Two events that influenced the University's expansion from Prince Street to the River Campus were the admittance of women in the university as well as the project to build a medical center. In 1910 a man named Abraham Flexner envisioned a new approach to the training of medical students. Due to his influential position as head of Rockefeller's General Education Board he had access to funds that could support a wave of new schools and decided that one of them should be located in New York State. Flexner was drawn to Rochester because of the growing reputation of the University's President Rush Rhees and the presence of Eastman Kodak. A meeting was held between Rhees, Flexner and George Eastman and at the end of the day it was decided that the General Education Board and Eastman would sponsor the project to build a medical center that doubled as a teaching hospital. But where was there space for such an endeavor?
As the medical center was being planned other changes were occurring within the University's framework. With Azariah Boody's restricted donation of the Prince Street land and the fundraising efforts of Susan B. Anthony the University had no choice but to admit women into the student population. However, President Rhees and male students were not thrilled with the thought of a coeducational atmosphere and they began rallying for an expansion that would allow for segregated campuses.
These two scenarios pushed the University to consider expansion of the campus, but President Rhees knew that he could not tackle this project alone. George Eastman showed tremendous interest in the medical center and to supplement his leadership Rhees involved a wealthy Rochestarian George W. Todd to help get the ball rolling. Many ideas for future locations emerged but Todd advocated the Oak Hill and Rhees backed this idea adamantly. Todd's interest drew from the beauty of the landscape, isolation from the city, and size of the property, but not all were convinced. Opposers complained that the plot of land was too small and that the surrounding land was occupied which would inhibit future growth. The faculty also had demands, they wanted their residence to be near the site, the athletic and academic facilities to be close by and they did not support the separation of the sexes. However opposition did not stop these three men, they proved to be triumphant when the Board of Trustees approved the Oak Hill Site and began negotiations with the golf club in November of 1921.
The expansion did not come without a heavy price tag. Oak Hill agreed to turn over the land as long as the University acquired a new site for their golf course as well as pay to design and landscape the new land. These demands along with the costs of designing and building the new campus required major fundraising; the goal could not be reached without the financial support of the entire Rochester community. Todd recognized the need for this support and held a town hall meeting to tell the people of the community of the University's plan. He sold them on his vision by explaining that a top-notch University would be for the good of the entire city and that if all helped to pitch in, the benefits would return. On December 11, 1924, under the supervision of Rochester Community Chest's director Harry P. Wareheim, the public campaign began entitled "Ten Million in Ten Days." It was a close call, but with the help of large donations from Eastman and the General Education Board as well as smaller amounts donated by alumni, students and members of the community, the goal was finally reached on time. During the next few years the firms of McKim, Mead and White of New York City as well as local architects Gordon and Kaelber prepared the sketches and A.W. Hopeman and Sons were hired as general contractors. On May 21, 1927 President Rhees broke ground for the first building on River Campus, the chemistry building, known as Lattimore Hall. This was the beginning of a new era for the University of Rochester.
Information compiled by Erin Budd during the summer of 2001.