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YSU dean guides business college to growth, acclaim | News, Sports, Jobs

Correspondent photo / Sean Barron…
Dr. Betty Jo Licata, dean of Youngstown State University’s Williamson College of Business Administration, stands next to the Key, a symbol that celebrates the university’s Beta Gamma Sigma chapter.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one of a series of Saturday profiles of area residents and their stories. To suggest a profile, contact features editor Burton Cole at bcole@tribtoday.com or metro editor Marly Reichert at mreichert@tribtoday.com

YOUNGSTOWN — Dr. Betty Jo Licata’s achievements as dean of Youngstown State University’s Williamson College of Business Administration have been as vast as they have been plentiful, but perhaps many of them can be encapsulated by one word: connectivity.

“The first thing I’m proud of is that we have elevated the college to the point of international recognition of being accredited by the AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) International, the premier accrediting agency for business schools,” Licata, 63, said.

Licata, who grew up in Lockport, N.Y., also emphasized the accomplishment was a team effort, something that “speaks highly of our staff.”

The effort likely will be at the top of Licata’s repertoire of positive steps she and co-workers have taken on behalf of YSU’s business-education school since she became dean in 1995. She also plans to retire Dec. 31.

Another crowning achievement came shortly after she had been hired. Licata worked to increase efforts to connect YSU to, and further develop strategic partnerships with, the local business community. In addition, she helped establish the Center for Career Management, which works with freshmen to seniors to assist them with formulating their career orientations, she noted.

Under her tenure, a goal also was to ensure that as many business majors as possible receive paid internships, which provides a much greater likelihood they will get secure jobs in the field upon graduation, Licata explained.

“There’s a 90 percent placement rate for students with internships,” she said, adding they make recipients more marketable locally, nationally and internationally. “We want to say to students who graduate, to do whatever you want, whenever you want.”

During the 2019-20 school year, the business school offered about 245 paid remote and onsite internships, which dropped to about 185 because of the pandemic. Nevertheless, that figure is beginning to pick up, Licata explained.

Typically, the university has between 200 and 250 undergraduate business majors each year, and the Class of 2021 promises to be large, she said.

Giving students the technical and in-class tools to be successful in a highly evolving and competitive business world is part of the equation. It’s also vital they have intangible traits such as strong leadership, communication and adaptability skills, as well as a willingness to collaborate and work as part of a team, Licata stressed.

Despite the health crisis, many students have been able to complete a variety of class projects for consulting with the business community — something she hopes will increase post-pandemic, Licata added.

A “game changer” also came with the 110,000-square-foot Williamson College of Business Administration building, which was completed about 11 years ago and “gives us the space we need to provide for our students to be a success,” she said.

Specifically, the expanded business school allowed for the establishment of the Student Services Center, the Business Leaders Program, the Entrepreneurship Center and the Student Leadership Council.

Also, students can take advantage of Meet the Employees Day twice per year, Licata said, adding that representatives from Meijer and Ultium Cells LLC have visited.

Licata earned her doctorate degree in management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. Before coming to YSU, she served as associate dean and director of graduate programs at Ohio University, as well as dean of the Dahlkemper School of Business Administration at Gannon University in Erie, Pa.

Licata also has served as board chairwoman of the Youngstown Business Incubator, the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber, Mercy Health-Youngstown and, for three years, Beta Gamma Sigma.

Her retirement may be months away, but news of it already is reverberating across campus.

“Dr. Licata elevated the Williamson College to new heights, recruiting talented faculty, establishing strong partnerships and producing graduates who have gone on to leadership positions across the business spectrum. She will be missed,” YSU President Jim Tressel said.

Licata and her husband, Jack Monda, have two sons and a daughter.

news@vindy.com

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