When I was offered the position of director of George Eastman House, the only condition I required was that Thomas Jackson agree to continue as chair of our board of trustees through June 2014—a year longer than he had planned. From our first meeting, I knew that Tom and I had similar perspective on the museum and a harmonious worldview. I also knew that I would enjoy working with him. I considered Tom’s continued board leadership to be essential to assuring that I could focus my initial efforts on addressing the most pressing issues within the institution.
Tom joined our board of trustees in 1994. When he retired from his position as president of the University of Rochester in 2005, he stepped down from most of his board seats in the community but stepped up his involvement at Eastman House. After serving as an officer of our board for many years, he was elected as its chair in 2011. Tom has a keen understanding of the role of a board chair and is universally admired by our trustees and staff.
Tom’s term as board chair spanned three years of significant transition. His steady demeanor and thoughtful guidance provided constancy for the institution across the last year of Tony Bannon’s term, the three-month tenure of the Interim Office of the Director, and the initial 21 months of my leadership. His introductory briefings to me on the state of our museum when I became director have proven to be remarkably insightful.
A highly respected legal scholar and President Emeritus of the University of Rochester, Tom brings logical reasoning and strategic vision. Our shared fundamental view is that our museum’s ongoing financial challenges cannot be effectively addressed by downsizing. Rather, our ability to broaden our base of financial support and create a sustainable model is dependent on our institution’s excellence and leadership.
Tom is deeply committed to the centrality of preservation and conservation—of our collections and of George Eastman’s historic house and gardens—in our museum’s missions. Over the last 18 months, he has played a critical role in our efforts to oppose the proposed construction of a 99-unit apartment building at 933 University Avenue. He has also consistently supported steps that we have taken to strengthen our position as a global leader in the fields of photography and cinema.
A talented photographer himself, Tom is particularly expressive about the powerful impact of images in our society. He shares my conviction that disseminating online access to our collection is a strategic imperative. His wife, Bonnie, is passionate about motion pictures and is one of the most frequent visitors to the Dryden Theatre. Together, they have been stalwart supporters and advocates of George Eastman House.
I am deeply grateful to Tom for his wisdom and hard work as my partner in leading an institution we both cherish. He will remain on the board for one more year to assure that we will have the benefit of his institutional knowledge and historical perspective during the first year of the board’s new leadership. As we thank Tom Jackson for his years of service as trustee and board chair, we welcome a new chair, Steven L. Schwartz (see page 9 of the September/October Bulletin).
Bruce Barnes, Ph.D.
Ron and Donna Fielding Director
July/August 2014 Bulletin