Remembering a printing professor

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Joe Brown died Feb. 27, 2012.

I applied to RIT to be close to home and to play soccer for Doug May. My application was accepted, and I enrolled as undeclared. One of my teammates on the soccer team had transferred from a New Jersey school to RIT to attend what he told me was the best School of Printing in the world. I didn’t know what ‘School of Printing’ meant, so one day I walked over to the building to find out.

Within 30 seconds of being in the building, an older man came up to me and asked if he could help me. I told him I was looking for a major. The older man was Joe Brown. He literally put his arm around my shoulder and said, ‘Let me show you around.’ He spent the next two hours with me, touring me around the School of Printing Management and Sciences, showing me the labs, introducing me to the professors and telling me how a degree from RIT in printing would set me up for a great career. He was very caring, passionate and convincing. In fact, before leaving the building, I stopped by the administration area to get paperwork to transfer into the school.

I fell in love with printing, and my wife still calls it my mistress. While at RIT, I actually did a co-op working for the School of Printing as a recruiter. As fate would have it, during that co-op, I shared an office with guess who—Joe Brown! As you can imagine, he continued to fuel my passion, and in fact encouraged me to start the RIT Chapter of Printing House Craftsmen Club to educate, promote and inform people about printing.

I feel blessed by God for having met Joe. In the last 20 years, the fire he lit inside me still burns strongly, and, with the same spirit he helped me, I’ve been able to help others.

By the way, Joe was right. I was invited to be part of a start-up paper mill in Virginia called Yupo. We employ 150 in the United States and we’re doing very well. I would have never been considered without the degree from RIT’s School of Printing.

Mike Licata ’95 (printing management)