$1.25 million gift from RIT alum to fuel facility expansion

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A Rochester Institute of Technology alumna and area business leader’s $1.25 million donation to her alma mater will upgrade event space facilities at the Saunders College of Business.

The gift from Susan Holliday will be used to create new event rooms on the fourth floor of Max Lowenthal Hall, the home of Saunders College, and is a part of RIT’s multiyear “Transforming RIT: The Campaign for Greatness” fundraising effort. Construction is slated to begin this fall.

When completed, the 6,000-square-foot area funded by Holliday’s donation will include a conference hall, reception gallery and wine room, all with a view of the RIT campus. Dean Jacqueline Mozrall says the expanded space will improve community engagement, allowing for larger conferences, university events, K-12 outreach and other networking activities.

Susan Holliday

“The event space will significantly enhance the ability of the college to provide collaborative learning space benefiting both the students and faculty,” says Holliday, former president, publisher and owner of Rochester Business Journal. “It will also provide an exciting space in which to host conferences and meetings that historically were too large for Saunders College to accommodate.”

After earning her undergraduate degree from Cornell University, Holliday graduated from the Saunders College MBA program in 1985. She received Saunders College’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2000 and in 2008 she was selected for the Saunders College Wall of Fame. In 2010, she was named RIT Outstanding Alumna of the Year.

This month, Holliday was named chair of the Financial Institutions Inc. board of directors. She also is a board member and former chair of the University of Rochester Medical Center, and board member of Complemar Partners Inc.

Holliday continues to engage with the RIT community, serving as vice chair of the university’s board of trustees and participating in Power Your Potential, a women in business leadership conference. She says she is pleased to support an upgrade that will have lasting effects for students well into the future.

The fourth-floor event space is part of an $18 million renovation for Saunders College, which boasts the third-highest enrollment—more than  2,100—among RIT colleges. The upgrades, which were designed by architecture firm LaBella Associates, will add more than 35,000 square feet to the building with plans for collaborative student spaces, research labs and new staff offices.

The “Transforming RIT: The Campaign for Greatness” fundraising effort started in 2018 and is guided by a four-pillar approach that seeks a variety of investment support from alumni, government and corporate partners, and research foundation agencies. 

Already, the campaign has attracted gifts including scholarships funded by aerospace component producer TransDigm Group, ultrasound equipment from medical imaging manufacturer Carestream Health, a research lab partially funded by video game company Niantic, and a $50 million learning complex funded by a gift from alumnus Austin McChord, Datto founder and current CEO of Casana.

To date, RIT has raised $801 million toward its $1 billion goal.

Jacob Schermerhorn is a Rochester Beacon intern. He is pursuing a graduate degree in journalism at City University of New York. Renderings in this article courtesy of RIT/LaBella Associates.

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