Dr. Dolores “Dee” Batiato loves the classroom, and her passion is to instruct, engage and encourage her students. As professor and program chair of management at Hodges University, she understands what it takes to turn students into management professionals and tells them, “It’s not going to be easy, but it will be worth it. If it were easy, everyone would do it.”
With more than 30 years of professional experience in health care and management, Batiato admits she always aspired to be a teacher. Growing up in New Jersey, she attended classes at Montclair State University before marrying her high school sweetheart Ray and leaving school.
“We spent the next 20 years traveling because he was in the U.S. Marine Corps,” she said. “In 17 years, we had 11 moves.”
Although her dream was to become a history teacher, there was little practicality in teaching due to the continuous traveling. Instead, a close friend recommended she pursue a job in health care because of the availability of jobs throughout the country.
After moving to South Carolina, Batiato served as a medical assistant from 1970 to 1973. Due to the nature of the military, Ray was transferred to Tampa, Florida, to serve as a U.S. Marine Corps recruiter, so the family moved. For one year, she worked as a medical assistant for an orthopaedic surgeon before the family moved once again to New Bern, North Carolina.
She expanded her skills in health care administration by serving as the administrative manager for the department of radiation therapy at St. Joseph’s Hospital. From 1975 to 1978, she oversaw the administrative side of the new facility, planned and implemented community cancer awareness symposiums, supervised departmental administrative operations, and established policies and procedures. In addition, she also served as administrative manager, employee health care coordinator and continuing medical education coordinator in the hospital’s department of cardiopulmonary services.
In 1979, one year after earning her emergency medical technician (EMT) certification at Craven Community College in North Carolina, an individual at the hospital asked if she would be interested in teaching an EMT class at the community college. Serving as an instructor for one year, she left the community college when the family made the final move back to Florida.
Settling in the Nokomis/Venice area, Batiato worked closely with a private doctor, saying, “We came into town and a mutual friend connected us. He was a cardiothoracic surgeon, and he had this vision to have a multi-surgical facility and ultrasound labs. At the time, we had the first ultrasound lab in Sarasota County, so I worked with him on this vision until we got six facilities.”
From 1980 to 2010, she served as the administrator in the thoracic, cardiovascular and general surgery facilities at Gaudiel Clinic. In addition, she served as the clinic administrator at Vascular Diagnostic Clinic, both in Venice and Englewood, Florida.
In the mid-1980s, Batiato decided it was time to return to school. Having been out of school for many years, she enrolled at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, and pursued a bachelor’s degree in business administration. “I tell all my students, don’t drop out of school for 10 years,” she laughed. Having to repeat some of her classes, she admits it was difficult, but she pushed through and graduated in 1988.
Immediately following her graduation from Eckerd College, she received the opportunity to attend Golden Gate University in San Francisco and pursued a Master of Public Administration, which she earned in 1992.
“As a military dependent, I was able to attend college on the McDill Air Force Base in their educational complex. Adjuncts were flown to the base each week,” she said.
Equipped with her master’s degree, she returned to Florida and continued to work with the various health care facilities in Southwest Florida. Promising her mother she would earn her doctorate, she enrolled at Argosy University (formerly known as Sarasota University) and earned a Doctor of Business Administration in health services management, business management and statistics in 2000.
Continuing to work in health care administrative positions, the opportunity to teach presented itself in 2004 when her son, David, who attend Hodges (formerly known as International College), recommended she reach out to the university.
“He was on campus one day, and I don’t know if they were starting up the School of Health Sciences, but he said, ‘Mom, give them a call,’ and I did,” she explained.
Joining the School of Health Sciences as an adjunct faculty member in 2004, she became a full-time professor in 2009 and associate dean in 2010. It was at this time she retired from her work as a health care administrator.
Dr. Batiato and other professors at Hodges University stay informed by learning what skills employers are seeking, as well as which skills are lacking and address the issue by focusing on certain skill sets in their curriculum.
After discussions with members of the Johnson School of Business (JSOB), Batiato became a JSOB professor in 2011 before replacing Dr. John Meyer as the program chair for management in 2012.
For students interested in the Bachelor of Science in management program, Batiato stresses the importance of possessing people skills. As future managers and professionals, “it is critical for students to have the appropriate people skills in this profession,” she said.
Providing students with the skill sets needed to be successful, Batiato stays informed by learning what management skills employers are seeking, as well as which skills are lacking among emerging professionals. This allows professors such as Batiato to address the issue by focusing on certain skill sets.
“Students know when they enter the management program, they will be doing a lot of APA writing,” she said. “That is one of the things employers want. Whether it is a memo, paper or an article for a journal, employees have to be able to write.”
Recognizing many of the challenges her students face in balancing work, family and school, she strives to keep them interested by incorporating hands-on activities such as playing jeopardy, bingo and participating in role-play scenarios related to human resources.
However, it isn’t just the hands-on activities keeping her students interested. Bringing years of experience into the classroom, she witnesses the excitement on her students’ faces, saying, “I can tell them how things are done, how things were done, and you get their attention…Theory is wonderful, but you have to be there. The textbook only takes you so far, and that is the neat thing about Hodges because most of our teachers are practitioners, and I think that is critical in the classroom. I think that’s what students want.”
“It is a pleasure to work when you know you don’t have to and you want to, and the people around you accept you.” – Dee Batiato
Being able to embrace her passion as a teacher, Batiato feels fortunate to be a part of a team of professionals who are dedicated and committed to achieving the same goal of helping students succeed. Considering herself blessed to have achieved as much as she has in her life, she aspires to continue teaching at Hodges “for as long as they allow me,” she said.