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Monday, November 21, 2016 - 4:11am

Enhancing its reputation as a national leader in undergraduate, graduate and executive business education, RIT on July 11, 2006, announced the formation of Saunders College of Business.

The new name honored E. Philip Saunders, founder of TravelCenters of America Inc. Saunders committed $13 million to the university's academic business programs to finance scholarships, recruit and support faculty, improve facilities and create an endowment for future initiatives.

"Phil Saunders has made a spectacular impact during his career as an entrepreneur," Albert J. Simone, RIT president emeritus, said at the time. "His $13 million investment in RIT will produce a similar impact by helping us reshape traditional business education and by paving the way for a new generation of entrepreneurs and visionary business leaders."

Four years later, Saunders committed another $5 million to the business college bearing his name and announced a challenge to all Saunders College alumni and friends to raise an additional $15 million to support the college's visionary plans. The challenge continues today.

Since that announcement, Saunders College of Business has been on the rise.

The college received national recognition for its undergraduate programs, including advancing 16 spots in the popular U.S. News & World Report Best College rankings, and again garnering a Top 10 spot in USA Today/College Factual.

U.S. News placed Saunders College No. 77 among nationally-ranked undergraduate business programs, a noteworthy placement from last year's spot at 93rd.

USA Today also placed the college's management information systems program at No. 10 for the second year in a row.

In addition, the college ranked seventh in the "Top 25 Online MBA Programs for 2016," by The Princeton Review, this year in partnership with Entrepreneur magazine.

The Princeton Review chose the Top 25 based on its ranking from a 2016 survey of more than 3,800 online MBA students from more than 90 schools.

As a serial entrepreneur, Saunders has contributed his pursuit of excellence in many areas. Other ventures include Ryder Systems, Econocar International, W.W. Griffith Oil Company, Sugar Creek Corp., American Rock Salt, Bristol Harbor Resort, Swain Ski Center, Genesee Regional Bank, Western New York Energy and Youngblood Disposal Services.

"Educational opportunities are the key to advancing America's leadership in a global economy," Saunders said in 2006. "In making this gift, it is my goal to further energize RIT's position as a center of excellence for entrepreneurship and innovation."

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