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Encouraging an Entrepreneurial Spirit

“My philosophy,” said Rance Sanders, “is to do what you love, to believe in yourself, work hard, and always do what is right.”

That philosophy has paid off handsomely for Sanders, president and CEO of The Sanders Trust, a highly successful Birmingham firm that specializes in health care real estate. Sanders directs the firm’s investment policy and decisions and oversees the implementation of the company’s strategy.

The University of Alabama and the Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration have received a $250,000 gift from Sanders to be used to provide scholarships for business school students concentrating in the field of real estate. Recipients will be known as Sanders Scholars.

Sanders and his wife, Angela Smith Sanders, are 1983 graduates of the University. “I hope that our endowment for outstanding real estate students will continue to grow and encourage students to devote their academic talents to a more sophisticated approach to real estate in our state. In my view, we need to provide more resources to Alabama students to better prepare them for success in commercial real estate.”

Sanders said J. Barry Mason, dean of the Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration, “is doing an outstanding job in his leadership in this area, and we want to support his efforts to make UA graduates more beneficial to prospective employers. Further, I have a keen interest in encouraging a more entrepreneurial bent among these students to recognize that many of them have the capacity to have their own companies.”

In addition to his law degree, Sanders graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in finance and was a member of the International Honor Society of Beta Gamma Sigma. As an attorney, he has extensive health care experience in tax, equity and debt participations, and real property law.

The Sanders Trust owns 19 health care properties in 10 states, as far west as Kansas and as far north as Pennsylvania.

“My mother gave me self-confidence and a passion to succeed. My dad taught me how to be an entrepreneur and how to manage and build a successful organization,” Sanders said.

Sanders said he and his wife are interested in politics, like to travel and ski, and, of course, follow University of Alabama football.

“While at UA,” Sanders said, “we had the pleasure of attending the ’78 and ’79 Sugar Bowls that resulted in two consecutive national championships for Coach Bryant and the Tide. My law school softball team, named ‘Ralph,’ became a dynasty similar to the New York Yankees 1927 team. I was the lead-off hitter and Bart Starr Jr. was my companion in the outfield.”

Sanders said he and Starr, the son of the legendary UA and Green Bay quarterback Bart Starr, roomed together briefly and attended business school and law school together. The elder Starr was once a Sanders business partner and remains a vice chairman with the firm.

“We distinguished ourselves particularly as teammates in Lonnie Strickland’s GBA 490 class,” Sanders joked. “We also took possession of the football team’s astroturf covered practice field before team practices many afternoons in ’82 and ’83, where we played a very competitive game called kick-back. In retrospect, I am surprised that Coach Bryant did not object to our use of the field and have us hung up from his tower.”

The Sanders live in Mountain Brook and have two children. Son Brooks attends school in Baton Rouge and daughter Casey will be a freshman at The University of Alabama this fall.

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