Sokolovs’ Gift Establishes Community Fellows Program at YSU

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A gift from Richard and Susan Sokolov will bring a new name and community fellows program to the honors college at Youngstown State University.

“We express our deep appreciation to Rick and Susan Sokolov for their investment that will lead to enhanced educational opportunities for our students,” said YSU President Jim Tressel in a statement. “The community fellows program is just one of the many opportunities for student development made possible by this gift. The Mahoning Valley is fortunate to have wonderful, caring people like the Sokolovs.”

The new community fellows program in the YSU Sokolov Honors College will provide opportunities for student fellows to work with community partners to help identify organizational needs and connect students with meaningful opportunities to serve. One goal of the program is to identify volunteer projects within the organization that can help the organization better fulfill its mission. 

In the 2020-2021 academic year, Honors College students served nearly 51,000 hours at 644 organizations.

In addition, the Sokolovs’ gift will support the publication of the Honor College’s academic journal The Emperor, research opportunities and students’ participation at academic conferences.

“While our students regularly volunteer in the community, we wanted to find a way to deepen their impact and help our community partners move beyond fulfilling daily tasks,” said Amy Cossentino, dean of the Honors College. “We believe the community fellows have the potential to help organizations build their own capacities and thrive.”

The Sokolovs moved to Youngstown in 1982, when Richard joined the Edward J. Debartolo Corp. as senior vice president of development and general counsel, which he served as until 1994 when he became chief executive of DeBartolo Realty Corp. In 1996, DeBartolo Realty Corp. merged with Simon Property Group and Sokolov served as president and chief operating officer through 2018. Currently, he is vice chairman and a member of the board of directors of Simon Property Group, the largest publicly traded retail real estate company operating in North America.

“The generosity of the Sokolov family will foster academic excellence and lead to student success,” said provost Brien Smith. “The gift will provide a great return on their investment for not only the students, but also the Youngstown community for which honors students regularly serve.” 

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.