June 13, 2024

Tom Golisano makes $50 million commitment to the University of Rochester to build new Golisano Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Institute

Tom Golisano delivering a speech at the announcement of his $50 millino gift to the University of Rochester

Gift is the largest single gift in University history and the largest single gift made by Golisano

University of Rochester and Golisano Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Institute logos

At a news conference today at the University of Rochester, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and civic leader B. Thomas “Tom” Golisano announced that he has made a historic $50 million commitment, making it possible to build the Golisano Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Institute at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

The new world-class transdisciplinary center will provide solutions to the health and quality of life issues that affect people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Those with IDD are a traditionally underserved population, with approximately 19,000 people affected locally, 120,000 regionally, and 200 million worldwide.

Golisano’s gift will significantly expand the University’s distinctive strengths in IDD patient care, community outreach, and caregiver support programs. These span the University’s schools, institutes, departments, centers, and programs and include such areas as its Complex Care Center, Department of Neurology, Department of Pediatrics and its Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND), University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), Ernest J. Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience, Eastman Institute for Oral Health (EIOH), and its Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC)

The gift will also make it possible to bring together these resources within one institute; to become the worldwide gold standard for IDD health, services, outreach; and expand and form new regional, national, and global partnerships with leading academic and health care institutions and community agencies.

Golisano’s gift also names the Golisano Specialty Clinic at Eastman Dental Center, which serves nearly 2,000 people with IDD each year.

Tom Golisano, Erica Dayton, and John Foxe posing with a group of Special Olympics athletes

(l to r) Shannon Salluzzo, John Foxe, Emily Brushafer, Special Olympics Healthy Athlete Messenger, Tom Golisano, Laura Silverman, Suzannah Iadarola, Erica Dayton, Golisano Foundation Director

“Creating a better world for people with IDD has been a passion of mine for over 40 years. I know that this is a shared goal with Golisano Children’s Hospital and the URMC as they have proven through their ongoing commitment and growth in this field of care,” says Golisano. “URMC’s vision for the new Golisano IDD Institute takes that dedication to a new and unprecedented level, putting patients at the center of every focus and providing one-stop integrated care and coordinated customized services. The impact will be an enhanced quality of life and access to care that, before now, has only been a dream for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.”

Between his personal giving and his foundation, Golisano’s total philanthropy to the University of Rochester Medical Center now nears $100 million. In addition to today’s commitment, in 2002, Golisano donated $14 million to build the Golisano Children’s Hospital (GCH) to help recruit outstanding faculty and expand programs in cardiac care, general surgery, neurology, and more. In 2011, he contributed another $20 million to GCH to build a new hospital, and in 2020, he made a $5 million gift to establish the Golisano Pediatric Behavioral Health and Wellness Center.

Tom Golisano sitting with his sister, Marie Graham, in the audience at the Golisano Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Institute event

Golisano has given more than $145 million to organizations globally that are dedicated to advancing the health and social inclusion of people with IDD, including Special Olympics and the Golisano Children’s Hospitals in Rochester and Syracuse, New York, and Southwest Florida. Today’s gift marks the largest single gift that Golisano has ever made.

“I am tremendously grateful to Tom for his visionary commitment to IDD, to this University, and to his hometown of Rochester,” says Sarah C. Mangelsdorf, President and G. Robert Witmer, Jr. University Professor. “His transformative generosity will propel our strengths, deepen our commitment to IDD, and truly change lives around the world. There is no question that those with IDD will have a better, brighter future because of Tom Golisano.”

“As board chair, I speak for all University trustees when I say how grateful we are to Tom Golisano and his foundation for this historic gift,” says Richard B. Handler, CEO and director of Jefferies Financial Group. “Through his actions, Tom has become the embodiment of President Mangelsdorf’s vision of boundless possibility, as outlined in the University’s strategic plan. This gift will change the University of Rochester, our Medical Center, and our community forever, and it will inspire others to follow in Tom’s footsteps.”

John Foxe speaking at the Golisano Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Institute event

The University has named John Foxe, (above) the Killian J. and Caroline F. Schmitt Chair in Neuroscience and director of the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience, to direct the new institute. “I couldn’t be happier, more proud, and more inspired to take on this role, providing solutions to the health and quality of life issues that affect people with IDD,” he says. “The institute will serve as a pivotal hub for excellence and will advance, advocate, serve, and champion IDD care, treatments, and education around the world. Thank you, Tom, for this exceptional gift and for changing people’s lives by creating the world’s number one IDD institute.”

Resources will immediately serve people with IDD while propelling the institute into prominence, allowing the University to accomplish now what it estimates would take 20 years otherwise. Golisano’s gift places the University among the most recognizable centers in the nation today—one of eight with the three core requirements of an IDDRC, LEND, and UCEDD.

Adds Foxe, “Combining our strengths in therapeutic innovation, specialized IDD training, and community partnership, with our exceptional strengths in delivering quality, cutting-edge healthcare across our specialty clinics, will position the Golisano IDD Institute to provide new models of IDD care.”

Foxe also notes that over the past nine years, the University has invested nearly $80 million in IDD programs. “Although our clinical, therapeutic, and educational programs make Rochester an important regional and national resource, we must do more to address the growing needs of those with IDD,” he says. “Tom’s gift will help us close gaps, address challenges, meet demands, and expand educational opportunities, curricula, and community partnerships. We can now purchase the highly sophisticated tools required to allow breakthroughs in diagnoses and treatment, hire and train more professionals, and better meet the growing demand for services.”

Adds David Linehan, CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center, dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry, and senior vice president for Health Sciences for the University of Rochester, “Tom’s generosity is truly transformational. Because of him, URMC can increase our clinical services and access to care—an enormous need in our region—and become the global leader in IDD medical evaluations and diagnoses, the training of IDD professionals, and advocacy, assistance, and consultation programs for the lasting benefit of those with IDD.”

“Our team at GCH includes leaders in patient care, training, research, and community partnerships, all working together to improve care, health, and quality of life for individuals with IDD. Tom Golisano’s gift will facilitate additional growth, collaboration, and coordination to build on this commitment in a way that is unprecedented,” says Jill Halterman, MD, MPH, chair of the Department of Pediatrics and physician-in-chief of Golisano Children’s Hospital. “On behalf of the children and families who will benefit from this support, we are so incredibly thankful.”

Eastman Institute for Oral Health Director Eli Eliav, DMD, PhD, adds, “Last year, EIOH was the largest provider of dental care to people with special needs, serving nearly 2,000 patients with IDD from more than 40 New York counties in our community clinics, specialty care clinics, and Strong Memorial Hospital,” he says. “Tom Golisano has supported this work for many years, and we are extremely grateful for the gift he is announcing today, which will enable EIOH to expand clinical services and train more dentists to provide compassionate care that helps people with IDD maintain healthy smiles.”

“Throughout the University’s history, Tom Golisano and other visionary philanthropists have provided vital resources and leadership to move the University forward and fulfill our teaching, research, and public service mission,” says Thomas Farrell, senior vice president for University Advancement. “We thank Tom for this extraordinary gift. His remarkable generosity places him among the most significant people to advance the city of Rochester and this University.”

Plans are underway for the new facility, which will be located on a to-be-determined site on the University of Rochester Medical Center Campus.

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