University of Rochester

Rochester Review
May–June 2014
Vol. 76, No. 5

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CAMPAIGN Wegman Foundation Gives $17 Million A historic gift benefits the University’s new data science effort and the new Golisano Children’s Hospital. By Sara Miller
inrev_wegmansALL IN THE FAMILY: Trustee Danny Wegman (foreground) announced a $17 million gift from the Wegman Family Charitable Foundation at a press conference with President Joel Seligman. (Photo: Adam Fenster)

One of the University’s newest buildings will bear the name of one of Rochester’s most notable families.

The new building—a 50,000-square-foot facility that will serve as the home for a new Institute for Data Science—will be named in recognition of the generosity of the Wegman family whose national chain of grocery stores began in Rochester nearly a century ago.

At an April press conference, University Trustee Danny Wegman, CEO of Wegmans Food Markets, announced a $10 million lead gift from the Wegman Family Charitable Foundation to support the new institute, including the new building.

He also announced a $7 million gift for the campaign to build a new Golisano Children’s Hospital, a project that’s currently under way at the Medical Center and expected to be completed in 2015.

“Danny Wegman is the man of the hour,” President Joel Seligman said at the press conference, noting that with the new gifts the Wegman Family Charitable Foundation had given a total of $20 million to the University. “Danny has stepped up at a time when he could really make a difference in the life of our University.”

The two projects—the Institute for Data Science and the Golisano Children’s Hospital—are two of the flagship initiatives of The Meliora Challenge, the University’s $1.2 billion comprehensive campaign. The $17 million gift represents the fourth largest contribution to the Campaign, and the second largest gift to the children’s hospital.

“It is our honor to support the University’s campaign,” said Wegman, the foundation’s president and chairman of its board. “The Institute for Data Science is helping the University and its collaborators become leaders in leveraging information in ways that will transform 21st-century discovery and innovation. “In a similar way, the new children’s hospital will move health care for our region’s children and their families into a whole new environment designed around children’s needs. What could be more important or gratifying than ensuring the health of our children?”

Last fall, Seligman announced that the University was committing $100 million—including $50 million that it has invested in recent years—to expand work in data science, an emerging field focused on how the world understands, organizes, and applies vast quantities of information and data. As a centerpiece of the University’s current five-year strategic plan, the data science initiative includes the creation of a new institute, construction of a new building located near Hopeman Hall, and support for new faculty members with expertise in the field.

The institute will also serve as the home for the recently designated New York State Center of Excellence for Data Science, which, with support from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Rochester-area state delegation, received $872,333 in the 2014–15 state budget.

The new eight-floor children’s hospital features 52 private patient rooms, a greatly expanded Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and spaces designed specifically to meet the needs of children and their families. Enhancements include healing gardens, family lounges, and a hospitality suite where parents can shower, prepare and eat home-cooked meals, or even run a load of laundry.

As of this spring, a total of $45 million of the $60 million needed for the building had been raised. Wegman, honorary chair of the Medical Center campaign, said he hoped the new gift would inspire others to contribute to close the $15 million gap.

Tracing its roots to the opening of its first store in Rochester in 1916, Wegmans Food Markets currently operates 83 stores in six states and employs more than 44,000 people. Wegmans is frequently listed by national publications as one of the best companies to work for in the country.

Through the Wegman Family Charitable Foundation, the Wegman family has long been a supporter of civic, cultural, and educational projects in Rochester and other communities. Created by Robert Wegman in 1991 and funded by assets from his estate, the foundation focuses on health care, education, workforce development, and United Way. In addition to his role as a trustee, Wegman works with Seligman as cochair of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, part of a task force appointed by Cuomo that recommends state support for economic development projects in a nine-county region.

Wegman also has been a leading supporter of the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection, a community program that provides education and training to middle and high school students. The University also works closely with the partnership.

In announcing the $17 million gift, Wegman noted that universities like Rochester are key to shaping the success of the communities they call home.

“The most powerful economic driver in the world is a great educational institution”

Sara Miller is University spokesperson.