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The Libby Years















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An era of historic growth and significance, 2009-2020

Stetson University President Wendy B. Libby, PhD


Indelible Expressions Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, was a night to remember for Hatters everywhere, but particularly for Stetson President Wendy B. Libby, PhD, and husband Richard M. Libby, PhD — as the university honored donors and celebrated the achievements of its seven-year Beyond Success – Significance Campaign during Homecoming 2019. The campaign raised more than $218 million, exceeding a goal of $200 million, with funding for endowments, scholarships and international learning; faculty support and academic programs; athletics; and capital projects such as construction of the Marshall & Vera Lea Rinker Welcome Center and renovations to the Carlton Union Building, where the gala was held. The evening culminated with colorful fireworks and priceless, indelible expressions of gratitude. Photo: Nick Leibee


STETSON | Spring 2020

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

24 Departments


2 BEGINNINGS Indelible Expressions

22 Framing History

6 WELCOME Stetson Remains Stetson 8 INTELLIGENTSIA News and Notes About Knowledge 20 FIRST PERSON Autograph of a Lifetime 54 ATHLETICS Building From the Ground Up 56 ALUMNI Celebrating Hatters Everywhere 62 THE CLASSES Accolades and Achievements 67 PARTING SHOT Big Win


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For more than a century, a portrait of Stetson’s past has traveled from the famed Pitti Palace in Italy to campus and now on the office wall of the university’s newest dean.

24 Mission: Global Good

When a professional loss left him in a “difficult place,” alumnus Scott Marcello found a cause for both personal healing and service devotion — health care in sub-Saharan Africa.

48 Making Miracles

Carolyn Canouse ’90 fights to make the lives of young Peruvians better — changing her own life in the process.

Designer Michelle Martin, Brittany Strozzo Art and Photography Faith Jones ’21, Joel Jones, Ciara Ocasio Writers Eric Butterman, Sandra Carr, Rick de Yampert, Marie Dinklage, Janie Graziani, Ricky Hazel, Cory Lancaster, Kelly Larson, Wendy B. Libby, PhD, Cindy Lovell, PhD ‘94, MA ’96, Ashley McKnight-Taylor, Jack Roth, Chelsea Seaver ’20 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 and includes the Tampa Law Center.

Want to add, remove or change your magazine subscription?

Email universitymagazine@stetson.edu. Also, we accept paid advertising. Email inquiries to universitymagazine@stetson.edu.

50 50 The Rhodes Less Traveled

Slavina Ancheva ’20 and her pursuit of a Global Rhodes Scholarship are a study in passion to “fight the world’s fight” and perseverance to maybe even “do it again.”

52 52 Becoming a Changemaker

My strong interest in community health and a surprise Newman Civic Fellowship are setting me on a course to make a difference. Hopefully.

THE LIBBY YEARS 28 The Libby Years

A presidential tenure for the ages, 2009-2020

38 What Got Done

The Libby Years: Highlighting Achievement

40 Guiding Heart

Richard Murray Libby, PhD, arrived on campus 11 years ago, sharing the new president’s last name. As it turned out, he also brought perspective that would create his own distinction.

44 Leaders of the Past

Glancing back at Stetson’s previous eight presidents

46 Introducing Next

Christopher F. Roellke, PhD, is poised — literally — to take the lead as the new president.

ON THE COVER: Stetson presidents have the honor of their portraits being displayed in the boardroom at DeLand Hall on campus. Stetson President Wendy B. Libby, PhD, has joined that distinguished group, with a painting by alumnus Tom Reis ’88, which is showcased on the cover. This cover (on the left), from the Fall/Winter 2009 issue, was Libby’s first, marking her arrival. 2020 photo: Stetson University/And You Films

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Stetson Remains Stetson Uncertainty. Resiliency. Community. Almost overnight, our world has turned upside down. The news gives us a constant stream of information about illness around the world, uncertain stock markets, event cancellations, employer shutdowns, K-12 school closures, and CDC statements about washing our hands and keeping our distance. In these uncertain times, I hope that you are safe and healthy, are hunkered down at home or are able to limit your interactions with others as best you can, as we all wait out COVID-19 and try to inhibit its spread to our more vulnerable populations. It is not an easy time for our small businesses, those who depend on tourism and similarly impacted industries, and those working in service fields. Please know that Stetson is thinking about the entire Hatter community during this time and wishing for a speedy recovery and renewal across the globe. Here at Stetson, as at countless other universities, we made the difficult decision on March 12 to move all our instruction online, beginning March 18 and continuing through the remainder of the spring semester. (See Page 18.) Why didn’t we leave open a window for a return to on-campus instruction? Simply, we didn’t want to cause further disruption by asking students to leave and then summoning them back with only a few weeks of the term left. We left the choice to return home or stay to students and their families and expect less than a third of our undergraduates to continue residing on campus in DeLand. We have a group of students for whom campus is home, and many of our international students cannot get tickets to, or entry into, their home countries. We remain open to support them. As a university that holds paramount the interaction among faculty and students in small class settings, we have had to quickly adjust to moving completely online. Thank you to our faculty members for their quick learning and adjustments. Distance learning is not a novel concept to us … we have a robust online undergraduate summer program, and degrees such as our MBA, MAcc and LLM are online. But there are varying degrees of familiarity with Blackboard (our online course management system) among our faculty and students. And how do you continue to teach hands-on courses like ceramics online? Our faculty members are in the throes of crafting answers that enable Stetson to keep its academic rigor, but look to new ways to satisfy our course requirements — not simple! 6

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For our staff, they have had to say good-bye to students and to re-examine their work requirements — what can be done by working at home (quite a bit, actually, thanks to our laptops, virtual access, phone and videoconferencing), and what must be done on campus. We are paying our employees and continuing their benefits: the mark of a financially strong university with deep commitments to its staff and faculty. My heart goes out to our graduating students, whose final year has been forever altered and marked by abrupt good-byes to their friends. The NCAA and ASUN playing seasons have also been cut short for student-athletes; all games have been cancelled. And hardest of all, we just decided to postpone our in-person commencements and graduating student celebrations in both DeLand and Gulfport. As I look back on the craziness of the past many weeks, I see that Stetson is still Stetson. A community of individuals who, far from panicking, rally together. I am so proud of the creative solutions to support our students in the face of a quickly developing pandemic. In uncertain times, we are reminded just how resilient we are. How much of a community we are. As the COVID-19 situation changes rapidly, we are having to update our plans just as rapidly. Our emergency management team continues to meet about once daily, sometimes more than that, to deal with short-term matters and to plan for the longer term. We have hosted webinars for students, parents, faculty and staff, so we can offer updates and answer questions. We have weathered many storms in our nearly 140 years and so too will Stetson weather this one. We are still recruiting students and look forward to a robust entering class for August 2020. We are still fundraising because the needs are still there. And, of course, we look forward to gathering again with you in person before too long. For my husband, Richard, and me, this is not how we expected to spend the last months of my presidency. The past 11 years have been a labor of love, and we will always be advocates and supporters of education and of Stetson University. I hope you continue to cherish and support this university as well, as you welcome Dr. Christopher Roellke as Stetson’s 10th president on July 1 — remembering what Stetson has made possible in your own life, what it has given you and the promise it holds for future students. In community,

Wendy B. Libby, PhD President, Stetson University P.S. Look for updates at stetson.edu/other/covid-19/

Presidential Reactions @stetsonU Feb. 15, 2019, indeed, was a fateful day for the Stetson community, as Wendy B. Libby, PhD, announced her decision to retire as president of the university. In response, not surprisingly, social media was abuzz across all official Stetson platforms. On Facebook, for example,

while the university typically receives an average of 719 views on a weekday, a total of 6,159 were recorded during the 24 hours following the announcement. Here is a sampling of the Facebook reactions that day:

Stetson.edu/today | STETSON


INTELLIGENTSIA Aside from being recognized by The Princeton Review, Stetson’s School of Business Administration in January added the Flex MBA.

Stetson Among ‘Best Business Schools’ The numbers add up, and Stetson’s School of Business Administration is recognized as one of the leading institutions for graduate business education in the nation. Specifically, Stetson’s on-campus Master of Business Administration is included in “Best Business Schools for 2020,” as tabulated by The Princeton Review. “Best Business Schools,” published annually, contains detailed profiles of each college, including excerpts from student surveys and scores in categories such as Academics, Admissions, Careers, and Tuition and Aid, among others. In its profile of Stetson, The Princeton Review editors mention the university’s proximity to local businesses, high-speed internet access throughout its campuses and on-campus MBA that is principally designed for working professionals who enjoy “a collaborative atmosphere” with their cohort at Stetson. According to the description, students say the convenient evening course schedule and multiple locations attract many “working professionals who are striving to advance their careers.” Also, the collaborative atmosphere helps students who are “interested in diversifying their skills in both business and networking,” and the atmosphere is supportive for students who find they “can relate with classmates, since many also have full-time jobs.” In January, the School of Business Administration launched its Flex MBA, combining the best of both the on-campus and online experiences to meet the needs of busy professionals who still want the features of a residential experience, cited Dean Neal Mero, PhD, who added that the national ranking “reflects the innovation and quality of our business programs.” — Janie Graziani


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Trustees Elect New Chair Welcome, Maureen Breakiron-Evans ’76, to the head of the table. The Stetson University Board of Trustees selected Breakiron-Evans, a board member, as the incoming board chair, beginning July 1. She will replace Maureen Breakiron-Evans ’76 Joe Cooper ’79, MBA ’82. Breakiron-Evans is a retired CPA with an accounting degree from Stetson and master’s degrees from Harvard Business School and Stanford University. She served as an audit partner with Arthur Andersen & Co. and in various financial and technology executive positions with Transamerica, Visa, Cigna and Towers Perrin. She currently serves on the boards of Cognizant Technology Solutions, Ally Financial and Cubic Corp. “Maureen is an outstanding trustee, having served in a number of leadership roles, including treasurer, a member of the board’s executive committee and as chair of the audit committee,” said Cooper. “She has a passion for Stetson, and we look forward to benefiting from her leadership.” Breakiron-Evans is excited to work with the board and incoming President Christopher F. Roellke, PhD, who also begins July 1, as “Stetson evolves its curricula and supporting programs to better propel its students to future success,” she said. — Janie Graziani

DID YOU KNOW? Stetson Trustee Emeritus Nestor de Armas ’73 will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate during Commencement in May. De Armas earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting and enjoyed a career as a senior executive with a leading banking software company. He has been an active supporter of Stetson, serving as president of the Alumni Association and on the Stetson Board of Trustees from 2001 to 2011. He was chair of the Board of Trustees from 2006 to 2010 and was named Trustee Emeritus in 2011. De Armas was inducted into Stetson’s Accounting Hall of Fame in 2016. His wife, Donna, two of their four daughters and a son-in-law also are Stetson graduates. “Nestor has been an invaluable adviser for me throughout my tenure at Stetson,” commented President Wendy B. Libby, PhD.

From left: Provost Noel Painter, PhD, President Wendy B. Libby, PhD, trustees Cici and Hyatt Brown, and Board Chair Joe Cooper ’79, MBA ’82. The Browns were honored with the naming of Cici & Hyatt Brown Hall for Health and Innovation.

Hall for Health and Innovation Stetson’s new health and science facility will bear the names of two longtime university supporters, Cici and Hyatt Brown, in honor of their generosity and support. The name: Cici & Hyatt Brown Hall for Health and Innovation. The move was unanimously approved by the university’s Board of Trustees at its February meeting on Stetson’s College of Law campus in Gulfport. The Cici & Hyatt Brown Hall for Health and Innovation is in the planning stage, along with the renovation of Stetson’s current science facility, Sage Hall. “It is encouraging to me to see how the building process has sparked broad conversation about how we build and renovate spaces that we need at Stetson to advance excellent education for our students,” Provost Noel Painter, PhD, said about the planning. “Consistent with the original vision for the building, Cici and Hyatt Brown Hall will foster interdisciplinary collaboration in health and bring the vision of creating innovation in health and science to benefit the greater Daytona Beach-Orlando community.” Expect more related good news to come. — Cory Lancaster

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Keeper of the Grounds Dave Rigsby liked to say he had the nicest office on Stetson’s DeLand campus. Rigsby, manager for Stetson Grounds and senior assistant for Special Projects, retired in January after 42 years on the job. He spent his days outside — spread among the campus’s more than 176 scenic acres. Not coincidentally, Stetson was named among the “25 Most Beautiful College Campuses in the South” in 2018 by Country Living magazine. According to Stetson President Wendy B. Libby, PhD, Rigsby played a critical role in helping to transform the grounds after she arrived in 2009, even thinking of him as a “fine thoroughbred racehorse, anxious to run!” “When we first met, he had so many outstanding ideas for the improvement of our campus landscape and walkways … but he did not have the budget to do most of these projects. I am so thankful we could support his vision to allow this campus to be, as many would call it, ‘stunning,’” Libby commented. Through the years, Rigsby typically deflected such praise, instead opting to recognize his staff. 10

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Above: Dave Rigsby, shown here in 2017, was a leader in Stetson’s landscape transformation for more than four decades, highlighted by Palm Court. Left: Circa 1987, DeLand Mayor Wiley Nash, Stetson President Pope Duncan, PhD, and Rigsby look over campus landscaping plans.

Rigsby was superintendent of Parks for the City of DeLand in the late 1970s when then-Stetson President Pope Duncan, PhD, asked him to come to work for the university. Rigsby started Oct. 2, 1978. During his time at Stetson, Rigsby also rose to become a key leader in the city. He served as a DeLand city commissioner from 1980 to 1993, and mayor from 1993 to 2001, as well as on many other government boards and civic groups. Quite apparently, though, he never took his eye off the real prize — the Stetson campus, which in turn created a groundswell of personal popularity. — Cory Lancaster

Mock Trial, Real Triumph Call this a dynasty? In January, the Stetson University College of Law Trial Team won the 2020 Chester Bedell Memorial Mock Trial Competition — marking the 24th time in 38 years, including the inaugural trophy in 1983, that a Stetson team has won the competition. Also (of course), Stetson’s program in trial advocacy is nationally ranked No. 1 by U.S. News & World Report. The Trial Lawyers Section of the Florida Bar conducts the prestigious competition for mock trial teams from across the state annually, with distinguished members of the judiciary presiding over the final round. This year’s Stetson Law trial team consisted of Drew Trautman, Rachel Wise, Megan Tiralosi and Amy Trentalange. Tiralosi also won the best advocate award. A second Stetson team of Olivia Bergert, Justin Bell, Magner Tiuso and Molly Goodwill made it to the quarterfinal round. All eight students sacrificed their winter break to prepare for the competition, and the winning team was ultimately made better by having practiced against their schoolmates, noted Julia A. Metts, director of Trial Programs and professor of practice. “Iron sharpens iron, and that is how Stetson stays consistent,” Metts said. “Together, we make each other better. Together, we push toward a goal of personal and professional growth. Together, we advocate with a purpose!” — Ashley McKnight-Taylor

The Stetson University College of Law Trial Team won the 2020 Chester Bedell Memorial Mock Trial Competition. From left: students Drew Trautman, Rachel Wise, Megan Tiralosi and Amy Trentalange.

Fast-Tracking Accountancy Stetson has approved an Expedited Entry Program for students who graduate from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and seek acceptance into Stetson’s Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program. ERAU students who graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration can fast-track their acceptance into one of the nation’s premiere MAcc programs, thanks to an agreement between Stetson’s M.E. Rinker, Sr. Institute of Tax and Accountancy and Embry-Riddle’s David B. O’Maley College of Business. The new Expedited Entry Program allows graduates of Embry-Riddle’s business administration program, with a concentration in accounting and finance, to take advantage of Stetson’s Graduate Management Admission Test waiver. Once enrolled in Stetson’s School of Business Administration, students have the opportunity in a year’s time to acquire a Master of Accountancy degree and pursue meaningful careers in the global marketplace. Students of the MAcc program also graduate with the additional course requirements necessary for Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensure, with Stetson having ranked No. 1 for CPA pass rate in Florida for first-time test-takers with advanced degrees in 2017. Stetson’s accounting program also is distinguished as one of only 188 accounting programs in the world accredited by AACSB International. Stetson’s MAcc program is designed to provide flexibility through coursework offered primarily online. A specialized Tax Track, featuring courses that can be taken independently or as part of the MAcc degree, also is available. “This is a great opportunity for our students from two outstanding business programs,” said Embry-Riddle’s Bert Zarb, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Accounting, Economics, Finance and Information Sciences. “Here, they gain a strong foundation in business principles, economics and financial practices and can then move directly into the master’s program at Stetson.” — Marie Dinklage

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Interning at the White House Just months after graduating from Stetson, Elizabeth Triece stood on the South Lawn of the White House as the president stepped off Marine One and walked over to shake her hand. Triece had just begun an internship at the White House. “The first time you meet the president of the United States, or the first lady, is a moment you will remember for the rest of your life,” said Triece in January. Triece graduated from Stetson in May 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Management. In her final semester, she applied for that internship, knowing the selection process for the unpaid position was very competitive. She also was accepted at Harvard University to pursue a master’s degree in Management through its School of Continuing Education. She enrolled for the summer. Then in July, midway through her course, she received an email: “Congratulations, you have been accepted into the White House Internship program for the Fall 2019 session.” So, she put Harvard on hold and took on the fulltime assignment, a 40-hour week with the need to sometimes stay late. In addition, there were opportunities for enrichment outside the office, including weekly lecture series with guest speakers, such as the vice president, prominent Cabinet members and other well-known public figures. Her internship required tight security. And it often provided close access to the president, including the day when the interns stood on the South Lawn as Marine One landed and were greeted. “Little did I know the journey I was soon to begin would far exceed any expectations I had about what I might experience as a White House intern,” said Triece, a New York native. Triece accepted another internship in Washington and will return to graduate school at Harvard when it’s finished. — Cory Lancaster Elizabeth Triece ’19 spent fall 2019 interning at the White House.


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The football team also scored well in the classroom.

Touchdown, Academics! Last fall, the football team finished with a record of 7-4. Yet, that was only part of its success. The Hatters set a program record by placing 60 players on the Pioneer Football League Academic Honor Roll. The previous program high was 59 players on the 2013 squad, the first year in Stetson’s return to football. Over seven seasons, Stetson has placed a total of 356 players on the PFL Honor Roll, an average of 50.9 per year. The PFL Academic Honor Roll consists of student-athletes who participated in football at member institutions during the fall semester and posted a 3.0 grade-point average or higher during the semester while enrolled full time in accordance with NCAA rules. Stetson was one of five members of the league to place at least 60 members on the 2019 Honor Roll squad. In all, the PFL saw more than 500 student-athletes recognized for academics, a seventh consecutive year for that achievement. Joining Stetson were PFL members the University of Dayton, Drake University, Butler University and Davidson College. The PFL athletic directors and coaches established the honor roll in 2001 as a way to recognize the league’s outstanding student-athletes. To date, the league has recognized more than 8,300 studentathletes. — Ricky Hazel

DID YOU KNOW? For the sixth time in its history, Stetson’s Patricia Wilson Field has been named Sports Turf Managers Association National College Softball Field of the Year. Originally constructed in 2003, Patricia Wilson Field has earned the STMA Collegiate Field of the Year award five times previously: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2017. A panel of 12 judges independently scored entries based on playability, appearance of surfaces, utilization of innovative solutions, effective use of budget and implementation of a comprehensive agronomic program. In addition, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association named Patricia Wilson Field its Field of the Year in 2004 and 2007. (See related story, Page 54.)

‘Voices of Reform’ Tackles Hot Topics Why is it so difficulty to send my child to a good preschool? That’s the question asked — and answered — by Hani Morgan, EdD, professor of education at the University of Southern Mississippi in her article in the latest issue of “Voices of Reform: Educational Research to Inform and Reform,” published by Stetson’s Nina B. Hollis Institute for Educational Reform. The journal provides educators with tools and research information for helping them become better teachers. The mission of the Nina B. Hollis Institute for Educational Reform is to find new ways to educate children by developing local incubation projects to test innovative ideas that impact K-12 classrooms, with emphasis on closing the opportunity gap for children in marginalized settings. “The journal features articles about some extremely important education reform issues that are geared towards policymakers, and in theory, policymakers are the main influLou Sabina, PhD encers,” said journal editor Lou Sabina, PhD, assistant professor of education at Stetson. Aside from Morgan’s article, the others are “Using First-Year Seminar Courses to Improve Performance Funding Outcomes — A Case Study of the State of Florida”; “Reinventing the Mission: The Vital Role of Academic Support in the Higher Education Accountability Era”; “Future of the Professoriate”; “Right-sizing Oklahoma School Districts: Examining District Size, Enrollment and Superintendent Compensation in Oklahoma School Districts”; and “Teaching Asian-American Literature and American Multiculturalism in Singapore.” — Sandra Carr

Founding members of the East Central Florida Regional Resilience Collaborative, from left: Orange City Mayor Gary Blair; Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings; Palm Bay City Manager Lisa Morrell; City of Orlando District 4 Commissioner Patty Sheehan; Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer; Oak Hill City Administrator Kohn Evans; and Stetson’s Jason Evans, PhD.

New Collaborative, Greater Impact Since its establishment in 2014, Stetson’s Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience, the first of its kind at the university, has worked to become a center for innovative approaches to tackling complex environmental challenges. Significant progress toward that goal continues to be made. In November, the institute, led by Interim Executive Director Jason Evans, PhD, became the first university member of the newly formed East Central Florida Regional Resilience Collaborative, a part of the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council. Consisting of stakeholders across eight counties, the group was formed to enhance regional resilience. According to Evans, during the past several years Stetson has partnered on projects with the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council and was asked to participate in the new collaborative “right at the ground floor.” The council covers Brevard, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter and Volusia counties. The collaborative effort and the planning council are effectively positioning Central Florida as a national leader in resilience planning, Evans added. Stetson’s initial work will largely encompass the re-evaluation and updating of existing environmental resilience plans, along with a continual review of data, projections and policies regarding climate change and related issues. To that end, the institute recently received a $185,000, two-year Florida Sea Grant to implement a landscape conservation and climate resilience planning project in Volusia. The Florida Sea Grant is a university-based program that supports research, education and extension to conserve coastal resources and enhance economic opportunities for Floridians. Stetson students will benefit, too, Evans said, pointing to the general novelty of resilience planning. “It’s one thing to read about resilience and the theory of resilience. And we need to do that,” he noted. “But we can also actually talk about what it means and give examples. Most importantly, it gives students the opportunity to do internships, to go to work at the regional planning council or local governments.” — Michael Candelaria Stetson.edu/today | STETSON



James Pearson, MA, is the Homer and Dolly Hand Art Center’s new director.

New Director for Hand Art Center James Pearson, MA, now is the new director of Stetson’s Homer and Dolly Hand Art Center. Previously, he was director of the Southeast Museum of Photography in Daytona Beach. “I really want to raise the profile of Stetson University through the use of the Hand Art Center,” Pearson commented in December. “I also want to be able to use the Hand Art Center as a way to not only broadcast the university’s mission to a larger audience, but to help emphasize and magnify the offerings that are already here and contribute to the university’s history and reputation, which is extremely exciting. “I want to exhibit thought-provoking concepts where folks are engaged with the artwork, either with paintings on the wall, works in the collection or pop-up installations. I want it to be a little different because the way contemporary society is today, you have to get people’s attention and maintain it along with relevance.” Art came naturally to Pearson. His grandfather was a draftsman and calligrapher and encouraged him to pursue art while growing up in Boynton Beach, Florida. He received his Master of Arts in art history criticism from Stony Brook University in New York and Bachelor of Arts in printmaking and sculpture from the University of North Carolina Asheville. His background includes being the curator and collections manager of the Wright Museum of Art at Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin, and having a curatorial fellowship at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia. Pearson succeeds Tonya Curran, MA, who left to become the director of the art museum at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. — Sandra Carr 14

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DID YOU KNOW? Stetson University College of Law has selected Leland Ware as the recipient of its 2020 William A. Kaplin Award. Ware is the Louis L. Redding Chair and Professor of Law & Public Policy at the University of Delaware, where he also teaches Africana studies. The Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson Law established the award in honor of Professor William A. Kaplin to recognize scholars who have published works on education law that embrace the intersection of law and policy. Ware’s research focuses on civil rights and civil liberties law, employment law and constitutional law. His book “A Century of Segregation: Race, Class, and Disadvantage” (Lexington Books, 2018), explains how race and class intersect in ways that uniquely disadvantage African Americans and other racial minorities. He has co-authored two other books and authored more than 100 articles in academic publications on various aspects of civil rights law.

House for Stetson Hillel When Jeffrey Ginsburg arrived at Stetson in the late 1980s, he discovered that the Jewish community he had grown up with didn’t seem to exist on campus. So, Ginsburg decided to create that community by starting Stetson’s first chapter of Hillel, the international Jewish campus organization. Today, Stetson Hillel has a home — a newly renovated, red-brick, 1930 Tudor-style house. In December 2019, the opening of the building — bearing the names of his late parents, both Stetson graduates, Jeffrey ’88 and Diane Ginsburg ’90 — marked the first time Stetson Hillel had its own dedicated place. The Hillel House renovation received its major funding from a $2 million gift by the Ginsburg Family Foundation, chaired by real estate developer Alan Ginsburg, who is the grandfather of Stetson junior Joseph Ginsburg. The foundation is based in Winter Park near Orlando. As a side note of fate, after considering several colleges, Joseph Ginsburg selected to attend Stetson on a coin flip. “I flipped the coin eight times and seven of those eight times it landed on Stetson,” he said during the house dedication. “That’s when I knew there was a little bit of faith and destiny involved going to the place where my parents met and had the most beautiful love story of all time.” — Rick de Yampert

The new Jeffrey and Diane Ginsburg Hillel House is decidedly warm and inviting — a tribute to Diane ’90 and Jeffrey ’88.

The Hon. Tangela M. Barrie was the 2020 recipient of Stetson Law’s William Reece Smith, Jr. Public Service Award.

Personifying Public Service In February, the Hon. Tangela M. Barrie, a 1997 Stetson Law alumna, received the William Reece Smith, Jr. Public Service Award in recognition of outstanding contributions to public service, the justice system and the community. Stetson University College of Law presented the award. Barrie is the youngest Superior Court judge ever elected to the circuit court in DeKalb County, Georgia. Elected in 2008 at the age of 35, Barrie handles felony cases ranging from theft to murder and a civil caseload that includes adoptions and divorces, among others. In 2015, she was selected as Chief Judge for DeKalb County Superior Court, and she continues to serve as the presiding judge of Division 10 of the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit. With her strong family roots and commitment to community safety, Barrie has dedicated herself to educating and empowering the community. Also, she is an ardent advocate for young lawyers, offering an active Intern in Chamber Program. Prior to taking the bench, Barrie was assigned to the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Unit. There, she worked vigorously to advocate for the safety of women and other victims, and was selected the 2007 Prosecuting Attorney of the Year for the successful prosecution of her cases. Additionally, she has received many other accolades throughout her career, all marking her devotion to bettering her community. The annual William Reece Smith, Jr. Public Service Award is named in honor of legendary Florida lawyer William Reece Smith Jr., who served for decades as a distinguished professional lecturer at Stetson Law, beginning in 1954. Before his death in 2013, he dedicated more than 60 years of service to the legal profession. — Ashley McKnight-Taylor

Stetson.edu/today | STETSON



Hatterthon staffers hold up placards for the “reveal” of the 2020 fundraising total, a record-setting $84,407.20. “FTK” means “for the kids.”


Hatterthon Raises Dollars, Lifts Spirits


Hatterthon totals continue to rise, and that’s cause for celebration. In late February, the fourth annual Hatterthon, a benefit for Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, raised a recordsetting $84,407.20. Last year’s tally, the previous best-ever, was $62,000. Hatterthon is part of the Miracle Network Dance Marathon, a nationwide, student-led campaign that raises funds and awareness for any one of the 170 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in the United States and Canada — in this case, the Orlando Arnold Palmer facility. There were touching moments at this year’s event, which lasted 10 hours at Rinker Field House. Melanie Doubleday introduced her 8-year-old daughter as “our miracle child Lauren.” Lauren underwent open-heart surgery when she was 3 days old, and on this day represented the types of patients who are being helped by the students’ efforts. Several other “Miracle Families” — parents and their children — took the stage to share their stories. Also, there was serious fun. Hatterthon executive director Tara Tovkach became a “human sundae.” Line dances were formed by the roughly 150 Stetson students in attendance. Quirky contests were held, and games were played among students and “Miracle Kids” and their siblings. All was in the name of “getting to see the kids and interact with the kids,” as described by Taylor Jordao, a senior majoring in communications and media studies. Jordao added: “This event is really different than a lot of other organizations and other fundraisers — because you see firsthand the effect that you have.” — Rick de Yampert

In late February, leaders of Stetson’s Student Government Association put their education into action by meeting with state legislators in Tallahassee and lobbying to save Effective Access to Student Education grants. EASE, as it’s popularly known, is an education-assistance program that was established in 1979. The students urged legislators to oppose further cuts to the grants, which provide $2,800 annually for state residents to attend Florida private universities. The $2,800 a year is down from the $3,500 received for 2018-2019, and legislators are considering more reductions for the 2020-2021 academic year by awarding the grants based only on financial need. At Stetson, approximately 2,000 undergraduate students — of the 3,000-plus undergraduates enrolled — benefit from the EASE program. Statewide, approximately 43,000 undergraduates receive the grants to attend 29 private Florida colleges and universities. According to estimates, 26,000 students would be disqualified from receiving the grants, if the proposed legislation is approved. “As students, it is our right to pursue an education, and EASE is another tool that allows us to do just that. That is what we are fighting for,” commented Joshua Finkelstein ’22, who serves as the SGA’s chair of Academic Affairs.

STETSON | Spring 2020



COVID-19: Historic Measures to Protect All of Stetson


his is a story that, as it is being written, has no clear endpoint. Even next steps and directions aren’t yet known. Such are the uncertain times created by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

In higher education, Stetson, like other colleges and universities nationwide and across the world, responded to the pandemic both with tireless efforts and unprecedented moves — made, remarkably, in a blink of an eye — to protect the entire university community. And Stetson remains vigilant. The following is a brief summary of measures taken by Stetson, beginning with a notice to students in DeLand and Gulfport about being safe, with this new virus circulating and restricting travel during spring break to nations with high levels of COVID-19. This quickly changed, starting with a series of events that were announced on what is now historic March 12, 2020.

Stetson University Moves All Classes Online Effective March 18, Stetson moved all classes online for the campus in DeLand, with the final day for in-person classes being March 14. The change was put in effect for the remainder of the spring semester, which ends May 5. At the College of Law in Gulfport, all classes were to resume online March 23 through the end of the spring semester. Law students were on spring break March 16-22. The DeLand campus remained open and services were still available, such as dining, the duPont-Ball Library, Health Service, counseling and on-campus tutoring. Meanwhile, staff and faculty continued to work as normal, with some changes for faculty, who moved to online education instruction. Students were given the opportunity to continue residing on campus, and were asked to inform Residential Living & Learning of their decision by March 20. If they decided to leave, they had to move out of their residence halls by March 23. Some students and their families began moving out of their residence halls that weekend. No one had tested positive for COVID-19 in the Stetson community, and the university was closely following all safety, security and health measures as directed by the Florida Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 18

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Answering the Many Questions To address questions and update students and parents about the university’s protective steps, President Wendy B. Libby, PhD, and other administrators held webinars as well as an in-person meeting. A sampling of the questions and answers:

If students leave, will they be reimbursed for housing and meals? Credits will be made for meal plans, and a one-

time credit for housing was provided to seniors and continuing students.

If students leave, do they have to take all of their belongings with them? Students will need to take all of their

belongings if they are leaving. The university does not plan to store students’ belongings, although a list of local resources for storage will be provided.

What safety and security measures will be put in place for students who remain on campus? Stetson has a comprehensive infectious disease protocol and already has been following these safety, security and health measures. The university receives direct guidance from the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stetson’s Health Service is connected to AdventHealth, the major hospital system in the area, and can access their support and resources.

Some students began moving out of their residence halls on March 13, after the university announced it would switch to online classes.

Remote Work for Staff Members On March 17, Libby sent an email to university staffers, indicating a directive to the university vice presidents, athletics director and dean at the College of Law to “work with their leadership teams to plan for maintaining operations and maximizing the ability for staff to telecommute or work from home while providing skeletal on-campus staffing where necessary.” All departments were requested to put plans together for review later that week by the Emergency Management Team. Those plans took effect March 20. In moves made by the NCAA and Stetson’s conference, the ASUN, the remainder of all winter sports seasons and all spring sports were canceled.

Athletics Events Canceled The Atlantic Sun Conference Presidents’ Council officially canceled all intercollegiate competition, regular season and championship segments, for all spring sports. The ASUN announcement followed the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s cancellation of all remaining winter and spring championships — including the men’s and women’s basketball championship, College World Series and Women’s College World Series. With the health and safety of Stetson student-athletes at the forefront, and with input from Stetson conference affiliates (ASUN, Pioneer Football League and Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference), Stetson Athletics Director Jeff Altier announced all team practices were canceled for the remainder of the semester. Fans who purchased single game tickets to scheduled baseball and softball events were given the opportunity to call the Stetson ticket office for a refund. (The final day to call for a refund is May 16 at 5 p.m.) All planned camps and clinics on the Stetson campus also were canceled through at least the end of the spring semester, along with any other external group events.

Commencement 2020 Postponed On March 19, Libby announced the postponement of the Class of 2020’s undergraduate and graduate commencement ceremonies, commissioning event, and honors and awards receptions. Guidance from the CDC has restricted gatherings to no more than 10 people for eight weeks, with social distancing, making it “impossible for the university to celebrate your achievements at a formal, in-person graduation ceremony in mid-May,” Libby wrote in an email informing graduating students. Libby also promised “we will celebrate your commencement,” and indicated feedback and input would be requested on the best way for those celebrations to occur. In addition, Libby wrote that all students successfully completing their coursework and other requirements within the prescribed period of time would be graduates of Stetson, noting that “delaying the celebrations will not delay your degree.” “I am profoundly sad about the need for this announcement,” Libby concluded. “I am seeing evidence of Hatter strength and resilience everywhere I look. Our sense of love and community will help us weather the days until we come together for your commencement ceremonies in the future.”

Changes to Dining Services Prevention efforts at the Lynn Commons, where most students eat on campus, were highlighted by the introduction of a singleservice salad bar with individually wrapped dressings, prepackaged cutlery kits, disposable plates and stations with prepackaged condiments, among other steps. Three days later, fewer food offerings became a reality, along with reduced hours, as student demand for campus meals declined sharply. Also, operating hours were reduced at the other dining places on campus: the Coffee Shop, BYOB and Einstein Bros. Bagels. Then on Friday, March 20, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered a closure of all in-house dining, limiting food service to takeout and pickup.

Heightened caution brought individualized servings and reduced hours to Dining Services at Stetson, and student demand for meals declined.

Stetson.edu/today | STETSON



Autograph of a Lifetime My storybook adventure: finding Sam Clemens’ boyhood signature in the Mark Twain Cave BY C I N DY L OV E L L , P h D ’ 94 , M A ’ 9 6

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” — Mark Twain My first visit to Hannibal, Missouri, was vicarious, made through the pages of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in the fourth grade. What I didn’t know at the time was that Mark Twain’s real name was Sam Clemens, and he had based the book on actual settings, events and people from his childhood in Hannibal, where he lived from the age of 4 to 17. “My favorite author” soon became “my favorite subject,” although I’ve never taken a class in Mark Twain studies. I discussed Twain with anyone who broached the topic of literature. My children warned their friends ahead of time: “Whatever you talk about with our mom, she’ll find some way to connect it to Mark Twain.” Guilty. My first actual visit to Hannibal was in 1996. Everything Twain had described in his writing appeared before my eyes: Jackson’s 20

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Island, the Mississippi River, Cardiff Hill, his boyhood home, the old cemetery and the Mark Twain Cave. Twain’s uncanny accuracy for details prevailed. Everything seemed familiar at once, even though this was my first visit. Upon touring the cave with a dozen or so eager tourists, I was shocked to learn the cave contained some 250,000 signatures on its walls dating back to its discovery in 1819. Despite searching for years, the owners had been unable to locate a boyhood signature of Sam Clemens. It was easy to see why. With so many signatures scrawled throughout 260 passageways covering 3 miles, and only a small portion of the cave being lit, locating that boy’s signature would be an impossible task. Still, I had to try. Hannibal soon became my favorite haunt, and I serendipitously became the executive director of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum in 2008. This provided the opportunity for many more excursions into the cave, always keeping an eye out for that elusive signature.

Left: Alumna and former faculty member Cindy Lovell, PhD, right, shows the Clemens signature to cave owner Linda Coleberd. Photo by Priscilla Houliston Above: The first photo taken of the Clemens signature — by Cindy Lovell, July 26, 2019 Below: The Mark Twain Cave’s “Clemens” signature is now featured on tours and souvenirs, including magnets and keychains.

I became friends with Linda Coleberd, the owner of the cave, and she never denied me the opportunity to explore and search for Sam Clemens’ signature. She frequently joined me and even helped me host a special visit from country music superstar Brad Paisley with his boys, Huck and Jasper, and his father, Doug. Although signing the cave was once common, the practice was eliminated in 1972. Linda, however, invited the Paisley family to add their names to the cave’s legacy. That was a fun afternoon! I moved from Hannibal to become the executive director of the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Connecticut, but I still had many opportunities to visit Hannibal and the cave. I eventually moved back to Florida and became director of education at Epic Flight Academy, indulging another passion: aviation. Hannibal still remained the constant on my compass, and I agreed to serve as events coordinator for Hannibal’s 2019 bicentennial. On each of my visits to Hannibal, I made time to wander through a few cave passages, reading the walls and looking for Clemens and Blankenship. (Tom Blankenship was Sam’s boyhood friend who became the model for Huckleberry Finn. So, naturally I look for his name, too. Still haven’t found it.) In July 2019, I attended the third quadrennial Clemens Conference, a scholarly Twain symposium sponsored by the Twain museum. On Friday, July 26, the majority of the Twain scholars in attendance converged at Mark Twain Cave — sacred soil to all of us. We split into two groups, and I opted to join the second group with Linda. I expected we would veer off from the group to explore on our own, as we had so many times in the past.

Two fellow scholars hung back with us: Ben Click, PhD, a professor of English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and Joe Csicsila, PhD, a professor of English language and literature at Eastern Michigan University. We told them our mission, as always, was to read as many names as possible, always in search of Clemens’. Linda waved her flashlight across the pitch-black walls and ceiling, trying to give them some idea of the challenge. There were names everywhere. In the 1930s, electric lights had been installed along the footpath for tourists. These generate enough brightness to walk safely, but most of the wall areas remain in utter darkness. Imagine 260 passages totaling 3 miles in distance. That’s 6 miles of walls, and hundreds of agile visitors climbed high enough to write their names on the ceiling. Looking for one particular signature was simply a labor of love. I never really expected to find this particular needle in the haystack. As Linda flashed her light, I followed its beam trying to read the smoked, penciled and painted names. Suddenly, I yelled, “I see something! Clemens! I think I see Clemens!” Linda returned with her flashlight as I showed her where I’d seen it. I braced myself for disappointment, assuming it would be another bust. I was stunned to see “Clemens” written in beautiful cursive. The signer had used a lead pencil. We were dumbfounded. The four of us were rooted in that spot for several minutes while the rest of the group moved on. I took a picture, and we meandered on through the cave, showing Ben and Joe some of our favorite places while speculating about the signature. There was no first name with it, and Sam had siblings. I recall that evening as one spent in dazed excitement. Twain scholars Alan Gribben from Auburn University and Kevin Mac Donnell, who owns the world’s largest private collection of Mark Twain autographs, confirmed the signature as Sam’s after eliminating other possibilities from examples provided by the Mark Twain Project at the University of California-Berkeley. In the meantime, I had returned and taken high-resolution photos, which clearly revealed “Sam” etched into the cave wall under the pencil signature. Sam Clemens explored the cave as a boy on countless occasions and later immortalized the cave in his writing. The cave was named for him. It seems fitting that his signature can at last be pointed out by guides for curious tourists. My finding the signature felt like a gift, like Sam Clemens himself whispered, “Look over there … .” Perhaps the point of this story is to remain persistent. Or, perhaps the point is to indulge your childhood dreams and allow your imagination to consider all possibilities. Eventually, the eyes might see what you’ve only been able to imagine. Right, Sam? Cindy Lovell, PhD, earned her BA in elementary education in 1994 at Stetson and an MA in education in 1996. She founded the HATS (High Achieving Talented Students) Program at Stetson and earned tenure as a faculty member in the Department of Education, where she taught from 1999 to 2007. Stetson.edu/today | STETSON


Madonna della Seggiola by Italian artist Santi Corsi Photo: Stetson University/ Ciara Ocasio

Framing History For more than a century, a portrait of Stetson’s past has traveled from the famed Pitti Palace in Italy to campus and now on the office wall of the university’s newest dean. BY MICHAEL CANDELARIA 22

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If a picture, as the saying goes, is worth a thousand words, what about a frame? This is no ordinary frame, either. As detailed by Robert C. Dean, MD, in a December 2018 email to the President’s Office at Stetson, this frame represents a university tale across centuries. Dean, of nearby New Smyrna Beach, emailed to assess the interest of President Wendy B. Libby, PhD, in his “donation of a piece of art with strong historical connections” to Stetson. Libby subsequently accepted the donation on behalf of the university, and the framed painting now can be seen on campus. Yet, that’s not the real story. Not the story that dates back to the 1880s.

George Prentice Carson, LL.D., professor and dean at Stetson.

As Dean tells it, that’s when George Prentice Carson, LL.D., his grandfather, was a professor of history and the dean at Stetson, positions he held from the 1880s to the late 1930s. He was Dean of Men from 1922 to 1934, and Stetson awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1951. The story: While on a vacation tour of Italy in 1908, Carson — later described by a local newspaper as a “beloved educator for 50 years” — met Santi Corsi, an artist, at the Pitti Palace in Florence. Corsi is well-known today for his own paintings of the interior rooms of that famed palace, as well as for paintings of the classics displayed there. One such Corsi painting was a remake of Raphael’s Madonna della Seggiola, depicting Mary embracing the child Christ, while the young John the Baptist devoutly watches. Raphael (1483-1520) was considered among the greatest painters of his time. He had painted various Madonnas, with the two most famous being Madonna della Seggiola and Sistine Madonna, which was painted in the Sistine Chapel in Rome. Carson, initially hesitant, purchased the painting from Corsi. Mostly, Carson was struck by the Florentine frame, composed of gold leaf over gesso on linden wood and river pebbles. At the time, it was more than 500 years old and measured roughly 45 inches by 55 inches. Subsequently, the framed painting was delivered directly to Stetson. There, it was ceremoniously unpacked by the university’s director of grounds and displayed for decades on a wall in Carson’s office and, later, at his home. In a 1945 newspaper article celebrating his 81st birthday, Carson cited that the painting was “the most valuable single piece that I own or possess. It is more valuable than my automobile.”

According to that same article, Carson paid $900 for the painting, a reduced price offered by Corsi, and $200 for the frame. The story continues. In 1962, after the death of Carson’s wife — Robert C. Dean’s grandmother — ownership of the painting passed from the Carson estate to Stetson, where it was mounted on a wall in Elizabeth Hall for more years. Then in 1999, when Dean visited the Pitti Palace and viewed Raphael’s original there, his childhood interest in his grandfather’s painting was rekindled. Upon learning from Stetson’s art department that the painting was in disrepair and being stored, Dean reacquired and repaired the painting. And for nearly the past two decades, it hung in his New Smyrna Beach residence — until Dean sent that email to the President’s Office in hopes of returning the painting to its “original home as desired by my grandfather,” he wrote. Today, all these years later, the painting now is showcased in the office of Stetson’s newest dean, Elizabeth Skomp, PhD, head of

the College of Arts and Sciences and a professor of world languages and cultures (Russian). “The Santi Corsi painting provides a visual link to Stetson’s past and former Dean George Prentice Carson, who first acquired the painting,” commented Skomp, who arrived on campus last July. “Carson’s 50-year Stetson career included contributions to the liberal arts and sciences alike: Originally appointed as a professor of natural sciences, Carson was also a longtime professor of history. Given its provenance, the painting signals Stetson’s enduring commitment to arts and sciences. It is a striking addition to the Dean’s Office suite, not least because of the ornate Florentine frame.” Fittingly, President Libby frames an ending to the story. “The painting and its frame are simply gorgeous,” she said. “We are so grateful for Dr. Robert Dean’s gift and that he so thoughtfully considered Stetson as the perfect place for this artwork.”

A Note to the President: Remembering Madonna della Seggiola The Madonna and Child (with John the Baptist) was on the back wall of the Lee Chapel in Elizabeth Hall when I arrived in 1969. … I found it interesting that Baptist Stetson had a Madonna hanging in its chapel, since it seemed a very Catholic painting. Baptists who I knew preferred images of Jesus being baptized or sermonizing on the mount. Having a young John the Baptist at Jesus’ shoulder might have made it OK for its position at Stetson. I often wondered about how it came to hang there. Upon returning to campus years later and taking my wife into the chapel to see the room and the painting, I was surprised to find it missing and wondered where it had gone. … In high school, I had done a paper on the “Geometry of Art” for my 12thgrade trigonometry class, and the original Raphael painting was one of the pieces I used as an example for the paper — a triangle in a circle. … At Stetson, I was an art major, completing my degree at Florida State University and then entering a career in advertising design after graduation. I continue my art pursuits now that I have retired. … The painting was important to me because of my relationship with art, but also for its mathematical meaning for me. My freshman math professor at Stetson was determined that I not escape her classroom in Elizabeth Hall without learning some higher math. … I would often duck into the quiet of the chapel and sit near the painting. My prayer time with Mary, Jesus and John may also have had an equal impact on my math experience in the building. I was happy to learn that the artwork has finally returned. — Henry Bryant ’73, email received Jan. 29, 2020

Stetson.edu/today | STETSON




When a professional loss left him in a “difficult place,” Scott Marcello found a cause for both personal healing and service devotion — health care in sub-Saharan Africa.

isten to Scott Marcello ’84, MAcc ’85, and the work he does sounds like a natural part of being an engaged global citizen. Yet, in reality, it goes so far beyond.

Marcello is president of African Mission Healthcare, where he has dedicated himself to leading the transformation of health systems in Africa. That alone can fairly be considered a herculean task. Further, from his office in DeLand, not far from the Stetson campus (and often from the road), Marcello works tirelessly not only regarding health care, but also to realize overarching positive change for all people of sub-Saharan Africa. Look at a map. The potential sphere of influence is huge. The AMH story began with two men not named Scott Marcello — a missionary medical doctor, Jon Fielder, and his good friend Mark Gerson. Together, they saw the value of Christian mission hospitals in providing high-quality, compassionate health care for the hurting and forgotten across sub-Saharan Africa, a region, geographically, that encompasses all African countries that are fully or partially located south of the Sahara Desert. Starting in 2002, Fielder and Gerson gradually expanded their efforts, working with a greater number of hospitals and becoming involved in additional projects. During fall 2010, they launched African Mission Healthcare, or AMH. Among the initial goals was to attract others to their cause. Marcello was one such person. “My wife, Dené, and I met Dr. Fielder in 2006 during a shortterm mission trip to Kijabe, Kenya, where we saw firsthand the work he was doing and the positive impact his work was having,” Marcello described. “At that time, Jon and a small team at Kijabe Mission Hospital were focused on providing and improving care for patients suffering with HIV across much of Kenya. From those initial interactions, Dené and I developed a friendship with Jon and his colleague, Jonathan Mwiindi, and began supporting their work.” Marcello’s efforts haven’t stopped. In spring 2011, he joined the AMH board. Since that time, he and Dené ’87 have been both digging into their wallets, to help support AMH financially, and rolling up their sleeves.


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Marcello has served as president of the organization since September 2017, when he began with AMH full time. In 2019, Dené joined the organization as the manager of finance and administration.

PERFECT MARRIAGE When one door closes, as the saying goes, another one opens. That best fits how Marcello found his way to AMH. In 2017, he lost a lofty senior position with a large accounting firm in New York. Admittedly one of the most traumatic and embarrassing events of his professional life, the loss left him in a “difficult place,” wondering how he might move forward in both career and life. From those circumstances emerged a chance to help others. “After months of waiting and prayer, I felt a growing passion to become involved with a not-for-profit organization that would allow us to serve others and have a lasting impact on people’s lives,” Marcello explained. “That opportunity came through AMH, which at the time was growing rapidly but struggling to keep up with the health care needs of the people. In order to grow successfully, AMH needed to strategically scale the organization and expand its capacity, and we were in a position to help.” Call it right place, right time. Thanks to the leadership of Fielder (chief executive), Mwiindi (executive vice president of operations), Kenneth Miriti (vice president of programs) and Gerson (board chair), AMH had significant building blocks in place and a clear direction. AMH, however, needed more. Although there was direction, AMH lacked strategic vision, along with key operational processes and the business infrastructure necessary to continue the expansion of human and other resources. Enter Marcello and with an assist from Stetson. “My education at Stetson, as well as the wide range of experiences I enjoyed during my professional career, allowed me to develop skills and capacity to address these areas,” said Marcello. “While health care was a new industry for me, my financial, business and leadership experiences were a strong complement to the skills of the rest of the team.”

Alumni Scott and Dené Marcello

“The passion to impact the lives of others and enable them to solve their own challenges and address their own opportunities was certainly supported during my time at Stetson.” — Scott Marcello ’84, MAcc ’85

Above and below: Health-system transformation is in action across sub-Saharan Africa.

Photos: courtesy of Hailey Sadler (www.haileysadler.com)/AMH

Stetson.edu/today | STETSON


African Mission Healthcare has worked with 43 hospital partners across 17 African countries.

AMH envisions an African continent filled with improving and enduring health systems, where everyone has access to high-quality, compassionate health care — an especially challenging task.


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Africa suffers from 24% of the world’s diseases, but possesses only 3% of health workers and represents 1% of global health expenditure. Then Dené added her own Stetson influence. By the start of 2019, when it became apparent the organization needed even more focus on the financial planning and monitoring processes, she brought her training and background in public accounting, as well as experience in working with church and mission organizations.

LASTING IMPACT AMH envisions an African continent filled with improving and enduring health systems, where everyone has access to high-quality, compassionate health care. Achieving that vision is especially challenging when you consider that Africa suffers from 24% of the world’s diseases, but possesses only 3% of health workers and represents 1% of global health expenditure. By virtually any comparative measure, Africa lags the rest of the world in health care capacity. At the same time, the world is rapidly becoming more African. By 2100, the United Nations projects that 40% of the global population will live on the African continent. “The implications of such a large portion of the world’s population lacking access to basic quality care are terribly significant and, from my perspective, unacceptable,” Marcello asserted. “While our vision is quite large, we believe our part is very strategic and focused. Our mission is to strengthen African mission hospitals to aid those in greatest need, and we focus on the mission hospital sector because it’s where our resources can have the greatest impact.” Marcello believes mission hospitals are well-positioned to improve clinical health systems on the African continent, as they provide approximately one-third of the medical care in sub-Saharan Africa and a higher percentage of quality, compassionate medical care. African mission hospitals also are training centers, producing qualified nurses, physician assistants and, increasingly, doctors and specialists. Additionally, they have long, deep roots in the local communities they serve, having survived wars, famine, epidemics and poverty — earning the trust of the people in those communities. “Our approach is to work closely with our mission hospital partners,” Marcello continued. “We don’t have a standard, easily repeatable solution. Instead, we spend time and resources identifying what’s truly needed. One way to think of AMH is as a private investor that invests carefully with trusted mission hospital partners, but instead of measuring a return in profits, we measure impact in lives changed and the years of quality-life added.” AMH carefully selects the hospitals with which it works, spending the time to understand and build relationships, and truly partner. Since its inception, the organization has worked with 43 hospital partners across 17 African countries. Projects fall into one or more of four categories — infrastructure and equipment projects; training; clinical care; and management-advisory support — each with a focus on combining efforts to amplify impact.

Management-advisory support is the newest area of emphasis and includes helping mission hospital partners strengthen their governance, operations and administrative functions. Notably, such support also creates opportunities to collaborate with volunteers, as well as with Stetson and other universities. Currently, AMH is collaborating with Stetson’s School of Business Administration to provide selected students with opportunities to visit hospital partners and participate in one or more of AMH’s management-advisory projects.

THE STETSON INFLUENCE Marcello sees big possibilities in such collaborations, particularly with his alma mater. “The combined experiences in the classroom, Greek life, intramurals and other activities made a huge difference in our development,” Marcello said. “While we were both prepared professionally, perhaps the most critical skills involved the ability to solve problems, persist in challenging circumstances and lead others to help them reach their full potential.” Marcello’s work, of course, fits right in with Stetson’s core mission — nurturing the development of the whole person committed to engaging and building lifelong connections with the larger world through Personal Growth, Intellectual Development and Global Citizenship. To that end, the university fosters policies, practices and modes of inquiry to support and explore those value areas. For Scott and Dené Marcello, lessons learned hit home back as students and now are serving them well far abroad. “The passion to impact the lives of others and enable them to solve their own challenges and address their own opportunities was certainly supported during my time at Stetson,” Marcello affirmed. “Today, Stetson is positioned to inspire and prepare students to be outstanding global citizens and gain a global perspective.”

LIFE OF SERVICE Assuredly, the real, lasting impact AMH is having on the lives of others is a testament to the dedication of those who give their time and resources to leave a legacy of durable institutions filled with competent and compassionate health workers. For Marcello, his involvement is about taking the time to understand and follow passions. And do so even amid dire circumstances. “It’s easy to be swept along in a career and allow others to define your priorities,” Marcello concluded. “While the input of parents, mentors and sponsors is invaluable, only you know what’s most important for you. “Working globally is incredibly rewarding, and learning from people across cultures and geographies is wonderful. People around the world are smart, motivated and passionate — seek to invest in them and help them get stronger … encourage and enable them.” Stetson.edu/today | STETSON



The Libby Years A presidential tenure for the ages, 2009-2020 BY MICHAEL CANDELARIA

Photos: courtesy of Stetson University Marketing 28

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endy B. Libby, PhD, really wasn’t supposed to make it to Stetson.

Becoming a university president, in fact, “was never even on the radar screen,” she said in late 2019, just before entering what will be her final months in charge on campus. “This was never a career choice,” she emphasized. Yet, Libby sure made her presence felt. On more than one occasion through the years, Libby used the word serendipity during her many speeches, as in “Stetson serendipity.” Turns out, she personified the term. Libby arrived at Stetson in July 2009 as the ninth president and the first female president for a university that was founded in 1883. She was selected from 75 applicants following an 18-month search to oversee the DeLand campus, Stetson’s law school in Gulfport, and two satellite facilities in Tampa and Celebration. With her announcement of retirement made in February 2019, Libby departs in June after 11 years in that top leadership role. She is being replaced by Christopher F. Roellke, PhD, who begins July 1, leaving Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, where he served as Dean of the College from 2008 to 2018 and is a professor of education. In recognition of his contributions, Vassar named Roellke Dean of the College Emeritus. (See Page 46.) Libby’s influence is palpable. And the results are undeniable, squarely placing her among the university’s most powerful, influential and dynamic leaders. Ever. Not coincidentally, for more than the past year, there has been high praise. At the February 2019 retirement announcement, Joe Cooper ’79, MBA ’82, chair of the Stetson University Board of Trustees, pointed to Libby’s “unparalleled

vision and commitment” and “engaged leadership coupled with her financial savvy.” Similarly, Nestor de Armas ’73, who was chair of the Board of Trustees when Libby was recruited as president, cited her “insight, her genuine care and concern for others, and her ability to expertly move forward the priorities of a complex organization.” For good measure, he described her impact as a “lasting legacy that will benefit Stetson for decades to come.” Serendipity.

2009 Wendy B. Libby, PhD, becomes Stetson’s ninth president and its first female president. Elizabeth “Beth” Paul, PhD, arrives on campus as executive vice president and provost.


STETSON AT FIRST GLANCE As Libby tells the story, when Stetson first called in 2008, she was quite content where she was in Columbia, Missouri, serving since 2003 as president at Stephens College, the second oldest women’s institute in America. Libby had spent the previous five years transforming Stephens both financially and academically. Libby made the decision to interview largely out of respect for the person she suspected recommended her for the job. Also, Libby noted, after initial conversations, she was struck by Stetson’s past and potential. “I had a sense of just my eye view of what was going on. But I was just stunned by what I found here in DeLand,” she said about her initial impression. “This was a place with really, really good bones — but that needed to be polished.” Popular Stetson President H. Douglas Lee, PhD, was retiring in May 2009. He had served as president since June 1987, and previously was executive vice president. Lee had advanced Stetson into a more diverse and socially responsible institution. Yet, new thinking had become needed, particularly with the nation’s economy in deep decline.

Stetson undergoes a $6 million renovation of classrooms, classroom technology, building exteriors and landscaping. The Law Library and Legal Information Center, which opened in 1998 at the College of Law, is named the Dolly and Homer Hand Law Library. Stetson.edu/today | STETSON



2011 Stetson announces football will return after a 57-year hiatus, and the Hatters play their first game of the modern era on Aug. 31, 2013.

2012 The silent phase of the $200 million Beyond Success – Significance Campaign launches.

“We couldn’t cut ourselves into heaven here; we had to grow our revenue in order to be able to invest in ourselves.” Libby’s conversations with Lee were warm and welcoming. “This university had been cutting and cutting expenses, and I didn’t see this as an expense-control issue,” Libby explained. “I saw this as a revenue-growth issue. We couldn’t cut ourselves into heaven here; we had to grow our revenue in order to be able to invest in ourselves.” Upon meeting people on campus during the interview process, Libby quickly emerged as the clear choice to take over.

THE ROAD TO DELAND Libby’s credentials were hailed. Prior to the presidency at Stephens College, she served as vice president for business affairs and chief financial officer at Furman University from 1995 to 2003. Her administrative and teaching experience in higher education began in 1980 at institutions that included

Westbrook College (now part of the University of New England), the University of Hartford, the University of Connecticut Health Center, The Ohio State University and Cornell University. Her formal education: a doctorate in educational administration at the University of Connecticut; an MBA in finance at the Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University; and a bachelor’s in biology/genetics from Cornell. The blend of administrative expertise in higher education and finance acumen were uncommon. Libby, nonetheless, never planned for a career in education, instead preferring the sciences mixed with the arts while growing up in Brooklyn, New York, in a rent-controlled building in a Jewish neighborhood, where “we never knew that we weren’t comfortable, never felt deprived.”

The Athletic Training Center is built, and beach volleyball and lacrosse are added, as well as club sports.

2013 The Betty Drees Johnson Dean of the Library and Learning Technologies is endowed, with Susan Ryan, MLS, being named to the position. 30

STETSON | Spring 2020

Libby arrived at Stetson with an immediate focus on students and then worked to cultivate a pervasive atmosphere of caring.

2014 WORLD: The David and Leighan Rinker Center for International Learning is dedicated.

In 2016, Libby and Stetson introduced the first Campus Climate Survey, with the goal of becoming more diverse, equitable and inclusive.

Her mother, raised Jewish, was born in Brooklyn, and her father, a Catholic, was born in the Bronx, with those boroughs adjoining opposite ends of Manhattan. They were married in the 1940s. A “super-smart” older brother, who ultimately received a graduate degree from MIT, helped pave the way for her academic success, Libby said, along with “super-competitive” classmates at local, public James Madison High School. Her peers were a group of students in advanceplacement classes who were leaders, “even though I was probably one of the really nerdy ones,” Libby said with a smile. “Striving for excellence in academics was always key.” In 2016, Libby was placed on the “Wall of Distinction” at James Madison High, alongside U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and singer/songwriter Carole King, among others. “New York was a great city to grow up in,” she added, “and I had a great family.” Libby lived in Brooklyn until she left for college in 1968 with intentions of pursuing science. After doing two summer research projects, however, life in the lab didn’t suit her, and she had to find a way to earn a living. So, at Cornell, she entered hospital administration, in the business school, before realizing that subject area was too narrow. Then, finally, it was on to education. “If you go backwards and look at it, it probably doesn’t make sense,” Libby said.

Stetson embarks on a strategic plan to establish the university as a top choice for innovative approaches to tackling the complex challenges of today and tomorrow.

“Or, if you’re living through it, it probably doesn’t make sense. But it’s the reflection of a woman in the 1970s and ’80s who needed to be a chameleon, because we were still following our husbands’ careers.” Libby’s moment of truth — or, in this case, person of truth — came in the form of Richard M. Libby, PhD, her second husband. “My aha moment was marrying Richard,” she revealed. The two had met during an Institute for Higher Education Business Management program at Stanford University. Richard Libby remembers the exact location, date and time, July 12, 1983, 10 a.m., in the lobby of Stanford Law School. They were married in September 1985. At the time of meeting, she was in higher education, working at Cornell, but advancement was slow because people often stayed in their jobs until they retired. Richard Libby was president of Muskingum Area Technical College (now Zane State College) in Zanesville, Ohio, and thought a doctorate would make a difference in her career. Her words: “He kept saying that if you want to get anywhere in this profession, you need a doctorate. I resisted for a few years and then got the doctorate.” Libby started that pursuit in 1988 and finished in 1994, commuting to the University of Connecticut at night for classes after work during the day.

2015 Stetson welcomes its largest incoming class to date (983), further expands student housing options and continues to add new faculty positions. Stetson Law retains its No. 1 trial-advocacy ranking from U.S. News & World Report.

Stetson forms the Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience, along with the Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence. The Hollis Family Student Success Center opens in duPont-Ball Library. Stetson.edu/today | STETSON




The Marshall & Vera Lee Rinker Welcome Center opens its doors. The Lambda Chi Alpha endowed scholarship campaign begins, with an annex built in 2017.

First impressions count in a big way. “Does this place look like a place I can imagine myself learning? Does it have pride in itself? What does it feel like?” “Richard saw something in me that I didn’t see. He saw a future in me that I didn’t see and had never considered,” Libby reflected. “Then the world just changed for me. All of a sudden, I was unusual in that I had an MBA in finance and a PhD. … And, so, [Richard] was exactly right.” Richard Libby, as it happened, was right for Stetson, too, bringing his own distinction, positive energy and caring. Shortly after his arrival, he founded the Stetson Skeet and Trap Team (then under a different name), which now is an internationally competitive group with a growing endowment he also started. Last September, “Richard’s Garage,” a stand-alone second garage at the President’s House, officially was dedicated with a naming in his honor. Prior to arriving at Stetson, the Libbys committed to donating the garage. Richard himself designed the structure while still in Missouri, mapping out every square foot, and together they funded its construction. Mostly, Richard Libby emerged as both a cherished University Mentor and an ambassador for all things Stetson. (See Page 40.) More serendipity.

GETTING STARTED ON CAMPUS The Centurion Sales Program and Templeton Business Ethics Competition, part of the School of Business Administration, are funded. Stetson introduces its first Campus Climate Survey, with the goal of becoming more diverse, equitable and inclusive. 32

STETSON | Spring 2020

Almost instantly after taking office, Libby targeted faculty concerns. During her second interview for the job, background materials included a faculty survey, which indicated a strong desire for a provost, because the faculty had been without such a senior academic leader for a decade. Also, the faculty wanted a president who would strengthen Stetson’s financial stability and assure raises into the future. Libby turned to Beth Paul, PhD, who

remained at Stetson for seven years before leaving to become the president of Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. “I believe we delivered on all three of those [faculty concerns] fairly rapidly,” said Libby. Subsequently, in January 2017, Libby named Noel Painter, PhD, as executive vice president and provost to replace Paul. Those two moves have been hugely impactful and emblematic of her leadership style. To be successful, Libby often has said, you must “hire people who are better than you, categorically.” And then you “support them and you get out of their way.” Libby, likewise, acted quickly on multiple other fronts. She turned her attention to the physical appearance of the university, and in 2010, Stetson underwent a $6 million renovation of classrooms, classroom technology, building exteriors and landscaping. One example: Nearly all of the campus began to receive reclaimed wastewater for irrigation from the City of DeLand. Also, following Lee’s lead, native trees took root, along with flowers, shrubs and ground covers, all typically requiring little or no irrigation. Much of the work was (and continues to be) achieved under the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, an initiative to help eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions from specified campus operations and promote related education. That initiative had begun in 2007 under Lee. In the highly competitive student-enrollment marketplace, Libby believed, first impressions count in a big way. “Does this place look like a place I can imagine myself learning? Does it have pride in itself? What does it feel like? And you don’t have much time to make that impression,” she said in December.

Libby made immediate moves as president at Stetson that were hugely impactful and emblematic of her leadership style.

Stetson.edu/today | STETSON



2017 Noel Painter, PhD, is named executive vice president and Provost. Painter had served as interim provost since June 2016 and was a long-standing faculty member and administrator in the School of Music. A new Revolving Green Fund is established to pursue projects that will save money by decreasing the university’s environmental impact. The initiative, led by student Nathan Bodger, an Environmental Fellow, is approved by the Student Government Association with a student fee of $5 per semester.

2018 Stetson receives an $18 million donation, the largest single gift in school history. Stetson launches its health and science initiative.

The College of Law cuts the ribbon on a renovated Veterans Law Institute. Hillel is revived on campus, and Hillel House renovation begins. 34

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A Senior Toast has become an annual tradition, celebrating students who will be graduating.

Early returns on those initiatives came from national recognition. The Arbor Day Foundation named Stetson as a 2014 Tree Campus USA. A year later, Stetson was listed as a “Green College” in The Princeton Review’s Guide to 353 Green Colleges: 2015 Edition. That was only the start. Most recently, 231 solar panels, partly funded by the students and installed atop the Carlton Union Building on campus, generate electricity and reflect on a continuing universitywide commitment.

PLANNING FOR CHANGE In 2011, at the completion of a comprehensive strategic planning process to build a stronger, shared university identity, Libby and the university unveiled its Strategic Map: 2011-2014, representing the overarching goal of fostering innovation to move Stetson from “success to significance.” Energies were focused on increasing national prominence, strengthening recruitment and retention, and raising academic quality, along with developing the university as a great place to work. Other areas of emphasis were enhancing the university’s financial stability and examining university values more deeply. “As good as that map was in helping to guide the university in addressing obstacles and change, it was just a start,” Libby described.

Three years later, some of the same people who worked on the original map gathered again to tackle the work for a second time, ultimately producing a 2014-2019 Strategic Map to guide the university forward to address one central challenge: “establish Stetson as a university of choice for innovative approaches to tackling complex challenges.” Focal points were expansive. They encompassed demonstrating distinctiveness and value; enhancing excellence and innovation in learning; empowering lifelong success and significance; increasing organizational resilience and adaptability; expanding and strengthening strategic partnerships; and being a diverse community of inclusive excellence. “The Strategic Map is not a roadmap carved in stone,” Libby said at the time. “It is a dynamic plan that we will adjust as we go, shifting our focus to new priorities as we accomplish others and ensuring we stay on the critical path.” And the planning hasn’t stopped. Now, with Roellke poised to take the reins, the Stetson University Board of Trustees approved focused Roll Ahead Strategic Map Goals — based on the 2014-2019 Strategic Map — to direct the university for the next two years. Libby referred to the Roll Ahead map as a “transitional bridge,” affording Roellke time to get settled and assess. Libby’s own plan is to be supportive. “That’s really important,” she said.

That one central challenge — to “establish Stetson as a university of choice for innovative approaches to tackling complex challenges” — has been met, even exceeded. Generally, Libby’s tenure has been highlighted by growth in student enrollment, strengthened academic rigor, improved financial position, enhanced campus life with inclusion and equity as foundational commitments, the addition of new facilities, and an award-winning physical appearance. That, as the saying goes, is a mouthful. (See Page 38.) Further, that one central challenge — to “establish Stetson as a university of choice for innovative approaches to tackling complex challenges” — has been met, even exceeded. “We have moved Stetson forward on all fronts,” Libby said during her retirement announcement in February 2019.

REFLECTING ON HER TENURE Since last year, purely by observation, Libby has been especially careful in measuring her steps. With the leadership transition approaching, she is sensitive of time and place. Libby’s speech to faculty and staff last August, just as her final academic year as

Bolstering student enrollment in a competitive marketplace was a top priority from the outset of Libby’s presidency.

president was beginning, is especially noteworthy. She had given literally hundreds of such speeches throughout her tenure. This one perhaps caused substantial anxiety. So, she wrote it out entirely, word for word, not using her usual bullet points, and with phrases selected for appropriate inflection. Simply, Libby wanted to use that speech to remind people of the positive outlook for the university — forward-thinking, all-inclusive “One Stetson” — with the thought of delivering the best possible university to the next president. Among her first words that morning were “we, together.” Talking in December about that speech, Libby expressed great relief. Looking back, Libby largely is content with the past 11 years, particularly in uniting the university. The galvanizing initiative of Many Voices, One Stetson has been a special cause to her. “I think we’ve moved really far in helping everyone believe that the multiple parts of this university together make one university,” she commented.

2019 In February, Libby announces she will be retiring at the end of the academic year in 2020.

Stetson appoints its first African American academic dean, Michèle Alexandre, JD, at the College of Law. A renovated, expanded Carlton Union Building opens, and construction of the Sandra Stetson Aquatic Center is completed on Lake Beresford.

A larger-than-life bronze statue of university namesake John B. Stetson arrives on campus and is dedicated to Libby. The donor-funded sculpture, weighing approximately 1,600 pounds including a bench, is installed in Palm Court. Stetson.edu/today | STETSON



2019 Stetson celebrates the successful conclusion of the Beyond Success – Significance Campaign, surpassing its goal and raising $218 million.

In November, Libby extends a warm, congratulatory hand to her successor, Christopher F. Roellke, PhD, who is introduced on campus for the first time.

“I think we all have to stretch our expectations of what a Stetson degree should be like.” University namesake John B. Stetson even returned — in the form of a largerthan-life bronze statue that was dedicated to Libby. The donor-funded sculpture, weighing approximately 1,600 pounds including a bench, was installed in Palm Court just days before her final academic year began. The Stetson piece was commissioned with the support of former university Trustee Troy Templeton ’82, MBA ’83 and his wife, Sissy. Still, Libby sees looming challenges. While pleased with the success of the university’s recent fundraising effort, the Beyond Success – Significance Campaign, she cannot keep from thinking ahead. “For the next campaign,” she said in December, “we need to know who’s ready to step up.” Also, she sees the challenge of change at Stetson. “In the academic world, we are still in a fairly traditional place,” she said. “And we’ve managed to be successful still being

fairly traditional, but we probably need to start looking at new ways to deliver our programs, and to new populations. I think we all have to stretch our expectations of what a Stetson degree should be like.” And she concedes that criticism hasn’t always been easy on her. “I’m normal,” she said. “But I was hired to leave Stetson better than I found it. And that’s what I’m doing. And I have to be crystal clear in my belief that that is what I’m doing. Then you just set your sights forward and keep going. “It would be lovely if we’re all having kumbaya moments with each other all the time. But you don’t learn if you don’t have friction and tension. And the only thing that ever bothers me is when people close their minds and don’t want to learn.” Yet, through it all, quite apparently, Libby hasn’t lost her sense of humor. How has Stetson changed you, she was asked. Her response: “My wardrobe is much greener!”

2020 The Stetson University Board of Trustees establishes and endows the Dr. Wendy B. Libby Scholarship for Stetson Law students who have a Stetson undergraduate degree and a devotion to social justice. Editor’s note: This is a sampling of events and not a complete list. 36

STETSON | Spring 2020

During Homecoming 2018, Tom Reis ’88 unveiled the presidential portrait of Stetson’s ninth president, Wendy B. Libby, PhD. The portrait hangs in DeLand Hall on campus. Libby had selected Reis as the painter.

LOOKING AHEAD So now, both Libby and Stetson must move forward. And Libby is far from done. She is wanted. As word spread about her upcoming availability, Libby received numerous inquiries about helping in one capacity or another. Early last fall, for example, she received an email about serving as vice-chair of the Division I Presidents Forum of the NCAA. Each of the 32 conferences in Division I sends one president to the forum, which deals with the intersection of academics and athletics. She’s in her second year as a representative of Stetson’s ASUN Conference. Now, she could be a leader. Again. “People have asked ‘what are you going to do in your retirement?’ I’m not setting an alarm clock,” she said before rattling off to-do’s that ranged from “finishing reading the book for my monthly book club gettogether” and “spending time with my husband” to “remembering how to cook” and “going to the theater more often.” “I’ve heard that ‘people are going to be coming after you to do things.’ I have no expectation of that. And yet, I am getting some feelers.” One certainty, Libby insisted, is that there will not be another full-time job. The Libbys are moving out of their presidential home across from campus and have purchased a house in DeLand, which they’re renovating. He has expertise in residential architecture, and she is an “incredible interior decorator,” Richard Libby said in February, adding that “she is having the time of her life.” Wendy B. Libby, PhD, is ready to step away, or at least step back. How does she want to be remembered? She didn’t hesitate. She beamed. A presidential portrait of Libby had been painted, fittingly by an alumnus, Tom Reis ’88, and presented to her during Homecoming 2018. It now hangs with other presidents’ portraits in DeLand Hall. “I want to be remembered the way my portrait looks,” Libby concluded. “Somebody who looks like she knows what she’s doing. But who looks warm and approachable.”

Board of Trustees member Josh Magidson JD ’80, left, and Chair Joe Cooper ’79, MBA ’82 present President Wendy B. Libby, PhD, with a proclamation announcing the Dr. Wendy B. Libby Scholarship.

The Dr. Wendy B. Libby Scholarship The name of Stetson President Wendy B. Libby, PhD, widely has been thought to carry significant impact long after she retires from the university on June 30. Now, there’s a new reason: the Dr. Wendy B. Libby Scholarship. In honor of Libby’s numerous contributions during the past 11 years, the Stetson University Board of Trustees has created and endowed the Dr. Wendy B. Libby Scholarship for Stetson Law students who have a Stetson undergraduate degree and a devotion to social justice. Libby has been instrumental in uniting campuses under One Stetson, and because of the critical importance of scholarship funding and her strong commitment to issues of social justice — a commitment that aligns with the rich history and mission of Stetson — the board believed the scholarship would be a “fitting tribute to a president who has done so much for this university,” according to Joe Cooper ’79 MBA ’82, chair of the Board of Trustees. Libby received the surprise scholarship announcement in early February. At that time, internal fundraising efforts already had totaled more than $111,250 from Stetson’s Board of Trustees, Board of Overseers, Alumni Board and Advisory Boards of the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business Administration and School of Music. The scholarship was endowed at $25,000. With that announcement, a public fundraising effort was launched to further grow the scholarship. Gifts to the Dr. Wendy B. Libby Scholarship can be made through Stetson’s Office of Development Online Giving.

Stetson.edu/today | STETSON




The Libby Years: Highlighting Achievement

Hatter Football returned in 2013 after a 57-year hiatus, while women’s lacrosse and beach volleyball were added to Stetson’s roster of NCAA Division I sports. The award-winning duPont-Ball Library developed an Innovation Lab, where students use 3D equipment, virtual reality and more to bring projects to life.

Since the arrival of Wendy B. Libby, PhD, in 2009, undergraduate enrollment has increased nearly 50% to an all-time high of 3,183 students on the DeLand campus in fall 2019 and 4,429 across Stetson’s campuses. The university’s endowment more than doubled to $246 million, and the amount dedicated to faculty salaries increased 70%, with more than 50 new faculty positions added to keep pace with student enrollment. The average full-time faculty salary increased by approximately 26% within a decade. 38

STETSON | Spring 2020

Several new academic programs were introduced. Among them were the School of Business Administration’s Centurion Sales Program, while the Prince Entrepreneurship Program was greatly expanded, and the Roland George Investments Program portfolio grew to approximately $4 million. The College of Arts and Sciences added an interdisciplinary major in public health, a minor in Jewish studies and a low-residency Master of Fine Arts of the Americas in creative writing; the psychology major was redesigned with a strong basis in research and statistical analysis; and considerable growth occurred in the college’s environmental science and studies program.

The Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience was created, with a focus on research, policy and public education toward the development of sustainable environmental solutions. At Stetson’s College of Law, the Advocacy Center and Veterans Law Institute were established, and three new Master of Jurisprudence programs for non-lawyers were launched. Also, in the toughest market ever for law applicants, with LSAT takers dropping by about 50%, the College of Law steadied its enrollment while increasing the quality of students.

The university successfully completed its seven-year comprehensive campaign, Beyond Success – Significance, raising more than $218 million and exceeding a goal of $200 million. The funding was earmarked for endowments, scholarships and international learning; faculty support and academic programs; athletics; and capital projects such as construction of the Marshall & Vera Lea Rinker Welcome Center and the Sandra Stetson Aquatic Center, as well as renovations to the Carlton Union Building. An initiative called Many Voices, One Stetson was established to “unequivocally commit to create a culture where each individual is welcomed and belongs as an essential part of the fabric of the Stetson community.” Stetson’s Hillel program was invigorated, highlighted by the renovation and opening of the Jeffrey and Diane Ginsburg Hillel House on campus.

Stetson students reached a level of approximately 90% employed or in graduate school within six months after graduation, as the university strengthened its emphasis on helping students secure internships, study abroad and practical experience in their fields of study. Several partnerships and articulation agreements were finalized with other schools, including AdventHealth University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Chatham University (Pennsylvania), Daytona State College’s Quanta-Honors College, Seminole State College, University of South Florida, University of West Florida and Valencia State College. Also, Stetson added Air Force ROTC while its Army ROTC cohort grew from 15 cadets in 2009 to more than 100 in 2020.

New fraternity and sorority chapters were established, including Phi Beta Sigma and Sigma Gamma Rho, two of the “Divine Nine” historically Black Greek Letter Organizations. Stetson increased its commitment to environmental sustainability, resulting in a conservation program that reduced water and energy consumption by approximately 18% — despite the growth on campus — and inspired a student-supported solar array that produces electricity for use in the CUB. Financially, Stetson survived and thrived, earning Moody’s “stable” rating to represent that achievement. According to Moody’s May 2019 report, “Stetson’s A3 rating is supported by consistently positive operating cash flows, healthy philanthropic support, moderate leverage and regionally established student market position. The university benefits from the diversity of its program offerings and its location in Florida, with a growing population and increasing number of high school graduates in the state.” Editor’s note: This is not a complete list. Stetson.edu/today | STETSON



Guiding Heart Richard Murray Libby, PhD, arrived on campus 11 years ago, sharing the new president’s last name. As it turned out, he also brought perspective that would create his own distinction.



ichard Libby was all strapped in. A 19-year-old, Libby was moments away from his first official Super Modified Sportsman car race.

Yet, there was still time for a pep talk or, more accurately, a reality check from his big brother. Philip Libby, one of three older brothers, walked up to the driver’s side of the car and told Richard he was going to win the race. Richard responded somewhat sheepishly, “I’m going to try.” That was a mistake. Philip became irate and ripped into his little brother. “Libbys don’t try,” Philip exclaimed. “You are going to go out there and win this race. And if you don’t think so, you should get out of that seat!” As Richard retold the story from nearly 60 years ago, he emphasized the absence of arrogance in his brother’s voice. Instead, there was merely expectation. Young Richard didn’t win that race. In fact, he flipped his car, the unavoidable consequence of circumstances. But he hasn’t forgotten that day — not so much because of the framed photo he keeps of that car lying upside-down, but more because of his brother’s message. “That became a really important principle to me,” Richard said. “If you’re going to do something, you put your heart and soul in it.” Later, Philip would become a Hall of Fame Driver in New England, succeeding in what was a forerunner to NASCAR. So, too, would another brother, Robert. The oldest brother, George, was a race-engine builder.


STETSON | Spring 2020

Richard Murray Libby, PhD

Richard, who began tinkering with cars at the age of 8, became a pretty fair racer, briefly, in his own right. Even more, being raised in the small country town of Buxton, Maine, during the 1940s and ’50s, Richard grew to be patient and tenacious. Decades later, those characteristics, combined with his advancement through higher education, would greatly impact Stetson. In a very good way.

NO FAIRY-TALE START Richard Murray Libby was the youngest of nine children, with the oldest being almost 21 years his senior. He was an 11th-generation product of an English fisherman who arrived on the coast of Maine in 1635. Not coincidentally, Richard enjoys genealogy, now nearing the completion of a book that identifies, in minute detail, everyone on the paternal and maternal sides of his family tree — more than 250 descendants. He’s been working on the book since 1977. His early story, though, wasn’t exactly a fairy tale. His words: “I learned from my parents that, ‘Richard, the world does not revolve around you.’” Libby graduated from high school in 1960 but didn’t receive a bachelor’s degree until nine years later before ultimately earning a doctorate in 1977. During the years in between, he went from being

For Wendy and Richard Libby, mutual admiration and respect have defined their 37-year relationship. Photos: courtesy of Stetson University Marketing

a young husband and father, with résumé highlights that ranged from pumping gas while in high school and operating a tramway crane at a paper mill late at night at the young age of 18, to innovating as an administrator in higher education and inspiring as a college president. The synopsis: A slow start was put in the rearview mirror, as Libby raced forward, gaining formal education whenever and however he could. In the end, he frequently lapped those around him. His mantra: “I’m not giving in; I’m not giving up.” Such thinking was almost to a fault, with him sometimes having to “kick myself about pushing too much, too fast, too far.”

CAREER ASCENSION His climb began at local Gorham State College (now the University of Southern Maine). The son of a construction carpenter, he loved drawing architectural plans. He eventually started a drafting-services practice, called Richard Libby & Associates. Noticing his success, officials at Southern Maine Technical College (SMTC) hired him to teach engineering graphics. He was 26, without a master’s degree and very well-received. A year later, he was head of the department. His unlikely rise continued at Iowa State University, where he was

enrolled as a graduate student teaching industrial education, again despite not having a master’s. Libby took a leave of absence to attend ISU, intent on returning directly to SMTC with full credentials. He never did. In 14 months at ISU, he earned that master’s degree while also beginning to pursue split-cognate doctoral studies in architecture and higher education. Declaring that he simply didn’t know enough about higher-education administration, he wanted to sharpen his skills in management — planning, organizing, leadership and control, which came later in postdoctoral studies at Harvard University and Stanford University summer institutes. Those components would evolve into his calling card, deft team building. Then there was further personal progression as the founding director of the Center for Career Education at Central Michigan University, followed by a doctoral fellowship at Michigan State University — where he earned his doctorate degree. Subsequently, he became dean of the College at Central Ohio Technical College on the regional campus of The Ohio State University/Newark. After five years, he became president of Muskingum Area Technical College (MATC, now Zane State College) in Zanesville, Ohio. As president, he taught at least one Stetson.edu/today | STETSON



Before arriving on campus, the Libbys committed to funding the construction of a second garage at the President’s House.

Wendy and Richard met in July 1983 at a Stanford University summer institute on higher education. They were married on Sept. 14, 1985.

graduate course a year at Ohio University and/or The Ohio State University, focusing on up-to-date practices. There, by virtue of his uncommon background, he enhanced MATC’s enrollment, finances and economic stability with local and regional industries, at a time when the state of Ohio was in a gratingly sluggish Rust Bucket economy. For his efforts, he was granted commendations by the Ohio state House and Senate, the governor’s office and the Board of Regents.

colleges and universities during the first year. That was in 1998. There’s a story about that presidency, too. At the time, Wendy B. Libby, PhD, was advancing, working at Furman University (as the first woman vice president). Richard was starting to take a step back, enjoying work in architecture outside of higher education. By coincidence, Richard had traveled to Atlanta with Wendy to attend a meeting of representatives of the founding institutions in the effort to legally extend national college prepaid programs to private colleges. Richard’s presence was outside the meeting, but it was recognized. He left Atlanta as the founding president. “I took a trip to Atlanta and wound up a president,” he recalled. In his first year on the job, his work with the founding members led to the creation of what was then called the Tuition Plan Consortium. The group grew in strength and won critical congressional, Internal Revenue Service, Treasury, and Securities and Exchange Commission approvals to make the investments tax--exempt, similar to state plans. The program has current assets of approximately $350 million. The story is quintessential Richard Libby, then and now. With that historical trace as the backdrop, Richard and Wendy Libby would arrive at Stetson a decade later.

NEW BEGINNING During his tenure at MATC, he met the former Wendy Beth (Trozzi) Phoenix, Stetson’s future president. It was the summer of 1983 at the Institute for Higher Education Business Management at Stanford. She sat directly behind him in the classroom of about 40 professionals. He was the only college president. “She was a remarkable woman,” he described. “I had my doctorate and my presidency. I enjoyed all of that. And then I met Wendy ... more joy.” As their relationship developed, he would drive 475 miles one way from Zanesville, Ohio, to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, to see her. They were married in 1985. By that time, he had eclipsed college presidency and moved on. Following MATC, he became executive director of the Connecticut State Technical College System, essentially a chancellor working with the state board and heading up five colleges, each with its own president. Upon early retirement, he was selected as the first president of the what now is known as the independent Private College 529 Plan, establishing a national leadership board and recruiting nearly 100 42

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AT STETSON Wendy Libby expectedly took the lead upon arrival. There was no uncertainty about roles in the Libby household. Look at a photo and the husband of the president is nearby, for certain, but always off to the side in a position of support. Richard Libby was ideally suited for that role and, it turned out, much more.

His most telling declaration, made often but in this instance a few months ago: “Wendy comes first. She always has. She always will.” While he generally loves to tell stories, as he tends to acknowledge with a laugh, he is particularly effusive about his wife. Typical comments range from “She is incredibly intelligent” and “She knows the importance of neutrality” to “She is a financial wizard” and “She is a fabulous listener who knows the importance of neutrality, but that doesn’t mean you’re always going to get your way.” Two more: “I can go on and on about her experience. But she doesn’t force herself and her values on you” and “She has a way of instilling confidence.” In addition, Richard Libby cut his own path at Stetson, creating other roles for himself. Most notably, there was instant gravitation toward student mentorship, particularly within the university’s original Shooting Club (shotguns only; no handguns, rifles or armament), which he helped to establish in 2010 with “fine student support and leadership,” noted Libby, who has been a lifelong avid hunter. Largely by virtue of his guidance, it’s now the Stetson Clay Target Team, recognized internationally and fortified by a funding endowment he established, which last spring exceeded its original goal of $100,000. Significant community leaders and, not surprisingly, former student team members pushed the fundraising over the top. “They are my kids,” Libby said about the team members. “I treat them just like they’re my own kids.” Before arriving at Stetson, other funding assistance had come in the form of a commitment from the Libbys to build a second garage at the President’s House. Last September, that structure was dedicated as “Richard’s Garage.” Libby assumed the title of University Mentor, given by Athletics Director Jeff Altier, who at the time had spent more than two decades on campus as a student-athlete and administrator. Libby and Altier hit it off from the outset. So, too, did Libby and then-outgoing Stetson President H. Douglas Lee, PhD. With both having been retired college presidents, there were more than a few common threads. They had fun. “We used to have belly-laugh breakfasts,” Libby said of Lee. “We’d laugh to the point where the next morning our tummy muscles were sore — about the presidency and all the things that had happened during our tenures.” Much, it turned out, did happen at Stetson, as wife and husband effectively elevated the university to new heights, and in some cases together. Naturally, they were named honorary alumni, together, at Homecoming 2019. They concurred abour the fundamentals that Richard had relied upon so many years earlier: Plan. Organize. Lead. Control. Together. “I never tried to be pushy … but was, indeed, polite and firm. The same with Wendy,” he said. “You have to take it from an acquaintance to a friendship stage. That’s what I’ve always tried to do with my students, with my faculty, with my deans, with my vice presidents, trustees and even governors

and legislators. That sounds like a bunch of babble. But those are my principles.” Richard’s journey was long to get to Stetson, and he landed at just the right place. Now, he’s in a good spot in life, too. “I don’t spend one minute of my life whining about things,” he asserted a couple of months ago. That’s true about retiring as University Mentor, a role he relishes, but a decision he affirmed with a lamenting, “Yeah.” Also, it’s even true about the Libbys’ impending departure. Sometime around late May, they will move out of the President’s House and into a home purchased only a few miles away, within the age 55-plus section of a growing community. Richard is looking ahead. He has returned, momentarily, to a familiar position: residential architecture with the renovation of their new home. And, of course, he’s turned a talented construction crew into the type of well-oiled machine he once raced those many years ago — using an approach that since 2009 has been staple for him at Stetson: effective team building. That hasn’t changed. Yet, change is coming. With a slight sigh and a broad smile, Richard captured the essence of time and place for the university, Wendy and himself: “We’re entering a new era.”

Growing up in southern Maine, Libby learned to hunt. It became a passion through the years — and another place to exhibit both his tenacity and fun-loving nature.

Stetson.edu/today | STETSON



LEADERS OF THE PAST Glancing back at Stetson’s previous eight presidents B Y K E L LY L A R S O N

John F. Forbes, PhD, 1884-1904

William Sims Allen, PhD, 1934-1947

John F. Forbes, from Rochester, New York, was selected by Henry DeLand to be Stetson’s first president. During his tenure, the university’s enrollment grew from 88 students to almost 300. In 1885, the Florida Baptist Convention endowed Stetson with $10,000, and Forbes established an affiliation with the University of Chicago. He also oversaw the construction of Stetson Hall, Chaudoin Hall, Elizabeth Hall and Flagler Hall, as well as the establishment of Stetson’s Law School, which was Florida’s first law school. Forbes was passionate about education and an excellent judge of character, known for his erudition and sympathy for others. Forbes resigned in 1904 and returned to his home in Rochester.

Although William Sims Allen led Stetson through the difficult Depression and World War II years, his greatest challenge while in office was to manage the university’s rapid growth. The physical campus was expanded, and buildings were refurbished — with the introduction of Stetson’s first facilities maintenance programs. Also, academic standards grew increasingly rigorous, the first Commons was built, separate schools were established for business and music, and enrollment shot up from a few hundred students to approximately 2,000. He has been characterized as quick-witted, fast-talking, cheerful and sometimes impulsive. He resigned due to illness in September 1947.

Academy graduates from the class of 1912 stand in front of Flagler Hall. Louise Hulley, daughter of President Lincoln Hulley, has a bow in her hair.

J. Ollie Edmunds, LL.B., 1948-1967

Lincoln Hulley, PhD, 1904-1934 Lincoln Hulley had the longest tenure of all the presidents. During his 30 years at Stetson, the university was accredited, enrollments grew and the campus expanded. He oversaw the construction of Sampson Hall, Conrad Hall and Cummings Gymnasium, among other buildings. Under his watch, Academy classes were ended in 1925. A prolific poet, playwright and orator, Hulley was known to deliver powerful sermons. In addition, he served two terms in the Florida State Senate, starting in 1918. Frequently remembered as hot-tempered, autocratic and bombastic, Hulley was nonetheless widely regarded as an astute leader who devoted much of his life to Stetson. He died in office in 1934 and is interred, with his wife, Eloise, in the Hulley crypt on campus.


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President William Sims Allen, in academic regalia, in 1946 at the podium in the Elizabeth Hall chapel (later named Lee Chapel).

Dean Etter Turner and President J. Ollie Edmunds, in formal attire, prepare to light the Yule Log.

Triple alumnus J. Ollie Edmunds (bachelor’s degree in 1925, master’s in 1927 and law degree in 1928) served as Stetson’s president during the beginning of the American Civil Rights era, and he is known for registering the university’s first African American student, Cornelius Hunter. He was the first and only Stetson alumnus to become president and the first president who was not a professional educator. A lawyer by profession, Edmunds was a deft administrator who established Stetson’s first planning and development office, successfully securing funds to build the duPont-Ball Library, the Carlton Student Union Building, Allen Hall, Sage Hall, Davis Hall and several dormitories. Edmunds also oversaw the College of Law’s transition to its present site in Gulfport. Edmunds resigned in February 1967 to return to private business and was named the first chancellor of the university by the Board of Trustees.

Photos: courtesy of Stetson University Archives

Paul F. Geren, PhD, 1967-1969 Prior to assuming the presidency at Stetson, Paul F. Geren had an impressive career with the U.S. Foreign Service. Progressive and idealistic, Geren was driven to bring Stetson to the forefront of American education and deepen its international connections. Unfortunately, his ambitions were overshadowed by poor relations with students and faculty, although he did succeed in adding the first swimming pool to campus, introducing faculty sabbaticals and establishing Stetson’s foreign-exchange program. He resigned in 1969, but died in an automobile accident just one day before his resignation was to take effect.

Pope Duncan, PhD, 1977-1987

President John E. Johns, his wife Martha and Chancellor J. Ollie Edmunds (far left) greet a student at a Freshman Orientation reception.

John E. Johns, PhD, 1969-1976 Following Paul F. Geren’s resignation in 1969, Vice President John E. Johns was named acting president. He proved to be a successful leader and officially became president in 1970. Johns, a gifted financial manager, was the first Stetson president to have been an administrative officer prior to taking office. Johns increased Stetson’s endowment, strengthened the athletics program, had Flagler Hall renovated, and oversaw the construction of Sage Hall and the Edmunds Center. Johns resigned in 1976 to accept an appointment as president of his alma mater, Furman University.

Long before becoming Stetson’s seventh president, Pope Duncan started out as a Stetson professor. An ordained minister with a degree in physics, Duncan joined the Religious Studies department in 1946. He served in that role until 1953, and later became president of both South Georgia College and Georgia Southern College. While in office at Stetson, Duncan celebrated the university’s centennial and initiated a 10-year, $50 million fundraising campaign that was completed in six years. Duncan retired in 1987 but continued to serve Stetson as chancellor until 2002.

President Paul Geren takes the first dive into the new swimming pool.

H. Douglas Lee, PhD, 1987-2009 Howard Douglas Lee came to Stetson in 1978 as the vice president for development and succeeded Pope Duncan as president in 1987. Under his leadership, various buildings were added to campus, including the Hollis Center, the Lynn Business Center, the Hand Art Center and the Rinker Environmental Learning Center. Other highlights of the Lee administration included the $200 million fundraising campaign, the construction of Melching Field at Conrad Park, the establishment of the Institute for Christian Ethics and the Howard Thurman Program, and the creation of the University Values Council. Also, he ended the formal relationship with the Florida Baptist Convention in 1995. Lee retired in 2009 and was named chancellor of Stetson. Shortly after his retirement, Lee died unexpectedly from complications following surgery. New President H. Douglas Lee and retiring President Pope Duncan, in academic regalia, walk into First Baptist Church for a service for Lee’s inauguration as president. Kelly Larson is archivist for the Stetson University duPont-Ball Library’s Archives & Special Collections.

Stetson.edu/today | STETSON



Introducing Next Christopher F. Roellke, PhD, is poised — literally — to take the lead as the new president. BY MICHAEL CANDELARIA


hristopher F. Roellke, PhD, took the stage at Lee Chapel with an air of confidence amid rousing applause. It was Nov. 21, 2019, as part of Roellke’s official introduction on the Stetson DeLand campus.

Standing tall, Roellke spoke about his vision and strategic priorities, commenting they are “best created collaboratively and not by a single appointed leader.” Perhaps true. Yet, all eyes were on him. And, most assuredly, they’ll remain that way for Roellke, who was Dean of the College from 2008 to 2018 and is a professor of education at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. He also carries the title of Dean of the College Emeritus at Vassar. Roellke will take over as Stetson’s 10th president July 1, following his unanimous selection by the Stetson Board of Trustees to replace Wendy B. Libby, PhD, who is retiring. On this November morning, Roellke didn’t flinch. Following words of congratulations for Libby and her husband, Richard M. Libby, PhD, for all they have accomplished at Stetson since 2009, Roellke laid out six priorities for Stetson in DeLand, as well as its College of Law in Gulfport and satellite center in Tampa. • “We will strive to broaden and deepen Stetson’s rigorous personalized and experiential education in the liberal arts and sciences, in music, in business and in law.” • “We will strive to make a Stetson education more accessible, affordable and attainable, and we will do everything we can to promote student retention and success.” • “We will strive to strengthen Stetson’s financial base so that this form of education can be preserved for generations that follow, and so that Stetson can weather marketplace and economic fluctuations, and 46

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to enable Stetson to innovate and to embrace new curricular priorities.” • “Despite our geographic challenges, we will strive to continue to build One Stetson across our multiple campuses — a community that is steadfast in its commitment to diversity and inclusion, a community that acknowledges the contributions made by all who work at and support Stetson to make our complex organization thrive.” • “We will stay laser-focused on how students learn and how best to help them learn — providing rich and challenging experiences both within and outside the classroom.” • “We will be proactive, not reactive, in the rapidly changing higher education landscape and will not shy away from challenges — challenges that inevitably will come.” For good measure, Roellke added: “Stetson has accomplished many of these things, and I know all of you are rightfully expecting your new president to build on this very positive momentum.” There was no hesitation. By all accounts, don’t expect any from this self-described lifelong educator who will bring “an outstanding record of energetic leadership in higher education and a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities Stetson University faces,” according to Joe Cooper ’79, MBA ’82, who chaired the Presidential Search Committee and is chair of the Board of Trustees. Roellke had spent 21 years as a professor and administrator at Vassar College. In 2008, Roellke was appointed Dean of the College

As part of his campus introduction in November, President-elect Christopher Roellke, PhD, met with members of the Stetson community during a reception in Palm Court. Here, Roellke shares a laugh with student Emma Faircloth, a member of the Concert Choir. Photos: Stetson University/ Ciara Ocasio

at Vassar, providing leadership for a wide range of services, including academic and career advising, international study, accessibility and educational opportunity, multicultural services, campus activities, student employment, religious and spiritual life, campus dining, and campus safety and security. He was a Fulbright Scholar in 2014 and founded Vassar’s Urban Education Initiative. After completing two full terms of exemplary service, from 2008 to 2018, Roellke was named Dean of the College Emeritus at Vassar. In addition, he is past president for the Association of Education Finance and Policy and was a visiting scholar at Yale Law School, conducting research on school finance litigation. Roellke earned an undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University in American government, and a master’s degree and doctorate from Cornell University in social and philosophical foundations of education. His teaching and research have focused on the politics and economics of education, teacher education and faculty development, curricular innovation, and American higher education. Prior to entering the doctoral program at Cornell, he was an award-winning secondary school history and social studies teacher in rural, suburban and urban settings. Coincidentally (or not), Roellke was born in the same city as university namesake John B. Stetson: Orange, New Jersey. Roellke is married to Kim Greenberg Roellke, a veterinarian who was born and raised in New York City. She was in private practice while also

serving as the consulting veterinarian for the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and participating on the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee at Vassar. Also, for the past 10 years, she has been a trustee on the Poughkeepsie Day School Board and is its vice president. There are three daughters: Emma, a first-year medical student at New York University’s Long Island School of Medicine; Julia, a first-year science education fellow, sustainability coordinator and basketball coach at Green Farms Academy in Westport, Connecticut; and Olivia, a high school sophomore who loves horses, dirt bikes, power tools and all forms of music. Now, it’s on to Stetson. During his introductory speech in November, just after confiding that on one of his secret visits to campus he took a selfie with the larger-than-life bronze statue of John B. Stetson, Roellke offered these promising words: “Most importantly, I have learned that Stetson University is a place where I want to be, a place where my family can happily relocate, a place where I am committed to leading our students, our faculty, our staff, our alumni, our board of trustees — ALL of our communities — with passion, with positive energy, with creativity, and with a collaborative spirit as we strive to prepare our students for an increasingly diverse and rapidly changing world.” Editor’s note: Special thanks to Cory Lancaster, Stetson’s director of internal communications and editor of Stetson Today, for contributing to this article. Stetson.edu/today | STETSON


Making Miracles Carolyn Canouse ’90 fights to make the lives of young Peruvians better — changing her own life in the process. BY ERIC BUTTERMAN


t began simply, with Carolyn Canouse ’90 being interested in what her eldest daughter, Casey, was up to on her travels. Casey had gone to Peru a couple of times when she was 15 and came back wanting to go yet again.

Fine by Canouse — but, this time, she was going, too. Taking several short-term mission trips, Canouse found an inspiring Peruvian spirit and, eventually, a chance to help. On one of her trips, she visited San Juan de Lurigancho, the most impoverished of 43 districts throughout Peru’s capital city of Lima. Approximately 40% of San Juan de Lurigancho’s 1 million residents live without lights, drainage and running water. Later, Canouse received a letter about that very area. “An American missionary wrote me about a girl named Basilia, who was aging out of the orphanage and was so smart and wonderful — and needed $3,600 to send her through an institute to get a three-year degree,” Canouse recalled. “They asked about donating it.” Considering the effect such visits had on her, it didn’t take a great deal of soul-searching for Canouse to agree.


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Then, it was two more girls who were aging out of the orphanage. By this time, her husband, Jack, was the one out in front to help. The Canouses had gotten to know the girls while staying at a shelter for abused women and children, where the girls were housed. It was becoming clear to Canouse this wasn’t going to be merely writing a few checks as a way to assist. She was beginning to see where her heart was. Her realization: Without the needed support, the young people of San Juan de Lurigancho had no hope to further their education after high school. Today, Canouse is president of the nonprofit Make a Miracle, founded in March 2015 with the mission of sending students from San Juan de Lurigancho to college (70 students sponsored to date), building houses for those in poverty (60 houses and more on the way), and providing community centers (five of various sizes). As a result, aspirations are closer to being realized. One scholarship recipient, a girl age 17, wants to create her own nonprofit organization “like this one.” A 20-year-old said he was bullied in school; now he’s learning to be a “better person for the community and society.” Without money, a 19-year-old was planning to forgo college and go to work to help his family. He smiled broadly as he talked about his current coursework, which was his “first opportunity to study.” A 21-year-old is studying international business and “following her dreams.” A Peruvian couple sat in their new house and gave thanks after “crying and praying,” and the same for a single mother who was holding her two young daughters. In essence, Make a Miracle has helped to transform an entire region through education, housing and community outreach.

In 2015, Carolyn Canouse ’90 (shown with husband Jack) established Make a Miracle, with the mission of changing lives in San Juan de Lurigancho, Peru.

IT’S ABOUT FAMILY Canouse hasn’t always been so heroically altruistic. Formerly, she co-owned a women’s fitness and weightloss center, and she was a training specialist for Stars and Strikes Family Entertainment Center, co-owned by her husband. Such is the force of her own transformation. Further, she is making this difference from far off in the distance — seemingly a world away in Alpharetta, Georgia. That’s where Make a Miracle is headquartered. Casey, now 29, is still involved in Peru and is on the Make a Miracle board of directors while also serving as a mentor. Another of the daughters, Rachel, 24, serves as Make a Miracle’s director of global relations and program development from Peru, where she has lived for two years. In total, the couple have three daughters and a son, and all have taken multiple trips to Peru. Rachel speaks Spanish fluently and ensures that the nonprofit’s projects are headed in the right direction. In turn, she is among the first to see the fruits of labor — locals overcoming hardships. “Every single one of them has an incredible story,” she said. “You meet them, and they couldn’t be nicer, and couldn’t have more motivation to achieve their goal. It’s inspiring.”

The first Make a Miracle house was completed in 2015 for a single mother living in a women’s shelter with her two sons. “She was just so happy,” Canouse recalled. “They just wanted a chance.” With an electrician and a builder, along with volunteers — many of whom are students benefiting from the scholarships — each prefabricated house is created for an average cost of approximately $1,200. In addition, children’s clubs are sponsored, fully funded by Jack Canouse and a business partner. “We have 70 kids at one [club] location. Another location with 45 and another with 10 or 12. It’s all about encouragement — doing crafts, dancing and other activities,” Canouse noted. Mentorship is part of the program, too, all designed to foster empowerment. Make a Miracle is working. “I see myself hiring some of the scholarship students as they graduate. … They’re very thankful for the opportunity we gave them,” Canouse added. Looking back, she is thankful for her own opportunity. She credits her Stetson education in finance, from 1986 to 1990, as one of the pathways to the success of Make a Miracle. “I found classes very helpful, and I remember really clicking with my capitalbudgeting teacher,” she commented. “I remember it as a school where there weren’t any limits to what you could achieve. I have that attitude now, as well.” Not coincidentally, that first student she helped, Basilia, is now a physical therapist. “That’s what it’s all about,” Canouse concluded. “You want them to see their potential. The philosophy I take to this organization is ‘Go big or go home; don’t do anything halfway.’ In the process, I’ve also changed for the better. … You can’t help but be changed.”

Canouse’s life has changed, too, “for the better.”

Stetson.edu/today | STETSON


The Rhodes Less Traveled

Slavina Ancheva ’20 and her pursuit of a Global Rhodes Scholarship are a study in passion to “fight the world’s fight” and perseverance to maybe even “do it again.” BY MICHAEL CANDELARIA


lavina Ancheva ’20 had prepared for months. Actually, she had spent years achieving academic excellence, and combining it with real-world experience, to set up her big opportunity, a chance of a lifetime. There was anxiety, too, about the unknown, along with the anticipation of what could be. Finally, there was failure, or at least some measure of it. So, in the end, how did Ancheva react? Undaunted, the senior, mere weeks from graduating with dual majors in economics and political science (and a minor in French), is contemplating a return to challenge herself yet another time. “I think I would do it again,” she said, “if I could show growth — if I had something more to add to my story.”


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Such is the way for an achiever who came within an eyelash, a whisker — that close — to becoming Stetson’s first recipient of a Global Rhodes Scholarship last fall. “That night [after learning she hadn’t won the scholarship] was kind of tough, but I woke up the next morning thinking there’s a reason this didn’t happen,” she said. “All of the problems that I talked about when I was at [the University of] Oxford, I want to see them, feel them, get to know more.” Some context: Ancheva, a native of Bulgaria who moved to the United States at age 6 and lived the next 11 years in Arlington, Virginia, was among more than 600 international students from 50-plus countries to apply for the Global Rhodes Scholarship. Last fall, she was one of 13 who traveled to England for the final phase of the competition and the selection of two Global Rhodes Scholars.

Opposite page: All Souls College at the University of Oxford in England epitomizes the spirit of Rhodes study. Left: Slavina Ancheva ’20 stands under Oxford’s famous Bridge of Sighs.

The general Rhodes Scholarship, first awarded in 1902, is the oldest and perhaps most prestigious international scholarship program, enabling outstanding young people worldwide to study at historic Oxford. The Global Rhodes Scholarship, established last year, is designed for students not belonging to Rhodes-member countries. For Ancheva, that fully funded scholarship would have meant at least two years of postgraduate study and possibly a third year, in addition to a monthly stipend and other financial considerations. Even before Stetson, Ancheva was positioned well for such distinction. Her father was a diplomat for the Embassy of Bulgaria. Currently, he is Consul General for Bulgaria in Chicago. Growing up, Ancheva sometimes was able to attend events in which her father participated. Ancheva arrived at Stetson as a J. Ollie Edmunds Scholar — the recipient of a prestigious merit-based scholarship that pays expenses for four years. For the record, Ancheva has acknowledged she would never have made it to Stetson without that financial support. On campus, she made the most of her time, excelling as both a student and a leader. She presided over Alpha Kappa Psi, Stetson’s professional business organization on campus, and she headed numerous community-engagement initiatives, among other highlights. Also, she interned at the United Nations in New York, working for the Permanent Mission of Bulgaria — essentially representing her home country at political events such as the Political Forum on Agenda 2030. Further, Ancheva interned at the European Parliament in Brussels, working on a Bulgarian campaign that led up to the European Parliament elections, and she studied in France. Last fall, she had talked about a plan to “give back” to Bulgaria, where she “still feels a distinct connection.” Ultimately, she would like to enter the European political scene, maybe with policymaking in Bulgaria, she explained, and “try to make a difference in people’s

lives” by “focusing on ways we can make Bulgaria better and Europe better.” She is especially concerned about disability rights. At Oxford in November, as part of the final round, none of that really mattered. A distinguished panel was there to decide fates. And, as one might expect, the finalists also were extraordinary, each exemplifying the “fight the world’s fight” Rhodes motto. Eight of the finalists were female. Ancheva was the lone finalist who grew up in the United States, although a few others had studied there. To start, there were casual conversations, including a dinner with the finalists and panel members. That was followed, on the next day, by intense interview sessions. The activities were held at Rhodes House, built in the style of a Cotswold mansion, straight out of a movie set from “Harry Potter.” In keeping with the air of mystery, the contents of the interviews are guarded. The outcome: The two scholarships were awarded to students from Afghanistan and South Korea — the first time a student from either country became part of the Rhodes picture. Ancheva now has moved forward, but she won’t forget. Before departing for Oxford, she had received dozens upon dozens of congratulations and well-wishes from the Stetson community. And emails containing the same sentiments didn’t stop while she was away. Despite having not won, she dutifully attended to the task of letting people know what had happened. She began that process almost immediately. “Every single one of them emailed back and said, ‘We are so proud of you,’” she said in February. Ancheva also analyzed, and continues to do so: What might have been? “I know what I could have emphasized more. I know what I could have talked about more, and if I would have added this one story, would it have made a difference? You can’t help but ask yourself those questions,” she explained. “I don’t know if one question would have changed everything. I analyze it all the time; I think back to it.” At the same time, Ancheva has plans, including a return to Brussels and the European Parliament upon graduation. Readying for the Rhodes experience, in fact, helped to sharpen her career focus. “Those three months [of preparation] pushed me to think about what I want to do, who I want to be — not for the sake of writing something down, but for genuinely thinking about ‘does this make sense for me,’” she commented. Maybe another Rhodes try still is in the cards, and either way, she could make her way back to Oxford, she affirmed. The resolve remains intact. “I look at it like, ‘I didn’t get it this time, maybe in the future, maybe not,’” Ancheva said. “But all the ideas that I have about wanting to make the world a better place, I can still attempt to do all that.” Stetson.edu/today | STETSON


Becoming a Changemaker My strong interest in community health and a surprise Newman Civic Fellowship are setting me on a course to make a difference. Hopefully. B Y C H E L S E A S E AV E R ’ 2 0


s a public health major, I always had an interest in issues related to social structures and nutrition. I just didn’t realize it would lead to becoming a Newman Civic Fellow — and hopefully becoming a true changemaker. During my first year at Stetson, I began volunteering at the Spring Hill Community Garden near campus. It was there where I discovered the importance of community health and the interdisciplinary nature of public health. While increasing the accessibility of fresh, nutritious food to local low-income families, I began to make connections to my studies in environmental science, sociology and economic development. As I continued to engage with the Spring Hill community, my interest in community health began to expand, leading to courses in human rights and planning healthy cities. In 2017, my second year at Stetson, I was approached by my adviser, Asal Johnson, PhD, assistant professor of public health, about a community project. It involved a 100-year-old building in the historic African American district of DeLand, called the J.W. Wright Building. The Wright Building, unoccupied and in disrepair, was being planned for transforma-


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tion as a business incubator, also including exhibition space for the city’s African American history, a fresh produce market and additional community garden space. Being a Volusia County local, I was interested in any opportunity that could help my community. I received the Stetson Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) in the summer of 2018 and began this special project under the supervision of Assistant Professor Johnson. I conducted oral histories of the J.W. Wright Building, with the work helping to secure hundreds of thousands of dollars in local and state grant funding to restore the building. Then the Newman Civic Fellowship happened. Amid the chaos that typically comes with student research, I was shocked when I received the Newman Civic Fellowship. I never planned to be honored with such prestigious recognition. Newman Civic Fellows are recognized by their universities for their commitment to social change and for being known as public problem-solvers. Candidates are nominated by their president or chancellor on the basis of their potential for public leadership. The nominations must come from Campus Compact-member institutions. Campus Compact is a national coalition of 1,000-plus colleges and universities “committed to the public purposes of higher education.”

Chelsea Seaver ’20

Thank you, President Wendy B. Libby, PhD, for your nomination! I had never thought of myself in those terms. Through the fellowship, I have received training and resources to support my passion for social change in my community. For example, I had the opportunity to attend the 2019 Newman Civic Fellows National Conference at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate in Boston to collaborate with a national network of engaged student leaders — referred to as “community-committed changemakers.” I don’t think I would have ever been able to help make a significant impact on the Wright Building without the support of the fellowship. The impact has been national. The data I collected has contributed to obtaining a highly competitive $100,000 African American Cultural Heritage Action Grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The grant was awarded to the Wright Building Restoration Project last July. That result — an actual impact on my local community, not far from campus — was fulfilling. To preserve the Wright Building, I am continuing my research as part of my senior thesis, where I am developing a questionnaire based on community health and social capital through place-making. My hope is for the data to be utilized as part of community-

Seaver’s community work has been instrumental in DeLand’s historic Wright Building receiving local, state and national grants for its transformation.

Newest Newman Civic Fellow

development efforts by identifying the ways the Wright Building can be used to empower the DeLand African American community, as well as preserve the heritage of the local African American community. That’s a big aspiration, and there is still much work to be done. The Newman Civic Fellowship has enhanced my understanding of collective impact and how a group of individuals from different sectors can come together to solve a social problem. I am only a piece of the puzzle when it comes to making a community impact. Yet, at Stetson, with the collaborative efforts of both university and community stakeholders, we have been able to take a step in the right direction in creating social change in our community. Not only has the fellowship prepared me for my future in public health, but it has already made me stand out as an undergraduate student. The fellowship helped me gain my current position at the Volusia County Health Department as a community health educator. I’ve also had the opportunity to mentor other students who are interested in

making similar change in their community. By providing others with insight on how to conduct a community project of their own, my hope is I’ll be able to hand off my project to another “community-committed changemaker” at Stetson. Working on the Wright Building as a fellow has certainly inspired my future aspirations. Post-graduation, I plan to continue my civic engagement by applying to be an AmeriCorps service member. There, I hope to grow as a public health professional and assist communities in critical need. After engaging in that public service, I plan to seek a master’s in public health and, hopefully, obtain a doctorate in public health. My goal is to make a difference in the lives of others — whether I become a national public health leader, developing nutritionbased programs and enacting policies, or simply by being a helping hand in my community. “Changemaker.” I intend to wear the label proudly. Chelsea Seaver, Class of 2020, is majoring in public health with a minor in sustainable food systems.

Nadesha Phipps ’21 is next in line to follow Chelsea Seaver as a Newman Civic Fellow at Stetson. Phipps is among 290 students across the nation who will make up Campus Compact’s 2020-2021 cohort. Phipps, a third-year health sciences major and Bonner Program student, is focused on addressing health inequities across Central Florida. (Bonner is a service-based scholarship program.) For three years, Phipps has worked with AdventHealth’s Community Care program, which helps to increase health care access. Also, she has served as a health coach, directly working with patients to improve their health outcomes. Phipps: “I believe that access to health care is a fundamental right that is denied to too many who are poor, sick or otherwise disadvantaged, and I want to devote my career to addressing health inequities in my community.”

Nadesha Phipps ’21

Stetson.edu/today | STETSON



Building From the Ground Up Frank Griffin is among the winningest coaches in college softball. The success hasn’t happened by accident. The game plan: an outstanding facility, top student-athletes and caring. BY JACK ROTH


s the season began this spring, Frank Griffin, one of the most successful coaches in women’s Division I softball, had amassed 966 career victories during 30 seasons, an average of more than 32 wins per year.

That victory total ranked 24th among active NCAA Division I coaches and 38th on the all-time Division I coaches list. As head coach at Stetson during the previous 23 years, Griffin led the Hatters to 741 wins, 19 appearances in conference tournaments, two regular-season championships, two conference tournament titles and two appearances in the NCAA Tournament. (This season, in early March, a 2-1 win over Northern Kentucky gave Griffin his 750th victory with the Hatters and left him 25 wins shy of 1,000 for his career.) And there are no signs of stopping. Instead, there is enduring passion. His story at Stetson began rather innocuously. “My wife and I decided to move to New Smyrna Beach in 1989 after seven years of coaching at Winthrop University in South Carolina,” recalled Griffin. “We love the beach lifestyle, but after dabbling in some other things for a few years, I realized something was missing in my professional life. My wife, Marla, who also realized this, called the coaching staff at Stetson and told them I wanted to coach. Every day I’m thankful she did that.” Steadily, though, the story turned with great intensity. Griffin coached the Hatters on a volunteer basis for a year and became head coach in 1996. Back then, the softball team played its home games at Sperling Sports Complex, approximately 5 miles from campus. Griffin, though, sought to build a world-class program and knew the team needed its own field on campus, along with a first-class training facility. In characteristic style, he swung for the fences, and reached them. Griffin immediately began a fundraising effort for Patricia Wilson 54

STETSON | Spring 2020

Field, which today is a six-time National Field of the Year winner and the crown jewel of Atlantic Sun Conference softball facilities. Most recently, the field was Sports Turf Managers Association National College Softball Field of the Year. (See Page 12.) The 2003 season marked its arrival on campus, but additions and improvement continued for another six years. “The administration was very supportive throughout the entire process,” Griffin said. “At one point, we ran out of money. But I convinced [university officials] to let me start building the backstop on my own. Soon, word got out that this crazy coach was out there by himself shoveling dirt around, and $96,000 came in from people who wanted to help. I guess you can call this my field of dreams.” Often, the coaching staff would be on the field before sunrise, and Griffin wouldn’t leave until sunset. Team members did their part, too — to ensure the field would be ready for play. They rolled wheelbarrows, carried supplies, shoveled dirt and more. Not coincidentally, his team quickly began to excel between the lines, as the saying goes. Griffin demanded much; he received much in return. Additionally, in his first five years at Stetson, Griffin spearheaded a movement to make the softball program more competitive by adding scholarships. They proved to be seeds of another sort. In 1997, Stetson Softball awarded 2.3 scholarships to student-athletes. A year later, the total more than doubled. And that trend has continued until full bloom. Griffin deflects praise. “Stetson is attractive to female athletes because of the quality of education, family atmosphere and great athletic facilities we offer,” he said. “Recruiting athletes is a big reason we’ve been successful over the years, and offering scholarships is a critical part of this process.” Griffin has then taken those student-athletes and molded them, not only to be excellent on the playing field but also in life. Further, he takes special pride when former players — active, productive Stetson alumnae — return to campus and tell him they listened, and that he helped them move forward.

“Stetson is attractive to female athletes because of the quality of education, family atmosphere and great athletic facilities we offer.” — Frank Griffin

One such former player is Joanna “JJ” Payette ’06, who later became an assistant coach, working with Griffin from 2003 to 2019. “He’s a teacher, first and foremost, and he’s demanding because he wants the best out of everyone,” explained Payette, now also a member of Stetson’s Alumni Association Board of Directors. “The most important thing for Coach Griffin is making sure his players graduate. He puts his heart and soul into what he does both on and off the field and is completely dedicated to his players. And he never turns his passion off, which is why he’s been so successful over the years.” By the way, Griffin will need such fortitude this season, as the Hatters look to rebound from last season’s 16-31 record. There are nine newcomers and 14 returning players. A rebuild is in progress. Yet, for Griffin, watching players transition from juniors and seniors in high school, when the recruiting process begins, through college and beyond, and then seeing them grow as people, is greater than any softball victory. “I hope my players feel I was always honest with them, albeit sometimes painfully honest if I was telling them what they needed to work on or why they weren’t in the starting lineup,” Griffin concluded. “More than anything else, I want all of them to be successful and happy in life, and to choose a path they truly love.”

DID YOU KNOW? Before Frank Griffin turned his attention to softball, he was a soccer star. A 1979 (bachelor’s degree) and 1983 (master’s degree) graduate of Winthrop University, Griffin played soccer and was named Most Valuable Player and captain, earned all-district honors three consecutive years, and broke numerous school records. Prior to arriving at Stetson, Griffin spent seven years as head coach of women’s softball at Winthrop (198389) in Rock Hill, South Carolina. With the Lady Eagles, he compiled a record of 225-87, won six conference titles in seven seasons and led them to three NAIA National Tournaments. Griffin also played fastpitch softball for the Rock Hill Merchants for five seasons. In 1988, he pitched his team to the South Carolina State Championship and was named team MVP.

Stetson.edu/today | STETSON



Leadership Stetson Class of 2020

 Annalee Marsh Sirmeyer ’03 reconnects with one of her professors, Michele Skelton ’84, current associate professor of integrated health science.

 Front row: Greg DeLoach ’79, George Mitcheson ’70, Bert Gordon ’74, Paul Nick ’81, Pedro “Peter” J. Urscheler ’06, Robbie Harper ’02, MBA ’06. Middle row: Mandy Lopez ’79, Joseph Leo ’78, Samantha Zarek ’17, Jannett Ramos Roberts ’94, Julie Guzzetta Hartnett ’85, Pam Peterson Epting ’86, (John B. Stetson), Libby Bevin ’16, Anne Edmunds Aguirre. Back row: Alex Clark ’16, John Hampton Knight ’84, Sarah Brown McAskill ’88, Christopher Kard ’95, Rachel Noble ’19, Don White ’89, Billy Epting ’86, Shirley Rachel Beal ’90, Annalee Marsh Sirmeyer ’03, Carolyn Boyd ’12, Ashley Lauren Kerr ’07  A Leadership Stetson dinner, from left: Christopher Kard ’95, Jannett Ramos Roberts ’94, Sarah Brown McAskill ’88, Woody O’Cain, Anne Edmunds Aguirre

The winning group from the class engagement  activity: Julie Guzzetta Hartnett ’85, Pam Peterson Epting ’86, Mandy Lopez ’79, Joseph Leo ’78, Billy Epting ’86, Samantha Zarek ’17, Libby Bevin ’16, Annalee Marsh Sirmeyer ’03, Shirley Rachel Beal ’90


STETSON | Spring 2020

 George Mitcheson ’70 with Stetson President-Elect Christopher F. Roellke, PhD, who was passing through town!

Letter from the President SPRING 2020

Greetings, Hatters! Serving as president of the Stetson University Alumni Association has been the ultimate honor for me, and I encourage you to get more involved with us. Here are just some of the ways you can Connect, Engage and Give to Stetson!

CONNECT: Connect with us on social media and become a “Social Hatter!” Add Stetson’s social media platforms to the list of others you are part of, and join the thousands of other Hatters who are engaged with the university and with one another! This engagement is happening on all of our various campuses, as well as with other Hatters throughout the world!


Stetson alumni board members, parents and other volunteers are helping us facilitate great events around the country! Did you know that we have hosted more than 1,000 events since 2012? Email (alumni@stetson.edu) or call 386-822-7000 the Office of Alumni and Parent Engagement, if you have questions about any of the events listed at stetson.edu/hatterevents.

GIVE: Thank you to the 11,354 individuals who were part of completing the most recent $200 million campaign. I

choose to invest in Stetson because Stetson chose to invest in me, and I hope you will decide to do the same! Remember, this is your home and you are always welcome back to campus, because as you may have heard, we are all #foreverconnected! Take care, all my best and … Go Hatters!

Ranell Tinsley Mason ’00 Alumni Board President 727-771-3362 alumnipresident@stetson.edu www.stetson.edu

Stetson.edu/today | STETSON



Presidential Receptions 2020 WASHINGTON, D.C.

 From left: Florida Congressman Michael G. Waltz (6th District), Julia Nesheiwat ’97, PhD, Janette Nesheiwat ’98, MD, Woody O’Cain, Dina Nesheiwat ’03, JD

 From left: President Wendy B. Libby, PhD, addresses members of Hatter Nation. From left: Rina Arroyo; Sandra Peter, director of Choral Activities; Tim Peter, Dean, School of Music 

 Stetson President Wendy B. Libby, PhD, with President-Elect President-Elect Christopher F. Roellke, PhD


STETSON | Spring 2020


 The Stetson University Concert Choir performs at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. Double presidential selfie, from left: Roellke, Matthew Harris ’20, Libby, Bradley Monroe ’20 

 Mona Shah Desai ‘95 and Nicole Tischler From left: Greg Dworkin ’17, Jeff Hahn ’17, Megan Christopher ’18, Daylan Ware ’16, Matthew San Julian ’19, McKenna Foster ’17, Tanner Gunderson ’16 

 School of Music alumni

Stetson.edu/today | STETSON



Social Hatters

Mary Ann Michaelos Paul and Harlan L. “Butch” Paul ’76 on another excursion, this time in Africa Brian Rodriguez ’15 (Where do you go for vacation if your occupation is cruise director for Viking?)

Marcus Buckley ’92, utilizing his love of Marvel Comics to provide to needed cheer for his son

Lorna Marie and Ernie Audino, Hatter parents of Francesca Audino ’21, at Kennedy Space Center Lilly Sadler Van Houten ’08 and Scott Van Houten ’09


STETSON | Spring 2020

Lorna Jean Brooks Hagstrom ’64, being congratulated by Barbara Curtis Underhill ’90

Jeremy Cruz ’09, Benjamin Rae Cruz and Luisana Suegart Cruz

Pete Matulis ’94 #tenyearchallenge

Lauren Leffler Hyer ’06 and Garrett Hyer ’07 (with children)

Abgail Goodwin ’19 and Arthur Tran ’19, MBA ’21 Jen McCarthy ’92 and Blane McCarthy ’92, JD ’95

Taylor Scrib

Renee Lawless ’83

Forest Sutton and Taylor Scribner ’17, JD ’20

Derrick Williams ’86 and Lindsey Morgan

Stetson.edu/today | STETSON



Send Us Your Class Note


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

Jewel Spears Brooker ’62, St. Petersburg, completed editing work on “T.S. Eliot: Still and Still Moving 1954-1965,” the second of two volumes of “T. S. Eliot’s Complete Prose” for Johns Hopkins University Press. Both volumes are available online (Project Muse). Brooker is Professor Emerita of Letters at Eckert College, where she taught for 31 years.

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.

and community college from 1963 to 1985, Jones learned new skills in painting and has been sharing those skills since 1995 — teaching a watercolor class at Young Harris College’s Institute for Continuing Learning. When she’s not in the art world, she competes on gun ranges, where in 1995 she set two National Rifle Association records in pistol shooting.

Diana Verdun Braddom ’68, The Villages, wrote “Fundraising From a File Box: Your Pocket Guide and Workbook for Libraries and Nonprofit Organizations.” The book contains tips on how to get prepared for seeking donations and applying for grants — knowledge gathered from her many years as a library director, nonprofit board member and teacher.


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


James R. Lowe ’62, Tallahassee, published “Barefoot to the Chin – The Fantastic Life of Sally Rand,” described as the definitive biography of the famous fan dancer who saved the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair from financial ruin. Verlee Dowd Jones ’63, Hiawassee, Georgia, continues to educate others. After teaching business in high schools

STETSON | Spring 2020

Jeff Brueggemann ’77, Visalia, California, was inducted into the Visalia

Professional Baseball Hall of Fame. Brueggemann was a pitcher for the Hatters before being drafted by the Minnesota Twins and later becoming the general manager of their Class A team in Visalia. He’s now a professor at Fresno State University. (Photo: Brueggemann of the Toledo Mud Hens in 1980) Richard D. Koethe ’77, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, was named to the board of directors of South Carolina Writers Association. Koethe currently is enrolled in Stetson’s Master’s in Fine Arts - Fine Writing Program and on the way to becoming a double-Hatter.

Kathleen Cinotti Passidomo, JD ’78 and John Passidomo, JD ’78, Naples, were 2019 recipients of the Donald E. Van Koughnet Lion of the Law Award for Professionalism, presented by the Collier County Bar Association to recognize excellence in legal skills, professionalism and public service. Raymond D. Kimsey ’79, Miami, was named board chair of the Miami Arts Charter School and serves as an adviser to S-Ray, a dental-technology company developing ultrasound technology for dentistry. Kimsey also was named “Best Dentist” by Miami New Times magazine.


Paula Thompson Hawley ’87, Griggsville, Illinois, was named president of the Illinois Association of School Administrators. The IASA has nearly 2,000 members. During her career, Hawley has been a superintendent, teacher, assistant principal and assistant superintendent.

1990s Nicholas D. Chlumsky ’97, Fort Myers, was named senior consultant for the Chlumsky Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors. Chlumsky Wealth Management’s professional services include investment and retirement planning, as well as risk management.


Timothy F. Barone ’03, MBA ’06, Naples, became the chief financial officer for Grace Place for Children and Families, which provides ways out of poverty by educating children and families.

Ryan G. Benson ’03, Fort Myers, was elected area vice president for the Florida Home Builders Association. A principal with A. Vernon Allen Builder, Benson also serves as the senior officer for the FHBA’s four associations that represent nine Southwest Florida counties. In addition, among other leadership posts, he was appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to the Florida Housing Finance Corp.’s board of directors for a four-year term.

Samuel A. Bruning ’03, Stuart, was honored as one of the “40 Under 40” by Stuart Magazine. Also, Bruning was elected to the Hobe Sound Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors. He left his financial services job of nearly 10 years to start his own Port St. Lucie-based investment firm, Southern Magnolia Investment Management.

E. Vivienne Anderson, MS ’04, Port Orange, wrote a book about her life experiences, titled “Traumas, Transformation and Glory” — her story of how she “left the trauma of her childhood and early adulthood behind her by building the courage to embrace God’s love and follow His path for her.” The book is available on Amazon.

Takeata King Pang ’04, West Palm Beach, became chief program officer for the Women’s Foundation of Florida, where she has volunteered since 2009. By virtue of recent growth, the organization now is able to sustain a paid full-time staff position. Amy Rigdon ’05, JD ’08, Arlington, Virginia, was promoted to partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Latham & Watkins. Rigdon is a member of the law firm’s Corporate Department and represents alternative-asset managers and financial institutions in raising private-investment funds and venture capital, among other duties.

Davis Mallory ’06, Nashville, Tennessee, unveiled his new song and video “RIP” in October 2019. Davis is a pop singer-songwriter who enjoyed “MTV Real World 2006” fame. The song is a confessional in which he looks forward to the rest of his life “after finally finding some peace.”

Katherine Hurst Miller, JD ’06, Daytona Beach, was elected president of the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Arts and Sciences.

Jeffrey R. Cara ’08, Miami, was named director of Spine and Wellness Centers of America’s new institute in Palm Beach Gardens. Cara, MD, returned to South Florida following comprehensive fellowship training in interventional pain management at Mayo Clinic and residencies at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.

Mr. Environment No surprise here. Tim Ryder ’12 has joined U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer’s office as a legislative aide — covering energy, environment, agriculture and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). On campus, Ryder was one of the first students to work on Stetson’s carbon footprint. In a March 2012 article, Stetson Today reported that Stetson had reduced its carbon footprint by 21% since 2009, according to a carbon audit study. Ryder was among the students who contributed to the study. And this isn’t the first such appointment for Ryder, having previously served as a legislative correspondent in U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s office in fall 2018 on issues related to the environment, energy, agriculture and FEMA. Also, he’s done work for former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and his nonprofit, The Climate Reality Project, where he helped build Gore’s famous slideshow and trained environmental activists worldwide. In addition, in 2018 Ryder cofounded Green Drinks DC, which specializes in breaking down “Washington, D.C., silos” to build a stronger environmental community, one experience at a time. — Michael Candelaria

Stetson.edu/today | STETSON



Nathan M. Harper ’08, Colorado Springs, Colorado, graduated from Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Residency at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. Adam Hersh ’09, Tampa, was named a partner at Hunter Business Law, a firm that specializes in the legal needs of entrepreneurs.

2010s Thomas K. Rinaldi, JD ’10, Naples, was elected as a partner at the firm Bond,

Schoeneck & King. Rinaldi is a trial attorney, concentrating on general business and employment litigation involving contract disputes, business torts and real estate disputes. Also, he handles landlord-tenant, personal injury, probate, trust litigation and cybersecurity issues. Robert J. Smith ’10, Winter Garden, appeared as an actor on CBS, The CW and NBC. Smith also is an international bestselling author and

currently is producing a health and fitness documentary, titled “Exercise Me.”

Abigail Lemay ’11, Winter Park, was named

executive director of Rebuilding Together Orlando, a nonprofit organization that provides free home repair to area residents in need. Shane C. Thomas ’12, Stuart, was named director of the UC Cabaret Singers and a graduate assistant for the CCM Chorale at the CollegeConservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati. Mark A. Marcus ’14, Sanford, was nominated as one of Ignite Branson’s Young Professionals of the

Retail Royalty For Matt Beall III, it’s like father and grandfather and great-grandfather. In December, Beall ’04 MBA was named chief executive officer of Bealls Inc. — becoming the fourth in a succession of leaders from the Beall family who have guided the company for more than 100 years. He is the great-grandson of Robert Matthews Beall Sr., who founded the company in 1915. Egbert “ER” Beall, Matt’s grandfather, joined the business in 1940. Then, after starting out as a store manager in 1970, Bob Beall II, Matt’s father, led from 1980 through 2006 and remained as board chair until retiring in 2017. Today, it’s Robert Matthews Father and son, Bob Beall II and Matt Beall III, share a smile, (Matt) Beall III’s turn to take the along with a family legacy of national retail leadership. reins of the Bradenton, Floridabased retailer. He assumed the CEO role from Steve Knopik, who was the first non-family member to steer operations. Beall III began his retail career with the West Bradenton Bealls Store while in college at the University of Florida. He then moved to New York City to work for Ross Stores before returning to Florida and earning his MBA from Stetson. He joined the family business in 2004 as a buyer for Bealls Outlet and worked his way up to president and now CEO, overseeing some 550 stores in 17 states under the names of Bealls, Bealls Outlet, Burkes Outlet, Home Centric and Bunulu. — Michael Candelaria Editor’s note: Bealls Inc. is not affiliated with Bealls Stores, which are operated in Texas by Stage Stores.


STETSON | Spring 2020

Year for 2019. Ignite Branson is a networking and professionaldevelopment group with membership consisting of people ages 21 to 40 in the greater Branson, Missouri, area.

Benjamin C. Sorrell, JD ’16, Ellenton, was appointed to the RealtorAttorney Joint Committee of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee. The two-year term began in January. Sorrell is an associate with the law firm of Syprett Meshad.

Alex Ramirez ’19, Charlotte, North Carolina, joined ESPN as a graphics operator. Ramirez is responsible for managing on-air graphics for ESPN (Charlotte) and the SEC Network. He is Stetson’s first broadcast-related hire into the ESPN family.







1 Guy Swenson, MEd ’05 and David Brown, Nov. 9, 2019. 2 Lauren Collie ’06 and Bert Wohn ’06, Sept. 14, 2019. 3 William Perry ’06 and Zakaria Odeh, Aug. 22, 2019. 4 Diana Hoskins ’09 and Kyle Hardey, Sept. 29, 2018. 5 Abigail Smith ’12 and John Wisbach, Aug. 17, 2019. 6 Alyssa Collins ’14 and Raul Zambrano ’14, Oct. 26, 2019. 7 Mark Johnson ’14 and Emily Nolen, Sept. 21, 2019. 8 Kylie Chiavuzzi ’16 and Nicholas Bouwmans ’17, July 27, 2019. 9 Aryn Lazarus ’17 and Austin Miller ’17, May 27, 2018.

Births 10 Sarah DeBelles ’05 and Jeffrey Hudson ’04, a daughter, Henley Olivia, January 2019. 11 Melanie Diaz ’10 and Ryan Olsen ’10, a son, Lincoln Remington, May 2019.






11 Stetson.edu/today | STETSON



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In Memoriam 1940s William S. Cushing Jr. ’46 Paul D. Carmichael Jr. ’47 Berrien H. Becks Sr., LLB ’49 James M. Langford ’49 Juanita Jones Ragans ’49 Delva Walden Register ’49

1950s Ruth Dickson Hodges ’51 Harold E. Mills ’51 Lawrence W. Borns, LLB ’53 Cecil W. Holley ’54 Theodore R. Biggs Jr. ’57 Robert C. Rich Jr. ’59

1960s Charles M. Waygood ’60, LLB ’60 Kathleen Propps Jenkins ’62


STETSON | Spring 2020

Sharon Gage Bowen ’63 Joy Kressman Goodall ‘64 M. Lance Miller ’65

1970s Samuel W. Bearman ’73 Tanya Klar Court ’74 Paul J. DiMaggio, JD ’74 Mary Bell Cairns ’75 Phillips M. Evans, JD ’76 Marcia Harris ’76 James T. Mullin, MBA ’76 Maxine Carey Turner ’76 David A. Lister, JD ’77 Rita Waldron Charnock ’78 Steven L. Dixon ’78 Patricia Haley, JD ’78 Marvin Mandell, JD ’78 Robert D. Webb, MEd ’78

James O. Pedersen ’79 Mark G. Schweizer ’79

1980s Ross A. Miller ’81 Anthony T. Piernick, JD ’81 Richard J. Preston ’81 Ellen Gillette Russell ’81 Stuart J. Arnold ’82 Sarah Conine Spector ’82 Mark J. Wallberg ’82 Bettie Larcom Kimball ’84 Barbara Stoak Mulder ’84 Carol Dubendorf Ligon ’85 Fredric W. Ashworth ’86 Ronald S. Cole ’86 Trudi Dam ’88 Brenda “Tracy” Sheehan, JD ’89

1990s Elyse Strang Phillips ’90 Georgia Nelson ’91 Sasha Jones Remland ’91 Lori Hamilton Mount ’92 Doricia Miller Rivas ’93 John D. Daw ’94 John K. Doyle ’96 Linda Scholl ’97 Wendy Pylman ’98 Holly Self ’98

2000s Bryan B. Lauer ’05

2010s Kenneth R. Mathews, LL.M. ’16 Andrew P. Schmidt ’19


BIG WIN While the Hatters didn’t quite make it to March Madness, one afternoon in late December indeed was special. On Dec. 30 in Columbia, South Carolina, the Hatters defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks, 63-56 — notching their first victory against a Southeastern Conference opponent since 2004. In the end, the team, featuring several talented newcomers under first-year Coach Donnie Jones, finished with a 16-17 record. Pictured: Jubilant junior guard Christiaan Jones, in his hometown of Columbia, led Stetson in scoring that game. Photo: courtesy of Stetson Athletic Communications

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

STETSON is printed on FSCcertified paper.



Total Enrollment, Spring 2020

Students from 46 States, 3 Territories & 48 Countries

Enrollment by School/College & Class Business Administration

Arts and Sciences

1,900 undergraduate









882 graduate

Student Retention Rate


of Fall 2019 first-time-in-college students returned in Spring 2020

184 graduate

19% 18% 16% first year



18% 7% 21% senior



22 college students transfer students 61 New First-time-in-

Source: Stetson University Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness

Profile for Stetson University

Stetson Magazine  

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