News 2008

B. Thomas Golisano Commits $10 Million to Build Niagara University Science Building

Campaign gift is largest in university's 152-year history

Niagara University Science Building

October 8, 2008 – The Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., president of Niagara University, announced today that the institution has received the largest gift in its 152-year history.

Joined by Rochester, N.Y., businessman and philanthropist B. Thomas Golisano, Father Levesque said the Paychex founder and chairman, and Buffalo Sabres owner, has committed $10 million to support construction of a new science building that will radically alter the teaching and research environment at the university.

Father Levesque said the gift, which will be applied to the university’s $80 million capital campaign, “The Promise of Niagara,” pushed the amount raised to date past the $50 million mark. Partial funding for the new interdisciplinary sciences center, estimated to cost $25 million, is included in the campaign.

“I am delighted to announce that this unprecedented act of generosity will forever be acknowledged in the name of the building, which will be called the B. Thomas Golisano Center for Integrated Sciences,” Father Levesque said. “Clearly, the support you are providing for the science building is an expression of great confidence in the direction our program is taking. But your gift also represents a major investment in the future of Western New York, a future that Niagara University will help to shape, with your assistance, through the contributions of our students and through the research that will take place here.”

Father Levesque said the new state-of-the-art facility will allow the university to prepare students for work in the region’s emerging biotech industry and for advanced studies at research universities. He spoke before an enthusiastic crowd that attended a press conference, which was held adjacent to the site of the new science building.

Mr. Golisano said the university’s comprehensive plans for advancing science education convinced him to designate the science building for his first major gift in the Buffalo/Niagara area.“I commend your thoughtful attention and careful plans to ‘radically alter science instruction at NU’ and better prepare our future young scientists through this innovative and integrated science curriculum,” he said.

With members of the board of trustees, students, faculty and staff expressing their delight, Mr. Golisano presented Father Levesque with the first of five annual installments of $2 million. 
NU’s plans call for construction of a 44,000-square-foot science center to replace DePaul Hall, a facility that has housed the university’s science programs since 1961. The new two-story science center will provide more space and flexibility for today’s integrated learning environment and interdisciplinary approach to the sciences. Biology, chemistry, physics, bioinformatics and computational chemistry students and faculty will all have access to advanced instrumentation either as individuals or as members of a study team. At the same time, the center will permit greater collaboration with NU’s partners in other educational, clinical and industrial settings.

Over the last five years, NU faculty and students, supported by the university’s Academic Center for Integrated Sciences, have partnered with researchers in the Buffalo Medical Complex, the State University at Buffalo, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the Heart Center of Niagara in collaborative research projects focused on finding solutions to important health and community problems. 

Father Levesque said the university intends to begin the project as soon as additional funding is in place, with the expectation that it will be completed by the fall of 2011. The current capital campaign is seeking to raise $16.5 million toward the total cost of the $25 million science center.

Father Levesque said Mr. Golisano’s gift has provided “tremendous impetus” toward achieving the campaign goal, adding, “Our hope and prayer is that your incredible generosity will inspire others to support us in our quest to fulfill ‘The Promise of Niagara.’”

A native of Irondequoit, a suburb of Rochester, Mr. Golisano founded Paychex Inc. in 1971 and currently serves as chairman of the board. He was president and chief executive officer of the company until October 2004.

Headquartered in Rochester, Paychex provides payroll, human resources, and benefit-outsourcing services for small- to medium-sized businesses. The company has more than 100 offices and serves about 572,000 payroll clients nationwide. 

Mr. Golisano has consistently been recognized for his entrepreneurial, civic and philanthropic achievements and endeavors. Since the late 1990s, his personal philanthropy has totaled more than $100 million. Most has been directed at educational institutions, hospitals and organizations in the Rochester area. He also founded the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation, which awards grants to organizations dedicated to providing opportunities and support for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.

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