Ashok Rao, dean of the E. Philip Saunders College of Business at Rochester Institute of Technology, has announced his retirement effective the end of the 2011–2012 academic year. Rao previously was professor of technology operations and information management at Babson College of Business before joining RIT in 2007—shortly after local entrepreneur and philanthropist E. Philip Saunders donated $13 million to name the college.
During Rao’s tenure, the Saunders College has made significant strides in raising the visibility of entrepreneurship and business. First-year retention grew from 77 percent to 94 percent, diversity of faculty and students increased and faculty research has more than doubled. U.S. News & World Report recently ranked the Saunders undergraduate program 69th overall and the graduate program at 63, which placed the college in the top five business schools in New York state.
“These results are largely due to Ash’s efforts in helping to establish an excellent collaborative environment on campus,” says Jeremy Haefner, RIT provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “He has helped foster a number of collaborative projects including the product development programs with engineering, collaborations with the School of Design and the Golisano College of Computing and Information Systems to develop a business simulation, and several entrepreneurial programs that attract students from across the campus.”
Rao has also been highly active in the local business community and writes a monthly column, Innovation Edge, for Rochester Business Journal. His plans for retirement include travel, visiting with family and moving back to Cambridge, Mass., to spend more time with his wife, Janis, a tenured professor at Bentley University. Their plans include a trip to Mongolia and Siberia next July.
Note: One of nine colleges at RIT, the E. Philip Saunders College of Business enrolls more than 1,200 undergraduate and graduate students. The Saunders College and its entrepreneurial learning facility, Venture Creations, work in partnership with RIT’s Albert J. Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to integrate business education with RIT’s world-leading technical and creative programs. Graduate programs include Master’s of Business Administration, MBA-Accounting, Executive MBA and master’s degrees in finance and administration.