The University of Rochester will award honorary degrees to Paychex chairman and founder Tom Golisano, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson, and Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Solow at the University's 157th commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 20.
During the ceremony, which begins at 9 a.m. on the Eastman Quadrangle on the River Campus, Golisano and Solow will receive the degree Doctor of Laws and Jackson will receive the degree Doctor of Science in recognition of their achievements and service.
Golisano has been consistently recognized for his entrepreneurial and civic accomplishments and philanthropic works. He started Paychex in 1971 at the age of 30, targeting small and medium-sized businesses for his company's payroll, human resource, and benefits services. The company went public in 1983 and has grown to nearly 11,500 employees and more than half a million customers.
Both Paychex and Golisano himself have earned kudos from leading national business publications and organizations. Forbes named the Irondequoit native one of the top 10 business leaders in the United States for three consecutive years beginning in 2002; included Paychex on its "Forbes 500" list in 2002; and placed Paychex on its "Best Managed Companies in America" list in 2004. Golisano earned a place on INC. magazine's "Dream Team of the Eighties" and received the "Master Entrepreneur" award from Ernst & Young. Paychex has been named four times to Fortune's "100 Best Companies to Work for in America" list and has also appeared on its "Most Admired Companies in America" list. In 2003, Paychex was rated among the top 25 best performers over a 10-year period based on total shareholder return by The Wall Street Journal.
Golisano has made numerous multimillion dollar gifts in support of schools, health care and human service organizations, and medical institutions, and has served on several boards. He was named Outstanding Philanthropist for 2004 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. In addition, the Catholic Family Center, Rochester Rotary, and Family Service of Rochester have given him awards for community service, while the Italian American Community Center and Boy's Town of Italy have presented him with their Humanitarian Awards. He is the founder of the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation, which awards grants to organizations helping those with disabilities and their families.
Jackson, who will give the Commencement address, has held senior leadership positions in government, industry, research, and academe. A theoretical physicist, Jackson earned her undergraduate and doctoral degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, worked at Fermilab, conducted research at AT&T Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, and joined the faculty of Rutgers University in 1991. In 1995, President Bill Clinton appointed Jackson chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She became the 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1999.
Described by Time magazine in 2005 as "perhaps the ultimate role model for women in science," Jackson is past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and former chair of its board of directors, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Physical Society, and AAAS. She serves as a Trustee of the Brookings Institution, a Life Member of the MIT Corporation, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She also is a member of the Board of Directors of the New York Stock exchange and the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, and is chair of the New York Stock Exchange Regulation Board.
During the past several years, Jackson has worked on bringing national attention to the underinvestment in basic research and to what she has dubbed the "Quiet Crisis" in America—the threat to the United States' capacity to innovate due to the looming shortage in the nation's science and technology workforce.
Solow is particularly known for his analysis and work on the theory of economic growth. In the 1950s, he developed a mathematical model illustrating how various factors contribute to economic growth, observing that about half of economic growth cannot be accounted for by increases in capital and labor. He attributed this unaccounted-for-portion—now called the "Solow residual"—to technological innovation.
From the 1960s on, Solow's studies helped persuade governments to channel their funds into technological research and development to spur economic growth. He also worked with fellow MIT economist Paul Samuelson on various landmark works on capital theory and on linear programming. His received the American Economic Association's John Bates Clark Award, given to the best economist under the age of 40, in 1961; the Nobel Prize in 1987; and the National Medal of Science in 1999.
The son of immigrants, Solow interrupted his studies at Harvard to join the U.S. Army during World War II, returning to the university in 1945 and earning his bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees there. He has spent his entire career at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he is currently Institute Professor, Emeritus, and Professor of Economics, Emeritus. Solow served as senior economist for the Council of Economic Advisers from 1961 to 1962 and was a member of the President's Commission on Income Maintenance from 1968 to 1970. He currently serves on the Advisory Board for the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
The commencement ceremony at which Golisano, Jackson, and Solow will be honored is for the bachelor's and master's degree candidates in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering.