Eastman's Legacy

George Eastman

George Eastman changed the world through his entrepreneurial spirit, bold leadership, and extraordinary vision. He will be remembered throughout history for founding the Eastman Kodak Company and revolutionizing the photography, film, and motion picture industries. He was also one of the most influential philanthropists and humanitarians of his time. Through his extraordinary gifts, he provided generous support for his passions of music and the arts. He expressed his strong humanitarian beliefs through generous support of education and health care. Eastman’s munificence has touched the lives of many around the globe, but perhaps his greatest and most enduring legacy is the University of Rochester.

Eastman’s philanthropic relationship with the University began in 1899 with the gift of a single Kodak camera to a geology professor. As is often the case with great philanthropists, this small gift eventually led to the transformational gifts that created the Eastman School of Music and the School of Medicine and Dentistry, and supported the expansion of the University in the 20th century.

Eastman’s commitment to higher education was strengthened through a visionary partnership with Rush Rhees, who served as the University’s third president from 1900 to 1935. This involvement sparked Eastman’s realization that colleges and universities rank among the world’s most beneficial and enduring institutions. He understood that the welfare and economic health of the Rochester community and nation depended upon the collaboration of industry and education. Eastman made unprecedented contributions to the University of Rochester, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tuskegee Institute, and many other institutions.

Today, the University of Rochester is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading universities, distinguished by excellence in education, research, health care, and service. Students, faculty, and alumni are making important contributions across an expansive range of endeavors. George Eastman’s legacy at the University and in the world is profound. We invite you to join us in honoring his contributions and preserving his memory by establishing a new tradition named in his honor and dedicated to his vision and ideals.