Not-so-Brief History of Data. According to IBM, we are now creating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day—90% of the world’s data was created as recently as two years ago. That means the only thing we have more of than data is stars. This ridiculous amount of information is known as “big data.” Data science comprises the concepts, methods, and applications we use to slog through it all and extract something meaningful, like millions of Stephen Hawkings creating constellations.
Better living through data science. Do you use Google? Data science. Check the weather? Data science. There’s a reason Netflix is recommending that you watch “Mac and Me.” Data science told it to. Data science is everywhere, and it’s helping us analyze information in a way that the microscope helped early researchers view tissues and organisms. Current University research is using data science to help us understand political campaigns, track the spread of disease and identify at-risk individuals, and improve decision-making.
Ever better than everyone. When it comes to data science, we’re no slouches. Over the past five years, we have invested more than $50 million for faculty, staff, and a computing infrastructure. But our motto isn’t “Meh” it’s Meh-liora. So that’s why the Data Science Initiative seeks to create a $50 million endowment, which will be used primarily for the construction of a new, state-of-the-art building, as well as the recruitment of 20 outstanding faculty members.
Our data base. Our data science HQ, the Institute for Data Science, will be a 50,000 gross-square-foot addition to the River Campus, adjacent to Hopeman Hall, which allows us to assemble our existing strengths in data science together, under one roof. It also completes a science and engineering quad, shaped by Hutchison Hall, Goergen Hall, Carlson Library, and the Computer Studies building. Researchers within the Institute will initially focus on predictive health analytics, cognitive systems, and analytics on demand.
Our wish list. The new building is expected to use approximately half of the endowment we seek. Beyond that, over time, we would like to support 20 new faculty members with professorships. We would also like funding for The Center for Energy and the Environment, a directorship (see, professorships) for the Institute, and research funds. We logged all of this on Amazon.com (which, by the way, is powered by data science).
There’s a giving society for that. Anything for a giving streak of two years? Rochester Loyal. Annual commitments to the School of Medicine? Whipple Society. What about annual unrestricted gifts to favorite parts of the University? George Eastman Circle. What about something that celebrates those who establish a planned gift of any amount, for any purpose at the University that also illuminates the legacy of transformational philanthropists Joe and Peggy Wilson? That’s the Wilson Society.
Wilsonmania. Right around the time Yoko Ono was becoming a problem for the Beatles, brilliant industrialist and Xerox founder Joseph C. Wilson ’31, and his wife, Marie (Peggy), were helping to launch Rochester onto the world stage. In 1967, the Wilsons pledged $20 million to the University—the largest private gift to any U.S. University that year. By Joe’s death in 1971, the Wilsons had given the University more than $40 million. Peggy continued to build on their legacy by giving her home, art collection, and other enduring support.
Joe wuz here. So wuz Peg. Go to any corner of the University, and you will find a story about the Wilsons’ leadership or generosity. It’s far from hyperbole. You can see them at the MAG (the Wilson Collection), in our classrooms, fighting cancer (Wilson oncology funding), and on our calendar. Today, we are still benefiting from the vision the Wilsons provided as trustees for more than three decades. If the University had a “Mt. Rushmore,” they’d be on it.
Bequest = flux capacitor. A charitable trust and a bequest in Joe’s will were among the Wilsons’ greatest contributions to the University. These are examples of planned giving. Planned giving is an easy way for donors to integrate their financial and philanthropy goals. It also allows the University to take immediate steps toward current goals, while planning for the future. Minus the time travel and most of the plot, Back to the Future II is basically a movie about planned giving.
Declaration of Commitment. Anyone who funds a life-income gift or establishes a plan to transfer assets to the University from their estate qualifies for membership in the Wilson Society. Anyone who has already done this or establishes a planned gift before June 30, 2016 will be considered a “Founding Member.” All Founders will receive a hardcover copy of Joe Wilson’s biography and will have the option to be listed in a Founders Honor Roll. Questions? Contact Rosanna or Christopher.