B. Thomas Golisano, founder and chair of the board of directors of Paychex, Inc., Rochester, the second-largest payroll processor in the United States, and 1962 general business management graduate of Alfred State College, will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters, at his alma mater's commencement ceremony, Sunday, May 17, 2009.
Golisano, a self-made billionaire, is widely known for his business acumen, his philanthropy, and his interest in government, particularly that of New York State.
Golisano founded Paychex in 1971 with $3,000 and an idea about how to make payroll outsourcing easy and affordable for small businesses; he is chairman of the Board of the Company. Until October 2004, he served as president and chief executive officer. Paychex began with one employee and 40 clients. Today, Paychex serves more than 500,000 clients from over 100 locations across the United States and employs more than 12,000 people.
Paychex and Golisano have received numerous national honors over the years. In 2009, the company was recognized for a sixth year by FORTUNE magazine as one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" in America. Paychex has also been recognized by Training magazine as one of the top 100 training organizations in the country, FORTUNE has named Paychex one of the most admired companies in the country, and Forbes honored Paychex as one of the best-managed companies in America.
The Irondequoit native is a member of the board of directors of several private companies, and he serves on the board of trustees of the Rochester Institute of Technology. He owns the Buffalo Sabres hockey team and the Buffalo Bandits lacrosse team. Golisano has served as a member of the board of directors of numerous non-profit organizations, and founded the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation in 1986 to provide grants to organizations serving persons with disabilities.
Golisano has also made major donations to leading health care and educational centers. He donated $14 million in 2001 to the Rochester Institute of Technology to fund the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences. Golisano donated $14 million in 2002 to the Strong Memorial Hospital, which re-named its pediatric facility the Golisano Children's Hospital in his honor. In 2006, Golisano donated $6 million to Bishop Kearney High School and Our Lady of Mercy High School. In 2007, with a $10 million donation, Golisano launched the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Most recently, Golisano donated $10 million to Niagara University for a new Center for Integrated Science building that will be named in his honor. Other significant recipients of his gifts include Crozier Colgate Divinity, WXXI Public Radio, Heritage Christian Services, F.F. Thompson Health, Rochester General Hospital, Upstate Medical Foundation, Springbrook, Mercy Flight Central, Hartwick College, Veterans Outreach Center, Inc., Nazareth College, and Roberts Wesleyan College. Golisano has also been a major underwriter of former President William Clinton's Global Initiative.
The Alfred State College alumnus has served on that college's Development Fund Board as an honorary member and was a sponsor of the ASC Entrepreneurship Program, established in 1998.
Golisano is a founder of the Independence Party of New York State and has run for governor of New York as that party's candidate three times. In 2008, Golisano formed a PAC called Responsible New York, to support candidates for the New York state legislature. The goal of Responsible New York is to guide true political reform in the state and to return government to the people.
Golisano has received numerous awards and recognition for his business prowess and philanthropy, including:
- 2008 "Niagara Frontier Executive of the Year" presented by the University at Buffalo School of Management Alumni Association
- David T. Kearns Medal of Distinction - recognizing significant achievements in business, public service, and education, by the University of Rochester's William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration
- Outstanding Philanthropist by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, an international organization, 2004
- Rochester Business Hall of Fame, 2001
- The Herbert W. VandenBrul Entrepreneurial Award, presented by Rochester Institute of Technology's College of Business, 1987
- "Master Entrepreneur" award in Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year awards competition for Western New York
- The "Distinguished Citizen of the Year" award from the Otetiana Council of the Boy Scouts of America
- Shumway Distinguished Service Award from Family Service of Rochester
- Humanitarian of the Year Award, presented by the Boy's Town of Italy
- Commerce and Industry Award of the Rochester Chamber of Commerce
- Outstanding Alumni Award from the American Association of Community Colleges
- Annual Rochester Rotary Award, 2006
- Catholic Family Center's (CFC) Award, 2005
- Temple Adath Yeshurun Citizen of the Year Award, 2005
- Canisius College Board of Regents Distinguished Citizen Achievement Award, 2005
- Junior Achievement of Western New York Inc's Business Leadership Hall of Fame, 2004
- SUNY Alumni Honor Roll, 1997
- Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from St. John Fisher College, Rochester
- Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Roberts Wesleyan College, Rochester
- Honorary Doctor of Letters, Hartwick College, Oneonta
Alfred State College is proud to count Tom Golisano among its alumni, serving as he does as an example of high achievement in his diverse philanthropic and professional activities.