RIT alumna Susan Holliday ’85 donates $1.25 million to Saunders College of Business expansion

The gift will fund fourth floor event space, comprised of conference hall, reception gallery, and wine room

A $1.25 million gift to Saunders College of Business from Rochester Institute of Technology alumna and vice chair of RIT’s Board of Trustees, Susan Riedman Holliday ’85 (MBA), will help fund the planned building expansion breaking ground this fall.

The gift will fund the creation of a 6,000-square-foot fourth floor signature event space, comprised of a conference hall, reception gallery, and wine room–all featuring expansive views of the RIT campus. Once complete, this venue will serve as one of the pre-eminent event spaces for RIT and the Finger Lakes region.

“We are so proud of Susan’s achievements as a leader in the Rochester business community, and truly grateful for her continued support of RIT and Saunders College,” said Dean Jacqueline Mozrall. “This gift demonstrates Susan’s unwavering dedication to the Rochester region and allows us to further enhance community engagement through the creation of a multifunctional venue in support of national and regional business and entrepreneurship conferences, executive education, university and college events, K-12 outreach, and other networking activities.”

Holliday graduated from the Saunders College MBA program in 1985 after obtaining her undergraduate degree from Cornell University. In 2013, she established the Susan Riedman Holliday Graduate Endowed Fellowship, to provide scholarship support to Saunders College graduates who are staying at RIT to pursue a graduate degree from Saunders College. 

She also continues to offer her time and expertise by serving on RIT’s Board of Trustees since 1999, currently as vice chair, and by actively participating in various university events, including Power Your Potential, a women in business leadership conference.

Her contribution to the building expansion will mark her largest monetary donation to date.

“I am delighted to support this expansion as I believe it will make Saunders College much more competitive with peer business schools, and will help to propel the college into the top tier of U.S. business colleges,” said Holliday. “The event space will significantly enhance the ability of the college to provide collaborative learning space benefiting both the students and faculty. It will also provide an exciting space in which to host conferences and meetings that historically were too large for Saunders College to accommodate.”

Formerly president, publisher, and owner of Rochester Business Journal, Holliday is a dedicated member of the Rochester business community. She was named chair of the board of directors of Financial Institutions, Inc. last week. She also serves as a board member and former chair of the University of Rochester Medical Center, and board member of Complemar Partners, Inc. She is also vice chair of Healthcare Trustees of New York State.

Holliday was recognized as RIT’s Outstanding Alumna of the Year in 2010, and named Saunders College of Business’ Distinguished Alumni Award winner in 2000. She was also selected for the Saunders College Wall of Fame in 2008.

The expansion, designed by architecture firm LaBella Associates, will almost double the size of Saunders College and add more than 35,000 square feet to the existing building. It will break ground in the fall of 2021. Other significant gifts and support have come from serial entrepreneur and philanthropist E. Philip Saunders, Saunders alumnus Chance Wright ’18, ’19, a grant from New York state as part of the Higher Education Capital Matching Grant Program, and many other Saunders College alumni and friends. The project is scheduled to be completed in time to welcome the fall class of 2023.

Holliday’s gift is part of Transforming RIT: The Campaign for Greatness, a $1 billion university fundraising effort, the largest in university history. This blended campaign seeks support from a variety of investors, including alumni and friends, government and corporate partners, and research foundations and agencies. The campaign has raised $801 million to date.

“We are very thankful for Susan Holliday’s generous gift as we strive to transform the future by continually transforming RIT,” said RIT President David Munson. “We’re appreciative that Susan recognizes the high potential and forward-looking aspirations of Saunders College.”


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