the University is the Rochester Curriculum. There are no required subjects outside of a prerequisite writing course, which may be tested out of. The Curriculum requires that undergraduates study in all of three areas of knowledge: humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Aside from the area of study which a student's major falls in, undergraduates must complete 3-4 courses of related materials (called "clusters") within each of the remaining areas. For example, a student with a concentration in mathematics, a natural science field, must complete at least one cluster in the humanities and one in social sciences. A second concentration or a minor also satisfies this requirement. The only exceptions are students concentrating in an accredited engineering field (biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, electrical and computer engineering or mechanical engineering), who are only required to have one cluster in either humanities or social sciences.
U.S. News and World Report, in their popular National University Rankings, placed the University of Rochester 35th in the nation for 2008. The University of Rochester also placed 21st on The Washington Monthly College Rankings list. The list includes institutions that The Washington Monthly believes are "benefitting the country." The rankings take into account how a school contributes to social mobility by helping the poor improve their economic standing. Other criteria include the institution's support for research in the humanities and in the sciences and its promotion of an ethic of service to country.
Consistently, in world university rankings, University of Rochester places within the top 100 overall, and in the top 10 for the staff-to-student ratio. The University has also been ranked as 21st in the United States among research universities.
The Eastman School of Music ranks first among graduate music programs in the U.S. . Other schools in the university also rank highly, with the School of Medicine and Dentistry at 30th overall among medical schools and its primary-care program ranked 17th among primary-care medical schools, and the Simon School ranked 23rd among graduate business schools.
UR's official symbol is the seal of the university, which features a book, representing arts and sciences, a symbol of music and a modified symbol of medicine. The official flower of the university is the dandelion, purportedly prolific on the cow pasture that became the university's first campus.
The mascot is the Yellowjacket. From 1983 to 2008, it was named "URBee". However, when the university re-designed the mascot during the 2007-2008 academic year, a new name was chosen and as of February 1, 2008, the school's mascot has been known as "Rocky.
The university uses Dandelion Yellow and a shade of blue ("Rochester" blue) as its official colors, which are the prominent colors on the official regalia.
Many other unofficial symbols are in prevalent use, including the image of Rush Rhees Library's main dome.
UR also has official logos for the university as a whole as well as individual units, including The College, URMC and Eastman. President Seligman, as part of his efforts to improve UR's external appearance, commissioned Bill Murphy, the Vice President of Communications, to start an initiative to develop a new graphic identity, including a new logo, in hopes of improving uniformity and overall usage of official standards. During March 2007, the communications office was soliciting opinions and comments on finalist designs for the new logo, which was unveiled later in the fall.
River Campus River Campus residences house primarily undergraduates, with some graduate students serving as Graduate Head Residents (GHRs). Residences include:
Special Interest floors and Fraternity floors also exist within the residence halls. Special Interest Housing groups include the International Living Center (ILC), Interclass Living Center (ICLC - Crosby 1), Music Interest Floor (MIF - Wilder 9), Health and Home (Valentine 6), Computer Interest Floor (CIF - Anderson 3), Tiernan Project (Burton 2), and the Film Interest Floor (FIF - Kendrick 1).
Eastman School of Music Campus Housing is provided at the Eastman School of Music campus at the Eastman Student Living Center at 100 Gibbs Street in downtown Rochester. The new building was opened in 1991 at the northeast corner of Main and Gibbs Streets, replacing the University Avenue dormitories built nearly 70 years earlier. It is a four-story quadrangle and 16-story tower surrounding a landscaped inner courtyard.
URMC and Mount Hope Campuses Graduate student housing is provided at 4 locations near the URMC and Mount Hope.
South Campus The South Campus has graduate student housing at the Whipple Park (WPK) complex, which features 250 garden apartments and townhouses with ample storage space. WPK also features a park-like setting with large wooded and lawn areas, playgrounds, areas for gardens and low street noise. Some housing is also provided at the River Road complex, which tends to serve as overflow housing for both undergraduate and graduate students.
The Students' Association (SA) is the primary student governing body and includes most of the student groups at UR. The SA is governed by the SA Senate, President and Vice President, all of whom are elected by the student body. The SA President is advised by a cabinet, which is a volunteer group of students. There is also a judicial branch, composed of the All Campus Judicial Council (ACJC), the members of whom are nominated by an interview committee and approved by the SA Senate. The offices of the SA are located in the Wilson Commons student union.
The Campus Club Connection maintains a full list of all registered student activities groups at UR.
The main athletics facilities of the university are in the Robert B. Goergen Athletic Center and Fauver Stadium on the River Campus, with other facilities located in the Spurrier building (River Campus) and the URMC.
University of Rochester is also served by the Greater Rochester International Airport, which is located a short distance from the River Campus, Amtrak and Greyhound Lines, the latter two located in downtown Rochester.