Stetson Magazine

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Expectations Gifted singer gets the call of a lifetime

School of Music student Kevin Jose Simerilla Romero joins the Los Angeles Opera’s renowned Domingo-ColburnStein Young Artist Program.



STETSON | Summer 2019

Sunrise Summer Study The Holler Fountain in aptly named Palm Court on Stetson’s main campus offers an uncommonly quaint retreat, especially this time of year. Photo: Joel Jones/Stetson University | STETSON






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

16 Departments


2 BEGINNINGS Sunrise Summer Study

16 Stetson Sunshine

6 WELCOME Going Beyond

20 Lockstep

8 INTELLIGENTSIA News and Notes About Knowledge 40 ATHLETICS Next Up? 42 ALUMNI Celebrating Hatters Everywhere 46 THE CLASSES Accolades and Achievements 51 PARTING SHOT Going Places

Images of fun from the Archives

Stetson’s well-rounded education has caught the attention of global security and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, resulting in an unexpected (and thriving) pipeline for employment.

22 Shotgun Surprises

Members of the newly renamed Stetson Clay Target Team take aim for fun and sport. They’re finding much more of both at home and on the range.

Art and Photography Bobby Fishbough, Joel Jones Ciara Ocasio, Brittany Strozzo Writers Sandra Carr, Rick de Yampert, Ihsaan Fanusie, Cory Lancaster, Kelly Larson, Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D., Jack Roth, Alexandra Shimalla ’16 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.

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STETSON | Summer 2019


26 Brand New

A look at Stetson’s “Go Beyond” marketing campaign reveals such components as spirit, growth and aspiration. And, mostly, university heritage.

28 The Class of 2019

Achievement. Anticipation. Reflection. And a literal going beyond.

32 A Call from Opera Superstar Plácido Domingo

Kevin Jose Simerilla Romero becomes one of the youngest singers selected for LA Opera’s Young Artist Program.


36 Healthy Impact

Stephanie Haridopolos ’94: “I feel like it’s our duty as a society to bond together and help others.”

38 ‘Jump Around’

An unlikely musical duo hops across genres on the way to its first CD.

ON THE COVER: School of Music student Kevin Jose Simerilla Romero personifies Stetson’s new “Go Beyond” brand theme with a story of superior talent, serendipity and, ultimately, career success. | STETSON



GOING BEYOND “Profit for a company is like oxygen for a person. If you don’t have enough of it, you’re out of the game. But if you think your life is about breathing, you’re really missing something.” – management guru Peter Drucker


n the for-profit business world, one could effectively argue that profit and maximizing shareholder wealth are the only bottom line. Then there are others like Peter Drucker, who see profit and certain definitions of success like oxygen. You need it for survival, of course, so it is not to be undervalued. But why stop there? Surely, there is a more meaningful purpose to which we can devote ourselves. What more do we want our lives, our efforts, our work to represent and to accomplish? At Stetson, we talk about “going beyond.” Going beyond expectations, beyond what is required, beyond what we may think is even possible. At Stetson, we believe in learning more, getting better, making an impact. And we celebrate, as you see in this issue, the commencement of students’ lives after Stetson, when they spread their wings as alumni and make their lives mean something. Going beyond requires bold goals and bold moves. At Stetson, we have surpassed the goal in our $200 million fundraising campaign, doubled our endowment and nearly doubled our enrollment in the past decade. We knew we could do more, achieve more and transform the lives of more students. As the university looks to new heights and its next campaign, it is well-prepared to go beyond, just as it has taught its students. My husband, Richard, is the university mentor for the Stetson Clay Target Team. He has helped to nurture a group of students not only to excel at their craft, but also to hone life skills that make them better people with a sense of focus, teamwork, personal responsibility and solid ethics. The team has evolved and matured, most recently competing in the ACUI Collegiate Clay Target Championships at an international level. It is a satisfying achievement, but it is not the only goal. Richard has thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to nurture the growth of these students and to learn from them, and I am so proud of the community they have created together. As you will read in Kevin Jose Simerilla Romero’s story, “going beyond” to refine his operatic voice and learn from Plácido Domingo takes hard work, perseverance and flexibility: Kevin is “just trying to do better than he did the day before.” He seized the opportunity before him, cognizant of the marvelous shrinking distance between the present and the incredibleness of what lies next. Stetson’s relationships with employers like Lockheed Martin, which recruits an increasing number of Stetson graduates, also help our students articulate the value of their Stetson experience and just how much they have to offer beyond the summary on their résumé. A liberal-arts education at Stetson involves exposure to great literature, the social and physical sciences, mathematics, philosophy and more beyond a student’s chosen major.


STETSON | Summer 2019

Such broad learning creates informed and responsible citizens who advocate for a quality of life that derives sustenance from much more than simply oxygen. As illustrated in the Lockheed Martin article, our students emerge from a high-touch, liberal-arts education with strong communication and criticalthinking skills, professionalism, and an ability to collaborate and solve complex problems — all skills that employers seek in job candidates. All skills we know intuitively that this world needs. This is why at Stetson we continue to go beyond and challenge our students to do the same. I am grateful each day to belong to such a community where each offers so much to each other. Thank you for being part of it!

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

• National Reputation and Value • Equity • Campaign • Finance and Budget • Advising and Engagement • Learning Excellence

Stetson’s ‘Roll Ahead’ Strategy

The six Roll Ahead Strategic Map Goals:

The 2014-2019 Strategic Map? There’s a bit more to be done. That was the message delivered in early May by the Stetson University Board of Trustees as it approved the Roll Ahead Strategic Map Goals, based on the university’s 2014-2019 Strategic Map. Since 2014, work on that map has provided momentum to push the university forward to address its central challenge: Establish Stetson as a University of Choice for Innovative Approaches to Tackling Complex Challenges. In essence, the Roll Ahead goals are designed to keep things moving during a time of transition. “It is an exciting point in time at Stetson University,” said Stetson President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D., who has announced her plans for retirement next June. “We are beginning the search for our 10th president, adding new leadership to our schools and colleges and tackling complex issues [environment, law, health]. The map provides direction while new leadership coalesces around objectives and goals that move the university forward.”

• National Reputation and Value: Develop and strengthen distinctiveness in academic and campus life with demonstrated improvement in outcomes as measured by employment and graduate school enrollment in outcomes surveys. • Equity: Assure broad understanding of Stetson’s goals for providing an inclusive environment — concentrating on training opportunities for more inclusive searches, stressing the evolution into being a more open and respectful community, and adopting best practices in ways to promote equitable policies and practices within and throughout our campuses. • Campaign: Continue and complete ongoing fundraising efforts for focused campaigns, and lay the groundwork for the next comprehensive campaign. • Finance and Budget: Assure an understanding of the Stetson finances and budget processes, and translate budget planning and execution to university constituents as a way to build confidence and expand awareness. • Advising and Engagement: Review and revise advising and engagement activities based on best practices for institutions such as Stetson. • Learning Excellence: Through annual cycles of curriculum review and overall insight into our instructional programs, develop advanced methods to assure the highest opportunities for student learning. Look for more to come on the Roll Ahead Strategic Map Goals at the beginning of the academic year in August.

“It is an exciting point in time at Stetson University. ... The map provides direction while new leadership coalesces around objectives and goals that move the university forward.” — Stetson President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D. | STETSON


INTELLIGENTSIA DID YOU KNOW? The Joy McCann Foundation has

Elizabeth Skomp, Ph.D.

New Deans Named Following national searches, Stetson filled its two vacancies for deans with the naming of Elizabeth Skomp, Ph.D., to head up the College of Arts and Sciences and Tim Peter, D.M.A., to lead the School of Music. Skomp arrives from The University of the South (Sewanee), where she was the associate dean for Faculty Development and Inclusion and professor of Russian. Peter joined Stetson in fall 2012, serving as a music professor and director of choral activities. At Sewanee, Skomp focused on faculty development and grant-seeking, curricular reform, integrated advising, dialogue across difference, study abroad, and numerous diversity and inclusion initiatives. Also, she oversaw Sewanee’s Center for Teaching, Office of Advising, Office of Undergraduate Research, Writing Tim Peter, Across the Curriculum and the D.M.A. University Art Gallery. Aside from classroom teaching, Peter has conducted the Stetson Concert Choir and the Stetson Men, among other duties. He is an active participant in the National Collegiate Choral Organization and the American Choral Directors Association, having held positions as the divisional chair for repertoire and standards for colleges and universities and the state and divisional chair for men’s choirs. — Michael Candelaria


STETSON | Summer 2019

awarded Stetson Law’s Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy a $150,000 grant for a project to ensure effective long-term protection of aquatic restoration efforts in Florida and across the United States. Under the Clean Water Act, developers are required to mitigate damage to aquatic resources, primarily by restoring wetlands and streams. Stetson Law’s project will independently review the legal and financial mechanisms in place for the long-term protection of these restored sites. The study will be the first that compares whether equivalent standards are being applied to all mitigation providers — mitigation banks, in-lieu fee programs and permittees, according to Professor Royal Gardner, director of the institute, which serves as an interdisciplinary focal point for education, research and service activities related to global, regional and local biodiversity issues. The Joy McCann Foundation, based in Tampa, is a private family foundation made possible by the benevolence of Hugh F. Culverhouse Sr. and Joy McCann Culverhouse.






Abbey Ramsbottom ’18, left, and Gisela Alvarez ’16

Cardiac Cell Science, Anyone?

Summer Jobs As undergraduate students, Gisela Alvarez ’16 and Abbey Ramsbottom ’18 worked together at the Homer and Dolly Hand Art Center on campus. Now, they’re pairing up again this summer to run the art museum while Stetson looks for a new director. Stetson is conducting a national search with the hopes of having a new director by September or earlier. Former director Tonya Curran departed to lead the art museum at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. In the interim, the university looked to its own alumni for help. Combined, Alvarez and Ramsbottom have six years of experience working at the Hand Art Center as undergraduates. Alvarez, who started college at age 28, will pursue a master’s degree in art history at the University of Florida this fall. She plans to get a doctorate in art history before working for a museum or gallery in New York City or becoming a college professor. Ramsbottom, also a Downtown DeLand store supervisor and operator of a small nonprofit that promotes ethics in business, is exploring museum-studies programs to potentially pursue a master’s degree in fall 2020. — Cory Lancaster

The study at Stetson of the communication between cardiac cells — yes, correct — received a boost with funding awards to Heather Evans-Anderson, Ph.D., assistant professor of health sciences. This spring, Evans-Anderson received a PALM Network fellowship and a 2019 Willa Dean Lowery grant, totaling $13,000. The PALM Network (Promoting Active Learning and Mentoring) is a national group of dedicated teachers who are committed to active teaching and learning in life science education and STEM classrooms. The Willa Dean Lowery Fund — through the generosity of longstanding Stetson patron Willa Dean Lowery, M.D., ‘48 — supports faculty research in the natural sciences to advance the teacher-scholar role by encouraging proposals for innovation in scientific research. The funds will be used to create a student-centered, technology-rich and active-learning classroom for Evans-Anderson’s anatomy and physiology classes. Also, they will further her research on communication between cardiac cells during the early stages of heart development and provide opportunities to present her research at national conferences. Evans-Anderson and her students will use CRISPR technology (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) to study endothelial and cardiomyocyte cell interactions by genetically modifying an invertebrate organism to investigate the regulatory mechanisms of heart development. CRISPR technology allows a user to cut and replace DNA sections to edit genes in a living organism. — Sandra Carr Heather Evans-Anderson, Ph.D. | STETSON



Rebecca Ingram helped to power the Hatters over the nation’s No. 1 team, USC.

From Fulbright to Uzbekistan

Spiking History Stetson Beach Volleyball was, oh, so close. Its championship season and historic run in the NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship tournament came to an end with a loss to the University of Hawai’i — but not before upsetting the No. 1 team in the nation, the University of Southern California. The Hatters, with a record of 30-10, finished among the final five teams. Also notably, the win against USC was the team’s first-ever in the national tournament. During the season, the Hatters won a school-record 14 consecutive matches, going undefeated for the entire month of April and winning their fifth ASUN Championship in program history. The Hatters also posted 12 wins against nationally ranked opponents. Stetson’s Sammee Thomas (from California) and Darby Dunn (British Columbia, Canada) were named to the NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship all-tournament team. Sunniva Helland-Hansen (Norway) and Carly Perales (Texas) were named Honorable Mention All-Americans by In the final poll for 2019, the Hatters were ranked No. 6 by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. — Michael Candelaria


STETSON | Summer 2019

Jennifer Foo, Ph.D., a professor of finance, has received a Fulbright Program award from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Foo plans to use the award this fall and travel to Uzbekistan during her sabbatical. Along with being a prestigious academicexchange program, the Fulbright is designed to expand and strengthen relationships between the people of the United States and citizens of other nations and to promote international understanding and cooperation. Foo is ideal for such an opportunity. In 2003, she received the Stetson Hand Award for Research and Creative and Professional Activity, and in 2005 and 2009 received the Hand Grant Award for Professional Development and the School of Business Administration Service Award, respectively. Foo arrived at Stetson in 1990 and now serves as chair of the Department of Finance. She was a visiting professor of finance teaching at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, in 2011; at Vilnius University, Lithuania, in 2006; and at Beijing Union University, China, in 1998 and 2000. Foo has traveled extensively, presenting papers at international conferences on global banking and financial systems and transitional countries. Recently, she also was honored as a member of the Jewish National Fund’s Winter 2018-2019 Faculty Fellowship Program in Israel — a program that strives to link scholars from diverse disciplines with their Israeli counterparts at major universities. — Michael Candelaria Jennifer Foo, Ph.D.

Saluting ‘Recruiter of the Year’ Since he arrived at Stetson in January 2011, retired Lt. Col. Oakland McCulloch has been fond of deflecting. McCulloch, the recruiting operations officer on campus for the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, frequently can be heard telling cadets that “it’s all about” them. Or the Army. Or their country. But definitely not about him. It’s become a familiar refrain. This time, it was all about him. In May, McCulloch was named national Recruiter of the Year by the U.S. Army Cadet Command as part of its annual Cadet Command Excellence Awards. He was selected from among 273 Army ROTC programs at major universities throughout the United States. “I figured somebody else would win it,” McCulloch said with a laugh. “It makes you feel good that somebody recognizes that you put in a lot of hard work and did something good.” Then, characteristically, he pointed to others, most notably Stetson President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D., along with the university’s Office of Admissions. While his job is to attract talented young people to become cadets committed to service, he explains, Stetson administrators have made a huge difference by removing obstacles to enrollment and retention, such as offering scholarship dollars. Typically, for example, national ROTC scholarships cover three years at a university. Stetson often covers an additional year. “I couldn’t have done it myself. It took all of us to make it all happen,” commented McCulloch, whose role also encompasses recruiting for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, BethuneCookman University and Daytona State College. The four schools comprise the Eagle Battalion, one of the nation’s largest ROTC units. Clearly, McCulloch’s efforts are paying dividends. Last fall, a total of 138 first-year students enrolled at the four schools, including 69 at Stetson. For the fall 2019 semester, 144 had committed to enroll by early June, with 54 of them selecting Stetson. Additionally,

“I love being able to bring great young men and women who want to serve, and help them get into this program.” — retired Lt. Col. Oakland McCulloch

another 15 top-notch students were planning to join the Eagle Battalion but ultimately chose to attend a military academy. The quality of candidates is high. In turn, McCulloch works to find the right individual fits among the schools — with this usual message: “This is about you. You have to figure out what it is you want.” “I love being able to bring great young men and women who want to serve,” he concluded, “and help them get into this program.” — Michael Candelaria

DID YOU KNOW? The Stetson men’s rowing team traveled in late May to California for its first-ever participation in the Grand Final of the Intercollegiate Rowing Association national championships — and placed fifth. The team’s Varsity 4+ boat crossed the finish line behind only the University of Washington, University of California-Berkeley, Princeton University and MIT. First-year student-athlete Walter Klein (from Missouri) manned the coxswain position, accompanied by junior rowers Nick Hall (Florida), JT Lamon (New Jersey) and Xavier Mulligan (Massachusetts), and senior Zachary Ewing (New Jersey). | STETSON



A gift-funded renovation brings new teaching spaces for studio art courses in Sampson Hall. Photo: Ciara Ocasio/Stetson University

Artful Ingenuity Call this philanthropic flair with a dash of design resourcefulness. Just in time for the spring semester, a significant renovation project in Sampson Hall created two new teaching spaces for studio art courses — with funding entirely by virtue of an unexpected gift from the Estate of Lindsay B. Witthus to Stetson’s Department of Creative Arts. (Lindsay B. Witthus was not a Stetson graduate and had no apparent ties to Stetson.) The result: The two classrooms for painting and drawing now enable the department to schedule multiple popular classes at the same time, as opposed to one class taking the entire space due to its lofted, open-air ceiling. Also, the two classrooms are divided by a hallway, enabling students to pass through the area accessibly without disturbance and providing additional room for more wall displays. Plus, when the original space was gutted to provide two separate classroom areas, the changes recaptured unused space and essentially doubled the previous footprint. The plan emerged after department leaders went “’round and ’round for a while, trying to figure out what the best use was [for the surprise donation],” according to Nathan Wolek, professor of Digital Arts and Music Technology and the former chair of Creative Arts. With hundreds of students using these spaces each semester, and with new faculty on board, the donation truly can be described as a present for the future. — Michael Candelaria


STETSON | Summer 2019

DID YOU KNOW? For the fifth time since 2010, Moody’s Investor Service reaffirmed Stetson’s A3 rating and outlook as stable — a reflection of “financial strength and community stewardship of our academic, cultural and financial resources,” according to Bob Huth, Stetson’s executive vice president and chief financial officer. Moody’s Investor Service noted the university’s positive financial status, “healthy” donor and alumni support, regional academic reputation and endowment. The A3 rating is on Series 2015 revenue bonds issued through the Volusia County Educational Facilities Authority.

Leadership Symposium Strikes a Chord As a first-time event, the hope was to bring experts in a particular field together with K-12 leaders, school administrators and others, including law enforcement. The goal was frank conversation that would result in knowledge gain plus an exchange of ideas. The plan even involved dialogue that occasionally might be uncomfortable or, at the very least, impassioned. One can check all the boxes regarding Stetson’s inaugural Nina B. Hollis Institute for Education Reform – Leadership Symposium “Safety, Security and the Law in Today’s Schools,” held on campus in mid-June. The free event attracted approximately 100 professionals from numerous surrounding counties, who listened to guest speakers Glen Epley, Ph.D., an education professor at Stetson; Mercy Roberg, J.D., director of the Office of Professional Education at Stetson University College of Law; and former Florida Supreme Court Justice James Perry, J.D. The attendees also met in small groups. Epley led the attendees through the recent history of free speech in public schools. Roberg, a Stetson Law alumnae, talked about guns on campuses. Finally, Perry explored aspects of the Fourth Amendment as they related to “reasonable” and “unreasonable” searches of students. The next symposium already is set: June 15, 2020, at Stetson. — Michael Candelaria

Former Florida Supreme Court Justice James Perry, J.D., was among the leadership symposium’s guest speakers.

Bonita Dukes, Stetson’s new associate vice president for Facilities Management Photo: Ciara Ocasio/ Stetson University

Building the Future This spring, Bonita Dukes arrived on campus as the new associate vice president for Facilities Management. She replaced the popular Al Allen, who retired after nine years at Stetson. Her task: help to build Stetson’s future, literally. And she plans to do it by building relationships, too. Brick by brick, beginning with a foundation of respect. “Talk less because you learn so much more when you’re listening,” she said with an easy smile. Dukes has two decades of experience and expertise in architecture, planning and design, construction practices, facilities operations and maintenance, and real estate development. Most recently, she was associate vice president for Facilities Management, Planning and Auxiliary Operations at Clark Atlanta University. There, the facilities department realized more than $700,000 in savings, and the university now is recognized nationally as a leader in sustainability among Historically Black Colleges. Further, Dukes brings a nonprofit organization with her, KidBuilders Inc., which she established in 2008 to teach children about architecture and construction in an “effort to increase their respect and appreciation for the built environment within their communities.” Dukes: “I want to be part of the growth — the upward trajectory on building the Stetson brand … .” — Michael Candelaria | STETSON



Seeking Best and Brightest For many decades, Stetson students have been competitive applicants for national and international scholarships, fellowships and grants for both undergraduate and postgraduate study. Now, the quest to identify the university’s best and brightest has intensified, led by Grace Kaletski-Maisel, the inaugural Research and External Scholarships Advisor. In that role, Kaletski-Maisel serves as administrative support, working with students, faculty and staff in the pursuit of those distinguished honors, which include Grace Kaletski-Maisel the well-known Fulbright and Rhodes scholarships, among many others. Also, she is Stetson’s learning and information-literacy librarian. And Kaletski-Maisel is seeking to promote those opportunities to students as early as possible — ideally, first-year students. Casting such a wider net will enable Stetson not only to identify superior achievers, but also provide equitable pathways for all students, according to Rosalie Richards, Ph.D., associate provost for faculty development. Richards noted that while some students might be introverted and/or reluctant to step forward, others could be overlooked. This new concerted effort to “open the gate and increase access,” as she described, could make a big difference. Richards: “We need to increase awareness, so that we have a bigger pool of scholarship and fellowship candidates. And if we have a bigger pool, the likelihood of students being successful as award recipients will increase.” — Michael Candelaria

Winning Tallies Score two for Stetson Athletics. Or, score 17. Two Hatters programs earned perfect multiyear scores in the 2017-2018 NCAA Academic Progress Rate Institutional Report. Also, all of Stetson’s 17 NCAA sports programs performed well above the 930 minimum threshold on the four-year APR report. And, for good measure, four Hatters programs earned perfect single-year APR scores in the report,

Great Expectations Keep an eye on Chelsea Seaver this fall — and look for big things. Seaver, a senior public health major (with a minor in sustainable food systems), is a Newman Civic Fellow, as named by Campus Compact, a Boston-based nonprofit organization working to advance the public purposes of higher education. Seaver was among 262 students announced this spring from 39 states. Chelsea Seaver The Newman Civic Fellowship is a one-year fellowship for community-committed college students from Campus Compact member institutions. Through the fellowship, Campus Compact provides a variety of learning and networking opportunities emphasizing personal, professional and civic growth. As a first-year student, Seaver began volunteering at the Spring Hill Community Garden near campus, learning about the interdependent nature of public health, environmental science, sociology and economic development, while ensuring that local low-income families increased their access to food and nutrition programs. And she hasn’t slowed. Following graduation, Seaver plans to seek a master’s degree in public health with a focus on epidemiology. Big things, indeed. — Michael Candelaria

which is an annual scorecard of academic achievement calculated for all Division I sports teams nationwide. The crowning achievements: The women’s beach volleyball team achieved a perfect multiyear score of 1000, as did the men’s cross country team, with both receiving NCAA Public Recognition Awards. And, by the way, those honors were announced just prior to Stetson Beach Volleyball nearly winning a national championship. — Michael Candelaria


STETSON | Summer 2019

The Making of John B. Stetson

Student Grace Netanya Roberts won the Copic Awards’ Grand Prize in Tokyo, Japan. Her creation, “The Explorer,” represented Roberts’ “imagination of childhood.”

In a studio outside of Chicago, a larger-than-life sculpture of John B. Stetson is being cast in bronze this summer and will make its way home to Stetson. Renowned sculptor Erik Blome has been re-creating the university’s benefactor for the past year, taking the project from concept to drawings to a clay model. And now the man — 130% larger than life — is seated on a bench and tipping his hat. Commissioned with the support of former university Trustee and double-Hatter Troy Templeton and his wife, Sissy, the sculpture will be unveiled on the DeLand campus in early August and installed in front of the Marshall & Vera Lea Rinker Welcome Center. Blome’s sculptures can be found across America, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Milwaukee, Rosa Parks in Montgomery, Alabama, and hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Blome started with 12 drawings, each showing a different pose of Stetson seated on a bench with one of his signature hats. In the end, the sculpture measures roughly 7 feet, 8 inches and weighs approximately 1,600 pounds. A massive achievement and a giant addition to campus. — Cory Lancaster

Grand Surprise for Art Major Senior Grace Netanya Roberts was celebrating her 19th birthday in New York City in May when she learned she had won a top prize in an international art competition sponsored by Copic, a Japanese manufacturer of art markers and pens. Then, on an all-expense-paid trip to Tokyo for the Copic Awards ceremony, Roberts was “shocked” to receive the $5,000 Grand Prize. Her entry, “The Explorer,” was the judges’ unanimous selection from among more than 2,000 entries across 72 countries. “Since this is a worldwide competition, I really wanted to create a piece that expressed a worldwide theme, which for me was the imagination of childhood,” commented Roberts, an art major who hopes to one day open a gallery with her own artwork. “My art for me has always been about expressing imagination.” Roberts said “The Explorer” actually was her second attempt at an entry for the contest last spring. She realized her first drawing was too similar to the other entries submitted on the website, so she decided to try for something “that stood out from the other submissions,” even though the deadline was only one week away. Mission accomplished — making for quite a birthday surprise. — Cory Lancaster

John B. Stetson is taking shape in the studio of sculptor Erik Blome, left. Stetson President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D., right, visited the studio in June with former university Trustee Troy Templeton, second from left, and his wife, Sissy, second from right, and Jennifer Prosperi, principal director of Embler Creative Consultants Inc. (Sarasota, Florida), who helped with the commissioning. | STETSON


There is no denying that Stetson’s destination-worthy locale is among its many draws. It comes as little surprise, then, that our photo collection abounds with evidence of Hatters enjoying the salubrious climate and sunny skies of Central Florida. From afternoons at Daytona Beach or DeLeon Springs, to intramural games and antics on campus, one thing is clear: Stetson has always known how to have fun. BY


STETSON | Summer 2019



Students boating on Pine Woods Lake, 1905. The King and Queen in full regalia at May Fete, a May Day celebration, 1920. Cheerleaders, wearing white uniforms, lead a (conga?) line of students in front of the old Commons Building, 1938. | STETSON


Three students about to take the plunge at DeLeon Springs, 1940s.


STETSON | Summer 2019

Physical education students practice archery, 1946.

A member of the water-ski team carves a turn on a single ski, 1955. Fraternity members participate in a bed race, 1965.

Dean Paul Langston (1962-1985) prepares to hit the ball at the first Music Faculty Croquet Tournament, as student Tom Fazio ’82 protects him from the sun, 1982. Editor’s note: Kelly Larson is archivist for Stetson’s Archives & Special Collections, duPont-Ball Library. | STETSON


Lockstep Stetson’s well-rounded education has caught the attention of global security and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, resulting in an unexpected (and thriving) pipeline for employment.



his may be surprising to some: Four out of 16 executives on the staff of Lockheed Martin’s Missiles and Fire Control Finance and Business Operations are Stetson graduates. No need for higher math — that’s 25%. Surprising. But true.

Liberal-arts Stetson is garnering attention from companies such as Lockheed by virtue of its ability to equip students with strong communication skills, a high level of professionalism and the awareness to excel in collaborative work environments. And there’s no need for scientific research — the proof comes directly from the employer. “We never actively recruited from Stetson until about two years ago,” said Melissa Edens, vice president and controller, Finance and Business Operations at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “Since then, we’ve hired about a dozen Stetson grads as full-time employees, as well as the same number of interns. And we’ve been extremely impressed with every one of them.” Twenty-one years ago, in fact, Edens graduated from Stetson with a bachelor’s degree in business. At the time, she still wasn’t sure about her next move. As destiny would have it, defense budgets were up, and there was a hiring spree at Lockheed. Edens didn’t balk at the chance. “I was still deciding between the investment and corporate side of finance,” she explained. “I eventually decided on corporate, and here was Lockheed, which presented a real opportunity for me because it was the biggest and most prestigious place to work in Central Florida.” Edens has no regrets. And she received that vice president/ controller title in June, advancing from director. Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, one of four Lockheed 20

STETSON | Summer 2019

Alumni Melissa Edens and Ryan Naime followed a familiar path: from the Stetson classroom to Lockheed Martin. business areas, is a recognized leader in the design, development and manufacture of precision engagement aerospace and defense systems for U.S. and allied militaries — involving advanced combat, missile, rocket, manned and unmanned systems for customers that include the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, NASA and dozens of others throughout the world. Also, it offers a wide range of products and services for the global civil nuclear power industry and the military’s green-power initiatives. Yet, while engineering is the backbone of the company, most employees aren’t engineers. Instead, they support the company’s vast scope of operations. Lockheed depends on having a strong team environment. To get a product out the door on time and within budget, all functions and facets must work together cohesively. So, complementary skill sets are highly valued. Consequently, one of Edens’ responsibilities as vice president/ controller is to find versatile workers. In turn, Stetson has emerged as a “go-to” place for such talent. “We’ve noticed a big difference in Stetson grads when it comes to their superior verbal communication skills,” Edens commented. “The curriculum focuses on a high-touch education, which means a lot of group projects and presentations, and the smaller classes drive the need to convey your thoughts properly. Having these analytical skills prepares students well for the business world.”

Consider a 2013 survey titled “Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success,” conducted for the Association of American Colleges and Universities by Hart Research Associates. More than nine out of 10 employers (93%) agreed that a job candidate’s demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly and solve complex problems was more important than the candidate’s undergraduate major. Ryan Naime ’18, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in international business, was recruited by Lockheed as a contract negotiations associate. Naime’s Stetson education, he believes, provided the needed confidence and prepared him to be successful. “Because of my background, international business was always something I was interested in as a career,” said Naime, who was raised in Egypt and traveled extensively while growing up. “When I found out about this position at a Lockheed recruiting event, I saw it as a great opportunity and knew I could come in and do a good job.” Notably, Lockheed Martin is a regular participant in campus recruiting events, such as the Stetson Fall Internship and Career Expo last October. “I knew I could communicate well and solve problems in a team environment because I had to do a lot of that as part of my coursework,” Naime continued. “I feel like all of that prepared me for this specific job; now I’m just excited to build on those skills and continue to grow.”

For its part, Stetson’s Office of Career and Professional Development offers a host of free student resources that span everything from navigating job searches and creating résumés and cover letters, to networking and building interview skills. Additionally, there is an emphasis on both self and career exploration. “Students who dig in early on make life easier for themselves on the tail end [of their time before graduation],” asserted Tim Stiles, the office’s executive director.


Stiles recommends that first-year students promptly begin to take advantage of resources such as Traitify, an online tool that can take students from personality profile to custom career-path recommendations with facts and figures, all from their smartphone. Another tool is What Can I Do With This Major? It encompasses a database — updated annually and purchased by Stetson — that connects majors to careers. Students can learn about typical career areas and the types of employers that hire people within each major, as well as networking and job-search resources specific for their major. Stiles’ advice: Think in broad terms and outside the box — especially when contemplating the Lockheed Martins of the world. “A lot of students don’t think about companies like that; they write them off because they think, ‘They wouldn’t be interested in me,’” Stiles said. “A lot of times students don’t realize that their skills cross over into these large global corporations. “Employers realize there is an entire group of students outside of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines who can bring perspective and other skill sets. It’s not that the companies don’t need the core STEM people, but these companies are so large they need other skill sets on the periphery to help drive their business models.” Edens and the other Stetson-educated executives on staff at Lockheed Martin’s Missiles and Fire Control Finance and Business Operations are proof. So is Naime. “I’m so thankful for experiencing that culture and environment at Stetson,” Naime said, “because it’s prepared me to become a valued professional.”

Merissa Terra, Lockheed Martin’s talent acquisition manager for its Early Career Program, emphasized the importance of hiring “local talent.” “We found that college students don’t migrate very far from where they graduate,” Terra said. “Stetson’s strong business and operations programs have created a solid local talent pipeline for us. So, we’re getting strong employees who also want to be in this region.” Tasked with identifying the schools where her company wants a recruiting presence, Terra sets up career fairs, information sessions and campus interviews across the region. When recruiting at Stetson, she likes to take alumni such as Edens who can relate to fellow Hatters and share stories with them. “As an alum,” Terra described, “Melissa once was in their shoes and had big decisions to make. Her reasons for picking Lockheed often resonate with them.” A battle for talent currently is raging among employers, Terra added, and college graduates often have numerous choices. In response, companies must be strategic and smart when recruiting, particularly local candidates. The hope is that mutual admiration ensues. And it has with Stetson. “We have a strong reputation, but it’s important we provide the right information and allow students to build relationships with our recruiters and ambassadors like Melissa, so they develop a comfort level with us,” Terra said. “Lockheed is a great place to grow and develop as a professional, and Stetson grads have blossomed here. It’s a great fit, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with Stetson.”

“I knew I could communicate well and solve problems in a team environment because I had to do a lot of that as part of my coursework. I feel like all of that prepared me for this specific job; now I’m just excited to build on those skills and continue to grow.” — Ryan Naime ’18 | STETSON


Shotgun Surprises Members of the newly renamed Stetson Clay Target Team take aim for fun and sport. They’re finding much more of both at home and on the range.



he opportunity for unprecedented achievement was extraordinary. Hyperbole? Maybe just a smidge. But this was big. In late March, the Stetson Clay Target Team (then named the Skeet and Trap Club) traveled to San Antonio to compete in the ACUI Collegiate Clay Target Championships. The host site was the hilly, hallowed grounds of the 671-acre National Shooting Complex, home to the National Skeet Shooting Association (world’s largest skeet shooting organization) and the National Sporting Clays Association (world’s largest sporting clays organization). ACUI stands for the Association of College Unions – International.

Beretta Kaschai: “Once we were there [at the championships], I said, ‘Yes, we’re here to win.’”


STETSON | Summer 2019

There, in San Antonio, 10 select members from Stetson’s team were among 900-plus participants from a total of 89 colleges — the nation’s largest collegiate competition of its kind. Talk about a breathtaking scene. “When I saw the range [at the National Shooting Complex] for the first time, it blew my mind,” described standout shooter Brad Solis ’20. “I had to take a deep breath and try to appreciate the surroundings.” Big. And those Hatters did well, perhaps even stunningly well. Never had the team, started only a decade ago, been on such a grand stage. Most competitions took members to places not much farther than Jacksonville, Florida, or Savannah, Georgia. At the start of the school year, in fact, this event was merely a dream, something they could shoot for with only wishful thinking. The outcome: The team finished fourth in the category of High Overall Team and third in the category of American All-Around in its Division IV. Also, Stetson took second place in Sporting Clays and third place in American Skeet and Super Sporting. Bull’s-eye. For the unfamiliar, skeet shooting involves the use of shotguns to shoot at clay targets thrown into the air by spring devices called traps. The sport originated in 1915, in the United States, as informal shooting practice for hunters. It encompasses a greater variety of shooting angles than was ever possible with trapshooting, a sport developed in England during the late 18th century. About the competition: There were four divisions, largely based on size of school and level of national experience, with the competition involving six skill disciplines and multiple challenges, such as varying target venues and target speeds. The disciplines were American skeet, American trap, international skeet, international trap, sporting clays and super sporting. In each event, the top five scores were counted from among the Hatter participants: Solis, along with Beretta Kaschai ’19, Carleigh Alfrey ’19, Mike Denton ’19, Nathan Oltorik ’22, Trevor Weiss ’19, Charlie Taylor ’20, Curtis Knowles ’20, Trevor Reed ’19 and Cameron Monsees ’21. They came away victorious. “It was so great to come back with trophies to remember our first time there and to say, ‘Hey, we can do it, too,’” commented Kaschai, the team’s president this year. “… Once we were there, I said, ‘Yes, we’re here to win.’”

Team members returned from the ACUI Collegiate Clay Target Championships with memories and trophies. Bottom row (from left): Brad Solis ’20, Carleigh Alfrey ’19, Beretta Kaschai ’19, Trevor Weiss ’19. Second row: Mike Denton ’19, Nathan Oltorik ’22, Charlie Taylor ’20. Third row: Curtis Knowles ’20, Cameron Monsees ’21. Fourth row: head coach Bob Froriep, mentor/founder Richard Libby, Ph.D., assistant Pat Price. Top row: assistant coach Mike Davis ’76. Missing from photo: Trevor Reed ’19.

“It was just the scale that made us realize we’re here to represent Stetson on a national stage. And we did it,” said Weiss, another May graduate. Said Solis: “I can honestly say that being at the complex, shooting with the team, was the best week of my life.” “So impressed” was how head coach Bob Froriep summed up his emotions. “They seem to me like they all have it,” Froriep added. “They have it in their heads they want to get better. They want to be champions.”

MORE THAN WINNING Success, indeed. In reality, however, it didn’t take the ACUI Collegiate Clay Target Championships to prove that point. “We’ve got this really incredible array of talent that surrounds me. I get emotional every time I see these kids. I love these kids.” Those are the words of Richard M. Libby, Ph.D., husband of Stetson President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D. And he isn’t necessarily speaking about their shotgun acumen. Richard Libby, generally regarded as “university mentor,” founded the team in 2009 and then began laying a foundation of growth. To assist, he “recruited” alumnus Mike Davis ’76, who remains with the team today because “I just have Stetson in my blood.” (His wife, Linda Davis ’73, retired from Stetson in January following 41 years of service on campus.) Beginning with a few students, the team today has a membership of approximately 35 men and women. And there’s a new name. In June, Stetson Clay Target Team became the current, more encompassing moniker. With greater success have come greater aspirations, national in scope, with the hope of competing shoulderto-shoulder against the very best collegiate squads. Practices are located at the Volusia County Skeet and Trap Range near the Stetson campus, with the students also being members of the range. For their Stetson team membership, the students pay $250 annually, which covers practices (usually on Friday afternoons), competitions, apparel and hotels. Notably, before they’re allowed to attend their first practice, they receive mandatory safety instruction on campus, and they’re continually under the supervision of range safety officers. Safety is an enormous deal. | STETSON


Charlie Taylor measures then fires, with Cameron Monsees watching.

In many respects, Froriep’s involvement is emblematic of the team’s evolution. A shooter all his life and an Amateur Trap Association Hall of Fame instructor, Froriep was invited to coach last fall. He had no previous ties to the university, aside from helping some of the team members at the practice range. Steadily, organically, his involvement with the team expanded. And, through the years, so it has gone for the team, as passion and pride took hold. Ryan Stanford ’13, the team’s president that year, said at the time (courtesy of Stetson Today), “The shooting club is not simply about gaining the opportunity to fire a shotgun. It provides the opportunity to connect and work with terrific members of Stetson faculty, city officials and engaged community members.” That hasn’t changed. Nor have the emphases on academics and attitude — being scholar-shooters as well as straight-shooters in life to avoid legendary talks in private by Libby. Discipline is an enormous deal, too. Further, Libby had the dream of raising a funding endowment to cover operational expenses. He succeeded in raising the first dollars in 2013. In May of this year, the endowment exceeded its goal of $100,000, with former team members working to push fundraising over the top. “It’s huge for me to know that the [team] will be secure for years to come,” said Andrew Williams ’17, a four-year participant and team president in his sophomore and junior years. Williams, who grew up hunting but had never used a shotgun before Stetson, called his efforts “fulfilling a promise.” He now attends Stetson University College of Law as a 2020 candidate for Juris Doctor and M.B.A. degrees. Most recently, the team gained additional national notice when Solis and Oltorik, a first-year student, attended the invitation-only ACUI - B.J. McDaniel Olympic Training Camp in May. Held at Fort Benning, Georgia, the camp was a showcase for 15 top shooters nationwide. 24

STETSON | Summer 2019

“This group is phenomenal,” Libby exclaimed about the team. “To think what they have accomplished for this university!” And accomplished for themselves. Alfrey arrived at Stetson as a sophomore and, by chance, met team members at a work fair on campus. She had shot and hunted previously, but didn’t know much about the team. After one practice, she fell in love. Ultimately, she became team president. “I never thought that I would be able to do it,” said Alfrey, who graduated in May. “Now, I’ve made some of my best friends — people I’ll have lifelong relationships with. … Not only did I find a sport that I fell in love with, but it also helped me to personally develop further.” The first time Taylor ever fired a shotgun was on the range with Stetson. More than a few teammates now laud his “fast advancement.” “It’s something I had never done before,” Taylor said. “It was something different that I enjoyed.” Growing up, Monsees had watched his father shoot sporting clays and recalled the resulting camaraderie within his dad’s group of friends. “I could see how they bonded and how shooting really brought them together,” he said, adding that he now is experiencing the same: “Once I came to Stetson, it really sparked a

Above: Monsees takes his turn with the shotgun, with Taylor behind him. Right: Richard Libby, Ph.D., the team’s founder and father figure, shares a moment with Nathan Oltorik. Below: Brad Solis, who “had to take a deep breath and try to appreciate the surroundings,” aims for a shot.

fire in my heart. If I never joined the team, I don’t think I would be shooting right now.” Denton conceded “the first practice I did really badly.” Then he “found a focus and competitiveness that maybe I didn’t know I had.” The importance of “family” is another common theme. “I never had to [shoot] competitively, so I thought it would be pretty cool,” Knowles commented. “And then I was able to be part of a family.” Kaschai believes she was able to find friendship by taking advantage of a “unique opportunity” offered by Stetson. “Even if I’ve had a long, tired week, at least I get to look forward to every Friday going out to the range, shooting with people I enjoy being around,” she said. “We win as a team, and we lose as a team — great team spirit,” Oltorik added. “It’s the family,” Weiss concluded. “It’s the team that we’ve built. It’s the memories that we have.” Not coincidentally, Libby, beginning from the earliest days and continuing today, calls them his kids. And, ultimately, he has seen his role reversed. “There were incredible amounts of things that we had to learn,” Libby said. “And who learned the most? I did — from the kids.” | STETSON



A look at Stetson’s “Go Beyond” marketing campaign reveals such components as spirit, growth and aspiration. And, mostly, university heritage. BY MICHAEL CANDELARIA


STETSON | Summer 2019


y strict definition, a brand is “a public image, reputation or identity conceived of as something to be marketed or promoted.” So says Merriam-Webster. If only it were that simple.

“A brand is really the truth or essence of a thing,” said Bruce Chong, vice president for University Marketing. Stetson’s new brand campaign is built on the foundation of 136 years of learning and higher education that has taken place in DeLand, as of the 1950s in Gulfport, in 2001 in Celebration and 2004 in Tampa. Introducing “Go Beyond” — the university’s new anthem for communicating what Stetson should mean to current and prospective students, in particular, along with the entire university community and all of Hatter Nation. Go Beyond Expectations. Go Beyond the Classroom. Go Beyond Yourself. And more. That’s the sentiment, true way back when and, quite apparently, still today. “Go Beyond” was constructed based on five core university attributes that were thoroughly researched and surveyed. In reality, however, they are time-tested across the history of Stetson. The more the student experience was explored, the greater Stetson’s legacy shined. “We’ve tested the brand points several times, and they continue to resonate with the potential students we’re attracting,” described Chong. “The brand points are based upon the history of the university — coming from the core of what Stetson University actually stands for. So, that’s where Go Beyond came from. This is a refreshing of the brand, not a redo of it.” Those brand points begin with this position statement: At Stetson, students thrive. That proposition was built on a brand pyramid that consisted of those five core university attributes, or “Reasons to Believe,” leading to the benefits they bring. • •

Reasons to Believe 1. Sense of community and place 2. Intense learning experiences 3. Socioeconomic inclusiveness and mobility 4. Standout programs across schools 5. Servant leadership and social responsibility Functional Benefits (opportunities to find an authentic, clear and strong voice that will be heard) • Emotional Benefits (connected and guided to be confident and independent) • Social Benefits (responsible citizens prepared, motivated and inspired to contribute, advocate and lead)

“With the brand platform of ‘thrive’ — that this is a place where students go to not just get a degree but to thrive — we developed ‘Go Beyond,’” explained Joel Jones, Stetson’s assistant vice president of University Marketing. “We developed different positions within Go Beyond, with the main position of ‘Go Beyond Expectations.’ “Stetson is unexpected. When you step on this campus, you don’t expect a place to look this beautiful. You don’t expect a place to look this historic. So, there are a lot of expectations that Stetson breaks. And, it’s also going beyond the expectations that you have of yourself. That really talks about comfort zones and pushing yourself, and expecting more than just being successful.” With the introduction of “Go Beyond,” the university moves away from “Dare to Be Significant,” which emerged in 2010. Jones had arrived at Stetson a few months earlier and led that branding, but alumnus Patrick Davis ’88 also was instrumental. Davis, founder and CEO of Davis Brand Capital in Atlanta, consulted with the university in 2005 and delivered the first contemporary brand platform in 2006. “His contributions cannot be overstated,” said Chong about Davis, who returned to Stetson to assist the university in 20172018. “His insight into Stetson has been consistent now for more than a decade, and we continue to leverage what he brought to the university.” Davis donated his time to the university, and the savings his contributions represent are significant, Chong added. Davis’ clients have included Progressive, Barnes & Noble, Busch Gardens, Johnson & Johnson and Verizon, among many others. “Times have changed. Students have changed. And Stetson has changed,” said Davis. “But there is an immutable quality to the intellectual and personal growth students experience, the liberal-arts tradition, the challenging academics and majors, the personal connection and support. Those remain unchanged.” With “Dare to Be Significant” starting to wane in effectiveness, the first meeting about a new brand position occurred in fall 2017. The end result: Call it a bit of back to the future. “At the core of the ‘Go Beyond’ campaign is the ‘outcome of Stetson University.’ Students will be guided through their educational career to become independent, connected and confident,” Chong said. “It’s a really traditional university experience, and that’s what we lean into in terms of building the university brand. “What we’ve been doing for more than 100 years is offering a total educational experience — a learning and growth experience. That’s what the brand is built around. And it’s consistent with everything the university has been saying about itself since it was established.” Stetson students, in turn, are enabled to Go Beyond. | STETSON




ot many students can say they’ve had the opportunity to work with JPMorgan Chase & Co., Facebook, Microsoft and Google. Erica Kok can — and she accomplished that feat prior to completing her computer science degree this spring. Now, she heads to a full-time software security analyst position with JPMorgan Chase in Portland, Oregon. Nate Smith, a double major in finance and economics, is joining Wells Fargo in Atlanta as a corporate analyst. That follows his time at Stetson, where he bested students nationwide as part of the School of Business Administration’s Business Ethics Case Competition Team and was a standout in Stetson’s highly regarded Roland George Investments Program.


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Nate Smith

Kathrine Pulling loved theater and education and believed they could exist harmoniously. And she proved it. Pulling was a prominent performer in a stage-design competition at the Southeastern Theatre Conference, which has propelled her into a budding career. She is joining the Des Moines Metro Opera in Iowa as the properties stage supervisor while also studying properties design and fabrication in Yale University’s professional apprentice program. Shilpa Ravoory, meanwhile, made beautiful music out of physics and the viola, successfully majoring in both areas. She was principal violist of the Stetson Chamber, Symphony and Opera orchestras, and she founded Stetson’s Astronomy Club. Ravoory’s senior research project analyzed the vibrational patterns of the viola using time-average holography. Her next stop is Georgia Tech, pursuing a master’s degree in aerospace engineering on full scholarship and a graduate research assistantship. Those are a mere quartet of stories among the many highlights of the 133rd Commencement at Stetson in May — from a Class of 2019 that included a total of 817 undergraduate students. In addition, 174 graduate students received master’s degrees, combining with the undergraduates to produce a total of 991 graduates, setting a new record for Stetson.

Justin Dalisay was selected as one of two Student Speakers for Undergraduate Commencement. His next stop: Florida State University to pursue a Master of Arts in arts administration. The Class of 2019 totaled 817 undergraduate students.

Shilpa Ravoory | STETSON


Also in May, at Stetson University College of Law, 255 Juris Doctor degrees were awarded, along with 31 Master of Laws degrees, 12 Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration degrees, two Juris Doctor/Master of Laws degrees, one Juris Doctor/MIEBL degree (Spanish master’s degree with the Universidad Pontificia Comillas, Madrid, Spain), and Stetson Law’s first Master of Jurisprudence. Dean Emeritus and Professor of Law Bruce Jacob ’59 — one of the first public defenders in the state of Florida — served as keynote speaker. Over the past few years, these students had helped to shape the university’s direction while also finding their own individual paths. For all, there was achievement. Plus, on this day, there was anticipation and reflection. Their journeys were continuing. Call it a literal going beyond. On the stage at Spec Martin Memorial Stadium, Joe Cooper ’79, M.B.A. ’82, chair of the Board of Trustees, left the graduates with these parting words (perhaps familiar to many readers): “As you embark on this journey, remember that you may be graduating from Stetson, but you are not leaving it behind. You are joining a community of alumni that stretches throughout the globe; and you will be leaving with lifelong friendships that you forged in the classrooms, playing fields and residence halls. You may be departing Stetson, but Stetson is not departing you.”

Student Speakers for Graduate Commencement: Stephanie Duncan and Laurie Warfield. Duncan graduated with honors with a Master of Science in Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling. Warfield earned an Executive Master of Business Administration.

Above: Undergraduate Commencement Student Speaker Zoe Weaver graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in global development and received a scholarship to study Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan. Left: Smiles were everywhere on the sun-soaked day, including from 2018 Student Government President Daniel Mejía (wearing sunglasses).


STETSON | Summer 2019

AMONG OTHER NOTABLES • Winners of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards were Rubyselda Moran (sociology) and Taylor Clarke (economics). The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards — one of the highest recognitions given to students at Stetson — are presented annually to a male and female in the graduating class whose dedication to service and nobility of character set them apart. • Tram Nguyen (math and economics) received the Etter McTeer Turner Award. The award, named after Stetson’s first woman dean of students, recognizes the graduating senior who has achieved the highest standard of excellence in academic performance, leadership and community service.

Above: Joe Cooper ’79, M.B.A. ’82, chair of the Board of Trustees, said: “As you embark on this journey, remember that you may be graduating from Stetson, but you are not leaving it behind.” Below: Provost Noel Painter, Ph.D., presented Tram Nguyen with the Etter McTeer Turner Award for academic performance, leadership and community service.

• Craig Maddox, D.M., associate professor of voice, received the William Hugh McEniry Award for Excellence in Teaching. The award honors former university dean William Hugh McEniry, Ph.D., who is credited with strengthening the faculty and academic standards, and elevating the prestige of the university. It is considered Stetson’s most prestigious faculty award. • Spanish Professor Ana Eire, Ph.D., and Isabel Botero, Ph.D., assistant professor of Family Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, received the Hand Awards for Distinguished Faculty Achievements. • The John Hague Award for Distinguished Teaching in the Liberal Arts and Sciences was presented to Melinda Hall, Ph.D., newly promoted to associate professor of philosophy. The award celebrates the university’s tradition of excellence in teaching the liberal arts and sciences and its devotion to scholarship, morality and friendship. • F. Harold “Hal” Kushner, M.D., a retired colonel from the U.S. Army, received an honorary doctorate. An ophthalmologist in Daytona Beach, Kushner served as a flight surgeon in the Vietnam War, where he crashed in a helicopter during a driving rainstorm with three other soldiers. He eventually was discovered by the Viet Cong and spent 1,933 days in captivity before his release. He was featured in the acclaimed Ken Burns documentary “The Vietnam War.” Editor’s note: Michael Candelaria, Rick de Yampert and Cory Lancaster contributed to this report. | STETSON


A Call from Opera Superstar Plácido Domingo Kevin Jose Simerilla Romero becomes one of the youngest singers selected for LA Opera’s Young Artist Program.



usic student Kevin Romero was heading to the movies with a few friends one weekend in April 2018 when his phone rang and he noticed it was a Los Angeles number. Dominic Domingo, grandson of opera star Plácido Domingo, introduced himself and said he was in charge of the Young Artist Program for the Los Angeles Opera. Plácido Domingo wanted Romero to fly out and audition for the program. “I’m like, ah, I mean, when? I’m still in school. I’m in the middle of Stetson. I have like a class tomorrow,” recalled Romero, an aspiring opera singer at that time and a junior majoring in vocal performance. “And he’s like, OK, just wait a second. “And he passes the phone, and it’s Plácido Domingo. And Plácido Domingo comes and talks to me, and I’m, Oh, my God. Don’t even ask me what I said, because I was just, ‘Oh, OK, maestro.’” Romero grew up listening to Plácido Domingo and only a few months earlier had entered his world opera competition for young singers, called Operalia. Romero had received an email, saying he had been selected for the competition in Lisbon, Portugal. But Plácido Domingo wasn’t calling about that. He wanted Romero to audition for the Young Artist Program for the LA Opera. Domingo is LA Opera’s general director. “He pretty much said, ‘Hey, we need a tenor for our program. I looked at your videos, and it’s very impressive, your voice for such a young age.’ I had just turned 22,” Romero remembered. “And he said, ‘Why don’t you come next week to LA and audition for us, and we’ll fly you here?’” The selection process for the coveted program usually is very competitive. Last year, out of 650 applicants, 200 were invited for live auditions. From these, a final field of 28 candidates emerged — and ultimately five singers were selected.


STETSON | Summer 2019

Kevin Jose Simerilla Romero, 23, enrolled in the Stetson School of Music in 2016 as a transfer student and is majoring in vocal performance.

For Romero, it was an incredible invitation. “In some ways, I was so surprised and in other ways, it made complete sense to me,” said Timothy Peter, D.M.A., dean of Stetson’s School of Music. “Kevin’s charisma, natural talent and openness to growth as a singer made him the perfect candidate for this opportunity.” Romero would later learn his big break stemmed from a chance encounter. Plácido Domingo happened to walk by the desk of a staff member who was listening to Romero’s audition video for Operalia. “And so just like that, in one week, I mean literally, we’re talking about the middle of the semester, I was worrying about the recital that I had to do at Stetson and multiple-choice exams, and out of nowhere I have Plácido Domingo saying come next week to LA,” Romero said.

“NO MATTER WHAT, YOU NEED TO DO IT” As soon as Romero hung up with Domingo, he immediately phoned Stetson Voice Professor Jane Christeson. An opera singer herself who has performed around the world, Christeson had trained Romero for two years in her studio in Presser Hall on campus, teaching voice and music literature and helping with his diction in five languages. “I told her everything,” Romero said. “She’s like, ‘You need to do it. No matter what, you need to do it.’

Above: The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown Los Angeles is home to the LA Opera, decorated above for the season-opening gala in 2008. Below: World-famous tenor Plácido Domingo has sung 150 roles, with more than 4,000 career performances. Photos courtesy: LA Opera

She was super supportive, and I was so scared. You have to think about all the emotions and all the decisions that I had to make at that time. Am I even ready to do this? Should I go out there? The people who are going to hear you have a lot of influence on a career, and you definitely don’t want to make a fool out of yourself.” Christeson remembered her reaction: “He called me that night, ‘Whoooaaaaa.’ I’m just like, my mind is blown.” “The way this happened is almost like the story of the starlet sitting at a sodafountain counter, and somebody coming up and saying, ‘I’ll make you a star.’ That’s literally the type of ridiculous good luck that this was,” she added. Romero had planned on applying for these premiere young artist programs across the country, but not until he graduated from Stetson. The programs offer paid residencies and a chance to train with the biggest names in opera, including at places such as the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at The Metropolitan Opera in New York City or the Houston Grand Opera Studio. “LA has always been number one, top of my list,” Romero said. “I wanted to go there because that’s where Plácido Domingo is.” Romero’s father, Jorge, worked as a salesman while he was growing up and was a talented singer on the side, performing at weddings and other events. The family is from Argentina and moved to Florida when Kevin was 6. Kevin says he inherited all his talent from his father and remembers their home was filled with music — often Plácido Domingo and the Three Tenors, the popular trio of Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti and José Carreras. Today, Domingo stands in a class of his own, according to The New York Times. In August 2018, at age 77, he sang his 150th role — “a virtually unheard-of milestone in opera history,” the Times reported. In a career spanning six decades, he has performed more than 4,000 times and continues to sing and conduct around the world. For Professor Christeson, to have a world-renowned star like Domingo take a | STETSON


personal interest in Romero was an opportunity that he had to pursue, even if Domingo wanted him to start in August 2018, before he graduated. “Domingo took him and said to him, one on one, if you come and work here and coach with me, study with me, in three years, you will be singing all over the world. And when somebody with the connections and the global reputation and contacts that Domingo has, he can make that happen,” Christeson said. “He can open doors for him. Now, he can’t, if Kevin doesn’t sing well; he can’t get him the job, but he can get him to sing for people, and he can recommend him to anybody in this business in existence today. And that, you just can’t pass that up.”

“I WAS SO NERVOUS” Romero flew with his parents to Los Angeles for the audition on April 15, 2018, and he was well-prepared, having rehearsed and rehearsed again his selection of songs. While a college student, he had tried out for opera roles in production companies around Florida, and he knew what to expect. Plácido Domingo would be there and probably two or three other people, he thought. After a tour of the LA Opera’s home in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown Los Angeles, Dominic Domingo told him to get ready for the audition. “I go to the audition room, and there’s like 25 people there,” Romero described. “We’re talking about the main director of LA Opera. Plácido Domingo obviously is there, greeting me. Susan Graham is there because she’s the artistic adviser. I mean, Susan Graham, we’re talking about one of the most renowned mezzo-sopranos in the world. She’s sung everywhere. We have Dominic Domingo there, as well — everybody involved in all the coaching. “I was so nervous, and so I get up there and the first thing I say is, ‘I want to express my gratitude for flying me from Florida to LA, giving me this hospitality, giving me this wonderful opportunity.’ And I start singing the first song that I was going to sing. But [Plácido] Domingo actually changed it. He was like, ‘No, no, no. I want to hear something else.’” Romero’s well-rehearsed game plan was ruined, he recalled with a laugh. Instead, Plácido Domingo asked him to sing certain selections, maybe four songs. “And right then and there, Domingo said, ‘I like the voice. I think you should come and work with us. And I think there’s still a lot of things you can improve on. And I think you’re going to be a good fit here.’ And right then and there, they took me for the program,” Romero said. A press release from the LA Opera announced the selections for the DomingoColburn-Stein Young Artist Program for the 2018-2019 season, including Romero, four other singers and two pianists. Almost all of them have master’s degrees from places such as Yale, Rice and Boston University. “Kevin is certainly one of the youngest singers we have had in the program,” said Joshua Winograde, LA Opera’s senior director of Artistic Programs, who oversees the Young Artist Program. “Most of our singers have completed a master’s degree. … While our program is designed to be a transitional step for a student to a professional, the experience can occasionally be tailored to helping along a younger singer of extraordinary talent like Kevin.”

“INCREDIBLE RAW TALENT” Romero came to Stetson in 2016 as a transfer student from Valencia College in Orlando. And, again, his route was not a traditional one. Professor Christeson’s husband, Norton, then Choral Voice Department chair at Daytona State College, heard Romero perform at a state competition. Romero didn’t win, but Christeson’s husband took him aside immediately and told him that he should consider attending Stetson University. 34

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Kevin Romero, then a sophomore, sings in Voice Professor Jane Christeson’s Presser Hall studio in late 2016. Photo: Bobby Fishbough

A special audition was arranged in Stetson’s School of Music on a Wednesday afternoon. Romero arrived on crutches with a leg injury. Professor Christeson and two other faculty members listened to him sing in a classroom. “When he auditioned for us, he already showed that it was this incredible raw talent, just from a vocal range and timbre, color of voice,” Christeson said. “He had already had some good training. His vocal range was evident, good really strong low voice, which also is unusual for a tenor, which also shows you that as he gets older, the voice is going to grow even more and be more solid, top to bottom, with a wide range. All of those factors you can hear in an audition.” For singers, Christeson explained, the body is the instrument. Singers must possess the right physical vocal ability, as well as musical talent. “That’s two huge components that go together to spell success,” she said, “and also the work ethic.” Christeson recalled another Stetson standout, alumnus Donovan Singletary ’06, who was selected for the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at The Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. When Singletary was a student, Christeson would stop by her studio during Christmas break and find him still there, practicing in Presser Hall. “Kevin has that type of work ethic,” she added. Romero entered every competition he could find, attended master classes and made contacts with people in the business. He worked hard on his diction in French and German, although he already knew Spanish, English and Italian, given his Argentinian parents and a mother of Italian descent.

“We’ve had another couple of students who have had incredible vocal talent and ability to be successful,” Christeson continued. “They have not been as mature and had the focused mindset on being as successful at that level as these two guys have, Donovan and Kevin. And they’ve had all the building blocks, but they just haven’t been ready to take the tremendous psychological pressure that it is, the competition and not letting it defeat them.”

“A DREAM COME TRUE” Most days now, Romero is up early for a run or a workout before leaving his apartment, 15 miles away from downtown Los Angeles. With the traffic, it can take an hour and a half each way, and he arrives early, making sure to warm up fully for the day. His training schedule may include several coaching sessions on technique, musical phrasing or French diction, followed by rehearsals or group classes in acting or improv. While in Los Angeles, he started using his full birth name, Kevin Jose Simerilla Romero, and he shortens it as a stage name to Jose Simerilla Romero. With Professor Christeson’s help, he took classes online while in Los Angeles and only has to return to Stetson to perform his senior recital in order to earn his Bachelor of Music degree. He hopes to make time for that over Christmas break this year, and credits Stetson and Christeson with helping him in his career. “Stetson is a school that’s very high on musicianship. And so I feel that Stetson contributed a lot on that aspect of my career,” Romero said. “Stetson is also such a choir-heavy school, and choir is very focused on phrasing, on clear diction, delivery of the text, which as a singer you can translate that to your own personal technique. “Being able to phrase a piece of music in such a unique way, to have that skill, I think that definitely puts you ahead of the game. … Stetson definitely helped with that, and it definitely helped with my languages.” Last summer, before moving to Los Angeles, Romero was invited to perform at Carnegie Hall as part of a master class with renowned mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato. He also performed at the Vienna Summer Music Festival and Berlin Opera Academy. This summer, he is singing with Plácido Domingo in the premier of “Monte Cristo,” a new French opera by composer Frédéric Chaslin, and he will perform at the first 2019 SongStudio at Carnegie Hall in New York with soprano Renée Fleming and tenor Piotr Beczała. Additionally, he will sing at the Aspen Music Festival and then return in August for another season with the LA Opera Young Artist Program. “It is a whirlwind and actually the first couple

months here, it was a bit stressful,” Romero said, referring to taking online classes for Stetson while starting the program. “And at the same time, I also felt like I was playing catch-up because the other young artists who are in this program, I mean, we’re talking about people with years more experience than I have. … All these monster voices, monster talents, who’ve been doing it for years.” But slowly he has built up a routine, focusing day by day, just trying to do better than he did the day before. The nurturing and professional development by the LA Opera team also have helped. “I’ve never been so convinced to trust the team that we have here at LA Opera,” said Romero. “They care for all the singers so much that there’s a lot of decisionmaking and a lot of thought that goes into what you should be singing. It’s always about caring for the voice.” Best of all, Romero has met the stars of the opera world, rehearsing and working with great singers who once captivated him on his TV at home. “That’s the craziest thing for me,” he said. “That in such a short amount of time, all this happened, and out of nowhere, I get to meet the biggest names. … It’s just a dream come true. And it hasn’t been a year that I’ve been in LA yet. So, I can’t wait to see what happens next.”

Stetson Opera Stars Across America In the coming months, three other opera singers who trained in Stetson’s School of Music will perform on the biggest stages in America. Donovan Singletary ’06 will perform in the Gershwins’ “Porgy and Bess” at The Metropolitan Opera in New York City for the 2019-20 season, which opens in September. Singletary, a bass-baritone, Stetson alumni Cameo Humes, far left, will star as Jake, a fisherman in and Donovan Singletary, second from left, the classic story of Catfish Row in short sleeve shirt, make their debut at on the Charleston waterfront. La Scala in Milan, Italy, in November 2016 While at Stetson, he trained with in George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. Associate Voice Professor Craig Photo courtesy: Teatro alla Scala Maddox, D.M., and later completed the Met’s three-year Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. Tenor Edward Washington ’06 will perform in the chorus of “Porgy and Bess” at the Met. While at Stetson, he trained with Mollie Rich, now-retired from the School of Music. Tenor Cameo Humes ’06 was offered a contract for the Met production, but had just been hired full-time by Lyric Opera of Chicago. He was a student of Voice Professor Jane Christeson. “Stetson’s School of Music is known for excellence,” said Timothy Peter, D.M.A., dean of the Stetson School of Music. “We often talk about data and outcomes. Here are some examples of real outcomes that provide ample data which qualifies our claims of excellence. We are proud of all of our alumni and celebrate these successes.” | STETSON



IMPACT Stephanie Haridopolos ’94: “I feel like it’s our duty as a society to bond together and help others.” BY ALEXANDRA SHIMALLA ’16


he was a student of Sage Hall and the first in her family to attend college. She majored in chemistry, minored in biology, and was on the pre-med track. Also, she was the chaplain of Alpha Xi Delta and president of both the Chemistry Honor Society and Omicron Delta Kappa. And in December 2018, 25 years after all that activity on campus, Stephanie Haridopolos ’94, M.D., became the chair of the Florida Healthy Kids Corp. board of directors. Coincidence? Hardly. Florida Healthy Kids Corp., an arm of Florida KidCare, ensures the availability of health and dental insurance for children ages 5 through 18. Under the entirety of Florida KidCare, 2.4 million children receive insurance. A staggering 325,000 children, however, do not. Haridopolos is working to shift the tide. “She wants to create this wave of change in how we are giving kids the health care that they need,” says Rebecca Matthews, former CEO of the Florida Healthy Kids Corp., about Haridopolos. (Matthews was CEO at the time of Haridopolos’ arrival.) Haridopolos had been on the Florida Board of Medicine when she was approached by Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis about a new role. That Florida Board of Medicine seat had


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resulted from an appointment by then-Gov. Rick Scott, and with his approval she was able to become perhaps the state’s leading advocate for child health care. “I love that I get to wear the white hat and help children get health and dental insurance,” says Haridopolos, whose husband is former Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos ’92 (serving in the Senate 2003-2012). “I think no child should go without that in our state. It is such a rewarding and worthwhile mission that deserves my time and talent and energy at this point. I am beyond honored, humbled and excited that [Patronis] would think of me for such an important position that has an impact on such a statewide level.” Haridopolos is the first physician to hold the chair position. “She’s very brilliant,” Matthews continues. “She asks a lot of questions, and she’s got this really great human characteristic, where she’s interested in everyone and wants to talk to everyone about whatever the topic might be.” Example: When Haridopolos first came to the Healthy Kids Corp. office in Tallahassee, she went around to the almost 30 people who work there to introduce herself. As a mother to three children and with 16 years as a family physician in Brevard County plus experience in the legislative realm, Haridopolos is a natural in the position, Matthews adds, noting that “she’s spectacular” and “can convey, in a very precise manner, what we’re trying to accomplish here.” Haridopolos has to pause when asked about her goals. At Florida Healthy Kids Corp., there are many. “We basically get an objective, try to achieve it, then move on to the next objective,” she explains.

Stephanie Haridopolos ’94, M.D. (shown just to the left of the poster): “I love that I get to wear the white hat and help children get health and dental insurance. I think no child should go without that in our state. It is such a rewarding and worthwhile mission that deserves my time and talent and energy at this point.”

Her dream is singular: for every child in the state of Florida to be insured. Her dream, though, is singular: for every child in the state of Florida to be insured. Ken Everett, Ph.D., a former chemistry professor at Stetson, remembers having Haridopolos as a student, with one particular advising session standing above the rest. Impressed with her abilities, Everett nonetheless wanted to caution her about being too ambitious. According to Everett, once he finished speaking, Haridopolos looked at him and kindly said, “Dr. Everett, I want it all.” “I have to say that she actually did attain it all, exceeding my expectations spectacularly,” Everett says. It wasn’t easy. When she didn’t get into medical school in the States, Haridopolos was accepted into American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, and took the same tests and certifications she would have at home. Undeterred. She graduated from there in 1998. “Even though I had that hiccup in the road,” she says, “I kept on going. I didn’t let it stop me.” There’s more. Haridopolos was born with a hole in her heart (atrial septal defect). At age 4, she spent one month in the hospital due to postoperative complications. After watching the nurses and doctors who treated her, she decided what she wanted to do when she grew up. “I set the North Star at a young age,” she comments. “I never strayed from that path.”

Haridopolos spent two years in London, finishing her medical degree, and it was then that she focused on family medicine. Her words: “I really liked the continuity of care with the patient-physician relationship that primary care allowed me to have. I saw generations of families.” As Haridopolos recalls, she first heard of Stetson through someone who had visited her high school in Fort Lauderdale. Following one tour of the campus, she “fell in love” and describes Stetson as the “best decision I ever made.” Still today, she remains close to Stetson and visits with Everett when she’s in the DeLand area. “He gave me confidence,” she says about her former mentor. “He helped me believe in myself, and that changed the trajectory of my life.” Now, she continues to work across the state to make a similar impact. Notably, while Mike Haridopolos led the Florida Senate, the couple was able to increase funding to all Florida domestic-violence shelters, an issue that’s particularly important to Haridopolos, who is a survivor of domestic violence from a previous relationship. In characteristic style, she hasn’t slowed. “I feel like you have to give back,” Haridopolos says. “I feel like it’s our duty as a society to bond together and help others. And if we did that, I think the world would be a better place.” | STETSON


‘Jump Around ’ An unlikely musical duo hops across genres on the way to its first CD.



shtemoh Morgan isn’t merely remembering his “aha” moment when, as a 7-year-old, he was dancing and prancing on stages across Europe and realized he wanted to become a performer. Rather, Morgan is singing that moment during an interview in Stetson’s Elizabeth Hall.

“Jump around if you really love reggae!” he lets out, spurred by memories

of the time he toured with his family’s reggae band.

Long before Morgan and fellow singer-guitarist Chris Schiefelbein honed their music skills at Stetson — and long before they formed their music duo Esh x Schief in spring 2018 — their respective muses inspired them in heady, exotic ways. For Morgan, it was his family’s band. For Schiefelbein, it was Prince — yes, that Prince. In 2005, Morgan was a youngster, 7, growing up in Brooklyn, New York, when his father, Mojo, and his aunts and uncles decided to take Morgan Heritage, the family’s reggae band, on that tour of Europe. “My dad was going to take my mom, but she wasn’t able to go,” says Morgan, who this spring completed his junior year, pursuing a Bachelor of Music (studying both vocal and guitar performance) with an outside field of study in business. “Then my dad just said, ‘All right, Esh, come on.’” Morgan Heritage, which would go on to win the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album for “Strictly Roots,” toured France, Germany and Belgium that year. And young Esh got in on the action, going on stage every night for the song “Jump Around.” “That was a pretty big impact for a kid,” he continues. Chris Schiefelbein ’16 (guitar performance) is a Minnesota native who began playing at age 15. He attended an audio production school following high school, but became disillusioned when he realized his future job would “almost be making not-good musicians sound good.” He then studied lutherie (guitar building and maintenance) at Minnesota State College Southeast and was working at a Guitar Center in the Twin Cities area when he received a phone call. The manager of Prince, who lived near Minneapolis, told him the Purple One needed a guitar tech — stat! Prince’s regular guitar tech was unavailable but had met Schiefelbein and recommended him for the job. So began a whirlwind 2010, during which Schiefelbein became Prince’s right-hand guitar man, curing the rock star’s guitars of “fret sprout” and “touring with him, flying on private 38

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jets around Europe,” Schiefelbein describes. “I was playing with his band on an almost nightly basis with sound checks. … That was an incredible experience.” Larry Graham, former bassist for Sly and the Family Stone and the founder/frontman of Graham Central Station, was opening for Prince on that tour. “One day when I was sound-checking with the band, he came running out on stage because he thought Prince was there, because he heard my guitar playing,” Schiefelbein says. “I go, ‘Holy crap, Larry Graham thought my guitar playing was Prince’s guitar playing! Maybe there’s something to this. Maybe I can make a career with this.’” When Schiefelbein began looking for schools to study guitar performance, his parents, who had retired in Florida, pointed to Stetson. The reputation of the university’s School of Music and guitar professor Stephen Robinson, D.M., sealed the deal. Schiefelbein graduated in 2016 and now teaches at Stetson’s Community School of Music. His students include “little kids, middle-age people and a few people who have just retired who want to learn guitar.” Morgan got his first guitar at age 5, “but I didn’t take it seriously until I was 11,” after his family had moved to Florida. Although his grandfather was born in Jamaica and thus inspired the family band’s reggae roots, Morgan’s father schooled him with a broader range of music. “My dad likes to say, ‘Learn from the greats,’ so he gave me and my sister these iPods, and he put a bunch of great female

Eshtemoh Morgan, on left, with fellow singer-guitarist Chris Schiefelbein

“I played this chord progression that I had quite a while, and right away Esh just starts singing and writing some words to it. Then I said, ‘Oh, that was a cool line — how about if we do this?’ And he’s like, ‘Oh, that’s cool — how about if we do this?’ Immediately, we had a really, really synergetic connection.” — Chris Schiefelbein ’16

vocalists on hers and male vocalists on mine,” Morgan says. “Before I was 10ish, I was listening to Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Bob Marley. Jimi Hendrix and a couple of other guitar players were on there. Michael Jackson, too.” At Stetson, Esh and Schief “had both heard about each other in the [School of Music],” says Morgan, who at the time was looking to connect with other musicians. But Schiefelbein, along with teaching, was busy playing guitar in two Central Florida bands.

Finally, they met in March 2018, “and we actually wrote a song our first time playing together,” Morgan says. “I played this chord progression that I had quite a while, and right away Esh just starts singing and writing some words to it,” Schiefelbein says. “Then I said, ‘‘Oh, that was a cool line — how about if we do this?’ And he’s like, ‘Oh, that’s cool — how about if we do this?’ Immediately, we had a really, really synergetic connection.” They titled that first song “Ruby.”

Esh x Schief have been performing around Central Florida the past year. Morgan’s father is the manager. The duo’s debut CD is about 70% complete, and they plan to release it in early 2020. They are contemplating what mix of originals and covers (well-known hits by major artists) to include. Both musicians demur when asked to categorize their original music. Morgan says it’s a “cultivation of all the past music we’ve listened to.” They cite such influences as the vocal harmonies of Simon and Garfunkel and country artists, “but we like to push things towards the new EDM [electronic dance music] as well,” Schiefelbein says. They perform the Morgan Heritage song “Freedom,” while their original song “Day by Day,” which they plan to release as their first single, “definitely has a strong reggae vibe to it,” according to Schiefelbein. Their repertoire also includes such old-school hits as Redding’s “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay,” Elvis Presley’s “In the Ghetto,” Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” and The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun.” The duo’s more contemporary covers include Ed Sheeran’s “The A Team,” John Mayer’s “Daughters” and Lil Nas X’s country hip-hop song “Old Town Road.” Their Facebook page, Esh x Schief, features video clips of their performances of The Beatles, Mayer and Lil Nas X songs. “Schief is a very diverse musician,” Morgan says. “He’s always wanting to explore different styles of music. … He’s helped me think about songs differently.” “Esh has all the complementary assets to what I lack, as well,” Schiefelbein says. “… He’s been teaching me amazing things with how to use my voice more properly and how to develop as a singer. … He’s got a magnetic quality about him, where people just want to watch and listen to him.” “I think we’ve really got something going,” Morgan says. Surely, it’s enough to make him want to jump around. Again. | STETSON



Next Up? For former Hatters in baseball, the question isn’t so much “where are they now?” It’s “where are they going?” B Y I H S A A N F A N U S I E


ollowing the success of 2018, it’s easy to say the Hatters have a legacy of winning in baseball. Last summer in the Big Leagues, there was Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets dominating on the mound and winning the National League Cy Young Award as best pitcher. Fellow ex-Hatter Corey Kluber, winner of two such awards in the American League, wasn’t too shabby, either, again making the all-star team for the Cleveland Indians. Then there was the glory at Melching Field, where the Hatters also made it onto the national stage. They advanced to compete among the final 16 teams in America, ultimately coming within two victories of the College World Series. And days earlier, pitcher Logan Gilbert was selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball player draft (No. 14 overall), with several of his teammates also being selected. And Hatter Baseball hasn’t been a one-year wonder: 15 players have been drafted since 2015, including two this June: pitchers Mitchell Senger to the New York Mets and Robbie Peto to the Tampa Bay Rays, both in the 26th round. So, now the question is, who’s next up for the Hatters in the MLB? Here’s a brief scouting report on four prospective answers.


STETSON | Summer 2019

LOGAN GILBERT, PITCHER, MODESTO NUTS Gilbert is seeking to make up for lost time. After being chosen by the Mariners, he was assigned to the Everett AquaSox in low “Class A,” a rookie league. But the hard-throwing right-hander missed the season due to an illness. This year, he began with the West Virginia Power in a slightly higher rookie league and, at press time, was pitching for the Modesto Nuts in a high-A league. By late June, he had totaled 91 strikeouts in 70 innings. Steps in the right direction.

WALKER SHELLER, PITCHER, NORTHWEST ARKANSAS NATURALS Now in his fourth year of minor-league ball, Sheller is coming off a season in which he played a career-high 40 games, mostly for the Kansas City Royals’ Class AA affiliate, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. He had been drafted by the Royals in the 2016 draft’s ninth round. With AAA being the final stop before the Major Leagues, the right-hander is progressing up the ladder, although he was slowed a bit by injuries early this spring.

DID YOU KNOW? All totaled, the Hatters have sent 106 players into professional baseball since 1957, with 10 of them making it to the Bigs (team drafted by and year in parentheses): Wade Rowdon (Chicago White Sox/1981), George Tsamis (Toronto/1988), Eric Knott (Arizona/1996), Kevin Nicholson (San Diego/1997), Bill Swaggerty (Baltimore/1997), Lenny DiNardo (New York Mets/2001), Brian Bocock (San Francisco/2006), Chris Johnson (Houston/2006), Corey Kluber (San Diego/2007) and Jacob deGrom (Mets/2010). Also, this spring Derek Johnson, a coach at Stetson from 1998 to 2001, joined the Cincinnati Reds as the pitching coach. Previously, he was pitching coach for the Milwaukee Brewers.


VANCE VIZCAINO, LEFT FIELDER, HARTFORD YARD GOATS In 2018, Vizcaino had the heaviest workload of his pro career, playing in 89 games with 293 at-bats for the Lexington Legends and the Wilmington Blue Rocks (have to love these team names!). He also had career highs in hits and runs batted in. Then in March he was released by the Royals, who had drafted him in 2016 (11th round) and promptly signed by the Colorado Rockies in April. Now, he’s a Yard Goat, playing at the AA level — illustrating the fickle nature of pro baseball.

Wilson was Mr. Do Everything for the Hatters last spring, starring at multiple positions while also obtaining a degree in business just days before being drafted in the seventh round by the Atlanta Braves. A hard-throwing right-hander, he then played in 10 games for two teams in the low minors and impressed enough to earn a promotion to high-A ball with the Florida Fire Frogs. (Yes, the Fire Frogs.) Editor’s note: Ihsaan Fanusie will be a sophomore at Stetson this fall. | STETSON



Social Hatters

Celebrating friends, family and Stetson ACROSS THE WORLD

Sarah Brown McAskill ’88, Emma McAskill and Leah McAskill of DeLand, Florida, enjoy some family time at Epcot.

She said, yes … again! #10yearswieland — Billy Wieland ’07, J.D. ’10 and Caroline Peterson Wieland ’07, of Orlando, Florida, renew their vows at the Graceland Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas, with friends Phil and Meredith Holt Shaw in attendance.

Valinda Wimer, Stetson Hatter for 30 years and counting, poses with her boys, aka Kiss!


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Hatters since birth: Adonis and Ava Dedes, children of Amy Scaturro Dedes ’04 and John Adonis Dedes ’02, of DeLand

Christian Barker, M.B.A. ‘09, J.D. ‘12 and wife, Brittany Debity-Barker, residents of Los Angeles, California, pose with their children.

Sam Friedman, director of Stetson Hillel, with a group of Hatters during a spring trip to Israel

Sean Panico ’92 and wife Joanna Panico, of Tampa, enjoy a Hatters baseball game at the University of South Florida with family

Mark Stallworth ’00 and Selena Stallworth of Tampa, Florida, with their children

Dawn Proffitt ’03, of Windermere, Florida, with Magaly Delgado ’01 and Jennifer Drinkard Calabrese ’04 of Orlando #foreverconnected

Hatter reunion in London: Adrian Bailes ’05, M.B.A. ’06, of Guilford, United Kingdom; Vittorio Fratta ’05, M.B.A. ’07, San Francisco; unidentified Hatter friend; Johanna Serrao Escalante ’03; Javier Mauricio Bermudez ’03; and Eduardo Escalante at Grosvenor House Hotel

Hatters #foreverconnected: Stephanie Marie Theodoropoulos ’02, Irvine, California; Trinity Hundredmark Fitzpatrick ’01, Chamblee, Georgia; Natalie Marie Wlodarczyk ’01, Rogersville, Missouri; and Melissa Knight Nodhturft ‘01, Tampa | STETSON





Zane Smith ’19, of Columbia, South Carolina, a finance/sales graduate, celebrates with his friends and family.


STETSON | Summer 2019

Spring Travel Tour Featuring Roger Hughes, Ph.D., Head Football Coach

Above, from left: Joseph Dye ’13, Royal Palm Beach, Florida; Coach Roger Hughes; Woody O’Cain, assistant vice president of Alumni and Parent Engagement; Tim and Amy Devlin, parents of Robby Devlin ’22, Boca Raton, Florida; Mike McKercher, assistant athletic director; Tony Guzzetta ’85 and Bart Bishop ’86, both of Boca Raton Top right: Gene O’Neil, friend of Dr. John Haire ’68, and Sheila Haire of Vero Beach, Florida Middle right: Kurt Sylvia, father of Nic Sylvia ’20, Jupiter, Florida; Maria Abreu ’15, West Palm Beach; and Rich Paul-Hus ’92, Delray Beach, Florida Below left: Charles Mantione and Christina Homan Mantione ’05 of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida Below right: Maverick Marquardt ’13, Lake Worth, Florida; Rich Paul-Hus ’92, Boca Raton; Billy Premock ’96, Fort Lauderdale; Peter Thiel ’93, Fort Lauderdale | STETSON



Send Us Your Class Note



2000s Ryan G. Benson ’03, Fort Myers, Florida, will be serving as an adjunct instructor at Florida Gulf Coast University, as it launches a new construction management program. He also is president of the Collier Building Industry Association.

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@ 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 email your class note to alumni@law.stetson. edu. College of Law graduates also can fill out the online form at lawalumninews. We can only use photos that are high-resolution, and because of space

Louis J. Phillips ’64, New York, New York, has a new book of poems, “How Wide the Meadow,” available on Amazon. Carol Rutan Smith ’66, Portland, Oregon, won the 2018 Sunburst Award — for a lifetime of inspiring young people and expanding their learning through the arts — from the Young Audiences Arts for Learning organization. Walter L. Kilcullen ’68, Hackettstown, New Jersey, has been a mentor for stroke and traumatic brain injury survivors for the past 18 years. He is the author of two books about brain injury and publishes a free online magazine, Stroke and Traumatic Brain Injury Life Magazine.

Michael Grebosz ’05, M.B.A. ’07, DeLand, Florida, was honored by the Florida City & County Management Association with the Assistant for Excellence I Leadership Award. He has been with the City of DeLand since 2003, starting out as a human resources intern and working his way up the ranks.


1970s Neale Montgomery ’75, J.D. ’78, Fort Myers, Florida, is a partner at Pavese Law Firm. Her practice continues to focus on zoning and administrative matters related to all aspects of the entitlement process and development of land, primarily in Southwest Florida.

limitations, we cannot guarantee use of all photographs.


Christian A. Gibson ’93, Jupiter, Florida, CEO of CAST Home Loans, received the Top 1% in the Nation Award for 2018 from United Wholesale Mortgage, a leading wholesale lender in the United States. Eric Cinnamond ’93 and Jayme Wiggins ’02, Jacksonville, Florida, have launched an asset management firm. They are past members of Stetson’s Roland George Investments Program in the School of Business Administration.

STETSON | Summer 2019

Davis Mallory ’06, Nashville, Tennessee, performed during the Denver Nuggets halftime show as part of the team’s Mile High City Night. The show included a five-song medley of his singles and two new unreleased singles, “Shirtless” and “Jane Fonda,” from his upcoming debut album. Caitlan Walker ’08, M.Acc ’10, Port Orange, Florida, has been promoted to director at the Daytona Beach office of James Moore & Co. She also is a key member of the firm’s Government Services Team. J. Christian Barker ’09, J.D. ’12, Los Angeles, California, accepted a music industry executive position in Los Angeles as executive director of A&$, West Coast at Red Bull Music Publishing.

Kim Perlak ’98, Boston, Massachusetts, has been named chair of the Guitar Department at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Perlak becomes the first woman to chair the department, and only the fourth person to hold the position since the college added guitar as a principal instrument in 1962.

Heather Chamberlain ’06, Village of Palmetto Bay, Florida, completed the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) degree at the College of Veterinary Medicine of Midwestern University. She has accepted a position at a veterinary clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Eric S. Flowers ’11, Vero Beach, Florida, is a doctoral candidate at the University of Central Florida. Also, he is running for sheriff of Indian River County.

tant at the Daytona Beach office of James Moore & Co. She joined the firm in July 2015.

Sarah Merriman ’13, Columbia, South Carolina, graduated from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy with a Class 1 Law Enforcement Officer Certification. She is a deputy sheriff with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department in Columbia, one of the largest agencies in the state. Samantha Edwards ’14, M.Acc ’15, DeLand, Florida, has been promoted to senior accoun-

Cathleen Vogelgesang ’14, Cincinnati, Ohio, was hired as the new director of alumnae and constituent relations at Saint Ursula Academy in East Walnut Hills, Ohio. Savana Spooner Strickland ’15, M.Acc ’16, Port Orange, Florida, has been promoted to senior accountant at the Daytona Beach office of James Moore & Co. She joined the firm in July 2016.

Watson Realty Wins Big William A. Watson III ’96 was among the company officers recognized this spring, as Watson Realty Corp. was honored with the 2018 Leading Real Estate Companies of the World Diamond Award. The award is the highest presented by Leading RE and only given to one member based on contribution and participation in a wide range of categories. It was Watson Realty’s sixth Diamond Award in the award’s 16-year existence. Leading RE consists of 565 members in 70 countries, producing more than 11 million transactions, valued at $372 billion. Watson Realty Corp. is based in Jacksonville, Florida.

Madan Atreya, M.Acc ’18, DeLand, Florida, has joined the Daytona Beach office of James Moore & Company, where he will provide tax accounting services. He previously served as a staff auditor at an accounting firm in Washington, D.C.

Staafee Saint Jacques ’18, Haines City, Florida, published a book of poetry, “(SOUL) Food for Thought,” available on Amazon.

Reminiscing Gerald “Jerry” Callahan ’58 still continues trying to become a published book author. In 2016, to commemorate his 60th wedding anniversary, he wrote “How I Met My Spouse — The Yankee and the Southern Belle,” published on and since expanded into a mini-book called “Miracles.” “Unpublished so far,” Callahan said, “but who knows?” His Stetson story: Callahan arrived on campus as a military veteran in September 1955 and graduated three years later with a degree in secondary education. During that time, he drove the bus for the basketball team. Actually, Callahan had made the team as a player but told the coach he was “going around the clock to graduate in as fast a time” as possible. And they agreed “it would be better for both if I dropped off the team, and he used me for other things.” Callahan remains in touch with his alma mater some 60 years later. — Michael Candelaria | STETSON



Marriages 1 Ellie Covault ’09 and Oscar Mims, Nov. 2, 2018. 2 Christine Jacobson ’12 and Ryan Napier ’10, Dec. 15, 2018. 3 Grace Aguda ’17 and Tyler Schulte ’17, Nov. 11, 2018. 4 Victoria Ramirez ’18 and John Fleemin, March 2, 2019.


‘Outstanding’ Mayor If you were on campus during his time as a student, you’ll likely remember him. He was that influential. If not, meet Peter Urscheler ’06, the mayor of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania — and one of the Nation’s Ten Outstanding Americans for 2019. Each year, that honor, presented by JCI USA, recognizes the accomplishments of those who are “truly outstanding in the areas of business or entrepreneurial accomplishment, political achievement, humanitarian or voluntary leadership.” JCI USA is part of Junior Chamber International, comprising nearly 200,000 members in approximately 120 countries. Urscheler’s leadership abilities became apparent early, when in high school he was president of his class, three years in a row. That led to being both Student Government Association president at Stetson and a statewide leader. He was elected as the youngest SGA vice president, and he was a two-term SGA president. While on campus, he launched a campaign targeted at raising scholarships that ultimately resulted in more than $17 million in educational grants, impacting 28 educational institutions and 30,000-plus students in Florida. Corporate success and community service then followed before Urscheler became a mayor — the youngest mayor in Phoenixville’s 170-year history. Now, he’s one of the Nation’s Ten Outstanding Americans. By the way, previous honorees include Arthur Ashe (1968), Bill Clinton (1979), John F. Kennedy (1946), Dick Cheney (1976) and Elvis Presley (1970). — Michael Candelaria


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STETSON | Summer 2019


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Births 5 Sarah Rogers ’04 and husband Bryan O’Day, a son, Logan Benjamin, February 2019. 6 Mark Stiles ’04 and wife Melissa, a daughter, Castille Eileen, May 2019. 7 Jessica Raub ’05 and husband Sean Gorman ’04, a son, Caden James, July 2018. 8 Elizabeth Bornhorst ’09 and husband Benjamin Petersen, twins, Eliza and Hannigan, January 2019.



9 Jessie Bosma ’13 and husband Scott Dickensheet, a son, James Owen, March 2019. Editor’s note: Sarah Rogers ’04 and Jessica Raub ’05 were roommates at Stetson.






Her United Way Courtney Williams Edgcomb ’12, a former Bonner Scholar, had been working at United Way of Volusia-Flagler Counties for six years. Now, she’s the president, advancing from community impact vice president, as announced in May. Edgcomb was deemed the “best fit” from among more than 65 national candidates, thanks to “phenomenal vision and incredible energy,” according to board members of the agency. She is the youngest person to hold that president’s position. There’s more overachievement, too. In spring 2017, within the span of a week, Edgcomb became vice president and the mother to three boys. She adopted them (ages 8, 10 and 11) with her husband, Robert Edgcomb ’13, whom she met at Stetson while obtaining her degree in outreach management. Edgcomb didn’t have to travel far to continue her success. United Way of Volusia-Flagler Counties — one of more than 1,800 locally independent United Ways globally — is located a short distance from Stetson’s DeLand campus. — Michael Candelaria

In Memoriam 1940s Elizabeth McGinnes Thompson ’41 Helen Crist Stewart ’43 Delphene Strickland ’44 Martha Perkins Jones ’48 George W. Prom ’48 Donald C. Johnston ’49 R. W. Register ’49

1950s W. F. Davenport ’50 Herbert L. Dudley ’50 Nita Turner Hansen ’50 Ann Mace Hooks ’50 James M. Shine ’50 Zenia Davis Spencer ’50 John V. Foreman ’51 William B. Whitaker ’51 Betty Flippo Beard ’52 Margaret Johnson ’53 Charles E. Richardson ’54 Dorothy Flanagan Wilson ’54 Robert E. Lingle ’55 Laurence M. Willard ’55 Rosalind Fordham Willard ’55 Anne Thigpen Beane ’57 Arthur B. Bleecher ’57 Paul Barnard ’58 Henry L. Hardin ’58 Samuel K. Rogers ’58 Walter P. Bobbitt ’59 Ed M. Edmonds ’59


STETSON | Summer 2019

George F. Hyde ’59 John M. Potter ’59 Paul T. Thomas ’59 Joan Geitgey Waters ’59 William L. White ’59 Phillip D. Yonge ’59

1960s Martha Pierson, MA ’61 Stephen D. Thomas ’62 Suzanne Bourne ’63 John W. Donahoo Jr. ’63 Jo Conte ’64 Jeffrey A. Dease ’64 Helen Hobbs ’64 Judith Hamilton Masters ’64 John R. Ruggiero ’64 Barbara Carroll ’65 Charles V. Day ’65 Nancy Crable Kirk ’65 Charles W. Dickson, M.A. ’66 Jack E. Surrette, M.A. ’66 Frederick J. Beste ’68 Sandra Bowen Diaz ’68 William R. Hamilton ’68 JoAnn Stroud Torizzo ’68 Robert C. Coker, J.D. ’69 Thomas N. Fulton ’69 Roland A. Griffin ’69 Walter L. Mingledorff, J.D. ’69 Robert L. Thomas, J.D. ’69 Gayellen Wagner ’69



Maureen Jarrell ’70 William G. Myers, M.B.A. ’71 John H. Pecarek, J.D. ’71 W. C. Sorensen ’71 Dennis J. Wipper ’71 Janet Lower Brown, M.Ed ’72 W. S. Lovejoy, J.D. ’72 Thomas E. Penick, J.D. ’72 Barbara Sawyer Taylor ’72 Kenneth R. Phillips, M.Ed ’73 William J. Singbush ’73 Theodore W. Weeks, J.D. ’73 Steven R. Harless ’74 Elsbeth Furlong Narwold ’74 Fielding Hight Stutts ’74 Mary Lambert ’75 John J. Wall, J.D. ’75 Vanda Bayliss, J.D. ’77 Joan Biderman ’77 Robert W. Frazier, J.D. ’77 G. C. Nelson, J.D. ’77 William B. Shapbell, M.B.A. ’77 Marvin L. Ivey, J.D. ’78 Carol Murphy, J.D. ’78 Judith Simmons, J.D. ’78 Anthony J. Pannella ’79, J.D. ’82 Candace Suarez Wilson, J.D. ’79 Paul A. Young ’79

Clyde E. Wolfe, J.D. ’80 Zonia Clemens, M.Ed ’82 Todd E. Berger, J.D. ’83 Olin L. Jones ’84 Nancy Rhoades, J.D. ’85 Richard E. Kramer, J.D. ’86 Ruth Neary Thropp, M.Ed ’86 Kathie Shepard ’87 George H. Brown, J.D. ’88 Lynn Van Hyning Ramey, J.D. ’88

1990s Sabato P. DeVito, J.D. ’90 Christopher J. Dale, J.D. ’95 Donna McBride, J.D. ’97 Laura Bowers Coln, J.D. ’98

2000s Rhonda Moorefield, J.D. ’02 James E. Royal, J.D. ’02 Megan Diamandi ’03 Kelly Speer, M.B.A. ’03 William C. Kelly ’05 Diana Pankova, J.D. ’06

2010s Brendan C. Sullivan ’15 Chris McMurray, M.Acc ’16


GOING PLACES Willie Dee Willian McEntire ’31, M.S. ’33, on right, and a friend pose in front of an automobile, circa 1930. Notice the “Stetson U” banner and the many local license plates. Photo: Stetson University Archives | STETSON


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