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Education impact

The economic importance of the Rochester region’s higher education institutions is no secret. As reported in this week’s RBJ 75 supplement, the University of Rochester alone now employs nearly 27,000 people, a number that has grown by 900 since a year ago.

While UR is the region’s No. 1 employer by a considerable margin, five other universities and colleges also rank among the region’s 75 largest private-sector employers: Rochester Institute of Technology, St. John Fisher College, Nazareth College, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and Roberts Wesleyan College.

Together, these six institutions employ more than 33,350 people—or just shy of 25 percent of all local employees at companies on the RBJ 75 list.

The growth of the higher education sector has required leaders with clear vision and a steady hand. For the past decade, Donald Bain has provided that kind of leadership as St. John Fisher president. As we reported a few weeks ago, he has taken the college to another level. Total enrollment has grown nearly 15 percent, the number of degrees conferred has risen 45 percent and the annual budget has increased 86 percent. Employment is 50 percent higher too.

The Bain years at St. John Fisher have been paralleled by the tenure of John Halstead as SUNY College at Brockport president.

As a public institution, SUNY Brockport falls outside the scope of the RBJ 75, but its 1,400 employees would place it among the top 20. The Halstead years also have been marked by growth and a number of strategic moves, including aggressive recruiting outside of the Rochester area and transformation of the campus. “I do hope my legacy will have a longstanding impact,” he told RBJ last month. Like Mr. Bain, he will retire this summer.

At SUNY Brockport, Mr. Halstead will be succeeded by Heidi Macpherson. At St. John Fisher, the reins will pass to Gerard Rooney.

Both are certain to face challenges, but they will have the great benefit of rock-solid foundations on which to build.

6/12/15 (c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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