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Environmental Stewardship A study in how scholarship and understanding can become second nature


Stetson Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience




In Memory and Honor On the evening of Aug. 28, 2017, Nicholas Adam Blakely, a 19-year-old sophomore accounting major from Lawrenceville, Georgia, died on campus — a loss that immediately began to resonate throughout the entire Stetson community and will remain evident long into the future. Nick, as he was known by his many friends, was a member of the football team and flashed a characteristic smile that could light up a room. He had a personality to match. A Service of Remembrance was held Aug. 31 in Lee Chapel at Elizabeth Hall, attended by hundreds of people, including his father and other family members. Reportedly, just hours before his death he told a teammate, “I’m not much of a traveler, but I’d sure like to go to Heaven.” Nick always will be near the hearts and minds of Hatters.









President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D. Vice President of University Marketing Bruce Chong Assistant Vice President, Marketing/Media Relations Janie Graziani Editor Michael Candelaria

20 Departments


2 BEGINNINGS In Memory and Honor

20 Celebration ’67

6 WELCOME Stetson Green 8 INTELLIGENTSIA News and Notes About Knowledge 16 FIRST PERSON Principles for Principals 18 IMPACT Sharing Passion, Connecting People 50 ATHLETICS One Goal

A class reunion 50 years in the making brings reminiscence of personal growth, world change and campus romance.

26 New Smiles, Changed Lives Stetson alumni climb to great heights – three Colorado peaks in one day – all in the name of help, hope and reconstructing cleft palates.

28 ‘Hitler’s Monsters’

History Professor Eric Kurlander’s scholarly book reveals bizarre Nazi beliefs and wins international media acclaim.

54 ALUMNI Hatters Celebrate Stetson 63 THE CLASSES Accolades and Achievements 67 PARTING SHOT Nicholas Adam Blakely




Designer Michelle Martin Editorial Assistant Donna Nassick Art and Photography Bobby Fishbough, Joel Jones, Nick Leibee, Brittany Strozzo Contributing Staff Marissa Rodriguez, Skye Schwartz Writers Jamie Bataille, Bill Belleville, Cris Belvin, Marie Dinklage, Amy Gipson, Marcia Heath, Cory Lancaster, Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D., Joyce Mundy, Ph.D., Woody O’Cain, Brandi Palmer, Jack Roth, Kai Su, Ray Weiss, Trish Wieland Class Notes Editor Cathy Foster STETSON UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE is published three times a year by Stetson University, DeLand, FL 32723, and is distributed to its alumni, families, friends, faculty and staff. The magazine is printed on FSC-certified paper. The College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business Administration and School of Music are at the historic main campus in DeLand. The College of Law is in Gulfport/St. Petersburg. The university also has two satellite centers: the Tampa Law Center and the Stetson University Center at Celebration near Orlando. WANT TO ADD, REMOVE OR CHANGE YOUR MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION? Email to universitymagazine@stetson.edu.



The Environment 30 Portrait of Stewardship

Clay Henderson, Stetson student-turned-professor and executive director, has kept an eye on Florida’s environmental horizon for most of his lifetime.

34 Waves of Advocacy

The Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience promotes, advances and demonstrates. The mission: to teach, research and, mostly, preserve.

38 Freshwater Florida Springs The irony of vast discovery

44 Fellows with A Cause

Activism is alive and well across campus — and the efforts have people seeing green.

48 Understanding Air and Beyond

The science of environmental spheres plus the energy of academic innovation are driving new understanding in a chemistry classroom.


40 Images of Concern

“Florida Aquatic Gems” focuses on preserving the area’s imperiled water resources.

42 A Harvest to Come

In Stetson’s quest for fresh food and sustainability, a look at nearby Tomazin Farms reveals the thin line between bounty and bust. And the power of commitment.







eing responsible stewards of our environment is a core value of Stetson University. I am proud to make that statement and pleased that there are plenty of Hatters who can take the credit for it.

In June 2007, then-President Doug Lee became a Charter Signatory with the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, pledging that Stetson would strive to become carbon neutral by 2050. The goal was in place when I arrived on campus in 2009. Since that time, across the university we have worked to develop awareness about the need to reduce the consumption of energy and water. This has included changing our expectations and behaviors in terms of building temperatures, lighting and the amount of water we consume. It also has involved investing in new technologies, along with designing and constructing energy- and water-efficient buildings and facilities. And there has been success. Despite increased student enrollment and the addition of buildings in recent years, we have reduced both energy usage and water consumption. In total, thanks to conservation efforts, we have reduced energy and water consumption by 15.1 percent since 2015. That same year, we contracted with a Dallasbased company that specializes in behavioralfocused energy conservation to establish ways of reducing energy (and water) consumption. This partnership has done wonders for cost avoidance. The idea is to conserve and avoid related costs through efficiency — so more dollars can be used elsewhere, wisely. Most recently, at our students’ urging, we established a Green Fee, $5 each semester, for students to pay for projects that will save money and decrease the university’s environmental impact. The first project is expected to be in place by summer 2018. Savings will be rolled back into a revolving green fund.



This is all great news. Yet, as this issue of our magazine reveals, there is so much more to say. Professors, students and alumni also are working hand-in-hand to help fulfill our environmental pledge. Alumnus Clay Henderson ’71 — our magazine “cover model” — was a widely respected conservationist and environmental lawyer long before he joined Stetson as head of our Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience. Now, he is leading the way as the institute teaches, researches and delivers policy options to protect our region’s natural resources. Efforts by current students are exemplified by the work of our four Environmental Sustainability Fellows, who devote much of their time to talking “green” and taking action to make a real difference on our DeLand campus and in the community. Since 2013, Stetson Dining has contracted with Compass Group North America, a food-service company, to ensure that fresh produce arrives from farms within a 130-mile radius of campus. As the article describes, clearly there are easier ways to feed our students, but as you will read, our commitment to sustainability is equally apparent. Meanwhile, Song Gao, Ph.D., an associate professor of chemistry, has taken the initiative to develop a new course centered on atmospheric chemistry and its impact on the environment, with a real-world global perspective. Those are just a few examples of how our university is working to find innovative solutions to the complex challenge of improving our environment. So, not only is our university’s emblematic color green, we truly are green!

Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D. President Stetson University

Despite increased student enrollment and the addition of buildings in recent years, we have reduced both energy usage and water consumption. In total, thanks to conservation efforts, we have reduced energy and water consumption by 15.1 percent since 2015.

Fall 2017 Census Snapshot Stetson University Enrollment, Retention and Graduation Undergraduate Applications

Undergraduate Enrollment

Graduate Enrollment




FTIC Retention

FTIC Graduation (6-Year)



FTIC: First Time in College

Residency and Demographics Residency








Out of State












College/School Enrollment

Arts & Sciences Business







First Time in College Students Enrollment by state - DeLand and Celebration campuses

Post-Graduate Outcomes





Graduate School Enrollment

Undergraduate Employment Rate

(6 months out)

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Institutional Research & Effectiveness, Stetson University www.stetson.edu



INTELLIGENTSIA The Princeton Review praises Stetson’s academics and campus life, as part of its “Best 382 Colleges” edition.

Rising Above Stetson is featured in the 2018 edition of “The Best 382 Colleges,” published by The Princeton Review. The honor is given to only about 15 percent of America’s four-year colleges and universities. “The Best 382 Colleges,” established in 1992, contains detailed profiles of each college, with excerpts from student surveys and rating scores in eight categories. Categories include Academics, Admissions Selectivity, Financial Aid, Fire Safety and Green (a measure of a school’s commitment to sustainability and the environment in its policies, practices and educational programs). Administrator surveys also are used, along with college visits and an advisory board. “We chose Stetson University for this book because it offers outstanding academics,” said Robert Franek, Princeton Review’s editor-in-chief. In its profile of Stetson, The Princeton Review praises academics and campus life and quotes extensively from students who were surveyed. Among student comments regarding academics: Small class sizes let personal relationships form and allow “students to be more involved on campus and to have a stronger voice in the classroom.” Stetson professors “love to help you find research opportunities or write recommendations if you know them well enough,” and loop students into their work on



consulting projects with the Orlando business community, where they can “gain work experience, network and broaden [their] resume.” Students also describe Stetson as diverse, with an “abundance of culture radiating through our campus.” The Princeton Review doesn’t rank the colleges from 1 to 382 in any category. Instead it uses students’ ratings of their schools to compile rankings of the top 20 colleges in the book in various categories. — Cory Lancaster (Note: The photo is courtesy of Professor Robert Sitler, Ph.D., who captures Holler Fountain and Palm Court on Stetson’s historic DeLand campus in characteristic inventive style – using a drone. See more of Sitler’s striking photography (beneath the surface) on Page 40.)






Becoming a ‘Better Place’ At press time, Stetson was poised to become one of a handful of universities in the country to sign a pledge to the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The move reinforces the university’s commitment to “become a better place to learn and work,” stated President Wendy B. Libby in the late-August announcement. Ten universities had taken the pledge, which also includes corporations like Duke Energy, Pfizer, American Express and General Mills. The pledge outlines a specific set of actions companies will take “to cultivate a trusting environment where all ideas are welcomed and employees feel comfortable and empowered to discuss diversity and inclusion,” according to the CEO Action website. The initiative, launched in June, was collectively formed and is led by a steering committee of CEOs and leaders from Accenture, BCG, Deloitte US, The Executive Leadership Council, EY, General Atlantic, KPMG, New York Life, P&G and PwC. Stetson has a foundational goal to “Be a Diverse Community of Inclusive Excellence.” During her announcement, Libby outlined “markers of progress” in the past year. They included an additional staff person hired for the student Diversity and Inclusion department, as well as a full-time investigator to look into reports or violations of Title IX (which prohibits sex discrimination in education); three of four new Board of Trustee members being racially diverse; and a Bias Education and Response Team (BERT) created to provide education, support and resolution of biasrelated events on campus. — Cory Lancaster

DID YOU KNOW? Stetson University ranks as one of “The Best Colleges for Your Money,” according to Time’s MONEY magazine. The magazine looked at 2,400 public and private colleges and universities nationwide and ranked them based on 27 factors, including educational quality, affordability and alumni success. Stetson was listed among the 711 best colleges nationwide.

Finding Her Way “Never in a million years while sitting here on campus as a freshman did I envision one day sitting across a table from the brilliant former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, or serving as a military intelligence officer in Iraq and Afghanistan, living and studying for a doctorate in Japan, and surviving an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown, I might add.” Julia Nesheiwat, Ph.D., Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, Acting, and 1997 Stetson alumna. Nesheiwat was Stetson’s 2017 Convocation speaker in August. Editor’s note: Each of Julia Nesheiwat’s four siblings also attended Stetson: Janette Nesheiwat ’98, Daniel Nesheiwat ’99, Jaclyn Nesheiwat Stapp ’02 and Dina Nesheiwat ’03. Additionally, her mother, Hayat, took a class on campus. SEE PAGE 60.




Touchdown, Stetson! As the first week of the National Football League’s 2017 season began, the roster read: Donald Payne, Number 52, Linebacker, Jacksonville Jaguars. College: Stetson. Much, of course, could have changed since that day, Sept. 4, until now. This fact, however, remains: Donald Payne ’16, the Hatters’ three-time All American, had made it to the NFL. Payne originally signed with the Baltimore Ravens in April and drew raves from the team’s coaches all summer. Then, after being released by the team as part of its final roster cuts to reach the league’s player limit, Payne was snapped up by the Jaguars — enabling Payne to make Hatter history as Stetson’s first player in the NFL. — Michael Candelaria

Voyage to a Coral Wilderness Stetson University student Kathryn Benson ’19 spent her summer on a scientific research vessel in the remote Phoenix Islands in the South Pacific, studying one of the last remaining coral wildernesses on Earth. Benson, a marine science and psychology major, was aboard the 134-foot SSV Robert C. Seamans until Aug. 11 — one of 24 undergraduates from U.S. colleges and universities who are collecting data on the under-studied region. The voyage began in Pago Pago, American Samoa, approximately 800 nautical miles from the Phoenix Islands Protected Area. An expanse of ocean about the size of California, the area is the largest and deepest UNESCO World Heritage site, with eight fauna-rich coral atolls. It’s among the very few regions where scientists can study an intact ecosystem and its response to climate change. Through an eight-week SEA Semester summer program called Protecting the Phoenix Islands, Benson and other students collected samples from the marine environment to study the impact of El Niño, as well as the effects of climate change, including coral bleaching. Data collected by students during the voyage contributes to the understanding of the marine ecosystem and environmental management goals. — Cory Lancaster

DID YOU KNOW? Stetson placed third in the ASUN Conference academic rankings, with 178 student-athletes earning ASUN Honor Roll recognition (football and men’s and women’s rowing are not ASUN sports and are not included in these totals). Overall, 67 percent of Stetson’s ASUN student-athletes compiled a 3.0 GPA or better during the 2016-2017 academic year. In total, 1,430 ASUN Conference student-athletes registered at least a 3.0 GPA for the 2016-17 academic year, with 119 earning a perfect 4.0 GPA. Lipscomb University had the most honorees.



Kathryn Benson ’19 now has a South Pacific research voyage to complement her Stetson education in marine science and psychology.

Passionate professorial pursuit of regional history is helping to guide students as well as visitors to Volusia County.

Retracing Bartram’s Trail In 1774, naturalist William Bartram sailed up the St. Johns River to document the exotic Florida landscape, including areas near DeLand. Armed with a club, Bartram beat back the gators and wrote about the encounter in his 1791 book, “Travels,” which captivated Europe and America and remains a classic. Today, Stetson students are helping to retrace his steps in a mapmaking class led by Tony Abbott, Ph.D., professor of environmental science and studies. Fascinated by the topic, Abbott is building a website, “Bartram Trail in Volusia County,” and enlisting those students to create printable guides for people to walk, bike and canoe along the route. “As I began to rediscover Bartram,” Abbott said, “I realized several of his most exciting passages were right on the St. Johns River adjacent to Volusia County, either on the Lake County side or the Volusia side.”

In late 2016, Abbott also published a brochure, “Experience William Bartram’s Florida,” in partnership with the River of Lakes Heritage Corridor, Stetson, Stetson’s Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience, and the Florida Department of Transportation. Across the region, 30,000 copies have been distributed, including at Stetson’s Gillespie Museum, in downtown DeLand and at tourist kiosks. As a result, students are learning about history that occurred more than two centuries ago not far from campus. — Cory Lancaster




Welcomed Sustainability When Stetson University decided to build a welcome center on campus, university officials promised to build “an iconic, sustainable building” that would last for years to come. It has happened. In June, the Marshall & Vera Lea Rinker Welcome Center was named the 2017 Outstanding Sustainability Project in the state by the Florida Planning and Zoning Association. The planning group cited numerous features in the building that conserve energy and water, make efficient use of land, and help recharge groundwater supplies. Examples: Glass walls reduce the need for artificial lighting; a 50-year metal roof reflects heat and helps keep the building cool; LED lighting inside requires 75 percent less energy than traditional lighting; solar-powered lights illuminate the parking area; and rainwater is directed into chambers, providing time for the water to percolate into and help replenish the Floridan aquifer. Before it opened in fall 2016, the building received Green Globes Certification. — Michael Candelaria



Stetson College of Law Fulbright Scholar Mohamed Mohamed (on left) hopes to develop his advocacy and negotiation and mediation skills.

Advocating for the World Mohamed Mohamed became involved with humanitarian causes from a young age. In 2008, while in high school and living in North Sinai near the Gaza Strip, Mohamed helped the Red Crescent provide relief to people injured during the war in Gaza. Later, while at Al-Azhar University’s law school in Cairo, Egypt, he formed a relationship with an international law professor who does work with the United Nations and UNICEF. Now, Mohamed, a Fulbright Scholar, is at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Florida, working on his LL.M. in International Law and hoping to continue his benevolent journey. After graduating from law school, Mohamed completed an internship at Diakonie, a Christian social-welfare organization in Mannheim, Germany, where he was assigned to work with Arabic-speaking refugees. He provided legal aid during their process of seeking asylum in Germany. Following the internship, Mohamed received a prestigious role in the Egyptian government. He worked in Cairo at the largest Sunni Muslim institution in the world, handling legal affairs for Imam Ahmed el-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar. Mohamed was part of an office that was responsible for ensuring compliance with international protocols, investigating complaints and working with other religious leaders and institutions. The Grand Imam then sent him to South Africa for a work mission as a member of a peace convoy; he lectured in mosques, churches, schools and at a radio station. Mohamed learned about Stetson through the Fulbright Program. His own research attracted him to Stetson’s advocacy program, small class sizes and “openness of the administration.” He hopes to develop his advocacy and negotiation and mediation skills. “My main concern was dealing with administration and making sure I got the best education opportunity I could because it happens only once in my lifetime,” Mohamed says. He appears happy with his choice. “I just feel that I am in my home country. Not only my home country, but my home, from the first day here at Stetson,” Mohamed comments, also pointing to an eventual return to Al-Azhar to develop global interfaith projects. — Kai Su

Stetson Wins Hunger Hero Award Amber Finnicum-Simmons ’16 started helping Stetson pack meals for the hungry before she even started taking classes on campus. As a high-school senior, Finnicum-Simmons attended Hatter Saturday in 2012 and volunteered with other accepted Stetson students to package meals to help end childhood hunger. She has been a key volunteer every year since, organizing what has become an annual tradition at Stetson. In June, Finnicum-Simmons’ efforts and those of many others were recognized as Stetson received the Collegiate Engagement Hunger Hero Award from Feeding Children Everywhere. Stetson was the only college or university recognized nationally by the group. Feeding Children Everywhere provides ingredients for volunteers to assemble Red Lentil Jambalaya in biodegradable meal bags with lentils, rice, six dehydrated vegetables and pink Himalayan salt. Since 2010, the nonprofit has provided 75.9 million meals for hungry people worldwide, with the help of hundreds of thousands of volunteers. Stetson’s count is less but nonetheless impactful, with incoming students at Hatter Saturday given the chance to vote on where they would like their bagged meals to go. “We have estimated that we’ve packaged about 300,000 meals through our partnership with Feeding Children Everywhere,” said Finnicum-Simmons, now AmeriCorps VISTA Community Impact coordinator for Stetson’s Center for Community Engagement. — Cory Lancaster

Students and business professionals now can assess their sales performance on campus.

Centurion Sales Lab Open for Business As students returned this fall to the Lynn Business Center, they discovered six new recording rooms, along with new sales training through state-of-the-art equipment. The Centurion Sales Lab opened with Ensemble Video and Matrox technology that will be at the epicenter of a learning environment for professors and students, as well as area sales professionals — all part of the new Centurion Sales Program. The Ensemble Video platform publishes videos, enabling users to access the files and assess their sales performance. Examining a variety of audio and visual cues is a key component of the training. The on-demand availability of lab recordings means users can readily track their progress throughout the experience. Last January, John Riggs, D.B.A., was named executive director of the Centurion Sales Program. Riggs previously served as an assistant professor of marketing at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as well as the lead instructor for the Huizenga Sales Institute, where he helped launch the sales program. The official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Centurion Sales Lab is scheduled for Nov. 2. — Marie Dinklage


Amber Finnicum-Simmons ’16 began volunteering for Stetson as a high-school senior. She never stopped, helping Stetson become a Hero Award recipient.

Stetson Law is ranked No. 3 among the law schools with the most alumni selected to 2017 Florida Super Lawyers. A total of more than 500 Stetson Law alumni were selected this year to Florida Super Lawyers and Rising Stars, and more than 900 Stetson Law alumni were chosen by Super Lawyers across the country. Super Lawyers magazine rates outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a highdegree of peer recognition and professional achievement through independent research, peer nominations and evaluations.




Strengthening Jewish Life on Campus Noah Katz arrived at Stetson without knowing much about Jewish student life on campus. Now, he’s helping to ensure its vibrancy. Sylvain Daudel arrived at Stetson’s Family Enterprise Center with global credentials.

Enterprising Addition In September, Sylvain Daudel became the new director of Stetson’s Family Enterprise Center. Daudel is responsible for promoting the program as a “leader in the development of next generation family enterprise owners, leaders and advisers through education, outreach and research,” according to Neal Mero, Ph.D., dean and professor of management in the School of Business Administration. Formerly, Daudel was director of the Family Business Center at EDHEC Business School, which operates from campuses in Lille, Nice and Paris, France, along with London and Singapore. Also, he was a professor of marketing, strategy and family business at Barna Business School in the Dominican Republic. Before joining the academic world, Daudel had an international corporate career, holding positions on four continents for a variety of companies in diverse industries. Daudel earned his M.B.A. from INSEAD in France and completed undergraduate studies at the École Supérieure de Commerce de Paris, France. Mero called it an honor to have Daudel join the faculty, noting that EDHEC Business School is recognized as one of the top 25 most influential Family Business Centers in the world. Stetson’s Family Enterprise Center was created in 1998 to address the challenges that family-owned and -managed businesses face. The program, housed in the Department of Management, serves as a catalyst to help members of family enterprises, especially next generation and their advisers, understand, manage, protect and grow the resources of the family enterprise. It’s estimated that between 70 and 80 percent of all companies worldwide are family-owned, -managed or -controlled. — Marie Dinklage

DID YOU KNOW? Max Cleland ’64, a former U.S. senator (D-Georgia), is featured in “The Vietnam War,” a new documentary by Ken Burns. Cleland, a popular student, suffered a catastrophic injury in Vietnam that cost him both legs and most of one arm when a hand grenade decimated him. He went on to serve in the Georgia Senate (1971-75), was appointed administrator of Veterans Affairs (1977-81) by President Jimmy Carter, served as the elected Georgia secretary of state (1983-96), then was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996. He also served on Stetson’s Board of Trustees.



Katz, a junior in the Honors Program and a history major, is president of Hillel at Stetson as it launches a new chapter on campus. In the past, Stetson belonged to the Central Florida Hillel, based at the University of Central NOAH KATZ ‘19, Florida and serving PRESIDENT OF HILLEL students from UCF, AT STETSON Stetson, Rollins College and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. With the new chapter at Stetson, Katz hopes to help create “a strong Jewish life” on campus by providing religious services and kosher food for students, as well as having more Jewish faculty and possibly adding a minor in Judaic Studies. Joel Bauman, Stetson’s vice president of enrollment management, views the new chapter as a community-engagement initiative that represents much more than religion, pointing to a “real deep focus on activism, engagement in community and inclusiveness in community.” Approximately 150 to 200 students who identify themselves as Jewish are accepted at Stetson each year. Yet, only about 10 percent end up attending Stetson, Bauman noted, adding that the number is a little low compared to other demographic groups. Stetson would like to change that and encourage more Jewish students to select the campus, reflecting the university’s commitment to interfaith initiatives and diversity, according to Bauman. — Cory Lancaster

Hatter Travels As a 35th-year anniversary trip in July, Hatters Director of Athletics Jeff Altier (wearing a Stetson Athletics jacket) and wife Sarah, both Class of 1982, traveled to Brazil, Argentina and Chile, including to Easter Island in the South Pacific. The island belongs to Chile and is a five-hour flight from Santiago, or 2,300 miles west of South America. The nearest neighboring island is 1,100 miles away. Much remains a mystery about why the ancient Polynesian people of Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, carved nearly 900 giant stone statues, called “moai,” according to National Geographic magazine. Scholars believe they may have honored chiefs and other ancestors. Jeff has traveled to 56 countries; Sarah has visited 60.

Director of Athletics Jeff Altier and wife Sarah, ’82 alumni, visited Easter Island.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Traveling? Send your travel photos (high resolution) that include a Stetson Hatters logo to news@ stetson.edu. Be sure to write #HatterTravels in the subject line, along with name, your degree and the year you graduated from Stetson, your phone number, when and where the photo was taken, and full names and other information about others in the photo.

Dogged Effort Brings New Park Dog owners and their pets on campus have a new dog park to enjoy, opened in August — thanks to the work of a 14-year-old on an Eagle Scout project and the spirited support of volunteers and Stetson officials. When Corey Sipe, a high-school freshman, was looking for a worthy service project in his quest to become an Eagle Scout, he thought of Stetson. His father, Gary Sipe, is director of Web Services in the Office of University Marketing. A lover of animals, Corey initially thought about a pet-food drive. Upon learning the campus was pet-friendly, the enterprising youngster turned his attention to a park. That was in February, marking the beginning of a journey filled with applications, meetings and presentations — all com-

pleted by Corey — to gain the requisite approvals from the Boy Scouts of America and Stetson, plus win the buy-in of family and friends. Like a Westminster Kennel Club prizewinner, Corey jumped through each hoop placed in front of him. Stetson fronted the money for the park, to be repaid through fundraising in the coming months. Corey is hoping a park sponsor might emerge. The park, which measures 50 feet by 150 feet, is located adjacent to the University Village Apartments, one of three petfriendly dorms on campus. Notably, there are only two other official dog parks in DeLand. For young Sipe, a potential Hatter, there is satisfaction. Who knows, he might use the park as a student one day. — Michael Candelaria

High-schooler Corey Sipe turned his Eagle Scout service project into a dog park on campus.




Principles for Principals A five-point view from inside Stetson’s new Nina B. Hollis Center for School Leadership puts the focus on K-12 support.


BY J OYC E M U N DY, P H . D .

rior to arriving at Stetson, I spent more than a decade in

school administration, first as a principal and then supervising principal teams. I now teach aspiring principals in Stetson’s Educational Leadership program. An extension of my role has come from the Nina B. Hollis Institute for Educational Reform at Stetson. Earlier this year, through its Impact Grant Program, I created the Nina B. Hollis School Leadership Center. Our focus is innovation to support under-served, marginalized youth in K-12 schools. The school districts we support recognize that leadership is the key to address equity issues in schools — with engagement and inclusivity at the heart of any successful organization. That’s the leadership agenda our districts are choosing, and these five simple principles can anchor them to that vision.



PRINCIPLE 1: CHALLENGE THE STATUS QUO. When I work with leaders, we discuss the challenges they face. Schools have changed in the past several decades. Legislative initiatives such as Common Core Standards and Every Student Succeeds Act are just a few mandates intended to hold schools more accountable. High-stakes achievement tests have catapulted to the forefront. It’s all become a matter of grades — school grades, student grades, teacher performance grades, stipends for achievement, and the list goes on. Demands are high, and criticism often is only a tweet away. The pressure to “fix” school performance often distracts, and mandates can consume a principal’s agenda. Effective leaders know that accountability indeed matters, but they choose the right agenda for student success. Students and teachers thrive in dynamic, creative and relevant environments, where individual excellence is celebrated. It’s not all about the test. We focus on facilitating strong systems for achievement, but we pair it with building the proper culture for learning. This brand of courageous leadership transforms results far more than the status quo.

PRINCIPLE 4: ALWAYS KEEP THE FOCUS ON WHAT’S BEST FOR CHILDREN. Ask educators why they chose this line of work. Often, the response is because “we care about the children and their futures.” Principals strive to meet a multitude of student issues, encompassing poverty, homelessness, mental health issues, dependency, discrimination and learning. Principals often feel reactive in their roles. In our model, we focus on thinking outside the proverbial “box” to use all resources — time, community partnerships and training. We strategize what that means for each school, so that solutions match unique needs. Then we provide support in creating systemic, strategic solutions for change. Every child, every day.



Organizational change is not easy, as evidenced by the many books that guide us in creating it. I often hear teachers complain that they are not clear on the vision for their work. A school’s cultural norms may not always match the mission statement. The process of creating a shared vision can be a tremendous vehicle for principals in leading culture change. It requires well-planned systems to develop and cultivate shared beliefs with teachers, which is time well spent. The dialogue is so critical, and it helps leaders to establish priorities with the teachers who will implement them. A shared vision helps the school community not to get distracted or move off course. This clear focus builds trust with teachers, parents and students, along with the larger community, which is invaluable for a school’s success.

I would be remiss if I did not state that these school leaders truly are remarkable. They know our educational system is at a tipping point, and they want to create transformational change. Some critics point to teachers and principals as the problem in education. I firmly believe they are the solution. These are not easy times to lead, but today’s principals embrace the challenge. Their passion for children inspires and humbles me every time we meet. Onward.


Joyce Mundy, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in Stetson University’s Department of Education.

While the internet and social media are amazing learning tools, they also have changed the way students think, communicate and socialize. Students live in a far more stimulating environment, where the internet and social media allow them to form local and global connections. There is a deluge of information available, often without any filtering. As I observe social media posts, I recognize that empathy and respect for differences can be countercultural in that forum. Positive and negative events happen in real time on social media, and there is little time to process with students. Principals are responding to these new phenomena as technology changes every day. Teaching students to have dialogue and understand divergent viewpoints is at the heart of education. The The Nina B. Hollis Institute for Educational Reform, established in 2000, principals we work with start with an unequivocal is a comprehensive learning community. In collaboration with local focus: building a community where every voice community leaders, district personnel, educational agencies and Stetson matters. It begins with the leader. The principal sets faculty, the institute has created a model for reform that supports the vision, but also “walks the talk.” When a principal education. Through research and pedagogical assistance, the institute embodies respect, integrity and a commitment to provides assistance in developing research-based, best-practice, in-service inclusivity, it becomes the way a school operates. workshops and events to educators, families, businesses, universities and Helping students learn interpersonal skills is essential policymakers for the advancement of teaching and learning. to their future success. The leaders we work with are moving that item to the top of their agenda. STETSON



sharing passion, connecting people MEET SOME OF THE DEVELOPMENT AND ALUMNI ENGAGEMENT STAFF AT STETSON, WHO ARE TURNING PHILANTHROPY INTO ACTION. “Every morning, I wake up and think, ‘How can I make a difference in the lives of Stetson families today?’ I am truly blessed to be doing what I love ... engaging parents and alumni with our Stetson University and building authentic friendships. The most beautiful moments have been when I help a family honor a loved one’s legacy and when we find their ‘sweet spot’ for philanthropy at Stetson. When those moments happen, tears of joy and gratitude flow!” — RINA ARROYO • PARENT AND ALUMNI ENGAGEMENT/GIVING

“One of the reasons I transitioned from the political arena to nonprofit work was the ability to have a direct impact on the lives of individuals every day. I am a first-generation college graduate, and having attended a private, liberal arts school, my own education would not have been financially possible without significant amounts of scholarship aid. This experience is what drives me today. I don’t want cost to prevent someone from benefiting from a quality education at Stetson University College of Law.” — KEVIN HUGHES • LAW

“During my 28 years at Stetson, I have seen the university as a staff member and a parent. Watching my daughter blossom here reinforced my commitment to Stetson. I truly believe in our mission of preparing hardworking students to be good citizens, find success and make a difference in their own unique way. It is my honor to work with generous individuals who also believe in the significance of a Stetson education and the importance of providing for current and future students.”

“As a parent of music and theater majors at Stetson, we have become a Hatter Family very quickly. My own experience as a musician resonates with our vision and my efforts to support the School of Music. Music changes hearts and minds, inspires compassion and empathy, and provokes conversation. I believe that music can transform lives, thanks to the support of others who believe that too.” — MIKE VERMILLION • MUSIC

“My love of Stetson began when I was a young girl and would visit my grandparents in DeLand. Little did I know the lifelong journey this place would hold for me. What a privilege it has been to work at my alma mater these past 39 years. I have seen the love that so many have for this special place. Their financial support has educated and equipped generations of students to make a real difference in the world.” — LINDA PARSON DAVIS ’73 • PRINCIPAL GIVING

“As a graduate of a liberal arts institution, I have come to value the foundation it has brought to my career. Stetson, by instilling a purpose to reflect in the widest and deepest sense in all situations, graduates thoughtleaders who collaborate and contribute to their professions. Each day, I am inspired to connect the corporate community with our future leaders and discuss the liberal-arts distinction that our students possess.” — JOHN BRADY • CORPORATE/FOUNDATION RELATIONS





“I have the opportunity to meet interesting and successful alumni all over the country. The stories of how Stetson impacted them continues to affirm my belief that higher education truly changes lives. Even more inspiring is witnessing individuals overcome with emotion once they decide to give back to their alma mater. It is a privilege to help match a personal passion with an initiative that will advance the university.” — TARA KEMMERLING • ARTS AND SCIENCES RELATIONS

“It is life-changing to receive this scholarship from the Coverts. I’m a first-generation student, so I had to navigate the college process by myself. My parents have always been extremely supportive, but we have had some financial burdens that have been challenging to overcome.” — SAMANTHA ARBOUR ’18, who hopes to advance to medical school.


ick Covert ’90 arrived at Stetson at age 17 without financial support from his

family. “Thankfully, I had a scholarship and found a job – sometimes two or three jobs at a time — to pay for tuition and living expenses,” Covert recalls. “But this proved too challenging, and I was unable to balance work and studies, and I eventually lost my scholarship.” Memories of that experience and what he overcame prompted Rick and his wife, Allison ’93, to establish the Richard and Allison Covert scholarship. The funding helps students who’ve had a change in their financial situation remain enrolled at Stetson. One such student is Emma Christakis ’19, a finance major whose mom was laid off during Emma’s freshman year. “Receiving this scholarship allowed me to focus on studies rather than stressing about paying for college all the time,” says Christakis. “It also allowed my parents not to have the stress about money.”

After graduation, Christakis intends to get her M.B.A. or related degree, or start her career in the actuarial field or in financial planning. She now has options. Samantha Arbour ’18, another Covert scholarship recipient, is studying molecular biology with plans to become an obstetrician/gynecologist (perhaps after attending a medical school like Baylor College of Medicine). “I’ve worked very hard and stayed focused on my learning experiences not only to make my family proud, but my donors,” Arbour says. “It is life-changing to receive this scholarship from the Coverts. I’m a first-generation student, so I had to navigate the college process by myself. My parents have always been extremely supportive, but we have had some financial burdens that have been challenging to overcome.” Covert says he feels blessed to have benefited from teachers and staff who helped him navigate work and school. At Stetson, he developed his entrepreneurial drive and formed several lifelong friendships. “I want more people to chase the American dream, to learn that hard work can pay off, and to believe in giving back to our communities and supporting the next generation,” Covert says.







A class reunion 50 years in the making brings reminiscence of personal growth, world change and campus romance. by Michael Candelaria



Looking back a half-century, 1967 was one heck of a year. The U.S. Senate confirmed Thurgood Marshall as the first African-American Supreme Court justice. NASA launched the Lunar Orbiter 3 spacecraft for the purpose of photographing the surface of the moon. Miniskirts also skyrocketed in popularity, as the emergence of Twiggy from England sparked a new fashion sensation. The Beatles, another British import, continued to reign with the release of the all-time hit album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” And the premiere issue of Rolling Stone magazine rolled off the presses.



In Hollywood, movies appealing to younger audiences became blockbusters, including “The Graduate,” “Bonnie and Clyde” and “Cool Hand Luke.” The falling price of color televisions, meanwhile, ushered in a new era of home viewing. Science fiction grew real, as James H. Bedford, M.D., became the first person to be cryonically preserved. Before dying of kidney cancer, the 73-year-old psychology professor (not at Stetson) had asked to be preserved for future revival. Interracial marriage was declared constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Loving v. Virginia case, barring Virginia and by implication other states from making interracial marriage a crime. Finally, the Vietnam War raged on, with a total of 475,000 American soldiers serving there and peace rallies multiplying at home. Among the protesters was Muhammad Ali, subsequently stripped of his boxing world championship for refusing to be inducted into the Army. Oh, and in DeLand, Florida, on the campus of Stetson, a private liberal arts university, 232 graduates (by inexact count) were sent into a world that seemingly was changing by the minute, with a university leader, J. Ollie Edmunds, J.D., who also was departing as president after serving 19 years. The graduation ceremony was held at First Baptist Church, just a tassel toss from campus. The Class of 1967. During Homecoming Week 2017, Oct. 29-Nov. 5, some of those Hatters will celebrate that past – as well as their present and future — as part of 10 class reunions taking place on campus. The others: 1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2002, 2007 and 2012.


Vining Bigelow remembers a welcoming campus, one that allowed him to play intercollegiate soccer, join a fraternity and, ultimately, serve as the business manager of the class yearbook. Bigelow arrived at Stetson in 1963 sight unseen from Hopkins Grammar School, a New Haven, Connecticut, prep school that previously had proVINING BIGELOW duced Hatters. He also was joined by a Hopkins pal, John Crowther. (See next page.) Rather quickly, Bigelow made a name for himself. “You get to Florida, and you don’t know who’s who,” Bigelow recalls. “And then you talk to people and find out that another one of the students had come from Bridgeport, Connecticut, about 20 minutes from where I was. “The way I got to know people, and to be more known, was via the sports.” There were no athletic grants at the time, whereas today the Hatters field 17 Division I teams for scholarship athletes (excluding football). Regardless, Bigelow turned himself into an all-conference player; he played on the tennis team, too.

1967 Commencement

Following graduation, Bigelow joined the Coast Guard and became an officer, thanks to a Stetson degree in business and officer candidate school. Returning home, he eventually succeeded in the business of computers – ironic considering they were in their infancy at Stetson during his time. He remembers them as basic, elementary and awkward — “and that was just to print out your name.” Bigelow remains in Connecticut but plans to return for the reunion. In the class yearbook, he sold ads to places such as Mano’s Pizza, Kent’s Photo Shop & Studio, Belue’s Shoes and DeLand Camera Shop. They may be gone, but he hopes to rekindle an “overall great feeling about Stetson,” even after all these years.


At the time, Stetson had approximately 1,500 undergraduate students, about half of the current size, predominantly white and male. The acronym “PWI” for Private White Institution assuredly was appropriate. The campus, though, was changing, gradually. GENA MEDRANO SWARTZ The first African-American student was admitted in 1965; others followed. Ethnic diversity was showing signs of life. Gena Medrano was part of that subtly shifting demographic palette. She would later become Gena Medrano Swartz in what emerges as an all-too-entirely Stetson story. Medrano attended two years of high school in Miami after fleeing Cuba with her mother. An excellent student with a strong handle on English from taking language classes in Cuba, she graduated at age 16. From a counselor in Miami, she learned of a program called Away From Home, sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of South Florida, along with Stetson and First Baptist Church. Essentially, it offered a full scholarship for the children of Cuban exiles. Medrano took complete advantage of the opportunity, joining a reported 15 others in the program at Stetson in 1963. Self-described as wide-eyed and outspoken, she let little stand in her way, including winning the attention of her future husband, Richard Swartz ’68, who “thought I was French,” Medrano recalls. She laughs about the discrepancy in stories of how they met. She thought it was in a Saturday-morning chemistry lab during her sophomore year. Later verified by mutual friends, it turned out to be standing in line at the Commons. “Supposedly, we were introduced,” says Medrano. “I have no recollection of that. But the rest is history.” Medrano has kept scrapbooks about her days at Stetson, largely recollected as times of discovery and

growth. As a first-year student, she learned that Rush Week was not at all related to rushing to do something. That year, she also learned about a nation’s pain through the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination of President John F. Kennedy (while sitting in psychology class at Elizabeth Hall). “It was one of those things that will live in my memory forever,” she notes. Through the years, she learned about the “generosity” of a university and its professors. “You got to know the professors, and you felt comfortable going to see a professor after hours. … They cared,” Medrano says. She was a double major in psychology and Spanish literature. And a year after graduating, she learned about the reality of war. Like so many of the students, Medrano had befriended Max Cleland ’64, a popular Hatter and U.S. Army hero who returned from Vietnam disabled from combat. Medrano’s experiences also are captured on a Stetson ’67 Facebook page. Mostly, they are reflected in her continual involvement with the university, where she has been an especially active participant in the planning of the class reunion. “I love Stetson,” she concludes, simply. “I just love it.”


John Crowther and Margaret Smith also remember America’s fateful November day in 1963, long before they became the Crowthers. Each arrived on campus as a first-year student in 1963, with John coming from Hopkins Grammar School in New Haven, Connecticut (as did Vining Bigelow), and Margaret from nearby New Smyrna Beach High School. They were likely among the first on campus to hear the President’s news, as the two were in the television room of Chaudoin Hall, following lunch in the Commons and waiting to go to their classes. Both agree it was the most vivid memory of their years at Stetson.



There were, however, plenty of happy times. John worked in the post office and in a bowling alley located above the bookstore, and participated in fraternity intramurals (football and basketball). Sigma Phi Epsilon won the President’s Cup in 1965, he proudly reveals. He also was a member of Phi Alpha Theta National History Honor Society and active in the ROTC program, where he was a member of the Pershing Rifles and Scabbard and Blade military fraternities. He was awarded the Academic Achievement Wreath and designated as a Distinguished Military Student. He received a master’s degree in social studies in 1969. He graduated THEN AND NOW: JOHN AND from Stetson University College of MARGARET (SMITH) CROWTHER Law in 1974, following overseas service in Korea – making it three degrees from Stetson. Margaret was a member of Alpha Xi Delta, as well as the Stetson Concert Band and Beta Gamma Sigma (business honorary society). Under a work grant, she served as a professorial secretary in an old white building where the Hollis Center’s swimming pool now sits. Following graduation, while John remained on campus, she began teaching in nearby Sanford. They had become first-year sweethearts. John says he spotted Margaret in a biology class on the first day of school, but they didn’t meet until a lab class two days later. John tells the story: “After lab class, I asked her if she’d like to go to the Greek Week Dance at the old Riviera Hotel in Daytona Beach. She said, yes, and we both went off to our respective dorms [Smith Hall and Chaudoin Hall] after agreeing to meet for dinner in the Commons. When we got to the dorms, we both realized that we hadn’t agreed to go to the dance with each other; we had only said that we’d both like to go. We straightened that out over dinner, went to the dance [double-dating with my fraternity brother and his date], and we’ve been together ever since.” They were engaged before classes began in fall 1964 and married a year later, during their junior years. Essentially, the couple represented the fabric of Stetson’s student body at the time, and still today: actively engaged, eager learners and very busy young people who were focused on their success. A classic: the ‘67 Mustang



“Students seemed to be generally more oriented toward their life on campus than with the goings-on off campus,” describes John of the mid-1960s, pointing to Stetson’s affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention and the required chapel services and courses in Christianity and Western Thought. “The campus was its own little community within the DeLand community. “Students were conservative in both their hairstyles and dress, with men wearing slacks and button-down shirts to class, and women wearing dresses, skirts and blouses. Flip-flops, T-shirts and Bermuda shorts were not worn to class. It wasn’t until about 1969 that the campus began to change and experienced what I would describe as some ‘counterculture’ episodes, such as anti-war rhetoric and small groups of demonstrators.” Living in Orange City near DeLand, the Crowthers have remained involved with their alma mater. So, of course, the reunion is an absolute — planning their return to Florida from their mountain retreat in Tennessee just in time to be there. And, in the end, there are 13 earned degrees from Stetson in the Crowther family over the span of five generations, including their daughter, son and grandson. Another love story (a recurring theme): Elizabeth Walker and Jay Mechling both grew up in South Florida. They didn’t know each other at first. They also needed lots of help to get to Stetson, with their ability to attend heavily JAY MECHLING AND THE dependent on the financial FORMER aid the university provided. ELIZABETH WALKER Yet, less than four years later, they were married, living in an apartment above a garage on the edge of campus that was used by a group of students as the site for an “experimental theater.” The apartment was furnished with abandoned furniture left in a burned-out Sigma Nu fraternity house and discarded patio furniture from the Hat Rack dining area. The two had met as first-year students, began dating as sophomores, got engaged as juniors, and then were wed before graduation. “The original plan was to get married in June back in Miami Beach, but we realized that we wanted to get married where our friends were,” says Jay, who majored in American studies. “So, we got married in March of our senior year at Stetson during Easter/Spring Break.”

NASA’s Lunar Orbiter 3 spacecraft

Such were the times for Hatters (and still remain today): Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Their romance blossomed that sophomore year. Elizabeth, a double major in English and speech/drama, had a work-study job in the speech office, while Jay had one in the American studies office. By chance, those two departments shared an office suite on the second floor of Sampson Hall. Neither Jay nor Elizabeth had a car, so “dates” usually meant long walks downtown, window-shopping. They also took long walks through DeLand neighborhoods surrounding the campus. “On those walks,” says Jay, “we fantasized that someday we would be able to live in a house as grand as those we saw in the neighborhoods. We also made out on those walks.” Other fond memories revolved around teachers and, like for so many students, they happened amid a backdrop of mostly racial segregation, Vietnam and the fear of being “outed” for sexual preference. “Social mores were changing in the 1960s,” comments Jay, “but being gay at Stetson in those years must have been a very painful experience.” The couple then departed for grad school, leaving Stetson with a roadmap to success along with the memories. “At 18, Elizabeth thought she could not go to college and could not have even applied to Stetson without the loan of an application fee from her high school counselor,” says Jay. “She earned her B.A. at Stetson, her M.A. and Ph.D. at Temple [University], was a professor at two California State University campuses and dean of the School of Communication at Cal State University - Fullerton. Thanks to Stetson.” Two years ago, Jay returned to campus as part of alumni leadership that made the Stetson University Vietnam Remembrance Site a reality on campus.


Although events of the day were occasionally evident on campus, Ron Hall remembers a Walter Cronkite moment on the national TV news. Cronkite, the generation’s preeminent newsman, cut to video, not of another protest by college students, but an “orange fight.” While people RON HALL AND THE FORMER MARGARET SMITH (SAME NAME AS are throwing snowballs up North, HER CLASSMATE) said Cronkite, students at Stetson down South were throwing hard green oranges in playful fun. “This was a mainline pop-culture place,” says Hall, who now goes by Ronald L. Hall, Ph.D., Stetson professor of philosophy. Looking back, Hall’s time as a Hatter could be considered offbeat, maybe even a bit rebellious, although in a kind of cordial way. Coming from high school in Sarasota, Florida, he was a philosophy major from day one and an independent thinker. Similarly, while Greek life was big on campus, he didn’t follow the trend. “Everything [for me] was divided between philosophy and romance,” he says.

The romance (that theme again) came in the form of (another) Margaret Smith, a student at the time, whom he met at the Commons (quite apparently a haven for romance). It was Hall’s sophomore year. She was sitting with her roommate; he was doing the same with his roommate. The young ladies joined Hall at his table. “I was stunned. They got up and left, and I told my friend, ‘I’m going to marry her,’” Hall says. By the end of that year, they were married, and they later moved into an on-campus apartment. Hall also became acting assistant dean of men while still a student. He had been the head resident on campus with a staff of resident assistants before advancing to that role. He owned a 1967 Mustang, too, another cause of attention and, as he says with a laugh, even some disdain. Hall, however, adds he always maintained great respect for his professors (fitting since he is one now) and was a Hatter through and through, which meant something special. “There was a camaraderie here that was friendly,” he offers. “This was a very nice place to be.” Anita Williams (now Cohen) doesn’t disagree, but she does provide a varying perspective. A member of the Alpha Xi Delta sorority, she enjoyed having fun. Her favorite pastimes were Alpha Xi parties; intramural sports, as among the first female participants; hanging out in the Hat Rack; and driving to the beach in her “VW bug” with friends, each of whom ANITA (WILLIAMS) chipped in a quarter for gas. COHEN There was a downside. “On campus, the rules were strict and seemed as if they were made to be broken,” says Cohen, who had arrived from St. Petersburg, Florida. “My friends and I had various minor infractions, but most of us survived to graduate.” Cohen remembers great escapes, or actually great entries: “I have vivid memories of friends climbing in and out of my first-floor window in Emily Hall to avoid the guardians of the front door, when curfews were so unreasonable! Of course, I never did that.” There was a curfew for women, not for men. “How is that fair? It was really hard to get back by 10 [at night], I can tell you,” she continues. “Especially when we knew the guys were going to stay out partying! They [administrators] kept track of our ‘late minutes.’ Once you reached a certain number, you had to go before a council of your peers and get disciplined.” She majored in math, where she excelled until taking advanced calculus, which “I never understood.” And she was bitten by the Stetson love bug (of course), marrying another Hatter. “My fondest memory,” she says, “was my first date with my future husband [Rich Cohen ’66], with whom I just celebrated 50 years of marriage. We went to Daytona.” They met when she was a junior, a couple of months before his graduation. Cohen now lives in Las Vegas and only wishes she could make it back to campus in November. Her words, with a hint of melancholy: “I would like to be beamed there.”



New smiles, changed lives Stetson alumni climb to great heights – three Colorado peaks in one day – all in the name of help, hope and reconstructing cleft palates. BY CORY LANCASTER

Nestor de Armas has seen children around the world with cleft lips and palates, congenital deformities that cause their families to hide them indoors and never send them to school. Twenty years ago, de Armas started helping a charity that provided free reconstructive surgery and long-term medical care for children with cleft lips and palates in Mexico. Since then, Florida Hospital Sharing Smiles (formerly SHARES International) has expanded throughout Latin America, where children are three times more likely to be born with cleft lips and palates than in the United States, according to the charity’s website. “I think what captured me was the dramatic impact this had on kids’ lives,” said de Armas ’73 (accounting), a Stetson Trustee Emeritus and retired executive from Winter Park. “What happens when you give a child a new face, you give them hope. Their life changes. They have opportunities they never dreamt they would.” De Armas looks for ways to get others involved with the charity and found a novel approach in August. He and Steve Buchanan, a double-Hatter (business administration ’69 and master’s in education ’74), climbed three 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado in one day, Aug. 11. They were joined by David Collis, president of the Florida Hospital Foundation. The 9-mile hike took 7.5 hours, with each of the men burning 4,900 calories. Their reward: raising $6,500 to provide

Mount Democrat is a high-mountain summit in the Mosquito Range of the Rocky Mountains.

reconstructive surgery and comprehensive medical care for 13 children with cleft lips and palates in Mexico by Christmas. Among the contributors was Stetson. “We felt it would be a good way to get people involved, and I hoped we could raise $1,500 – and we raised four times that,” de Armas noted, adding that the surgery and follow-up medical care cost $500 per child. For de Armas and Buchanan, it was their first time climbing three “fourteeners,” as hikers call mountains of that height, in one day. The men trained for months and wondered if they would be able to climb Mount Democrat (14,155 feet), Mount Cameron (14,238 feet) and Mount Lincoln (14,295 feet). De Armas, 71, was making the climb just months after a cardiologist discovered blockage in a blood vessel and inserted a heart catheter. He underwent the procedure in May after deciding to get checked out while training for the hike. Buchanan, 72, said the climb was “quite an exertion,” even though he hikes regularly, having moved from Lake Mary, Florida, to Colorado five years ago. “Doing a fourteener is always an adventure, just because of the steepness and the altitude,” said Buchanan, who lives near Breckenridge, Colorado. “But we were highly motivated to do it.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cleft lips and palates are birth defects that occur in the first trimester of pregnancy. The lips and roof of the mouth form as body tissue and special cells from each side of the head grow toward the center to form the face. A cleft lip and palate occur when the tissue does not join together completely. The causes are unknown, although a combination of genes and risk factors, such as smoking, diabetes or using certain medications in the first trimester of pregnancy, are believed to play a role. In the United States, babies born with the birth defect

The 9-mile hike took 7.5 hours, with each of the men burning 4,900 calories. Their reward: raising $6,500 to provide reconstructive surgery and comprehensive medical care for 13 children with cleft lips and palates in Mexico by Christmas. Among the contributors was Stetson.

The trio who climbed three Colorado peaks to raise money for Sharing Smiles: from left, David Collis, president of the Florida Hospital Foundation; Nestor de Armas ’73, Stetson alumnus and Trustee Emeritus; and double-Hatter Steve Buchanan ’69, ’74.

usually have reconstructive surgery before they leave the hospital. But in the developing world, many parents are too poor to afford the extensive medical treatments, including plastic surgery on the face and nose, bone grafts, dental work and orthodontia over a number of years. De Armas was drawn to Sharing Smiles because the charity not only provides free medical care, it also sets up clinics in communities around Latin America. American doctors and nurses volunteer their time to fly in to provide surgeries, and work with local medical providers, governments and charities to train them to provide follow-up care after the specialized teams return home. “When we go in, we’ll go ahead and operate on 20 to 50 kids. And those kids, when we leave, are left in the care of local

physicians,” de Armas described. “That’s what I enjoy and admire so much about Sharing Smiles – this commitment to a long-term impact on the health of a community by engaging the local people as equal partners and seeing the impact that it has.” In addition to repairing cleft lips and palates, Sharing Smiles provides physical therapy for children and dental care. Hospitals in Latin America provide the operating Mount Democrat was one and recovery rooms, while of the three “fourteeners” charities and other non conquered in the quest governmental organizations to help children. provide transportation, food Photo courtesy of Mofussy, 2004. and accommodations for families in financial need. “Overseas, it’s not unusual for us to operate on children 4 to 15 years old,” de Armas said. “When you see an individual who has walked around with their face damaged like that and then you see it repaired, you see the dramatic change that happens. “On a personal basis, it’s incredibly moving to have a child whose face is broken, and they have it fixed and come up to their mother and watch the face of the mother when she sees that child for the first time and hardly recognizes them. That’s very, very emotional.”

‘Hitler’s Monsters’ History Professor Eric Kurlander’s scholarly book reveals bizarre Nazi beliefs and wins international media acclaim.



o many Nazis, the Aryan race descended from Nordic “God Men” who came straight down from heaven and created the lost civilization of Atlantis.

When Atlantis was destroyed by a flood, their ancestors fled to the Himalayan mountains and bred with Asians, eventually creating the great civilizations of the East, including the ruling caste of India and the ancient Japanese samurai. Those are some of the bizarre Nazi beliefs revealed in the latest book by Stetson Professor of History Eric Kurlander, Ph.D., “Hitler’s Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich,” published in July by Yale University Press. The book is Kurlander’s third and follows “Living With Hitler: Liberal Democrats in the Third Reich,” published in 2009, and “The Price of Exclusion: Ethnicity, National Identity, and the Decline of German Liberalism, 1898-1933,” published in 2006. Kurlander spent eight years on “Hitler’s Monsters,” traveling to Germany several times to pore through hundreds of Nazi Party documents and other records in the German Federal Archives. It’s the first scholarly book to provide a comprehensive study of the Nazis’ obsession with the occult, Kurlander writes in his introduction. The book details how top Nazi leaders, such as Heinrich Himmler and Joseph Goebbels, believed “scientific astrology” or utilized the prophecies of Nostradamus to create wartime propaganda. The Nazis relied on dowsers (divining rods) to locate enemy ships, forcing dowsers to hold pendulums over nautical charts with 1-inch toy battleships, waiting for the pendulum to make the slightest movement and supposedly confirm an Allied battleship in that location. Hitler employed his own dowser to check his Reich Chancellery for harmful “death rays” and apparently read a book on “magic” written by a famous parapsychologist.

“The Darkest Heart of Nazi Germany” Kurlander writes that Hitler also embraced World Ice Theory, a wacky “border science” that claimed icy moons had crashed into Earth, creating the floods that wiped out Atlantis. The Nazis even sent an official expedition to Tibet to try to find evidence that Aryans once lived in the Himalayas. “It’s not that everything in the book is completely new, but many of these sources and stories have never seen the light of day,” says Kurlander, who is proficient in German and reviewed the original historical documents. “Certainly, no one has tried to bring all these stories together or corroborated them the way I have. 28


Stetson Professor Eric Kurlander, Ph.D., spent eight years on his scholarly, comprehensive book.

“The story has never been told the way the Nazis appropriated systematically esoteric, border scientific ideas, like magic, for the purposes of coming to power nor in their manipulating people after they were in power, of deploying their message or explaining their religious views, their views on race or their ideas of living space.” The book details the Nazis’ “monstrous science,” their horrific human experiments on Jewish, Polish, Russian and German prisoners, and their “demonization and genocide” of the Jews — which led, as the Third Reich called it, to the “final solution” to the “Jewish question.” Based on this mostly esoteric and mythological cosmology, the Nazis wanted to create a “Nordic ruling class” that would dominate the world. They sought to restore German racial and territorial superiority through theories of selective breeding drawn simultaneously from science and the supernatural, including obtaining more “living space” in eastern Europe and “‘exterminating’ the Jewish ‘enemy race,’” whom they repeatedly compared to parasitic vampires, leading to the systematic murder of 6 million innocent Jewish civilians. Kurlander traces the Nazi leaders’ fixation on “Aryan Europe’s” pagan roots, including witchcraft and Luciferianism (or Satanism). If they won the Second World War, some even intended to eliminate

Authoring History Christianity, a fact they hid from the German people because they feared they would lose popular support. Some of the stories are so bizarre that Kurlander, who received his master’s degree and doctorate at Harvard University, worried whether other scholars would initially take them seriously. So, he provided 105 pages of footnotes and sources in the book. “When you’re talking about Hitler’s Monsters and the occult, there’s obviously a lot of fluff and, as I argue in the introduction, a lot of nonserious work out there — comic books, popular crypto-history, what have you — so without sufficient empirical basis, I was very worried about whether my arguments would be plausible,” he explains. “So, I think I went overboard in some way, like I made sure I cited copious evidence for most of my main points in ways that I might not have felt as great a due diligence as I would have with a more conventional topic.” In the book’s acknowledgments, Kurlander credits four Stetson University Summer Research Grants (in 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2015) and a Spring 2015 Stetson Sabbatical Award for making the book possible, as well as a 2012 Fulbright Scholar Fellowship and a 2012 teaching exchange with Stetson’s partner university in Freiburg, Germany. He also thanks colleagues, administrative assistants, work-study students and student research assistants at Stetson for helping with the project.

Good Reviews The international media have applauded. A reviewer for The Spectator in Britain lauded the book, writing: “Deeply researched, convincingly authenticated, this extraordinary study of the magical and supernatural at the highest levels of Nazi Germany will astonish — and provide scholars and the general reader with much food for thought.” A reviewer with The Times of London wrote that he was surprised to learn top Nazi leader Himmler “was an old hippy,” studying herbalism and believing yoga released cosmic energy. “Though this may all seem funny in

some ways, the place that Kurlander finishes up in is anything but,” the Times reviewer wrote, referring to the genocide of Jews. “[Kurlander] shows how swiftly irrational ideas can take hold, even in an age before social media,” wrote Michael Dirda of The Washington Post. Kurlander is planning to delve deeper into the darkest chapter of Nazi history in his next book, tentatively titled “Before the Final Solution: The Nazi-Jewish Question in Global Context.” He said the book will explore the Nazi “question of what do we do with the Jews historically; what are the solutions to that question before 1941.”

Student of History Kurlander’s focus on German and Central European history dates back to his undergraduate years at Bowdoin College, a private liberal arts school in Maine, where he majored in history. His favorite professor specialized in German history, and Kurlander wrote his senior thesis on the Holocaust. Afterward, he was accepted into Harvard for graduate work, where his adviser, David Blackbourn, was a 19th-century German historian. Kurlander’s dissertation was on liberals between the 1890s and 1930s, resulting in his first book. Later, he wondered what became of those liberals once Hitler seized power, and that became the subject of his second book, “Living With Hitler: Liberal Democrats in the Third Reich.” His third book, he writes, serves as a warning of the “persistence and potential dangers” of supernatural thinking, especially in times of crisis. Germany was devastated after World War I, resentful about being “colonized” under the Versailles Treaty and struggling economically during the Great Depression. The Third Reich found it easy to manipulate mass culture with the supernatural. “It can be harmless if it’s a bunch of people trying to raise spirits in their drawing room,” Kurlander concludes, “but when those become policies or ways of thinking, that’s when it becomes dangerous.”

Authors in Stetson’s Department of History have been busy publishing books in recent months. In spring 2017, “Beau Monde on Empire’s Edge: State and Stage in Soviet Ukraine,” a book authored by Assistant History Professor Mayhill C. Fowler, Ph.D., was published (University of Toronto Press). The book offers insight to explain the creation of the Soviet cultural periphery through the story of the rise and fall of a milieu of artists and officials in the 1920s and 1930s. In addition, Paul J. Croce, Ph.D., professor of history and director of American Studies, has a second book coming in December, “Young William James Thinking” (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017). The book examines the private thoughts James detailed in his personal correspondence, archival notes and early publications.






Portrait of Stewardship Clay Henderson, Stetson student-turned-professor and executive director, has kept an eye on Florida’s environmental horizon for most of his lifetime. BY RAY WEISS


he narrow dirt road off of busy U.S. 1 leads visitors straight into the past.

Clay Henderson, J.D., leads the Stetson Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience. Henderson has a lengthy background in dealing with land and water issues, including co-authoring the nation’s largest conservation funding program. He has worked to preserve approximately 300,000 acres in Florida. Photos by Bobby Fishbough

It’s a world of thick pines, hardwoods and palms by a shoreline that overlooks the tranquil waters and mangrove islands of Spruce Creek. The more than 1,700 acres of public land look much like they did when American Indians and early European settlers fished, hunted and inhabited the area. And today, thanks in large part to Clay Henderson ’77 — a noted conservationist, environmental lawyer and Stetson professor — Spruce Creek Park will be preserved for generations to come as a sanctuary from the bustling world of Port Orange and nearby New Smyrna Beach. Henderson now heads the Stetson Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience, overseeing research that involves students, faculty and community leaders. Ultimately, the institute will provide policy options aimed at protecting natural resources, mostly in Central Florida. For Henderson, it’s one final stop on a personal nature journey. “I really want to get the institute up and going, and hand it off to someone when I am ready to retire. This is my last reinvention,” Henderson says, smiling. The students primarily are environmental science majors, with their count increasing from eight students three years ago to 85 these days. The goal of the program is to teach students to better understand the connection between the science of ecology and public policy. “I hope these students go to work for agencies, even developers, giving them a better understanding of working with the environment,” Henderson adds. He has reason to care.




PLEDGING ALLEGIANCE Henderson has devoted his life to preserving the pristine lands and waterways of his youth, a respect of the past as a sixth-generation Floridian. He was born in North Florida, and his paternal grandmother passed along that love of nature, teaching him how to fish. Sunday dinner often was whatever she caught or shot. “I could see Old Florida through her eyes,” Henderson says. Little did he know then that it would provide the foundation for his future. At 10, Henderson moved to New Smyrna Beach, not far from Stetson, after his father died and his mother landed a teaching job at Edgewater Elementary School. Henderson was drawn to politics at a young age, and later majored in it and history at Stetson. While in college in the mid1970s, he worked on Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign in Florida. On the road, the two men often discussed their rural backgrounds and love of nature. It was at that time that Henderson first heard the word “environmentalist” used to describe someone like himself. Soon after, he attended Cumberland School of Law in Alabama. “I always wanted to go to law school, but I did not set out to be an environmental lawyer,” he notes. “I still was thinking politics.” After passing The Florida Bar exam, he started his career as a lawyer in DeLand. He opened his own practice in 1980, the same year he married. His wife, Mary Jane Henderson, was a judge in Volusia County for 20 years. The City of Edgewater hired him to help plan its first sewage plant and close the landfill that was leaching into the groundwater. Henderson saw it as a challenge and a career opportunity, as a growing number of environmental laws were being passed in Washington, D.C. “I got in it at the right time, and over the years into many cutting-edge things,” he recounts. “I tried to solve problems, not create policy.”

MAKING A DIFFERENCE More than three decades have passed since Henderson began working on saving land throughout Volusia County and Florida from development, with a goal of protecting wildlife and clean water, as well as providing recreational areas for fishing, boating and hiking. “In 35 years, I’ve worked to preserve about 300,000 acres in Florida. I think my biggest success is being a part of developing some of the most successful land-preservation programs in the country, which have acquired more than 2.5 million acres over a 20-year period. Being on the ground floor was special,” Henderson says. Standing on a long dock at Spruce Creek Park, Henderson, 62, laughs when recalling what the tract almost became, before the county reached an agreement with the previous owner to buy the land after voters approved a $20 million bond issue in 1986. That same year, he became a Volusia County Council member, serving until 1992. “Every one of these pieces [of land] has a story,” he says, pointing. “This one involved a rich California family that was trying to get Jack Nicklaus to build a signature golf course. We found money to do it, buy up gems. I think we did all right.”



The land for Spruce Creek Park took on added significance by becoming the first endangered parcel in the nation bought with referendum-approved public money, a model widely duplicated by other government agencies across America. “We didn’t know we were the first. It was just a practical solution,” says Henderson, who chaired the committee that oversaw the county program to buy land. “We needed money to get ahead of developers.” Indeed, Henderson’s environmental résumé is long and impressive. After leaving the Volusia County Council, Henderson spent 15 years as senior counsel at Holland & Knight, a well-known national law firm in Orlando, where he specialized in land and water environmental issues. He also served for five years as president of the Florida Audubon Society and worked for The Nature Conservancy and the Trust for Public Land. In 1998, he was appointed to then-Gov. Lawton Chiles’ Florida Constitution Revision Commission, sponsoring the majority of its environmental provisions. In 2014, he co-authored the state’s Water and Land Conservation Initiative (Amendment 1), the largest conservation funding program in United States history at $20 billion, which voters overwhelmingly approved. Yet, such efforts haven’t been enough for Henderson and other environmentalists. They say the Florida Legislature has been slow putting the program into motion and allocating money for projects the voters want. The matter is being challenged in court by Henderson and

As a result of conservation efforts by Henderson and others, Spruce Creek Park in Central Florida will be preserved for generations to come.

suburban,” Northey comments. “The conservation corridor down the center of the county would have seen roadways and houses. Recreational and recharge lands wouldn’t be there without Clay.” As for his newest role at Stetson, Northey says Henderson’s students are fortunate to have such a dedicated and demanding role model. “Clay holds people accountable. Those students will be taught well,” she says. “And he will expect good things from them as stewards of the environment in the future.” David Hartgrove has known Henderson for 35 years, as vice president and conservation chair for the Halifax River Audubon Society in Daytona Beach, the oldest chapter in Volusia County. “He’s certainly deeply committed, but he’s not so dogmatic in his views. With his political background, he knows you don’t get all you want. He knows how to compromise,” Hartgrove says. “His strength is compromising, picking up the phone to resolve a conflict, instead of shouting.” Now, Henderson is passing on his vast body of knowledge to a younger generation at Stetson, which Hartgrove calls “a real love for him, by pouring his heart and soul into tackling water issues in Volusia, which are significant.” “He has the [personal connections] to make something positive happen in that role as leader of the Institute,” Hartgrove adds.


others, maintaining that Florida is in violation of its own constitution. “Little has been spent on land conservation. I think most politicians underestimate protecting [land and water],” Henderson says. “There’s a disconnect that’s really philosophical. Our people all want to see a cleaner and better environment. They are users. Our elected officials aren’t. ... It’s part of being a Floridian, protecting these very special places.” Although his decades of work have quietly helped save a large piece of Old Florida, he isn’t satisfied. Daytona Beach News-Journal columnist Mark Lane, who has covered and commented on the region for parts of three decades, says Henderson has made a huge impact on the quality of life in Volusia County and the state. “He was one of the few on the County Council who was forwardlooking on the environment, a maverick,” Lane says. “Land preservation and water issues in the early years weren’t popular issues. Clay is someone who walks the walk. He gets out there on the water and in the woods. He’s not just a philosophical environmentalist.” According to Pat Northey, who spent 20 years on the Volusia County Council, Henderson was instrumental in establishing the mindset for preserving endangered lands throughout this area — a major force for land and water conservation in the county and state. “Clay’s work preserved the rural heart of Volusia County and protected it forever. Without his work, we would have been more

Henderson spends most of his time at Stetson now, building a program and a base of students and faculty. He continues to be a popular speaker at environmental events and fundraisers, alerting people that public environmental oversight remains critical. He warns that water quality and quantity are the big problems facing Florida in 2017, as more and more people put more and more demand on finite resources. He remains vigilant. “Most of our surface waters are deemed impaired, polluted in some way,” Henderson laments, citing places like Gemini Springs in DeBary, which has been closed to swimming for a decade because of bacteria. “We believe a large number of septic-tank nutrients made their way into the aquifer.” Henderson adds that “Stetson is living what it preaches,” asserting that “all the water we use gets reused and put back in the aquifer.” One day, Henderson vows, he will retire. He’d like to travel to places like the Amazon. For now, though, Florida steadfastly rests in his heart and mind. “A lot of who I am today is from being a sixth-generation Floridian. I have a connection to this place,” he says. And standing on the dock at Spruce Creek Park, Henderson knows the view would have been much different if he and his colleagues had failed. Maybe there would be a golf course or condos. “This could have looked like everything else north and south of here,” he says, as a water bird soars over the mangroves. “What I love is driving down U.S. 1, passing by here at night, and it’s pitch-black. And all you see are the stars and the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse.”





The Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience promotes, advances and demonstrates. The mission: to teach, research and, mostly, preserve. BY JACK ROTH



Hurricane Irma recently reminded Central Floridians of the importance of water resources and how to go about making changes to fragile ecosystems. Stetson’s Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience is doing the same. At a Volusia County Water Summit, Jason Evans, Ph.D., assistant professor of environmental science and geography at Stetson, spoke about the impact rising sea waters are having, including record high tides and tide levels since 2006. Evans said his work indicated that many times the rising sea levels have an adverse impact on aquifers, as well as sewage systems, through the introduction of seawater. Kirsten Work, Ph.D., a professor in Stetson University’s Department of Biology, also spoke at the summit about preservation and protection. Work, who has studied Blue Spring for several years, addressed the topic of stressors throughout Florida’s springs: water quality, quantity and the impact of exotic species. This past summer, she conducted research with Fulbright Scholar Shih-hsiung Liang, who traveled from Taiwan to spend the summer at Stetson. The research being conducted by Evans and Work, along with many others, represents the kind of efforts being put forth at the institute, established three years ago with the purpose of helping Stetson become a center for innovative approaches to tackling complex environmental challenges. The efforts are coming in waves.

Leader in the Region and Beyond

as a leader in Central Florida and across the Southeast for education, research and policy development that will generate technical, social and political solutions for strained freshwater resources and related environmental concerns. It’s a particularly big win for students who are majoring in environmental science and studies, or other students with interests in the environment and sustainable solutions. They have opportunities to work with faculty and community leaders from government agencies, not-for-profit organizations and businesses in the region to conduct research, develop policy and participate in public-education initiatives. The idea is to train them to become global citizens — a core Stetson value. Construction of a headquarters is underway on a 10-acre site along Lake Beresford, not far from campus. “We see ourselves in a convening role,” says Clay Henderson, J.D., the institute’s executive director. “We want to conduct the research, bring people together to discuss these issues and act as advocates for environmental responsibility.” The institute has four primary areas: the Indian River Lagoon, Central Florida springs, climate adaptation and sustainability. All are critical to the future of not only the region but to the entire state, notes Henderson. A case in point is Blue Spring, the largest spring in the St. Johns River system, which has been impaired due to the factors that Work has highlighted in her research. The state government has come up with a restoration plan, but what policymakers are recommending isn’t enough to reverse the damage. According to Henderson, the restoration plan doesn’t include dealing with 26,000 septic tanks. “This is part of the process; we give them the hard facts, and they reassess. It’s part of our overall strategy,” Henderson says. Wendy Anderson, Ph.D., co-director of the institute and professor and chair of environmental science and studies, sees the institute as a facilitator connecting science and policy. “Our strength is we have a huge bank of scientists here who understand how the environment works, and that knowledge is critical to helping shape policy in Tallahassee,” Anderson explains. “We’ve also brought different stakeholders, including county officials, faculty, mayors and students, to the same table.” Anderson also is responsible for faculty engagement. Through a steering committee, faculty members are able to come together and set priorities based on important research areas. In turn, Anderson draws in students, whose research projects tie directly into the work of university professors. Engaging students in these opportunities enhances the overall Stetson experience, Anderson contends.

Resiliency is the idea that a community can bounce back from some kind of stressor, some kind of disaster. With sea-level rise, the best thing we can do is acknowledge it and try to deal with it by planning ahead.” — J A S O N E VA N S , P H . D . — ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND GEOGRAPHY AT STETSON

More specifically, the vision of the institute is to have Stetson — faculty, students and alumni — emerge




Further, there is public education. Among the institute’s seven goals is teaching the general public about freshwater and other environmental-resource conservation and sustainability through special events, noncredit programming and online sources. By doing so, the behaviors of millions of people can be shifted to conserve valuable, clean freshwater resources and associated ecosystems. And notably, because Stetson is a private university, there is greater freedom to take on contentious issues. “Nobody is telling us we can’t utter the phrase ‘climate change,’ so we have the independence to tackle the tough stuff,” Anderson comments. “This benefits the entire region, because we’ve been able to emerge as a leader in these environmental conversations by presenting honest research

to a variety of stakeholders and policymakers. The truth is, everyone is a stakeholder when it comes to the environment.”

Research as an Environmental Imperative This summer, as Professor Work and an aquatic and marine biology student put on wetsuits and waded into the cool, clear water of Blue Spring, Liang, the Fulbright Scholar, joined in their research efforts. Liang has since taken this research back home, as he and a team of scientists make an inventory of springs in Taiwan, raise public awareness about the importance of water resources and begin to advocate for environmental protections. “We really see the attitude start to change,” comments Liang, a professor in the Biotechnology Department at the National

Kaohsiung Normal University. “People here [in Taiwan] are very concerned about discharge and the quality of the springs.” For his part, Liang brought a fresh perspective to looking at reports from the government agencies that oversee Florida’s springs, according to Henderson. “He looked at them with a different set of eyes. We’re used to reacting to big bureaucracies with their own acronyms, and he just cut right through it,” Henderson says. These days, Work is just beginning a research project to evaluate a new way to describe fish communities in springs. She will try to validate data on spring fish she collected on video across Central and North Florida last spring. “Our springs are critical to the health of our overall ecosystem,” Work says. “Through my research, I’ve been able to make recom-

Left: Working as a convener, the institute conducts research, brings people together to discuss issues and advocates for environmental responsibility, says Executive Director Clay Henderson, J.D. Above: The institute’s new home is under construction at Lake Beresford near campus.

Our strength is we have a huge bank of scientists here who understand how the environment works, and that knowledge is critical to helping shape policy in Tallahassee. We’ve also brought different stakeholders, including county officials, faculty, mayors and students, to the same table.” — W E N DY A N D E R S O N , P H . D. — CO-DIRECTOR OF STETSON’S INSTITUTE FOR WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESILIENCE, PROFESSOR AND CHAIR OF ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND STUDIES



Our springs are critical to the health of our overall ecosystem. Through my research, I’ve been able to make recommendations to policymakers on how to help the springs, so the information is valuable when trying to positively impact environmental policies.” — KIRSTEN WORK, PH.D. — PROFESSOR IN STETSON’S DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGY

mendations to policymakers on how to help the springs, so the information is valuable when trying to positively impact environmental policies.” Similarly, Assistant Professor Evans believes his research is more important than ever. Increased flooding caused by sea-level rise is a growing threat to the homes and businesses in coastal cities across Florida and the nation. (See Houston.) An increase in the strength and size of hurricanes (see Irma) has exacerbated the issue, as storm surges rise and become deadlier. A component of Evans’ research involves mapping how vulnerable public facilities, such as stormwater drainage systems, fire

stations and wastewater-treatment plants, are to rising seas. The elevations of the structures that Evans records give him insight into how exposed buildings can be adapted to endure future floods. He hopes the data can help communities become more resilient to coastal hazards. “Resiliency is the idea that a community can bounce back from some kind of stressor, some kind of disaster,” Evans says. “With sea-level rise, the best thing we can do is acknowledge it and try to deal with it by planning ahead.” The research Evans and his team recently published in the journal Nature Climate Change found that as many as 13.1 million Americans who live in low-lying coastal areas

would be displaced due to sea-level rise by the year 2100. “It’s basically a collision course when thinking about sea-level rise,” he says. “We’re starting to do studies that say, OK, how much is it going to cost to adapt?” Like Work and others, Evans is seeking to make a difference. Henderson is confident they are succeeding in what will amount to more than a ripple effect. “Water is everything in Florida, so having clean, healthy water is critical to our lifestyles,” Henderson concludes. “Our goal is to conduct research that makes a difference in the health of our environment, and this all comes down to influencing political outcomes.”




Freshwater Florida Springs The Irony of Vast Discovery BY




was one excited 8-year-old when I saw my first spring. My mom, dad, younger brother and I were floating in a glass-bottom boat in the tourist attraction Silver Springs, Florida. We were visiting from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where, while lakes and rivers, creeks and ponds veined and dotted that peninsula, it was rare to be able to see more than a few inches through the waters. But at Silver Springs, we could easily see the bottom of the spring pool under us. Artifacts from old movie sets were immersed in water as clear as the air around us. I was astonished by the experience! Ironically, when I stumbled across a quote from Henry David Thoreau years later, that first spring moment came to mind. “The world is but a canvas to our imagination,� Thoreau wrote. When it came to freshwater Florida springs, that canvas seemed to expand exponentially.



In a bygone day, Silver Springs was the quintessential freshwater Florida showcase. Springs, in general, remain an alluring attraction.

As a young man not long out of college, I moved to Florida and learned to scuba dive. Later, as a nature-driven journalist, I was given instruction in cavern and cave diving by the great explorer Wes Skiles, so he could illustrate the hidden complexities of our springs. Wes explained how water-filled caves could wind for miles through our soft limestone terrain before the ether-clear waters emerged from the ground. When a spring flowed out of a limestone “vent,” it was just a small part of the larger gestalt of the Floridan aquifer. “When you buy a spring,” said Wes, “you’re just buying a hole in the ground.” Many divers knew this, as did those who studied the singular way in which rainwater percolated down through the sandy uplands, seeped through the fissures of soft limestone and emerged like mystical, crystal-clear mirrors somewhere lower in the terrain. I was always curious about springs, so it wasn’t long before I learned that they began to flow after the last ice age ended some 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. The newly melted glaciers supercharged the hydrological cycle; sea levels began to rise, and rain began to fall. With its underpinning of porous limestone, the geologically young peninsula of Florida became home to approximately 1,000 freshwater springs, more than any other region in the world. The aquifer — a reservoir in the rock — also created specialized habitats, leaving its imprint on plants and animals. Every spring has shaped an endemic snail, while the deeper, darker waters have speciated animals like crayfish, creating blind albino crustaceans that live deeper in the caves. These springs fuel many rivers and for thousands of years were considered sacred by early Native Americans, who believed they possessed magical, life-giving qualities. Indeed, the flowing springs gave the nomadic Paleo Indians — who roamed the arid peninsula of Florida — food, water and places to settle. It’s no surprise that large shell middens, representing many water-bound meals, are found near the head springs and the shores of the spring-fed rivers. As they settled, the Native Americans developed regional languages and cultures while crafting pottery and building styles from the newly swashed landscapes. Just as our flowing springs shaped the early culture of the Native Americans, their energy also had a strong effect on artists, poets and writers in more modern times. Naturalist William Bartram, who explored the St. Johns River in the late 1700s, was clearly inspired by the ethereal qualities of the springs that fed it. After visiting Blue, Salt and several other springs, Bartram wrote of “an enchanting and amazing crystal fountain ... the waters of which are so extremely clear as to be ... as transparent as the ether.” (See Page 11.) Not long afterward, the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge was inspired to write “Kubla Khan” (reportedly completed in 1797 and published in 1816), where “Alph, the sacred river, ran through caverns measureless to man, down to a sunless sea... .” As a writer-diver, I’ve traveled widely for institutions like the Discovery Channel, immersing myself in the waters of Cuba, the Galapagos and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. While many of those ocean-bound sites were very clear, they couldn’t touch the clarity of the water that flowed from the Florida crust as freshwater springs.

In this Space Age-era, where white-hot technology sets the stage for our uber-modern life, some of us retrogrades still continue to search for new springs in the wild landscape that remains — using little more than topographical maps and gut-senses. I have found two uncharted springs myself, while one of my hiking buddies stumbled upon two more. Springsheds, where rainwater seeps through the grainy uplands, are great clues, since gravity pushes the incoming water down until it emerges at the bottoms of the ancient shoals, sometimes 100 feet away, sometimes 1,000 miles. Yet, these discoveries are made even more ironic by the fact our springs are dying! Despite the sense of wonder — and the essential scientific benefits — evoked by springs, almost all are losing magnitude and gaining pollutants. The flow of Silver Springs, once the largest in the world, has been declining while its nutrients (harmful through overabundance) have been increasing since the 1950s. According to springs hydrologist Robert L. Knight, Ph.D., if current trends continue, Silver Springs will run dry in 15 years. While such a loss would be disastrous for those who still appreciate the wholeness of spring landscapes, it would be a monumental economic blow, since 90 percent of our potable water comes from the aquifer. Those who believe more investment will heal everything rationalize that the desalination of seawater will take up the slack. “They have no idea what a disaster this would be,” Knight retorts. The only practical option is to determine how springs can be saved, and then follow that pathway. The springs are a force that have shaped history, culture and economics in Florida. What sustains the science and art of the landscape also sustains the economy. We might have a life without springs in Florida, but it would be a very narrow and artificial existence.

Bill Belleville is an author and filmmaker based in Sanford, Florida, not far from Stetson’s historic campus in DeLand. He writes creativenonfiction, specializing in nature and “sense of place.” He has authored seven books and contributed to eight others as a co-writer or collaborator. Belleville has scripted and co-produced seven documentary films via the nonprofit film group Equinox Documentaries, which he co-founded. Many of the films have been broadcast on PBS in Florida and nationally.





“Florida Aquatic Gems” focuses on preserving the area’s imperiled water resources. B Y C O R Y L A N C A S T E R


tetson Professor Robert Sitler, Ph.D., started freediving in local springs when he moved to Central Florida 23 years ago. Since then, he has seen alarming changes beneath the surface. “The degradation has been very notable just in two decades of swimming there — in all of them,” said Sitler, who teaches world languages and cultures. “To the untrained eye, it’s like, why is there algae growing everywhere? Why is the water getting greener? Why am I not seeing certain kinds of fish? Why am I seeing all these invasive fish?” In June, Sitler unveiled a project that’s been in the works since he bought a GoPro waterproof video camera in the summer of 2015. With that and an inexpensive camera in his pocket, he and his wife, June, set out to highlight “Florida Aquatic Gems” within 30 miles of Stetson’s DeLand campus, documenting the beauty above and below the water’s surface. Sitler hopes the photos and videos on his website will encourage others to preserve the area’s imperiled water resources. The site also provides links to learn more about the threats, including pollution and



over-pumping, and maps for people to visit the sites located on public lands. There are links to Stetson’s Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience and other Stetson programs, as well. Sitler describes himself as a lifelong environmentalist who has always enjoyed the outdoors. While pursuing a doctorate at the University of Texas - Austin, he learned how to free dive in Barton Springs, a place inhabited by people for 10,000 years. The experience began his love of free diving in springs, unburdened by bulky scuba equipment. He studied Central American literature and was drawn to “all things Maya,” eventually becoming an expert on Mayan culture and traveling extensively to Mayan communities. His relationships with the indigenous peoples of Central and South America gave him a heightened recognition of water conservation. Also, the Mayan connection to water “naturally” led Sitler to focus on environmental issues closer to his DeLand home, especially ones involving water conservation. Sitler plans to add more aquatic gems to the website over time, all with a keen eye on the protection and restoration of these treasures. “We know why all this degradation is happening,” Sitler said. “There are no mysteries. This isn’t some secret thing. We know exactly what we have to do, but we aren’t doing it.”

“Florida Aquatic Gems,” a labor of love for Stetson Professor Robert Sitler, Ph.D., documents beauty above and below the water’s surface within 30 miles of Stetson’s DeLand campus.





tetson is taking the lead in working with local farmers — obtaining the freshest produce for consumption on campus while turning sustainable, Earth-friendly practices into everyday actions.

A HARVEST TO COME In Stetson’s quest for fresh food and sustainability, a look at nearby Tomazin Farms reveals the thin line between bounty and bust. And the power of commitment. BY T R I S H W I E L A N D



Since 2013, Stetson has contracted with Compass Group North America, a food-service company based in Charlotte, North Carolina, which has resulted in about 30 percent of Stetson’s fresh produce arriving from farms within a 130-mile radius of campus. And that number could more than double within the next year, thanks to a group of concerned students, staff and faculty who are committed to a process that not only yields better-tasting, higher-nutrient foods, but also a smaller carbon footprint and a boost to the local economy. Stetson partners with 10 such farms, with the farthest located 244 miles from the DeLand campus. The closest is Tomazin Farms in Samsula (New Smyrna Beach), roughly 17 miles away. Earlier this year, Stetson officials toured Tomazin Farms, aka The Barefoot Farmer. Notably, Stetson’s group included Hari Pulapaka, Ph.D., an associate math professor and chef/co-owner of Cress Restaurant in downtown DeLand. Pulapaka’s involvement, highlighted by his culinary background, is emblematic of the university’s appetite to make sustainability real. A partnership quickly bloomed. The “Barefoot” moniker, by the way, comes from the fact that proprietor Bill Tomazin farms the land barefooted, as does everyone else there. Really. Seed2Source, a distributor near Orlando and the largest sustainable-agriculture consulting firm in Florida, was brought in to assist. Essentially, Seed2Source helps smaller, local farms increase their production without compromising quality, adding chemicals or increasing land use. Seed2Source also represents farmers in contracts, educates them about grants and helps to incorporate alternative agricultural techniques. The seeds for Tomazin’s growth with Stetson were laid. “For Stetson to demand local food and for

Paul Tomazin grows on 40 of his farm’s original 500 acres – when storms like Hurricane Irma don’t wreak havoc. Tomazin’s greatgrandparents bought the farm in 1915.

Compass to say, ‘Yes, go try this’ and to be supportive, it is unique and a very big deal for us,” comments Jennifer Waxman-Loyd, Seed2Source’s founder and managing partner. “It’s a big deal for Stetson, and honestly, it’s a really big deal for the entire [sustainable] food movement.”

PROMISING HORIZON The new initiative with Stetson is music to the ears of Paul Tomazin, Bill Tomazin’s son, whose great-grandparents bought the farm in 1915. Father and son now farm 40 of the original 500 acres, growing many of the same crops from a century ago. “My great-grandfather used to drive a horse and wagon to New Smyrna Beach, many times floating it all the way there as the roads were crude and often under water,” describes Paul Tomazin, noting that his great-grandparents would sell the vegetables door to door, then sell the remainder on consignment to a local general store. His father started working on the farm in 1942. Paul joined him in 2010. “Within two years, I made the decision to start farming full time,” the son says. “We grow about 70 different items as we farm 365 days a year.” Partnering with larger entities such as Stetson represents a critical measure of survival for small farms, Paul Tomazin continued. Selling produce directly to grocery stores, schools and packinghouses was common back in the 1950s and 1960s. However, in the late 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, very little local produce was making it in those larger places, he explained. Now, the trend is shifting again,

with the emergence of partnerships like with Stetson, in what he calls “the good way of doing things.” “This opportunity is very promising with the caliber of Stetson,” Paul says. “This day and age, getting into even a small store is hard, so to get to work with Stetson is very exciting. I hope it helps to improve our farm and other local agricultural businesses.”

STORM CLOUDS That’s where the movement toward fresh food and sustainability recently took a turn – with the very sustainability of Tomazin Farms in question. This summer wasn’t ideal for growing a great crop, neither for Tomazin nor the small-farm industry, in general. And that was even before Hurricane Irma. As a result, the Tomazin harvest will take some time. “We suffered a total crop loss during Hurricane Irma due to flooding rains, 12 to 14 inches, and severe winds. Some crops were completely ruined by rains, others by wind,” Paul says. “We have spent the time since the hurricane draining water out of the fields, plowing under ruined crops, and tilling fresh ground for seeding, hoping by the middle to end of November to be back in production.” Within a four-county area of Stetson (Volusia, Orange, Seminole and Lake), all 22 of the farms engaged with Seed2Source sustained some if not total crop damage, Waxman-Loyd says. Her initial fear was that the partnership with Stetson would stop in its tracks. It hasn’t. Quite the opposite, in fact, has occurred —

even while there will not be a crop to harvest. Label it the power of commitment. Or, perhaps simply call it plowing ahead. Stetson, according to Waxman-Loyd, has been “amazing, supportive and sensitive to the issue.” “They understand and are supporting us,” Waxman-Loyd says. “They are explaining the story of crop loss to staff and students, and being patient and supportive. They get the big picture.” Greener pastures and, with some better weather, sustainability for all.

DID YOU KNOW? Thirty-two percent of the produce Stetson Dining uses is grown locally. Seafood comes from sustainable sources — instead of threatening global fish supplies — and meats and dairy products come from farms that treat animals humanely, and don’t use growth hormones or unnecessary antibiotics. Stetson Dining uses as many recyclable items as possible. In addition, Stetson Dining uses a program called Trim Trax to reduce food waste. When workers cut up fresh fruit and vegetables, they put the peelings and other waste into buckets, which get weighed and tracked.




From left: Sarah Coffey, Matthew Heid, Nathan Bodger and Allison Terry


Activism is alive and well across campus — and the efforts have people seeing green. BY MARCIA HEATH

Photos by Bobby Fishbough


tetson’s first cohort of Environmental Sustainability Fellows on its historic campus in DeLand are learning what it takes to succeed as environmental activists, in word and in deed.



“We have a responsibility to lead by example, not just talk about the environment,” asserts Sarah Coffey ’18, an environmental science and geography major and the first Environmental Sustainability Fellow. “Outreach and education are a huge part of what we do. We know we can’t save the world, just three of us. It takes everyone.” Actually, now it’s four. Just days before the start of fall semester, Matthew Heid ’21 also was accepted as an Environmental Sustainability Fellow. Heid is a digital arts major who grow up near the Chesapeake Bay. (See sidebar.) Coffey lives and breathes sustainability, whether she’s encouraging a friend to compost a banana peel or crunching numbers for the university’s carbon audit. Project by project, she and her fellow Environmental Sustainability Fellows — Nathan Bodger ’19 and Allison Terry ’20 — have been developing their sustainability chops along with a set of

leadership skills that will travel with them long after graduation. When Coffey applied for the fellowship as a first-year honors student, the program was only getting started. Tony Abbott, Ph.D., professor of environmental science and studies, originally proposed the idea in 2014 to Stetson’s Values Committee as a proving ground for “whip smart” students passionate about putting their values to work in solving real-world environmental challenges. Abbott’s idea grew into the Environmental Sustainability Fellow Scholarship, a pilot program and model for future values’ fellowships at Stetson. The sustainability fellowship comes with a $2,500 annual scholarship and high expectations for “fostering a culture of

environmentalism” through research, community engagement and education. “It’s a terrific model of integrated learning that bridges the divide between academic knowledge and professional development,” says Karen Ryan, Stetson’s dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “These fellows are learning the real skills of activism, and it’s wonderful to see how they are applying their values to solve societal and environmental issues that matter, right here and right now.” The scholarship is merit-based, rigorously competitive and interdisciplinary — open to all students, all interests. “We don’t want to isolate sustainability as a discrete program,” Ryan adds. “Sustainability should and does infuse everything we do at Stetson.” Now in its fourth year, the fellowship is proving that highly motivated students can make a mark in the sustainability field before they graduate. And what better place to innovate solutions for the future than on the campus ecosystem where they will live, study and learn. “We pay the fellows so that they leave knowing environmental responsibility merits a paycheck,” comments Abbott. “For these students, sustainability isn’t a PR add-on or citizenship on the side. It’s their job.”

COLLECTIVE EFFORTS Although the Center for Community Engagement on campus is their official home base, the fellows are hard to miss around campus. On any given day, you might see them digging in the campus garden, handing out fliers in front of the dining hall or surveying students about future environmental projects. As role models, they don’t think twice about picking up dirty plastic bottles. They carry reusable shopping bags. Print double-sided. Turn off lights. And use cold water in the laundry. Behind the scenes, the fellows are a close-knit team. They give one another feedback and swap ideas on how to work the ropes of the university culture. It’s a “cascade of mentorship,” according to Abbott, from the oldest fellow to the newest. As they learn how to solve problems with nimble skill sets and a willingness to listen and collaborate, the fellows realize rewards

beyond what they may have expected. So does the university. “When students get opportunities to lead projects they’re passionate about, the established barriers just seem to disappear. They see a better world out there, and this motivates them to get creative when they hit a wall,” Abbott explains. Each fellow contributes to Stetson’s Greenhouse Gas Audit (the carbon audit), a biannual report the university initiated in 2007 as a charter member of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Working on the audit is a compulsory discipline of the fellowship, as well as sometimes a grueling characterbuilder. Gathering the data, double-checking it for accuracy and reviewing the calculations

can get tedious, the fellows concede, but they also assert it’s rewarding to report on the university’s progress toward reaching the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. Fact: Stetson has reduced its per-student carbon emissions by 5.5 percent since 2015 and by 22.8 percent since 2007.

INDIVIDUAL PASSIONS Generally, the fellows have considerable latitude in choosing their portfolio of projects. To date, their choices have ranged widely, from spearheading coastal cleanups and dorm energy competitions to urging citizens to vote against a Florida amendment that was aimed at limiting solar expansion. (The amendment was soundly defeated.) The fellows also regularly participate in

Stetson has reduced its per-student carbon emissions by

5.5 22.8

percent since 2015

percent since 2007




university meetings, arriving armed with research, talking about their projects and offering insight on a wide array of university energy initiatives. Call it a labor of love. “What I love most is how much freedom Dr. Abbott gives me,” Coffey says. “But he also tells me to ‘dial it back’ when I’m not spending my time productively.”

Coffey faced a few early hurdles figuring out where to invest her time and energy as the first fellow in a pilot program. “I had to learn how Stetson works as an institution before I could plug in my own efforts,” adds Coffey, who joined the environmental club at her high school in Bradenton, Florida, and put aside her childhood dream of becoming a prima ballerina.

“When students get opportunities to lead projects they’re

passionate about, the established barriers just seem to disappear. They see a better world out there, and this motivates them to get creative when they hit a wall.” — TO N Y AB B OT T, P H.D. — P R O F E S S O R O F ENVIR O NMENTAL SCIENCE AN D STUDI ES , FAC ULTY M EN TOR



On campus tours, she’s been known to shout, “Stetson is awesome, and I’m not just saying that!” In her role as a fellow, she especially appreciates that the administration listens to students. Her words: “If you make the time to provide solutions as well as feedback, your voice will be heard.” As part of Stetson’s Zero-Waste Dining Proposal, for example, Coffey researched possible technologies the dining hall might use to reduce food waste going to the landfill. Based on her proposal, Al Allen, Stetson’s assistant vice president of Facilities Management, implemented a pulper that mixes, compacts and extracts water from food waste. When the renovated Commons opens in 2018, the pulper will lessen landfill impact by reducing 12 bags of food waste to one. Phase Two will convert food waste into a soil additive that will lessen the need for fossilfuel fertilizers on the campus grounds. Bodger, the second environmental fellow to arrive at Stetson, is a dual citizen of the United States and the United Kingdom. Bodger played competitive soccer in high school and had intentions of pursuing athletics at the university level. Instead, he decided to focus exclusively on the “academic arena” when he enrolled at Stetson. A religious studies major, he is fascinated by the role religious beliefs and culture play in people’s decisions about the environment. “Many brilliant people are focused on the scientific and engineering aspects of climate change,” he says. “I thought I could have more impact by taking a beliefs’ point of view.” When Bodger first heard about the idea of a green fund that would save the university money and help the environment, he thought it was “such an obvious and good thing to do.” Over the years, Stetson had considered launching such an environmental revenue stream, but donor funding never materialized. Bodger saw a way to dislodge the logjam with a student-powered approach. “I just felt this was something that had to be done,” he says. “If one of our values at Stetson is sustainability, then it’s our responsibility to do what we believe in and lead the way.” Bodger surveyed Stetson students twice


ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND GEOGRAPHY MAJOR “We have a responsibility to lead by example, not just talk about the environment.”


RELIGIOUS STUDIES MAJOR “If one of our values at Stetson is sustainability, then it’s our responsibility to do what we believe in and lead the way.”


ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE MAJOR “We can’t keep treating [Earth] like a dump truck.”

about their willingness to put $5 into the fund each semester, and both times a majority supported the proposal, which received the full backing of the Student Government Association and, in May, trustee approval. Other top-tier universities have green-fund endowments, but Bodger’s research suggests Stetson is at the forefront of institutions whose students pay for environmental projects through recurring fees. The endeavor can be viewed as micro-activism: Individual steps, small actions that, when combined, make a strong cumulative impact. Terry, the third environmental fellow, grew up in Springfield, Missouri, where she tagged along with her geologist father on his field excursions to Europe and Hawaii. Seeing the accumulation of plastic on the Hawaiian beaches ignited her early passion for saving the planet. “We can’t keep treating [Earth] like a dump truck,” says Terry, an environmental science major with a minor in management, communications and media studies. As a fellow, Terry has found many outlets for finding her voice and promoting clean water and air as an urgent issue for human survival. She admits her “let’s change the

world” crusade can get overwhelming, so she’s taking things project by project. Working with Stetson’s Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience, for instance, Terry conducted research on replacing water fountains with filtered, bottle-fill stations in heavily trafficked areas of campus. This fall, students are able to fill up at conveniently located water stations instead of buying bottled water. “I love seeing people’s eyes light up,” notes Terry, “when we tell them it takes more water to produce a bottle than each one contains.” As an added incentive to go green, students who buy drinks at a campus coffeeshop with their reusable tumbler can save a dollar. “Students want to do what’s right for the planet,” Terry says. “But they don’t always know why or how. When presented with the facts and the opportunity, most are willing to make changes.” Such conviction is evidence the university’s pilot sustainability fellowship is harvesting a bounty of early rewards. “I’m continually inspired by the intelligence and energy of these fellows,” says Abbott, their justifiably proud faculty mentor. “They’re having an inordinate impact.”

Meet the Newest Environmental Fellow Matthew Heid ’21 says he watched a lot of Animal Planet as a youngster who “always cared about the environment growing up in Maryland.” He has vivid memories of swimming, fishing and boating with his grandfather on the Chesapeake Bay, where environmental protection was a big priority. In high school, Heid volunteered as an exhibit guide at Baltimore’s National Aquarium, providing information to visitors about the animals and sea life and the importance of acting as good stewards for the environment. Now, the fourth environmental fellow at Stetson, Heid, a digital arts major minoring in music (he plays the trumpet), is looking forward to learning, exploring and living in his adopted home of Florida. “I’ve always loved the wildlife and weather here,” he notes. “I’m a big Disney fanatic.” Also, he’s excited about making a difference. Heid wants to use the fellowship as a launchpad for bringing new ideas to Stetson’s Digital Arts program, which is part of the Department of Creative Arts. “I’m really interested in the whole movement of using environmentally friendly materials and supplies in the art world,” he says.




s a child, Song Gao was always interested in outer space. He would gaze up, not so much to look at the clouds and sun but instead to contemplate what existed far beyond.



The science of environmental spheres plus the energy of academic innovation are driving new understanding in a chemistry classroom. BY MICHAEL CANDELARIA



“I wondered what’s outside the Earth, in between planets, stars and galaxies,” Gao remembers. As a doctoral student at the University of Washington, Gao refocused that curiosity. In response to a query from a professor, asking for a student with a chemistry background who would consider studying the atmosphere, Gao raised his hand. With the motion, appropriately reaching skyward, he embraced a new passion — one that took him to the California Institute of Technology for postdoctoral research and continues to drive him today: atmospheric chemistry. “I’m still interested in space, but a bit closer,” he describes with a smile. Now in his second year as an associate professor in Stetson’s Department of Chemistry, Gao, Ph.D., is bringing that relatively unexplored realm to his own students. This fall, following myriad academic approvals and a year of curriculum groundwork, Gao introduced a course for juniors and seniors called Advanced Environmental Chemistry. The interdisciplinary study centers on chemistry but also incorporates some physics, biology and applied mathematics. In addition, there are measures of politics and public policy along with the humanities, all being placed into the context of the present-day global environment. Topics range from air pollution, climate change and environmental toxicity to new energy utilization. “The atmosphere looks so transparent, like there’s nothing there. But there are actually a lot of things going on,” offers Gao. Nine students are taking the course, including a French major who is minoring in chemistry, and the course prerequisite is organic chemistry. Gao is hoping to adjust that prerequisite in the future, so the course could become accessible to more students. “Already I see diverse interest in it, and the diverse backgrounds of students actually contribute to the scholarship of the course,” he says. One example: Gao encouraged the student majoring in French to present a final paper on the Paris Accord bilingually, in both French and English. Notably, last spring Gao restarted a dormant course for first-year nonscience and science students, called Alternative Energy Choices: Beyond Fossil Fuels. Also, he is chair-elect of the Nominations Committee of the National Association of Environmental Studies and Science, headquartered in Washington, D.C. Roughly half of the committee members are environmental science professionals; the remainder are engaged in environmental policy and political science. Asserting that he’s a scientist first, Gao is working with colleagues to create greater environmental understanding. He recently returned

“The scholarship of environmental chemistry is really disparate with its wide range of topics studied, but it’s connected by the interfacing of relevant disciplines. Study of the environment has many dots but is connected with a common goal of understanding and improving the environment. And that’s pretty consistent with our course.” SONG GAO, PH.D., ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, DEPARTMENT OF CHEMISTRY

from a visit to Beijing, China, where he gave a presentation on atmospheric chemistry at Peking University. Ultimately, he seeks to help protect and preserve the global environment, but “in order to do that, you need to know how the environment works scientifically.” Gao goes into a favorite theme, “disparate but connected.” He emphasizes the need to understand that the Earth’s major environmental spheres — atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and lithosphere — are intertwined. He adds that energy also must not be neglected, with more than 99 percent of the energy on Earth coming from the sun to affect issues such as wind patterns, ocean currents and the global climate. “The atmosphere is not an isolated entity,” Gao says. “Most importantly, we must know how different sectors interact with one another, ‘disparate but connected.’ “The scholarship of environmental chemistry is really disparate with its wide range of topics studied, but it’s connected by the interfacing of relevant disciplines. Study of the environment has many dots but is connected with a common goal of understanding and improving the environment. And that’s pretty consistent with our course.” Gao teaches students, section by section, those distinct components of the environment. Approximately three weeks each are spent on energy, the atmosphere, the hydrosphere/lithosphere and the biosphere. There are labs and at least three oral presentations, along with a term paper. To students at Stetson, the regional

relevance is obvious, he contends. With greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and methane) accumulating in the air during the past 150 years, and those gases acting as heat (infrared radiation) absorbers, the increasing global average surface temperature is a reality, with likely impacts near and far, such as sea-level rise and the frequency of super storms (like Hurricane Irma), he explains briefly. “A warming atmosphere will create more water vapor. So, the ingredients are there to form such storms. However, scientists do not know exactly whether, or how much, the changing climate directly induces such storms. Further investigation is needed,” Gao says, careful not to draw too many conclusions. “That human emissions of greenhouse gases and other chemical agents have made a major contribution to the observed global warming trend is now well-established in the scientific community. As to how much further warming there will be in the atmosphere, oceans and land, this depends largely on what actions humans will take in the next few decades in mitigating the anthropogenic factors of climate change, primarily greenhouse gases.” In May, Gao was invited to participate in the First Annual Research Roundtable on Global Climate Change Governance at Northwestern University. As an international-minded scholar, Gao also incorporates discussion of current events with global perspectives, particularly as it relates to China and the United States, the

leading producers of greenhouse gases. “We do not understand climate change 100 percent yet scientifically,” he says. “But just like taking precautionary actions and treatments at the onset of a disease, there is enough understanding of the science to act policy wise. … But then, there is politics.” In February, Gao spoke at Stetson University College of Law. The presentation was titled “Atmospheric Aerosols, Super Greenhouse Gases, Global Climate Change: Where Science Meets Policy.” Mostly, Gao isn’t looking necessarily to resolve problems, and he prefers to sway from ideology. “There’s a balance. There’s a need to make lives better, which can sacrifice the environment. But we shouldn’t sacrifice the environment so much that it becomes unsustainable. I think sustainable is what I’m all for, and the science behind it is what I am focused on,” he says. Gao seeks to equip students with knowledge and understanding — providing them with new tools that can lead to discovery, solution or at least more responsible behaviors. “When you only say slogans like ‘protect the environment,’ what do you really mean? Science offers the needed details as to why and how. That would hopefully lead to science-driven, logic-based environmental decisions,” he explains. He is heartened by the initial responses in his classroom from students. “They ask so many intriguing questions,” Gao concludes. “I am busy answering or exploring together with them.”




Senior Sarah Collins was off to a great start this fall, scoring eight goals in the season’s first 10 games.



Record-setting scorer Sarah Collins seeks to make Hatter history — with her eyes on a team championship, not personal achievement. B Y C R I S B E LV I N


arah Collins had a rare opportunity in front of her as she began her senior season at Stetson.

Already one of the most decorated and celebrated student-athletes ever to suit up in women’s soccer on campus, Collins can cement her place among the greatest Hatters to play any sport simply by having just an average year. After all, her average year is pretty extraordinary, considering she has tied or broken the single-season records for goals in each of the previous two seasons. Such history isn’t necessarily what the spirited forward is shooting for, however. Collins wants a title — as in leading her team to its first Atlantic Sun Conference championship and its first NCAA Tournament appearance. “Going out there and getting a ring and winning a championship, that’s the ultimate goal for me,” Collins said shortly after training camp began in early August. “I’d rather have that than any of the personal records I may end up with.” A prolific goal scorer in high school — she scored 55 goals with 35 assists combined during her junior and senior seasons at The King’s Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida — Collins broke out during her sophomore season at Stetson. She tied a 16-year-old school record by scoring 12 goals, as the team won 10 games for the first time in nearly a decade. Last season, she eclipsed that mark by scoring 13 goals and adding six assists, setting another new record with 32 points. She earned first-team All-ASUN honors in each season. As good as Collins has been on the field throughout her soccer career, she might have ended up competing in a different sport had it not been for her sister and good old-fashioned sibling rivalries. She literally flipped in turning to soccer. “I started out doing gymnastics, and then my sister started playing soccer,” she said. “I always wanted to outdo my sister when I was young. We’re still very competitive.” Stetson is fortunate to have Collins. In high school, she had never heard of the university until one of her former teammates, Danielle Hurme, came to the DeLand campus on a soccer scholarship. “I came down for a camp in my sophomore year,” Collins recounted. “We did the whole tour, and I got a feel for what Stetson and the soccer program were all about. So, after the camp I told the coaches I wanted to come here. The second I got on the campus — and I had visited other schools before — I knew that Stetson was somewhere I wanted to go.”

While many observers would consider Collins a supremely talented athlete, she doesn’t necessarily see it that way. “I am very passionate about things. Anything I’m doing, I go in wholeheartedly. I’m also very driven,” she explained. “Not that I pride myself on my hard work, but that’s close to me. As a soccer player, I haven’t always been the one with a lot of skill. A lot of my success has come from just working very hard.” Head coach Manoj Khettry agrees. “Players have to put in the work and be motivated, and they have to have the desire to want to improve,” commented Khettry, now in his fifth season at Stetson. “Sarah has all of those traits. She’s also been really important for the building of our culture. It’s been easy to point to her as an example of what happens when you put the time in to be better. It also helps that she’s pretty coachable. She listens and tries to adapt her game and grow.” A finance major, Collins also is a standout student and was named to the women’s soccer 2016 ASUN All-Academic team. Like Collins in the open field, time is advancing in a hurry. She has many plans for the future, including playing professionally and pursuing a master’s degree. Yet, she still is seeking to net that one elusive goal. With 19 letter-winners returning, the Hatters were picked third in the ASUN preseason poll. Collins proved herself years ago. Now, she wants her teammates to do the same. “This is the best team I’ve been on since I’ve been at Stetson,” she said. “It’s important to prove to people that we belong here.” The conference tournament is scheduled to begin Nov. 5. The clock is ticking.




Raising the Bar To Mark Wateska, the work of Hatters in the weight room strengthens their chances of success in life.



sports. It is at times a herculean task, but one Wateska he Stetson campus is usually pretty quiet has enjoyed throughout a 26-year career. when Mark Wateska arrives at the Athletic A Penn State University graduate (1989 and 1991, exercise and sport science) and former national Training Center around 5:45 in the morning. champion with the Nittany Lions football team (1987), The university’s director of strength and conditioning Wateska began his career at his alma mater, working as knows that peacefulness will soon give way to a a graduate assistant coach. He then interned with the Philadelphia Eagles before moving on to Boston flurry of activity inside the Hatters’ weight room.

“Our first group will come in around 6 a.m., and then every hour on the hour up until 5 p.m. we will have another team coming in,” Wateska says. Along with assistant coach Spencer Phillips, Wateska creates, implements and oversees the strength and conditioning workouts for all 19 of Stetson’s varsity 52


College. He also led programs at the University of Maine, Stanford University and Indiana University. In 2015, Wateska decided to move his family of four from Indiana to Florida to take over the rising strength and conditioning program at Stetson.

“It was a wonderful opportunity for me to build and develop a program,” Wateska reflects back. “Stetson is very similar to Stanford in terms of the types of student-athletes that you get and the quality of the people. It’s just a little smaller scale, but I think Stetson is a special place. The location is great, and the people are wonderful. You can’t beat it.” With a daily jam-packed schedule at the training center, Wateska estimates he has conducted roughly 20,000 workouts in his two years at Stetson. All 400-plus Hatter student-athletes make their way through the weight room at some point during the year. And they do so with a plan. “Our first priority is the health, safety and welfare of our student athletes. Through a proper sportspecific strength and conditioning program, our goal is to prepare student-athletes for championship competition,” Wateska explains. “We want them to perform at the highest level that they are capable of performing and maximize that potential. “At the same time, and equally important, is the reduction in their chance for injury or the severity of injury when they do sustain it. In athletics, you obviously have injuries happen, but through proper training and conditioning, we want to make sure the severity is much less and their rehab is much quicker, so they can get back into competition.” Aside from short-term benefits — improved physical strength and muscular performance plus injury prevention — Wateska sees lasting advantages to student-athletes participating in the Hatters’ strength program. Just like in the classroom, a commitment in the weight room and to intercollegiate athletics, in general, bodes well. “We are setting them up for success in the future,” Wateska asserts. “There are a lot of things athletics poses, not only teamwork and leadership and camaraderie, but when they leave us, we want to make sure they have a good, healthy lifestyle, and that they can have a great quality of life.” In turn, such potential for success serves to strengthen Wateska’s own commitment. “I think what you enjoy most is helping others achieve their goals, and seeing student-athletes reach the highest level,” he says. “I enjoy the interaction; I enjoy the energy. If you are going to put in 10 to 12 hours a day, you better enjoy what you do. So, I get up every morning and look forward to what the day holds. I think you have a unique opportunity to affect the lives of young people, and that is my biggest joy in the job.”

DID YOU KNOW? Mark Wateska says fitness is a marathon, not a race. For starters, get a physical prior to working up that first sweat in a fitness program. Start slowly, and don’t try to do too much too soon. Remember that you are developing a lifestyle, so make it one you are able to sustain. Consistency is the key. Set short-term goals, and when they’re achieved, assess where you are, and reset your goals. Make sure your program is balanced. Do not overemphasize one area and neglect another. Keep in mind the following components: strength training, nutrition, flexibility, cardiovascular conditioning, and rest and recovery.

4 P’s to Fitness for All All fitness programs should have common guidelines, says Mark Wateska, regardless of level. Call these his four P’s.


Purposeful: Every repetition, set and workout has a purpose.

2 Prudent: Any and all exercises must be developmentally appropriate and medically safe. 3 Practical: The program should not be unnecessarily confusing or complicated. 4 Protective: The program should utilize exercises/protocols that can be performed with a high degree of safety.




Celebrate Atlanta Nancy Daves ’72, Gentry Mander ’09

Glen Hauenstein ’82 Glen Hauenstein ’82, Tracey Peer, Michael Peer ’16

Alethea Bonello ’98, Kirah Samuels Rob Wellon J.D. ’74, Ellen Chastain, Eric Chastain ’82

David Verble ’05, Danielle Verble ’07



John Avery ’61, Barbara Childs Avery ’60

Ericka Usand, Alexis Usand ’21

Hatters At Tampa Bay Rays

Tim Ballesteros ’88, Ali Timko

Gian Barry Brackin ’93, Abby Loreto Hamilton ’94, Kelly Carter Curington ’94

Kae Lee Overfield, Kelly Overfield J.D. ’94, Haley Carrasquillo, Dan Crowe Samantha Solon, Carla Turner-Hahn M.B.A. ’85, J.D. ’00

Beau Parrish ’10, Michele Ross J.D. ’15, Mike Ross, Michael Casey

Elsa “Patty” Guevara ’82, Amy Scaturro Dedes ’04, Debbie Monaco ’88, Ranell Tinsley Mason ’00, Oneita Tinsley ’66




2017-2018 STETSON UNIVERSITY ALUMN FRONT ROW: Abby Loreto Hamilton ’94, Annemarie Boss ’13, William Raymond Holley ’91, J.D. ’97, Scott Boore ’76, Rick Koethe ’77, Amanda Sharkey Ross ’99, Brooke Thompson ‘15



SECOND ROW: Harold Kilgore ’94, Elizabeth Harper Kilgore ’90, Lillian E. Vargas ’08, Chelsea Knox-Perez ’11, Ned Skiff ’75, Blane McCarthy ’92, J.D. ’95, Steve Roy ’75, Jennifer Bellomy Bonenfant ’93, Allison Foster ‘04

NI ASSOCIATION BOARD OF DIRECTORS BACK ROW: Sonja James-Gaitor ’14, Nathalia Mattos ’14, Debbie Lamb Magruder ’89, Ranell Tinsley Mason ’00, Derek Jansante ’11, Charlie Hiller ’12, Greg Sapp ’88, Mallory Manning Sosinski ’11, Debbie Monaco ’88, Michele Shepherd ’85, JJ Payette ’06, Tony Guzzetta ’85, Dennis Martin ‘83

MISSING: Tim Ballesteros ’88, Keith Casto ’69 J.D. 73, Erin Lovell Ebanks ’08, T. Glenn Kindred ’89, William Fraser Laird ’99, April Letitia McCray ’04, Dawn Elaine Proffitt ’03, Justine Talmadge Sanford ’04, Marie Villard Schmoyer ’08, Jennifer Lorraine Small ’93, Derrick L. Smith ’13, Scott Robert Uguccioni ’89, Billy Wieland ’17 J.D. ’10, Steve Wunderlich ‘82




True Aspirations Meet Adam True ’21, a first-year Hatter entrepreneur and future alumnus. BY WO O DY O ’ C A I N, ASSIS TANT VICE PRESIDENT OF A L U M N I A N D PA R E N T E N G AG E M E N T


dam True ’21, a business entrepreneurship major with a minor in finance, is a first-year student at Stetson and native of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. As one of the university’s newest students, True was asked to share his story, including why he decided to call Stetson his home for the next four years. Stetson President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D., stated it best when she said, “Together, we are One Stetson, and this is our future.” Adam True is a big part of that tomorrow, one of the many talented students who is a new member of the Stetson community and Hatter Nation.


You have lived on Hilton Head Island your entire life, a place largely known for its beautiful beaches and golf courses. I would imagine you have a unique perspective. Correct?


Yes, I absolutely do. While Hilton Head Island is known for beautiful beaches, amazing golf and laid-back coastal lifestyle, the part visitors don’t often get to see is the connection between islanders. The island plays host to more than 2 million visitors a year, and we all have a part in making our little island a happy place for them to return. But when summer is over and the tourists go home, we are still here. Island residents and business owners are serious about giving back to our community and surrounding communities in need. Hilton Head Island is a very generous island. Off-season is when island neighbors get together at oyster roasts!

Top: Adam True arrived on campus on ample entrepreneurial spirit. Above: He was guided well by his parents, Lauren and Bill True.

You just finished making one of the most important decisions of your life, in deciding where to go to college. Can you tell us about your college search journey? My college search began and ended with Stetson. During my initial application process, Stetson reached out, made the effort and made me feel special. They (admissions staffers) were there to answer any questions my parents and I had. Literally, we would call, someone would pick up the phone (no recorded messages!), that someone knew who we were and, in the very unlikely event they could not answer our question, they either found out then and there, or someone with the answer called back shortly thereafter. We trekked to DeLand in late summer and before we left the parking lot, I had made my decision. The personal touch that Stetson gives cannot be overstated.

“Once my mind is made up, I have a single focus on completing the task. My designs, which are in six of the largest retail stores on the island, are on shirts, koozies, hoodies and hats. Hey, you might say I was a Hatter even before I was a Hatter!”



throng of beachgoers was leaning over the pier cheering me on, whistling and throwing air toasts at the 130-pound catch — thus ending a 12-hour journey in the open waters under the blazing sun! True incorporated his True Island Apparel LLC at age 18.

You already own your own business. How did you become owner of the “True Island” brand? True Island Apparel LLC was born as a result of a volunteer position I acquired at the Waddell Mariculture Center (a field operation of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources), just over the bridge from Hilton Head Island. Funding (for the center) was scarce, and efforts to raise capital had to go into high gear. I created a design for a T-shirt that would be sold at the fall fundraiser, an oyster roast. Shirt sales, combined with auctions and donations, contributed to keep the center afloat. Learning about design creation and apparel printing led me to create other designs, which I trademarked at the age of 16. True Island Apparel LLC, which I incorporated upon turning 18, is the parent company for those designs — and I have more in the works. From this point forward, what’s on your bucket list personally and professionally? Hmm, a bucket list. Well, after graduating from Stetson, I intend to obtain my master’s degree in business. Professionally, my plan is to grow the business while at Stetson and possibly selling the intellectual property rights for a few designs in the TIA (True Island Apparel) portfolio shortly after graduation. Once your classmates get to know you, how will they describe you? Tenacious! I have to be, especially when conducting business with seasoned and highly competitive client accounts. Making cold calls and asking for business is not easy for most people. At first, I had a lot of smiles and wishes for good luck, but no orders. People didn’t take a high-school kid seriously. After the second and third visits to their stores, owners and buyers realized I was serious and saw that my designs were original, trademarked and in retail outlets. Once my mind is made up, I have a single focus on completing the task. My designs, which are in six of the largest retail stores on the island, are on shirts, koozies, hoodies and hats. Hey, you might say I was a Hatter even before I was a Hatter! When I get to school in the mornings, I make phone calls from my car and answer emails during lunch. When I get home in the afternoons, I begin communicating with my West Coast contacts and manufacturers. After dinner and my studies, I begin communicating with my Asian and Australian contacts. How about sharing one fun “True family” story? My parents and I go to the Cheeca Lodge in Islamorada every May after school dismisses. My dad and I like to tarpon-fish and have done so since I was old enough to hold on to a tarpon and not be pulled overboard. When I was about 13, I hooked a big one along the jetties at one of the oceanside bridges. As the tarpon continued to run toward the beach, our captain assured us he would turn back and head toward the ocean, but he kept freight-training toward the crowded shoreline and pier. The people in the water had to scramble out. By the time I landed him, a huge

Is there one particular person or persons who have been most influential in your life? Who and why? My parents, of course, are the main influencers in my life. But my Nana and Papa (grandparents) have taught me the importance of patience. Each summer, I visit them at their cattle farm in Georgia. Nana works in her flower garden while Papa and I tend to the cows. The pace is much slower than life on the island, and I have learned to enjoy the silence. All good things come in time, if you are patient enough. When it is all said and done, what do you hope you will be remembered for? A good citizen. That’s probably not the answer a typical teenager would give and maybe not the answer I would have thought of until my mother told me about a comment that was made the morning after I was born. Everyone was gathered in the hospital room, and the question “What do you want Baby Adam to be when he grows up?” was posed to anyone who wanted to chirp their response. Though the usual answers to that question lie somewhere between “happy” and “successful,” without missing a beat my Papa said, “A good citizen.” As simple as that sounds, it carries a lot of weight. To be a good citizen requires commitment, dedication and giving back. It’s a constant learning experience. I don’t want to stop at happy or successful; I want to be remembered as being reliable, trustworthy, courteous, giving and decent. A good citizen. What else should I have asked that I didn’t? You didn’t ask what type of clubs I would start while at Stetson. I would like to start a nationally recognized Young Entrepreneur Partnership (YEP). Local businesses could partner with and mentor its members. The mantra could be “YEP! We want to partner in your success!” Another club I would like to start is a Stetson Porsche Enthusiasts Club. Porsche dealerships in the area could participate in drives (road trips) and collaborate in sponsoring events. The mantra would be something like “Helping to Drive Stetson Students to the Top!” I see such programs as win-win for students, Stetson and participating businesses.




All in the Stetson family: J.P. Nesheiwat; Hayat Nesheiwat; Mitchell G. Reddish, professor and chair of the Department of Religious Studies; Janette Nesheiwat ’98; Woody O’Cain; Julia Nesheiwat ’97; Michael Waltz; Asia Small ’21; Rina Arroyo; and Joe Cooper ’79 MBA ’82, chair of the Stetson University Board of Trustees.

NURTURING GREATNESS With a steely will to match her commitment to culture and spirituality, Hayat Nesheiwat has led her Hatter family to excellence.





ayat Nesheiwat is the mother of five remarkable and highly successful children, all of whom attended and/or graduated from Stetson: Julia Nesheiwat ’97, Janette Nesheiwat ’98, Daniel Nesheiwat ’99, Jaclyn Nesheiwat Stapp ’02, and Dina Nesheiwat ’03. Julia serves as the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, the nation’s leading diplomat for hostage cases worldwide. Janette is an emergency-room physician and medical correspondent for Fox News. Danny and Dina are successful attorneys in Nashville, Tennessee, and New York City, respectively. Jaclyn is a former

Miss New York USA and Mrs. Florida America, as well as a philanthropist and author. In honor of their mother, the Nesheiwat children recently established The Hayat Nesheiwat Endowed Scholarship, a fund that provides assistance for students who have demonstrated financial need, with preference given to first-generation immigrants (students whose parent or parents immigrated to the United States). Hayat Nesheiwat returned to Stetson’s DeLand campus in August for the university’s Convocation ceremony, where daughter Julia gave the keynote address.


Can you share a little bit about yourself, your family and how this grand success all started? I was born in Jordan and came to this wonderful country when I was just 4 or 5 years old, along with my six brothers and sisters. Counting my mom and dad, there were nine of us, who literally came “off the boat” into New York City, and none of us spoke a word of English. My immigrant parents were very old-fashioned, Christian and hardworking, who came to America to find a better life for themselves and their family. Attending church was something my dad believed in strongly, and even though we were traditionally raised Catholic, members from the local Baptist Church would come to our house to pick up our entire family in a van so that we could attend church, which we did every Sunday. When I recall those early years, I distinctively remember my first few days in the American kindergarten. The year was 1957 and through the eyes of this little foreigner, the best word to

A mother’s diligence nurtured a sisterhood of high achievers: Dina Nesheiwat ’03, Julia Nesheiwat ’97, Janette Nesheiwat ’98 and Jaclyn Nesheiwat Stapp ’02.

describe that experience was … heaven! From that moment, I loved school and looked forward to going every single day. I guess you could consider me a little immigrant nerd in that way, but thanks to my own parents, I learned to quickly adapt to life in America. From these early experiences, I brought much of that same culture, spirituality and traditions when raising my own family. I took the very best of what America offered, along with the best of our Middle Eastern culture, and I truly think that combination was instrumental in my ability to raise compassionate, determined and successful children. Education has played a formidable part of your family’s story, hasn’t it? Yes, one of the many wonderful things in this country that we took full advantage of was education. That’s the one thing that my dad instilled in all of us, the importance of having an education. I brought that into my own family as I got married and had children of my own. My husband, Ben, graduated from the University of Illinois - Chicago. He died in an accident 28 years ago and left me with five great children, ages 3, 4 and then 6, 7 and 8. I never removed my wedding ring because it’s been work, church and kids. And I knew in this society that I would lose them if I didn’t focus totally on them. Every day was a challenge, and every day was a moment for me where I was afraid if something happened to me, I didn’t want to have them as wards of the state. So, I encouraged them and told them “please, that all I want is one thing, and that was for them to finish their education.”

“We worked hard; we strived to excel and not just achieve goals, but exceed them. We also showed that it was important to give, share and love others. I think those qualities helped us to win over the hearts of many. I often told my kids that ‘lamps don’t talk, they just shine.’”




What was it like raising a family in a rural, small Southern town in Florida during the 1980s as Arab Christians? After living and thriving in New York City, we visited Florida and immediately fell in love with the greenery, many rows of citrus trees, the country-style homes, picket fences and cheese grits. Needless to say, it was quite different than New York City. Central Florida seemed like a perfect place to raise children, and during the time when we were transitioning and adjusting to this new Southern lifestyle, we soon became aware of some of the issues surrounding civil rights that existed in certain pockets of town. I believe we definitely stood out amongst the locals, as we were dark-skinned, dark-haired, bilingual folks who had odd names like mine, Hayat Nesheiwat! At first glance, we were perceived as “foreigners,” until they heard us speak fluent English. We also exhibited other characteristics and qualities that helped us quickly adjust to our new home in the South. We worked hard; we strived to excel and not just achieve goals, but exceed them. We also showed that it was important to give, share and love others. I think those qualities helped us to win over the hearts of many. I often told my kids that “lamps don’t talk, they just shine.” Julia spoke at this year’s Convocation. She also delivered the student address at her own Commencement when she graduated from Stetson in 1997. What do you remember from that speech 20 years ago? Julia’s spoken or sometimes unspoken words reverberate to so many people across the country or around the globe. She has always had this innate quality about her: When she speaks, everybody listens! My favorite part of her Stetson graduation speech was when she encouraged the students to be bold, creative and determined, through the story of a dog looking for a job with the CIA.



(Ironically, she eventually entered the intelligence field.) As the story was told, the CIA agent was an equal-opportunity employer — non-discriminating against race, gender, creed, etc. — and informed the dog that he must excel in three areas for the job. The first area was physical aptitude, where he must run an obstacle course which the dog successfully completed in record-breaking time, no less. The agent commended him and proceeded to describe the second criterion for employment, which was to type at least 100 words per minute. The dog jumped on the keyboard and in a flash completed that next task again successfully. The impressed CIA agent knew the last task would be most difficult for this dog to achieve, which was to be bilingual. The dog, wide-eyed and initially concerned, looked up at the agent then suddenly stood up on his front paws and bellowed out in a high-pitched sound … meow! I remember the audience laughing, as did I, and then Julia ended her speech encouraging everyone not to be afraid to go out in the world and learn to meow. Now, 20 years later, Julia has delivered Stetson’s Convocation address. You must be very proud, correct? Well, I am very blessed in more ways than I could ever express and, yes, I am quite proud. I sincerely thank Dr. (Wendy B.) Libby and Stetson University from the bottom of my heart for this moment, this occasion, for having Julia as your opening Convocation speaker. Of course, I am her mother when I say this, but Julia is such a wonderful human being. And I thank Stetson for recognizing her in this way and giving her the opportunity to come speak. Is there anything else about you that we have not touched on? Yes, actually there is. I can cook an amazing mansaf (a traditional Arabic dish made of lamb)!

MY FAMILY “We are not the Leave It To Beaver family or the Brady bunch or the Partridge family. We are a big family that started out in life with very humble beginnings. We have fun, adventure, good times, but like anyone, have had some tough time, some rough patches. We support one another and, no matter what, failure is not an option. We remember the deceased, we go to church, we still follow Middle Eastern tradition and always make time to gather together as a family, no matter what part of the world we are in. We always meet at mom’s house for Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving, and with the other holidays we alternate so we could be with mom. I know that no matter how old we are, mom will always see us as her babies. She never hesitates to show public displays of affection, complete with unnatural, long, tight hugs, wet kisses, all very publicly! She will tell you she has never taken off her wedding rings for her devotion to her deceased husband and her dedication to her children. She will tell you she is so in love with her children, whom by the way have now taken a back seat to grandchildren.  She knows a thousand one liners she used for her pediatric patients to relieve their tension. At any given time, you may hear her tell a stranger, ‘I have four queens and a king, my name is Hayat like the hotel, and I wish my last name was Regency!’ Or, when she is called Mrs. GuessWhat, instead of Nesheiwat, or better yet, Mrs. No-Sweat! And, if you ask her what you get when you cross an elephant with a rhino, she will proudly respond with an ‘ell if I know!’ My mom, like me, is such a nerd! Finally, if I can sum up the key for our entire family, it is this: To reach success in all aspects of this life, it is the act of being kind. No matter what position or what height one achieves, never lose sight of being kind, for that demonstrates true leadership and brings respect that ultimately paves the way for success and for building bridges anywhere in life.” - JULIA NESHEIWAT ’97  (See Page 9.)


Send Us Your Class Note STETSON UNIVERSITY is proud of its alumni and their accomplishments. We would love to hear about your achievements. If you are a graduate from the DeLand or Celebration campus, please send your class note to Stetson University, Office of Alumni and Parent Engagement, 421 N. Woodland Blvd., Unit 8257, DeLand, FL 32723, or email your news to alumni@stetson.edu. If you are a graduate of the College of Law, send your class note to Stetson University College of Law, Office of Development and Alumni Engagement, 1401 61st St. South, Gulfport, FL 33707, or

1950s Ramon L. Delgado ’59, Montclair, New Jersey, a Professor Emeritus at Montclair State University, authored the monologue “Laura’s Early Returns,” a finalist in the New York City Playwrights’ Women in the Age of Trump project. (A moving performance by award-winning actress Marina Re is available on a YouTube search by title.)

based on peer review and comes by invitation only. He also has been named to Florida Super Lawyers “Top 100 Lawyers.” Farach works in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, office of McGlinchey Stafford.

of Lighthouse Property Insurance Corp. He joined the firm as executive vice president in 2013 and is a veteran of the insurance industry. As president, he leads a team of industry professionals in Louisiana, Texas, North Carolina and South Carolina. Cathy Reiman, J.D. ’85, Naples, Florida, has been selected as a 2017 Florida Super Lawyer.

Scott J. Wall ’93, Orlando, has been promoted to commercial banking manager at Regions Bank.

1960s Louis J. Phillips ’64, New York, New York, authored a book, “Must I Weep for the Dancing Bear, and Other Stories,” which now is available on Amazon. It was first published in 2012.

1970s Rick Koethe, Ph.D. ’77, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, has been named director of training and instruction for INTEGRAS Life, an organization dedicated to helping wounded veterans and those who have PTSD attain a fuller and richer life. Koethe also is enrolled in Stetson’s Masters of Fine Writing program.

email your class note to alumni@law.stetson. edu. College of Law graduates also can

Lynn Sherman, J.D. ’83, Tampa, Florida, was named to the Florida Super Lawyers Top 50 Women of 2017. The recognition comes on the heels of earning a place on Florida Trend’s Florida Legal Elite listing. On the staff of Adams and Reese since 2012, Sherman works in Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 bankruptcies, among other areas of law. Augustus Way Fountain ’85, Bel Air, Maryland, a senior research scientist for chemistry at Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, received the Meritorious Senior Professional Rank Award for 2016 at a Pentagon ceremony.

Kimberly Bonner ’86, Arcadia, Florida, earned a Master of Judicial Studies degree from the University of Nevada, Reno, in collaboration with the National Judicial College.

fill out the online form at Stetson.edu/ lawalumninews. We can only use photos that are high resolution, and because of space limitations, we cannot guarantee use of all photographs.


1980s Manuel H. Farach ’81, Hobe Sound, Florida, has been elected a fellow of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers. Admission to the College is

Scot E. Moore ’85, MAcc ’86, Orlando, Florida, was promoted to president

Laura Fenton ’88, Englewood, Colorado, was promoted to professor of radiology at the University of Colorado, School of Medicine, and serves as the director of fellowship education in Pediatric Radiology. She also is on the national board of the Society of Pediatric Radiology.

Kelli Lozada Reese ’95, Vienna, Virginia, graduated with a Master of Science in National Resource Strategy from the National Defense University, Eisenhower School. She is a senior leader in the federal government. David Sampedro, J.D. ’95, Miami, Florida, achieved board certification as a civil trial advocate from the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Approximately 3 percent of American lawyers have that board certification. He also is board certified in civil trial law by The Florida Bar. Grace John-Kurian ’98, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, was the recipient of the 2016 Lew Hay III Award for outstanding leadership at NextEra Energy Resources. She is a senior director at NextEra Energy.

2000s Christopher D. Donovan ’01, J.D. ’04, Bonita Springs, Florida, has been selected as a 2017 Florida Rising Star by Super Lawyers.




Jason S. Lambert ’02, J.D. ’12, Tampa, was published in the Florida Bar Journal’s June issue. He co-authored “You Spent How Much? Who Really Cares? Discovery and Evidentiary Value of an Opponent’s Billing

Records.” He is an associate in Broad and Cassel’s Commercial Litigation Practice Group and is president of the Clearwater Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division. Brandon D. Howell ’08, Bloomington, Indiana, was awarded the 2016-2017 Trustees Teaching Award at Indiana UniversityBloomington, where he is a faculty member in the Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies in the School of Public Health-Bloomington. Howell was one of four faculty members selected for the honor.


Gina-Marie Francolino ’11, M.S. ’15, Spring Hill, Florida, became a Licensed Mental Health Counselor by completing the state’s requirements. She also is a Nationally Certified

Counselor with the National Board of Certified Counselors. She oversees the Halifax Health-Hospice BeginAgain Children’s Grief Center in DeLand. Michael P. Cartledge ’13, Deltona, Florida, graduated with a Master of Divinity degree, Master of Arts in Christian Education and Formation degree, Senior Fellowship in Practical Theology, and the John Havran Award for Excellence in Christian Education at Princeton Theological Seminary. He now is pursuing a doctoral degree in practical theology.

Melissa Palmer ’13, Ormond Beach, Florida, graduated with a Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from the University of Florida. She now is a general dentist in Volusia County at Universal Smiles Dentistry.

Marriages 1 Melanie Diaz ’10 to Ryan Olsen ’10, Sept. 3, 2016. 2 Emily Renee McGlon ’10 to Thomas McGlon, March 18, 2017. 3 Marcia Myers ’15

to James Lew, June 9, 2017.

4 Tiffany Somogy

’15 to Chesley Woods ’15, Jan. 7, 2017.




5 Kristie Jo (KJ) Pichler ’03 and husband Chris, a son, Benjamin Olsson, in April 2017. (Pichler’s father, Jan Roberts ’67, is the grandfather.) 3 64




Making a Positive Difference

Paige Berges ’04 developed a passion for international law while a student at Stetson. In August, that passion was rewarded, when Berges received one of 10 national Alpha Chi Omega Real. Strong. Woman of Distinction Awards for 2017. Berges is the first Stetson alumna to receive the prestigious award from her sorority, which selected her for making a positive difference to the world. After graduating, Berges went on to Duke University School of Law and earned juris doctor and master of laws degrees. Since then, Berges has been active professionally in both paid and pro bono work on a global scale. Recent volunteer efforts include helping to improve the lives of domestic-violence survivors; working with Lawyers Without Borders to

increase the capacity of foreign lawyers — primarily women — to resolve disputes and communicate more effectively for change; and providing similar advocacy training and guidance for the International Criminal Court and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. As vice president in the financial-crime division at a global investment bank in London, Berges has shifted her legal focus to the private sector, specifically financial crime compliance in banking. There, Berges believes she can further advocate for human rights. “I know many who face more personal and professional challenges than myself, but who remain committed to making a difference,” she says. “I owe it to them to do the best that I can.” — Trish Wieland

Pioneering in Pediatric Orthopedics Lauren (Leffler) Hyer ’06 knew by high school that a career in medicine was probably in her future. She was influenced early on by the work of her father, a veterinarian, and her mother, a hospital laboratory technician. Hyer initially was drawn to family medicine and preventive care. Her path, however, abruptly changed after a surgical rotation in her third year at the University of South Florida College of Medicine. Now, she is a pioneer of sorts — the only woman pediatric orthopedic surgeon in South Carolina, a staff physician at Shriners Hospital for Children in Greenville since October 2016. Torn in deciding on a specialty, Hyer applied for residencies in both family medicine and orthopedic surgery, ultimately choosing the latter, a field that historically has drawn mostly men. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the number of women residents in the field grew only from 67 in 2007 to 105 in 2015. Yet, the “rough-and-tumble” physical stereotype of the job is disappearing, Hyer says, with innovative thinking and finesse by a surgeon now more important qualities for

success than “brute strength.” Most of her patients have chronic physical problems from birth that will require multiple surgeries. “A lot of kids are happier to have a woman doctor. We are more social by nature, more compassionate,” she says. “Sometimes a family just needs someone to hold their hand.” Hyer adds that she hopes to go overseas someday, once she gains more experience, as she did for a month at a Kenyan clinic in her final of five years of residency. She was a medical missionary. Yet, for now, she is content pushing ahead in her career while encouraging young girls to dream with ambition. “If someone told me in high school I would be doing this, I would have said, ‘What?’” Hyer says. “I’m grateful God didn’t tell me at 18 what I’d become. It is a long, tough pursuit, but totally worth it in the end.” — Ray Weiss

“I’m grateful God didn’t tell me at 18 what I’d become. It is a long, tough pursuit, but totally worth it in the end.” — LAUREN HYER ’06 —




Visiting All 50

When Luis Maldonado ’01 was a first-year student, he went to New York on Spring Break with a group of friends, and he set a goal: visit all 50 states by age 40. Now a member of the Stetson University Board of Trustees, Maldonado, 38, has been to 47 of them, following a trip in early August to the Dakotas. After graduating, Maldonado earned a law degree from the University of Florida and now works as legal counsel for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security. When he’s not working, “I try to knock off another state in the process.” While in North and South Dakota, Maldonado traveled to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial (wearing a Stetson T-shirt). He is especially fond of visiting “American treasures.” The sculptures of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln were carved into the granite of the Black Hills by nearly 400 workers between 1927 and 1941, according to the National Park Service. “Mount Rushmore is one of those things that’s on a bucket list. You see these things on TV or postcards or on the internet. Any time you see one of those in person, it’s just kind of breathtaking, like wow, I get to see this,” Maldonado comments. Fellow Hatters have joined in on the fun. Maldonado visited Kentucky with his roommate, Belkys Torres ’01, during his senior year when they presented research at the University of Kentucky. More recently, he embarked on a six-state road trip with Kristina Jones, ’02. “I don’t take anything for granted,” Maldonado concludes, “so the ability to have both the financial wherewithal and the time to be able to pursue a passion of mine is something that I enjoy.” — Cory Lancaster

With three states still to visit, Luis Maldonado’s most recent “wow” moment occurred in August, when he traveled to Mount Rushmore.

In Memoriam 1930s William T. Windsor, J.D. ’31

1940s Bette Bird Heebner ’41 Ellen Yaxley Raab ’45 Faye Rogers Tiencken ’46 Minnie Sauls Carmichael ’47 Joyce Caldwell Gibson ’47 Seaborn J. Buckalew, LL.B. ’49 Thomas C. Simms ’49 Roger Whitemore, J.D. ’49

1950s H. G. Edmondson ’50



William E. Snyder ’50 Marion Hare ’51 William B. Peck ’51 Ona Barfield ’52 Marilyn Wentworth Coble ’53 Alfred E. Sappia ’53 Evelyn Stewart Casey ’54 Lois Bunton Richardson ’54 William F. Warden ’54 Thomas K. Brown ’55 Robert D. Palmer ’56 Allen R. Samuels, LL.B. ’56 Ernest C. Wiggins, J.D. ’56 James R. Hope ’57 Willard L. McGhee ’58 Henry L. Williford, LL.B. ’58

Bruce E. Longbottom ’59 Jack H. VanHart ’59

1960s Val Patarini, J.D. ’62 Jacqueline Burch ’65 Sherrille Julian-Compain ’67

Earle H. Spence ’76, J.D. ’84 Albert C. Williams, J.D. ’78 David Burtner, J.D. ’79

1980s Merrie Crowell, J.D. ’84 Kenneth G. Wing, J.D. ’88



Maryanne Davitt ’70 Elizabeth Sorrell ’70 David M. Coville ’72 Steve A. Cole ’73 Bonnie Lundquist Carr ’75 Donald B. Jones ’75 David R. Slover ’75

Patricia Yaverski ’93 Heather Eyerly ’94

2010s Timothy J. Ermon ’15 Michele Crowe ’14 ’15


PORTRAIT BY: JENNA BOLUSKY ’18 Studio Art Major President of Kappa Pi International Art Honors Society Orlando, Florida

Nicholas Adam Blakely

Nov. 4, 1997 – Aug. 28, 2017



Office of University Marketing 421 N. Woodland Blvd., 8319 DeLand, FL 32723

STETSON is printed on FSCcertified paper.



Great Organists at Stetson series Chelsea Chen, organist and artist-in-residence, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church Lee Chapel, Elizabeth Hall 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 15

Stetson Jazz Ensemble Patrick Hennessey, director Athens Theatre 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 17

Stetson University Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition Winners Anthony Hose, conductor Lee Chapel, Elizabeth Hall 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 21


Stetson Choral Union Sandra Peter, conductor Poulenc’s Gloria performed by a chorus of more than 160 voices, soprano soloist Karen Coker-Merritt and the Stetson Symphony Orchestra. Stetson Women’s Chorale Andrew Larson, conductor First Baptist Church 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 28

Great Pianists at Stetson series Vyacheslav Gryaznov, piano Lee Chapel, Elizabeth Hall 7:30 p.m. (Rescheduled from Sept. 17)

All events are held in DeLand, Florida. More information: stetson.edu/music/calendar

Profile for Stetson University

Stetson Magazine  

Fall 2017

Stetson Magazine  

Fall 2017

Profile for stetsonu