Rochester Institute of Technology has received a $50 million gift from a 2009 alum, marking its largest donation and one of the largest ever in the region.
The donation comes from Austin McChord, founder and CEO of Datto, a Connecticut-based data protection company with engineering and support offices in downtown Rochester. McChord said he was inspired to make the donation by former RIT President Bill Destler, with whom he has developed a friendship.
“My goal with this gift is two-fold,” he said. “First is to help make more resources available to students, alumni and the community at-large to create, build and innovate for the future. But it’s also to help recognize those who helped you along the way. My success today would not have been possible without my time at RIT.”
The gift targets two major areas:
$30 million to foster creativity and entrepreneurship at RIT, including $17.5 million to launch the Maker Library & Innovative Learning Complex of the Future. This will be a new facility connecting RIT’s Wallace Center and the Student Alumni Union. Additional funding will go toward purchasing equipment and endowing faculty positions and student scholarships, including new “Entrepreneurial Gap Year” fellowships to help students advance their concepts into businesses.
$20 million to advance RIT’s cybersecurity and artificial intelligence capabilities. This funding will be used to expand facilities, as well as to establish endowments to attract and retain exceptional faculty and graduate students, primarily in the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, the largest of RIT’s nine colleges.
McChord has been an active alumnus of RIT, serving as a frequent keynote speaker at events, including Venture Creations graduation, the annual Entrepreneurship Conference and the 2017 Commencement. He founded Datto, a fast-growing global provider of total data protection solutions, in 2007.
Datto was recently acquired by Vista Equity Partners and merged with Autotask Corp. McChord is CEO of the new company, which has about 1,400 employees with offices in nine countries. In 2015, the company became Connecticut’s most valuable startup, with a valuation of more than $1 billion, RIT said. Datto has grown to more than 200 employees in Rochester.