Nicholas “Nick” Donofrio G’71, H’11, a Syracuse University Life Trustee, was one of the distinguished award recipients at the 2022 International Peace Honors on February 27th. The International Peace Honors celebrates the most outstanding global leaders and change-agents of our time who make philanthropy and humanitarian service a hallmark of their lives, to advance humanity and our planet.
Donofrio spent 44 years at IBM, working his way up to become executive vice president of innovation and technology. He has dedicated much of his life to providing and expanding opportunity in STEM fields to students from underrepresented groups. Donofrio has also served as the board chairman for the non-profit PeaceTech Lab since it was founded by the United States Institute of Peace in 2014, he was appointed by the U.S. Department of Education to serve on the Commission on the Future of Higher Education and by the National Academy of Engineering for their Committee on Racial Justice and Equity.
“Nick’s commitment to making STEM fields more diverse and inclusive exemplifies the leadership he has shown throughout his career,” says Chancellor Kent Syverud. “His tireless efforts have provided pathways to countless individuals pursuing careers in STEM. I congratulate Nick on this tremendous recognition. Our community is proud and fortunate to have him as an active part of our Syracuse University family.”
He founded the Donofrio Scholars program at the College of Engineering and Computer Science that evolved into the ECS Ambassadors program. His recent gift to the Forever Orange Campaign helps support and grow holistic diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives that touch on every aspect of the College, including recruiting and retaining diverse students, faculty and staff, strengthening a culture of equity and inclusion, ensuring student access to internships and co-ops, academic support, career mentoring, and professional societies.
“Nick is one of the most extraordinary people I’ve had the chance to meet,” said College of Engineering and Computer Science Dean J. Cole Smith. “Before you meet Nick, you know him for his elite professional success and recognition. After you get to know him, you see a man with a rare and profound dedication to helping humanity. We have long known of Nick’s sustained impact on students and his profession at Syracuse University, and I am so gratified to see him recognized worldwide with this prestigious honor.”
In an article published in 2021 by the National Academy of Engineering, Donofrio wrote that “innovation doesn’t just ‘happen.’ It is enabled by environments and organizations that foster open, collaborative, inclusive, multidisciplinary thinking and working. Time and again, I have been reminded that the more open and inclusive the team, the more successful it is—because nobody knows in advance which team member is going to supply a critical piece of the value puzzle.”
As a 2022 International Peace Honoree, Donofrio joins prestigious actor, director and social activist Forest Whitaker, MasterCard chairman Ajay Banga; internet phenomenon and “Humans of New York” creator Brandon Stanton and Advanced Micro Devices president & CEO Dr. Lisa Su.