Danny Wegman, leader of the Rochester business that has become a national grocery industry icon for innovation and service, will deliver the commencement address for the College of the University of Rochester on Sunday, May 16.
At the University's 160th commencement, Wegman, the chief executive officer of Wegmans Food Markets, also will receive the George Eastman Medal, which recognizes outstanding achievement and dedicated service. The medal was created in honor of Eastman, one of the University's great benefactors and the founder of Eastman Kodak Company.
"Danny Wegman's distinguished business career is intertwined with his stellar commitment to our community, especially to educational opportunity for Wegmans' employees and for students in the Rochester city schools," said University President Joel Seligman. "He is a civic leader who is shaping future generations. Wegmans' reputation for exceptional quality and performance is richly deserved, and the community deeply appreciates Danny's dedication to its welfare."
Of all of his community and education activities, Wegman's involvement in Rochester's Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection is the one he considers most important. The Work-Scholarship Connection was conceived and created by Wegmans in 1987 to help address the drop-out rate in the Rochester City School District. It was eventually transferred to the Hillside Family of Agencies, and Danny Wegman was named the program's first board chair. Participating students are provided a part-time job, a youth advocate, and a workplace mentor at Wegmans or another organization. The combination of work and support continues to motivate the current group of 2,300 middle- and high-school students in the program.
Wegman and his company have been honored many times as a model employer, retailer, and for excellence in community service. Such achievements have helped to place Wegmans on the list of FORTUNE magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work For" for 13 consecutive years. It ranked No. 1 in 2005. Last year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center gave Wegmans the Corporate Stewardship Award for "strong financial success, a sustained contribution to community and social programs."
Danny Wegman's father, the late Robert B. Wegman, positioned the company as a supermarket trendsetter during his 50-plus years as its leader. The elder Wegman was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University in 2005.
"Wegmans is an institution that values the Rochester community and helps young people find jobs, aspire to college, and succeed in life," stated Richard Feldman, dean of the College. The company's Employee Scholarship Program has aided more than 22,000 employees with college tuition funds totaling $71 million.
The younger Wegman joined Wegmans Food Markets after high school and was named a store manager in 1969, the same year he graduated with honors from Harvard University with a bachelor's degree in economics. He became president of Wegmans in 1976, and was named chief executive officer in 2005. Wegman has served as a University of Rochester trustee since 1995.
In the Rochester area, his current community activities include his membership on the City of Rochester Community Action Team and on the Rochester Business Alliance Health Care Task Force.
Wegmans is the second largest employer in the Rochester area with almost 14,000 employees here. The company operates 75 supermarkets in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland.