Rochester Institute of Technology’s Nathaniel Rochester Society has given its highest honor to E. Philip Saunders, founder of TravelCenters of America, chairman and founder of Genesee Regional Bank, owner of Saunders Management Co. and a member of the RIT Board of Trustees.
The 2011 NRS Award will be presented July 14 during a ceremony at RIT’s Robert F. Panara Theatre in the Dyer Arts Center. The annual honor recognizes individuals who have contributed to the university’s advancement in an outstanding and significant manner.
“I am deeply honored to be bestowed with such a wonderful award and follow other such distinguished recipients,” Saunders says. “I am proud to be associated with RIT—it is a world-class university focused on innovation and entrepreneurism. I have no doubt they will continue to enhance development and attract only the best and brightest.”
In 2006, Saunders made a $13 million gift to the university to boost the visionary plans of RIT’s business college that now bears his name. In 2010, he enhanced his support with an additional $5 million and a challenge to all Saunders College alumni and friends to raise $15 million to support future endeavors. The business college enrolls more than 1,200 undergraduate and graduate students and works in partnership with RIT’s Albert J. Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to integrate business education with RIT’s internationally recognized technical and creative programs.
“I like to call Phil Saunders a friend, but also he is invaluable as an RIT trustee and benefactor of the E. Philip Saunders College of Business,” says RIT President Bill Destler. “His contributions to our university and the community are immeasurable, and his accomplishments in the business world are what our students aspire to.
“Phil was—and still is—a born risk taker, or in today’s terms, a serial entrepreneur. He put the truck stop industry on the U.S. map, designing modern travel centers that proved a boon to our economy, then followed it up by investing in such industries as Sugar Creek convenience stores, Richardson Foods, Griffith Oil, American Rock Salt and Genesee Regional Bank, among others.
“We are proud to honor him with the Nathaniel Rochester Society award for 2011. Phil has demonstrated generosity, passion, risk, innovation and achievement.”
Most importantly, says Lisa Cauda, vice president for development and alumni relations at RIT, “Phil Saunders truly sees the Saunders College of Business as ‘his’ college, and Saunders students as ‘his’ students.
“He is actively engaged in how to make the education at the Saunders College better and better, and he is a true advocate for the school. This level of commitment and public advocacy is what makes Phil Saunders an ideal choice for the NRS Award.”
The mission of the Nathaniel Rochester Society is to develop friends and ambassadors to promote and support RIT. The NRS Award, established in 1972, has been permanently endowed through the generous gift of Mr. and Mrs. Marcus N. Barbour, charter members of the Society.
The NRS Award presentation piece is the creation of Leonard Urso, an internationally recognized award-winning silversmith and the Mowris Mulligan Distinguished Professor in RIT’s School for American Crafts. The award, contemporary in design, embodies the timeless values of past, present and future.