Erica Studer-Byrnes, the soon-to-be assistant dean and director of the Heavener School of Business, is the first woman ever appointed to the position.
Studer-Byrnes, who starts the position July 19, will be in charge of operations and strategic development within the business undergraduate program. She plans to implement university-leveluniversity level policies across campus and facilitate the undergraduate experience with career readiness skills.
Erica Studer-Byrnes, the soon-to-be assistant dean and director of the Heavener School of Business is the first woman ever appointed to the position.
Studer-Byrnes, who starts the position July 19, will be in charge of operations and strategic development within the business undergraduate program. She plans to implement university level policies across campus and facilitate the undergraduate experience with career readiness skills.
"I'm sure when a lot of female students read that they felt proud and excited that a female would be stepping into the role," Isabella Rowland, a 22-year-old marketing masters student, said.
Studer-Byrnes’ first steps as assistant dean and director will include defining the culture in the undergraduate business school by working to provide the best services to students, she said. In doing so, she will target welcoming back both students and faculty as they readjust to in-person classroom settings.
“I also will be focusing on really greatly making sure that people still feel celebrated, feel connected, feel like they’re part of the bigger team,” Studer-Byrnes said. “Regardless of if it's a day that they're working remotely or if it's a day that they're working in the office.”
Studer-Byrnes is the first woman to lead the Heavener Business School and the second woman on the dean leadership team. She acknowledged the imbalance between the college’s student population, which she said is roughly 50/50 in female-to-male ratio, and the professional field, where there are few female CEOs in Fortune 500 companies.
There is a disconnect between who learns the skills and who ends up taking leadership roles, she said.
“I think it’s important for our female students to see a woman in a leadership position,” Studer-Byrnes said.
Studer-Byrnes has about 20 years of experience in academic roles and is a four-time Gator, completing her Bachelor of Arts in philosophy, Bachelor of Science in psychology, Master of Arts in education and Ph.D. in counseling and counselor education.
She wants to expand the college’s leadership programs, which she said is a strength of the school that lacks participation.
The business school offers many curriculums, including an experiential learning program designed for students to engage in industry-driven collaborations. The college also offers the Florida Leadership Academy, which hosts business competitions for sophomores to develop leadership qualities.
“This big suite of programs that we have is something that we've developed in-housein house as a way to provide opportunities for students to develop career readiness skills that are the types of skills that you're just not going to pick up in classes,” Studer-Byrnes said.
She said it creates a culture of empowerment, success, inclusion and career readiness.
Isabella Rowland, a Heavener student assistant and Warrington Welcome Peer Leader, agrees with Studer-Byrnes’ sentiments and hopes to see an increase in participation.
For four years, Studer-Byrnes worked as the associate director of Heavener where she led operational strategy during the pandemic with the previous associate dean and director, Alex Sevilla.
Sevilla left UF to work at Vanderbilt as the vice provost of career advancement and engagement, but he said Studer-Byrnes is poised for great things and will shine in providing more resources to support Heavener’s students.
"She is a phenomenal data analyst and really understands how to pull insights from data that we collect," Sevilla said. "Being able to really take that data to the next level to inform us on how we can continue to strengthen what we would define as the Heavener student experience I think that that's one space where she will play a key role."
Warrington College of Business dean Sabyasachi “Saby” Mitra appointed the committee that chose Studer-Byrnes as the next associate dean and director. He said he was not surprised when Studer-Byrnes was chosen because of her many years of experience.
“Some people can only really think about big picture and strategy and others really focus on the details and the implementation,” Mitra said. “But we have someone who does both.”
Mitra hopes to see Studer-Byrnes modernize the business administration curriculum, improve the student experience with more meaningful engagement and career service opportunities and retain a more diverse group of students at Heavener.
“I think business education is at a really unique time period right now,” Studer-Byrnes said. “So, I’m excited to come in at a time where there’s a lot of moving and shaking already happening and expand our reach in a really meaningful way.”
Contact Isabella Douglas at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Ad_Scribendum
Isabella Douglas is a fourth-year journalism major and the Fall 2023 editor-in-chief for The Alligator. She has previously worked as the digital managing editor, metro editor, criminal justice reporter and as a news assistant. When she isn't reporting, she can be found reorganizing her bookshelf and adding books to her ever-growing TBR.