Horace and Mary Jan Sanders have gifted $3.5 million to name the Sanders College of Business and Technology.

Sanders Family Generous Gift Names the Sanders College of Business and Technology at the University of North Alabama

Feb. 01, 2023

Michelle R. Eubanks , UNA, at meubanks@una.edu, 256.765.4392

FLORENCE, AL – A $3.5 million gift from the Sanders Family has named the Sanders College of Business and Technology at the University of North Alabama. The naming was made official earlier this week after unanimous approval by the UNA Board of Trustees during a special-called meeting. 

“Generous gifts such as this from the Sanders Family are meaningful on a campus of UNA’s size simply because they make a significant impact for generations of students and faculty to come,” said Dr. Ken Kitts, UNA’s President. “We celebrate this new relationship with the Sanders Family and welcome the opportunity to officially name the Sanders College of Business and Technology.” 

Horace Sanders and his wife Mary Jane owned and operated Russellville Hospital from the late 1960s until 1973 when they sold the facility to Humana Hospital. The couple remained in Russellville for another decade. Generosity and giving have been a lifelong calling for the Sanders throughout their lives, according to their youngest son Bill. 

“This gift is an opportunity to give back to the community from where it all came from,” he said. “The majority of the gifting my parents have made has been with Christian missions, but this was meeting a need in the Northwest Alabama area that has been very special to them.” 

Sanders is the executor of his father’s estate, and he said planning to make a gift like this had been in the works for more than four decades, and UNA’s College of Business and Technology along with its MBA program are aligned with Horace Sanders’ vocations of business and accounting. 

“The College has the largest MBA program in the state, and, when we learned of the years of funding issues that had plagued UNA, it made our gift even more significant,” Sanders said referring to Project 208, the funding initiative that dates back to 2017 and President Kitts’ and others’ efforts to create a more equitable funding model for institutes of higher education in Alabama. “There is a lot of merit to a more level playing field for funding, and it is something we as a state should consider doing.” 

The naming was official upon board approval, and a ceremony will be scheduled for a later date. In the meantime, the Sanders College of Business and Technology continues to innovate and engage students through a variety of workforce-focused programs. 

“The Sanders College of Business and Technology is an innovative and evolving College at UNA,” said Dr. Ross Alexander, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. “From the Master of Health Administration to the Bachelor of Business Administration, the College offers students a variety of programs to prepare them for the workforce. This tremendous gift from the Sanders Family ensures we can continue to provide high-quality academic programming for generations.” 

Home to the state’s largest MBA program with more than 1,000 students enrolled, Dean of the Sanders College of Business and Technology Dr. Greg Carnes said he is overwhelmed by the gift and the generosity of the Sanders Family. 

“Our mission in the College is to prepare students to be excellent professionals and citizens,” he said. “This gift will provide the margin of excellence that is needed to ensure that we have the resources to meet this mission. Excellent education transforms lives, and the Sanders Family has invested in the lives of our business and technology students for the current and future generations. Gifts of this nature validate the excellent work of the faculty, staff, and students in the College, made possible by the tremendous support of the UNA Administration and Board of Trustees.”

About The University of North Alabama

The University of North Alabama is an accredited, comprehensive regional state university offering credential, certificate, baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral programs in the colleges of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering; Business and Technology; Education and Human Sciences; and the Anderson College of Nursing and Health Professions. The first-choice University for more than 10,000 on-campus and online students, UNA is on a bucolic campus in Florence, Alabama, part of the historic and vibrant Shoals region. Lions Athletics, a renowned collegiate athletics program with seven (7) Division II National Championships, is now a proud member of the NCAA Division I’s ASUN Conference. The University of North Alabama is an equal opportunity institution and does not discriminate in the admission policy on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, disability, age, or national origin. For more: www.una.edu and www.una.edu/unaworks/