Joseph C. Wilson, the founder of Xerox Corp. whose inspiration, energy, and financial commitment elevated the University of Rochester to high levels of excellence beginning in the 1960s, will receive the George Eastman Medal posthumously during Meliora Weekend on Saturday, Oct. 9.
The honor will be presented to members of the Wilson family by University President Thomas H. Jackson. At his side will be Ursula Burns, senior vice president at Xerox and University Trustee, and Anne Mulcahy, current Xerox chairman and CEO, who will talk about Wilson’s contributions to Xerox and the life of the company today.
Wilson graduated from the University in 1931, and later served on the Board of Trustees, becoming board president in 1959 until 1967. Wilson Boulevard, Wilson Commons, Wilson Days of community service, and Wilson endowed chairs are just a few of the many sites and symbols that express Joseph C. and Marie C. Wilson’s legacy on the River Campus.
His achievements as a corporate leader were intertwined with his role as a corporate citizen. In 1968, Wilson said: “Businessmen have long prided themselves on their skill in solving problems, in creating efficiency, in willingness to accept risk, to experiment, to pioneer. If we refuse now to turn our attention to such universal problems as hunger, poverty, disease, illiteracy, war and pestilence, we may find we have forfeited our character.” At the time of his death in 1971, the New York Times wrote that Wilson “helped expand the concept of a corporate balance sheet to include social costs and civic responsibilities.”
The George Eastman Medal recognizes individuals who, through outstanding achievement and dedicated service, embody the high ideals for which the University stands. The medal honors Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak Company, and one of the University’s great benefactors.
Like Eastman, Joseph C. Wilson (1909-1971) and his family have contributed enormously to the intellectual, cultural, scholarly, and educational life at the University and in the Rochester community. “He cherished the values that a university preserves, cultivates, and disseminates, and he had deep respect for the life of the mind and for those who pursue that life,” said W. Allen Wallis, the late University president and chancellor.