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The University Magazine

Golisano gift funds green goal

Support from Rochester businessman positions RIT as global leader in sustainable manufacturing initiatives

Bill Destler
Michael Haselkorn, senior staff engineer at the Golisano Institute for Sustainability, left, explains a current project involving alternative fuel vehicles to RIT President Bill Destler, center, and B. Thomas Golisano.

Approximately 60 percent of the ecosystems that support life on earth are currently being degraded or used unsustainably, according to a United Nations study.

The 2005 report specifically stated that the ongoing degradation of 15 of the 24 ecosystems studied will increase the likelihood of abrupt environmental changes that will seriously affect human well-being on this planet.

RIT, with the help of Rochester businessman B. Thomas Golisano, is taking steps toward addressing this global problem.

Through the new Golisano Institute for Sustainability, RIT offers a platform for universities, corporations and governments around the globe to collaborate in the creation of innovative curricula and technology related to sustainable design, life-cycle engineering, remanufacturing and pollution prevention.

The initiative also paves the way for RIT to become the first technological university to provide a full spectrum of career-focused, integrated and interdisciplinary programs that embody the principles of sustainability in product development.

Bill Destler
A video message from President Bill Clinton
was played at the news conference.

Creation of the Golisano Institute is being made possible by a $10 million commitment from Golisano, founder and chairman of Paychex Inc. and an RIT trustee. Golisano’s first large donation to RIT, which totaled $14 million, resulted in the creation of the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences in 2001.

“It is imperative that we accelerate strategies to promote a sustainable society and ensure future generations the opportunity to address their own needs,” Golisano stated at the Sept. 12 news conference announcing the gift. “For that reason, it is my desire for the Golisano Institute for Sustainability to produce the first generation of professionals with the vision and know-how to deliver on the promise of sustainability, and I am very proud to be associated with this exciting endeavor.”

“The Golisano Institute for Sustainability is a natural extension for us,” says RIT President Bill Destler. “It expands our initiatives in education, research and technology transfer that build upon some of RIT’s strongest academic programs and the internationally respected research of the Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies (CIMS).”

Golisano’s investment will fund new academic programs and additional faculty as the university works toward creating one of the world’s first doctoral degree programs in sustainability, focusing on sustainable production. Formation of this interdisciplinary degree program is supported by a $465,000 development grant from the Henry Luce Foundation.

Bill Destler
Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks discusses research with RIT President Bill Destler, center, and Nabil Nasr, director of the new Golisano Institute for Sustainability. The new institute is assessing the performance of the county’s fleet of alternative-fuel vehicles.

Nabil Nasr, RIT assistant provost, CIMS director and Earl W. Brinkman Professor of Engineering, will lead the Golisano Institute for Sustainability. Nasr is a world-renowned expert in the field of sustainability and environmental issues, and he has been the catalyst in building RIT’s expertise in sustainable product design and environmentally conscious manufacturing.

“Here at RIT, we have focused on projects that reduce the use of hazardous materials in production and expand the quality and implementation of remanufacturing processes and we have worked to design production systems that are completely closed loop with no waste product and feature the complete reuse of all materials,” notes Nasr. “Through our partnerships with industry, government, non-governmental agencies and other universities, we will seek to develop new technologies and processes that will assist in implementing sustainable processes in industry while also disseminating knowledge, education and training in the field.”

Albert Simone, RIT president emeritus and chair of Greater Rochester Enterprise, emphasizes the importance that the new institute brings to enhancing RIT’s student research opportunities while advancing local economic development initiatives.

“The Golisano Institute for Sustainability will be vital to developing and maintaining competitive advantages for existing Rochester businesses,” says Simone. “Those who aren’t part of the sustainability movement may well be left behind in the global economy, and having this institute here at RIT provides invaluable knowledge and assistance to this region.”

Establishing this institute is consistent with Golisano’s ongoing support of the William J. Clinton Foundation. Golisano is a sponsor of the Clinton Global Initiative.

“For the past few years, I have been very proud to have Tom’s support for the Clinton Global Initiative, which works to inspire innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges,” President Clinton stated in a video message during the announcement event.

“One of our most significant challenges is the threat of climate change, and I’m very glad Tom is continuing to look for a solution through the creation of this institute for sustainability.”

Funding for the future construction of a “green” facility to house the Golisano Institute for Sustainability is being sought.

Paul Stella ’03

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