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LeChase Hall Rendering
Joel Seligman
President
University of Rochester

March 15, 2011 Building Press Conference Remarks

I am delighted to announce that the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education soon will be located in a new home, the Raymond F. LeChase Building, which will be constructed between the Wilson Commons and Todd Union.

Let me recognize our Board Chair Ed Hajim who has joined us today and Board members Bill Carpenter, Roger Friedlander (here today with his wife Carolyn), and David Flaum, as well as Rochester Mayor Carlos Carballada, Assistant County Executive Jerry Helfer representing Maggie Brooks, Elaine Spaull of the Rochester City Council, Rochester City School District Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard, and Jody Siegle of the Monroe County School Boards Association. I’d also like to recognize representatives from Bergmann Associates, from LeChase Construction, and from Unicon.

The University Board recently approved the construction of this new $24 million building that will be the home for the Warner School’s faculty, students, and community programs. The 65,000 square foot building will be the first major building to be constructed in the historic Wilson Quadrangle in 30 years. The LeChase building also will be used by the College during the day for its academic programs, and I am delighted that Peter Lennie is here representing the College.

We are all deeply grateful to Wayne and Beverly LeChase, who have made a $3.5 million commitment to the project in recognition of the important role that education plays in improving lives and strengthening our community. This gift allows us to begin construction next month.

I am delighted today to announce that the building will be named in honor of Wayne’s father, the late Raymond F. LeChase, founder of LeChase Construction Services, who was a pioneer in the Rochester construction community, a renowned philanthropist, and a dedicated supporter of education.

Let me especially thank Rachel LeChase, Raymond’s wife, who joins us here today. Their partnership was instrumental to all that Raymond did. I offer a warm welcome and thanks to the entire LeChase family and their closest friends and colleagues who are here with us today. Raymond F. LeChase Hall will commemorate the many years of generosity and service which the LeChase family has given to the University of Rochester and the Rochester community.

I want to pay special homage to another hero here today. Dean Raffaella Borasi runs the smallest School in the University with what I consider the greatest determination of any Dean that I have ever met. She has been relentless in every aspect of this project. The fact that we are able to afford a new building for a School of Education is extraordinary in what continue to be challenging times. The fact that it will be of the great quality of the future LeChase Hall is a tribute to a world-class indefatigable Dean

K-12 education is one of the great social challenges of the 21st century. When many universities have scaled back their support of schools of education, the University of Rochester is determined to invest in K-12 education as part of our commitment to the greater Rochester community and most of all, its children.

Our city schools face enormous challenges. The Rochester City School District continues to experience some of the worst graduation rates in the country with only 47 percent of high-school students graduating on time. The state Department of Education recently indicated that only 5 percent of Rochester high school graduates are prepared for college or careers. These rates rank among the lowest in the state.

These data should be seen in context. Rochester also ranked 11th nationally in child poverty with 42 percent of our children under the age of 18 living in poverty, the highest rate of poverty among New York State’s largest five school districts.

The way forward for the 135,000 K-12 students in Monroe County is education. It is far more difficult for those without a high school diploma to find jobs and impossible for most to attend college. Without success in K-12, we are essentially freezing out of the American Dream about half of Rochester’s high school students. This is a crisis of fundamental consequence. We owe our children a better future.

Great schools, talented educators, and strong leaders can make a difference in the revitalization of K-12 education in Rochester. I am deeply grateful that Jean Claude Brizard is our Superintendent and is providing outstanding leadership for our City School system. The LeChase Building will provide a home in which Warner will continue to be a leader in national research in such topics as math and science education, reading and literacy, and early childhood education as well as graduate outstanding principals, counselors and teachers.

To put it simply, the Raymond F. LeChase Building is the University of Rochester’s commitment to our children.

Wayne, Beverly, and Rachel – will you please join me to receive a commemorative rendition of Raymond F. LeChase Hall?

It is now my great pleasure to welcome our Board of Trustees Chair Ed Hajim. After Ed’s remarks, Wayne LeChase will speak and be followed by Raffaella Borasi and Shaun Nelms who will share his perspective as a local school leader and doctoral student at Warner.