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A different b-school approach


Jacqueline Mozrall serves as dean of the Saunders College of Business at RIT. (Photo by Kimberly McKinzie)

 

Jacqueline Mozrall decided to enter her field because she likes problem solving.

As she has moved through her career, she has sought to have that passion drive the mission in her work, and the accomplishments speak for themselves, her peers point out.

As dean of the Saunders College of Business at Rochester Institute of Technology, she leads a business school recently recognized for one of its most popular undergraduate programs, management information systems.

“It is quite an honor: USA Today put us in the top 10 nationally with schools like Notre Dame,” Mozrall says, noting the recognition followed U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of RIT 85th among business schools, tied with Syracuse University.

“The fact we jumped in the last two years in that ranking is something we’re very excited about,” she says.

As the leader at Saunders College, Mozrall, 52, oversees an operating budget of $15 million, an endowment fund of $31 million and a team of 85 full-time faculty and staff. There are 778 undergraduate and 283 graduate students enrolled as of fall 2015.

Mozrall was named interim dean of the Saunders College in July 2014 and appointed to the post on a permanent basis in April 2015.

She has worked to show that Saunders College is set apart from other business schools because, as part of an institute of technology, it addresses a challenge all industries now face.

“Every company is becoming integrated with technology to serve business needs of the future. Hospitals, banks, newspapers—every company is becoming a technology company,” Mozrall says.

“Traditional business schools are built on a backbone of finance and accounting. We’re not a traditional business school. We have accounting and finance but also programs like MIS, and we’re developing a new supply chain management program. We have a minor now, and we will have a bachelor of science degree in a year or two once we get New York State approval.”

The decision to create the new supply chain management program is the result of employer demand, Mozrall says. She is responding to a need she has seen from companies that have come to campus such as General Electric Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and Boeing Co.

More than one third of the business school’s students are pursuing a dual major at RIT, she notes, which helps better prepare and position them for a rewarding career.

“Dual degree programs allow students to gain depth and breadth,” Mozrall says. “We’re trying to understand business industry needs and then drive it back to curriculum development.”

Another expansion Mozrall is proud of is the opening this summer of a business analytics lab, to be funded through the school’s endowment. Students can learn to analyze data to drive decision-making, a valuable business skill.

RIT long-timer
Mozrall has spent most of her career at RIT. She is an RIT alumna, having received her bachelor of science degree in industrial engineering from the university in 1987. Following five years as a research assistant at SUNY Buffalo, Mozrall joined RIT in 1994 as an assistant professor. Over the next six years she led the development of a master of science degree program in industrial engineering.

She became head of the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department in 2000; in 2007 she became a full professor.

As head of the ISE Department, Mozrall oversaw enrollment growth at the undergraduate and graduate levels, with the school marking more than a 50 percent increase in overall enrollment. Twenty percent of students were pursuing dual degree programs, and she also strengthened faculty engagement. The number of faculty engaged in externally sponsored work more than tripled.

In 2010, Mozrall was appointed associate dean of the Kate Gleason College of Engineering, a post she held for four years.

She also took part in efforts to increase the number of women entering the field of engineering by serving on the executive board of Women in Engineering at RIT from 2003 to 2015. The college has tripled the cohort of women seeking an engineering degree over the last 10 years.

“I’m proud that the percentage of women has increased along with enrollment at the engineering school,” Mozrall says. “Twenty-five percent of the freshman class are women.”

When she was selected to lead Saunders College, Mozrall believed she would find a more equal balance of male and female students.

“I thought the ratios would be more equal here at the business school but I found I was wrong. We’re below 40 percent women, which is below the national average of just over 40 percent. We can do better,” Mozrall says, noting the women in business club on campus has been rejuvenated.

She also points out that female students have great success.

“When women come here they do well. They graduate at a rate 10 percent higher than our male students,” she says.

That Mozrall is a woman did not play into her appointment in her first leadership post at RIT, but it did raise some eyebrows.

“The first decision I made when I became dean of Gleason was to appoint Jacquie head of the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department. It was a controversial situation,” says Harvey Palmer, dean of the Kate Gleason College of Engineering.

“When you’re at a university there is a tendency to assume you’ll pick the most senior person to take over, and Jacquie was the most junior at the time. I knew from people’s body language it was unusual and an eye opener.”

Palmer never wavered from nor regretted his decision.

“Here’s a person who has a unique ability to think strategically with a toughness and resolve, who will follow through on issues regardless of the challenges as long as it’s worth it and achievable,” Palmer says. “She is a good listener, which is such an important attribute. When you’re going to make tough decisions you darn well better do your homework.”

There is another reason Palmer’s instincts led him to believe Mozrall would be an excellent leader, and it had nothing to do with business or academics.

“The thing about leaders, a proportionate number have been part of a team that has excelled at a high level. She played soccer at RIT. She not only played, she distinguished herself on the field as a leader and is part of the RIT Sports Hall of Fame,” Palmer says.

“She not only earned a rigorous degree in engineering but was at the same time working with a team and distinguishing herself on the soccer field. Put all that together and you have a great leader,” he says.

Palmer was impressed by the way Mozrall was a great example of how to balance life and work, he says. She managed her demanding workload while raising three young children with her husband, Christopher.

Mozrall would attribute that success to a team approach. Her peers describe her leadership style as encompassing that team approach as well. They also describe her as a strong leader.

Working with businesses
Peter Parts, president of Peter Parts Electronics Inc., is chairman of the Dean’s Advisory Council, a volunteer advisory group that works closely with the dean. Parts has served on the council for 10 years and says Mozrall is an outstanding leader for Saunders.

“She works to be certain she is providing a great and useful education and that students leave with multiple job opportunities,” Parts says.

“She’s getting out to see local businesses and startups. She asks them, ‘What kind of talents do you need? Let’s train the students for you.”

Parts’ Ontario, Wayne County-based company works in partnership with the Saunders College to offer internships and other business experience opportunities to students.

The Dean’s Advisory Council “has been around for many years. She’s turned it into a pro-active group with four initiatives around enrollment, marketing, fundraising and business courses. Each of us has a role,” Parts says. “It’s all about jobs. She’s creating opportunity for jobs in Rochester.”

That is how Mozrall sees her role as the leader of Saunders College.

“It’s working with a team to create and implement change—improve and build academic programs and facilities that will prepare students to serve the needs of business, industry and society,” Mozrall says.

She may have been destined to be in education. She grew up in the Albany suburb of North Greenbush with one brother and one sister, and their parents Douglas and Jacqueline Reynolds were both teachers.

Today, she lives in Pittsford with her husband and their three children, ages 18, 16 and 12. The eldest is heading to Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. The school has a tuition exchange program with RIT.

Off the job she spends time jogging, hiking, boating, playing cards and doing jigsaw puzzles.

Mozrall loves the energy of life on a college campus, and she feels at home at RIT even among the rush of so many people.

“There are some 20,000 people here. We have everyone from artists to engineers here and such diversity with a large international population. RIT is like a little city all its own.”

Jacqueline Mozrall

Position: Dean, Saunders College of Business, Rochester Institute of Technology
Age: 52
Family:  Husband, Christopher; daughters, Anne Marie, 18; Angeline, 12; son John, 16
Home: Pittsford
Activities: Spending time with family, jogging, hiking, boating, playing cards and doing jigsaw puzzles
Quote: “Every company is becoming integrated with technology to serve business needs of the future. Hospitals, banks, newspapers—every company is becoming a technology company.”

5/6/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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