The endowed gift helps support costs associated with the Sklarsky Center for Business Analytics, a 800-square-foot space to the right of the entry to Saunders College that was formally dedicated at a ceremony on May 4. The gift will provide funding for equipment purchases and software, as well as student activities, lectures and research projects associated with the Sklarsky Center.
The center has an electronic ticker streaming real-time market data, mounted flat-screen TVs, wireless connections, and information services and research tools that support collaborative and project-based learning. Students can work independently or in groups 24/7 to use the technology to build investment portfolios and analyze the fluidity of stock prices on Dow Jones or Nasdaq, just like professional financial analysts do. Bloomberg terminals and associated software, in conjunction with a suite of analytics software, provides real-time data from every market, breaking news, in-depth programming and research capabilities, and powerful analytics and data-visualization applications that equip students with industry-standard tools.
"This facility has become a gathering place, a place for collaboration," said Sklarsky. "Faculty and students come here to exchange ideas and are able to use data and information in a way that can be analyzed and used effectively to make sound decisions and judgements. This center helps give students the head start they need before entering the 'real world,' particularly by being uniquely positioned as a business school at the heart of a technical university. It's imperative that there continues to be collaboration between business-savvy people and management technology experts."
Sklarsky, who was named an Outstanding Undergraduate Scholar, graduated in 1978 with a degree in business administration accounting. He began his professional career as a certified public accountant for Ernst and Young before earning his MBA from Harvard Business School. He worked for Chrysler, where he was employed for nearly 20 years and met his wife, Ruth. Following a brief stint at Dell in Austin, Texas, he returned to Daimler Chrysler as vice president for finance. Following that, he spent two years as chief financial officer for Con-Agra Foods in Omaha, Neb., and then returned to Rochester, N.Y., as Eastman Kodak's chief financial officer. He also worked for Tyco International and completed his career as executive vice president and chief financial officer of PPG in Pittsburgh, retiring in 2017.
"This is a very special honor for me," he said. "It's been exactly 40 years since I graduated from Saunders College. Our participation in this great event would not have been possible without having had a fulfilling and rewarding career whose beginnings were launched courtesy of an outstanding education right here at Saunders College and RIT."
Last year, Sklarsky and his wife, Ruth, funded an endowed scholarship that provides tuition support for undergraduate students in STEM disciplines.
Maksim Shchegelskii, a graduate student in finance from Russia, knows first-hand the impact of this business analytics center. He used the software housed within the lab to analyze oil markets for a project.
"I am very thankful for this lab where we have all the necessary tools to do all different kinds of projects with the possibility to improve all of our skills," he said. "But it's not just about the software. It's also about the ability to get everyone in one place for collaboration, team projects and networking. I've made many friends at the lab where we talk about projects and get new ideas. This lab is an essential part of the Saunders College, and I've spent as much time here as I have at home."
Saunders Dean Jacqueline Mozrall spoke during the dedication ceremony.
"Saunders College of Business continues to build upon its national reputation as a business school at the intersection of business and technology. The Sklarsky Center for Business Analytics provides our college with the very best technology that will allow us to deliver on our mission to prepare students who can access data, analyze data and support sound data-driven decision making. We are so grateful for this gift that helps ensure that Saunders College remains a leader in business education and supports real world, experiential-based learning opportunities for our students. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the Sklarsky family for this tremendous commitment."