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$50 million new commitment from Tom Golisano to university for intellectual and developmental disabilities institute raises his contributions to over $100 million
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$50 million new commitment from Tom Golisano to university for intellectual and developmental disabilities institute raises his contributions to over $100 million

The University of Rochester announced that entrepreneur, philanthropist, and civic leader B. Thomas “Tom” Golisano 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 and its Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC), and the Eastman Institute for Oral Health (EIOH).

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, and outreach; and to 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.

“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.”

Tom Golisano’s total philanthropy to the University of Rochester Medical Center now nears $100 million. Today’s gift marks the largest single gift the entrepreneur, philanthropist, and civic leader has ever made. (University of Rochester photo / Matt Wittmeyer)

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 to 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 made a $5 million gift to establish the Golisano Pediatric Behavioral Health and Wellness Center.

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, University of Rochester President and the 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 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 large footsteps.”

The University has named John Foxe, 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 partnerships with our exceptional strengths in delivering quality, cutting-edge health care 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 diagnosis 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, 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 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.”


“Tom Golisano is a true innovator and changemaker. He sees opportunities others don’t, understands the importance of talent and leadership, and brings people together to create solutions,” says Thomas Farrell, senior vice president for University Advancement. “We can all learn from his drive to make our community and the world a better place.”

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

Tom Golisano is the founder of Paychex, Inc., the nation’s largest human resource company for small to medium-sized businesses, providing integrated human capital management solutions for payroll, benefits, human resources, and insurance services for more than 740,000 clients in the US and Northern Europe.

Golisano’s vision, perseverance, and action have left an indelible mark on a broad spectrum of issues that touch our lives—in business, health care, education, voter policies, politics, and tax reform. His continuing investments are helping drive the success of numerous businesses and startups. His personal philanthropic contributions to hospitals, including three Golisano Children’s Hospitals, and numerous educational institutions and other organizations exceed $380 million. He has dedicated more than $145 million to advancing inclusive health around the world, including $67 million to Special Olympics, helping to close the significant gap in access to care for people with intellectual disabilities.

A fierce advocate for dignity and inclusion, in 1985, Golisano applied his pioneering spirit to establish the Golisano Foundation to make the world a better place for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

With more than $60 million in gross assets, it is one of the largest private foundations in the US devoted to supporting programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, awarding about $3 million annually to nonprofit organizations in Western New York and Southwest Florida.

The University of Rochester’s 2030 strategic plan, Boundless Possibility, articulates bold goals that will guide the institution toward framing and solving the greatest challenges of the future. The Golisano IDD Institute aligns with these goals, helping the University expand and transform health care delivery, promote an inclusive culture, and build programs of excellence. 

As part of the plan, the University will also establish a set of new and reimagined transdisciplinary centers and institutes—the Golisano IDD Institute is one of the first. It will bring together experts in their fields to collaborate and push the boundaries of their disciplines.

Photo: Philanthropist Tom Golisano at a Lifestyles Magazine/Meaningful Influence VVIP event with magazine founder Gabriel Erem

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