“It is my pleasure to announce today that RIT is the honored recipient of a generous 10-million dollar gift to establish the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at RIT,” said RIT president Bill Destler early Wednesday morning on the RIT campus.
The Rochester Institute of Technology will now be on the forefront of a process known as “sustainability”, creating new technologies and manufacturing processes that work well without harming the environment. Sustainability is already a field of study at RIT, however, the grant from Paychex Inc. founder Tom Golisano, will create both an institute and doctorate program around the field.
“At RIT we have developed and implemented technologies that reduce the use of hazardous material,” says Nabil Nasr, RIT associate provost. Nasr is a leader in the field of sustainability and has been tapped to lead the new Golisano Institute for Sustainability.
RIT has already had its hand in developing several environmentally-friendly initiatives including the hydrogen fuel cell car, working with the EPA and U.S. Fuel Cell Council to develop better, cleaner fuel cells.
“Rochester has an opportunity to be a global center for critical world initiative, it can help businesses grow here, it can attract businesses,” says Dr. Al Simone, past president of RIT. Simone began negotiations with Golisano for the institute before his eventual retirement.
“We will educate the next generation of industrial leaders who view sustainability challenges and solutions in a holistic and systemic way,” says Destler.
“This is the beginning I hope of a very important and very large project that is going to have great benefit to our world,” says Golisano whose $10 million dollar gift will be spread out over five years.
Golisano was thanked by other environmental leaders at Wednesday’s announcement.
“For the last few years, I've been proud to have Tom's support for the Clinton Global Initiative, which works to find innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing problems,” former President Bill Clinton thanked Golisano in taped address.
Golisano’s gift will be used to further develop RIT’s academic program in sustainability, hire new staff and build a "green" building to house the Institute.
Researchers will focus on three key areas: sustainable design and manufacturing, fuel cell research and renewable energy research.
A study conducted by the Center for Governmental Research estimates the Institute could have a large impact on Rochester’s local economy many years down the road. In the May 2007 CGR report executive summary, researchers estimate the Institute could generate 6,000 new jobs in and outside of Rochester with an total earning potential of $650 million dollars.
“What we've got to do is find a way in which we generate renewable energy and other products that does not exhaust the world of it's natural resources,” says Destler.