The Impact of George Eastman

By: Robyn Winstanley 

George Eastman, the entrepreneur who founded Eastman Kodak Company and invented roll film, is a legacy in the Rochester, NY area. His philanthropy efforts stem deep into the University of Rochester. Throughout his life, Eastman donated over $100 million to various organizations, with about half of that benefiting the University of Rochester. His generous donations led to the founding of the University of Rochester Eastman School of Music and School of Medicine and Dentistry. Eastman’s passing in 1932 created a mark on the Rochester, NY community that will last forever. He helped to make Rochester the city it was and is today. In the early 20th century, Eastman and other leaders in Rochester worked together to plan the future of the University of Rochester, paving the way to transform the University into one of the leading educational institutions that is distinguished by excellence in education, research, health care, and service.

In light of the recent Chapter 11 filing by Eastman Kodak, it is bittersweet to think back to the life of Mr. Eastman. As one of the most influential humanitarians of his time who revolutionized the photography and film industry, I wonder what George Eastman would say if he were with us today.  As a Rochesterian, although it was sad to see Kodak declare bankruptcy, it’s also important to consider the fact that despite this, the Rochester region’s job growth rate has surpassed other areas of New York State and many parts of the country. Prior to the Chapter 11 filing, the Simon School Dean, Mark Zupan, spoke about Lessons from Kodak –, and the hypercompetitive environment that we live in.  Although we learn from the challenges at Kodak, it does not diminish the fact that each and every day, Simon School students look to contribute to the Rochester area and beyond by living and breathing the entrepreneurial and philanthropic spirit of George Eastman.



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