Phil Saunders to donate $7.5 million to RIT's business college

Oct 29, 2019

Credit A. Sue Weisler/RIT

A local entrepreneur and philanthropist and is donating $7.5 million to the business college that bears his name.

E. Philip Saunders announced the gift on Tuesday to RIT, to help fund the expansion of the Saunders College of Business.

Officials say that gift will add much-needed space to the college for innovative research in business disciplines, student and faculty work and learning projects.

The expansion will include learning laboratories, collaborative student spaces and room for the addition of the hospitality and service innovation programs to Saunders College.

Saunders made a $13 million gift to RIT in 2006 and gave another $5 million in 2010.

Saunders, who is a former trustee of RIT, founded TravelCenters  of America, which is a truck stop company, and he has been involved in a variety of other business ventures.

He believes that a university education is also important these days for people who want to get into business.

"Being able to combine the old, let’s say, entrepreneurship, hardworking business along with the new technologies that are there today," Saunders told WXXI News.

RIT president David Munson expects that even students who are enrolled in other schools at the university, may be interested in taking courses from the business college.

“We’ll see the number of students taking coursework and undertaking projects and engaged with the Saunders college, I think we’ll see that number of students from outside the college grow quite a lot," Saunders said.

Munson says RIT will undertake a campaign to match Saunders $7.5 millon gift. The entire project is expected to take a few years to complete.