Stetson University Trustees Approve Budget, Strategic Plan

Stetson University’s Board of Trustees approved a $124 million operating budget for 2014-15, a new strategic plan that carries the university through 2019, and heard plans for two major capital investments: Sage Hall and a proposed aquatic center.

The $124 million operating budget for the next fiscal year, is a 3.5 percent increase over the current year’s budget, and includes campuses in DeLand and Gulfport, as well as the Tampa Law Center and the Center at Celebration.

“Demand for a Stetson education remains high and it is our goal to keep alive the dream of a quality education while working to find maximum efficiencies within the university,” said President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D. “Through the hard work of my leadership team and this board we have a budget that is balanced, provides for basic operating cost increases and holds tuition increases to a low level. Stetson remains on a strong footing and is well positioned to continue to thrive as one of the southeast’s top private universities.”

Strategic Planning

Approval of the budget is key as administrators work to implement a new five-year strategic plan, which has been in development this year. The plan, which covers 2014-19, is informed by five theme areas: Stetson’s distinctiveness and value as an institution of higher learning, excellence and innovation in learning, lifelong success and significance, resources to ensure success, and organizational resilience and adaptability.

“Our success and progress over the past five years have been substantial,” said Provost Beth Paul, Ph.D., who with President Libby led the strategic planning process. “That is a testament to a team of people who believed in the direction we were going and our plan to reach those goals. Now it’s time to build on that success with boldness and character.”

The first-year priorities include specifics such as enhancing Stetson’s national reputation, creating a learning environment that attracts intellectually motivated students, strengthening career readiness for students, and continuing to maximize cost effectiveness and diversify revenue streams. In addition to the five areas, the plan commits to expanding and strengthening strategic partnerships as well as being a diverse community of inclusive excellence.

Capital Projects

Trustees also heard reports from administration regarding two capital projects, one of which is awaiting approval by Gov. Rick Scott for funding. A $3.25 million line item for Sage Hall — which houses science, math and computer science classrooms and faculty offices — was included in the budget bill sent to the governor by the Florida legislature.

The appropriation will provide for expansion of the building to 11,000 square feet, allowing the addition of faculty offices and classrooms. Increased enrollment at Stetson has led to the hiring of 50 new faculty members since 2009, and 50 more are needed by 2016. Stetson plans to grow enrollment within STEM disciplines by enhancing public health and environmental science programs.

The second capital project is a proposed aquatic center on Lake Beresford, which recently received approval from Volusia County for rezoning the site to a Business Planned Unit Development. Plans for the site include a training facility and storage for boats used by the Stetson crew teams, academic programs including classrooms and labs for the natural sciences, and recreational facilities for the community. Prior to county approval, Stetson and a representative for homeowners in the area met and agreed to a plan that covers parking and specific restrictions designed to limit hours of use, building height and noise.

Other Board Actions

The Board of Trustees also received reports and approved other actions.

  • Stetson will be a tobacco-free/smoke-free campus in August 2014 when a policy approved earlier in the year takes effect. Smoking is already prohibited in buildings on Stetson campuses, and the new plan prohibits smoking in outdoor areas, as well as placing a ban on all tobacco products. There is no plan to provide smoking areas on campuses.
  • A new parking plan for the DeLand campus including new signage will launch in fall 2014 enabling more parking for commuter students and making it easier for visitors to find parking on campus.
  • In 2014-15, Stetson will again use rooms at the Clarion Hotel for student housing as enrollment continues to increase. The board heard a report on additional solutions including acquiring and renovating an existing facility as well as building a new residence hall. All potential solutions are still on the table for future consideration.
  • The board received information on newly tenured faculty and faculty promotions as well as several student and faculty awards that were presented at commencement.
  • Trustees also received information on retiring faculty: Robert “Bob” Boozer, Ph.D., professor of management; E. Nicholas “Nick” Maddox, Ph.D., professor and chair of management; John Schorr, Ph.D., senior professor of sociology; and Ann Small, Ph.D., senior professor of music. Subsequent to the meeting, Dwaine Cochran, Ph.D., professor of psychology, announced his retirement.
  • David and Leighan Rinker were honored by the Board of Trustees with the George and Mary Hood Award, presented annually to a member or friend of the Stetson University community in recognition of passion for, and commitment and contributions to, Stetson University and its core values. The George and Mary Hood Award is given in honor of Dr. George Hood, former dean of students, professor and director of the Counseling Center, and his wife, the late Mary Turner Hood, longtime assistant to former President and Chancellor J. Ollie Edmunds.
  • Trustees conferred the right to present degrees to President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D., during the 128 commencement ceremony, and received information on student speakers for the three ceremonies: Sam Slaughter, M.A., English; Lauren Hall, E.M.B.A.; Jeremy Goldberg, B.A., finance; Ariel Arthur, B.M., orchestral performance/cello; Sonja James-Gaitor, B.S., social science; Michelle Vergara, B.S., behavioral economics.
  • Scott Bruin, ’75, was introduced to the Trustees as president of the Alumni Association beginning July 1. Bruin is executive managing partner of CapTrust Financial Advisors. He is replacing Kathy Lineham Graf, ’76, who is completing her term as president of the Alumni Association as well as serving in other capacities on the Alumni Association Board of Directors.

In addition, there were several changes to the membership of the Board of Trustees, effective July 1:

  • Luis “Lu” Prats, ’78, J.D. ’81, will be chair of the Board of Trustees, replacing Harlan L. “Butch” Paul who has served on the board since 2004. Prats, a past president of the Stetson University Alumni Association, was elected to the Board in 2007 and served as chair of the Committee on Trusteeship. Prats is a board-certified construction lawyer with more than 30 years of experience representing public and private owners, developers, contractors, and design professionals on all types of construction matters. Prats lectures regularly on the subject of construction law and has published or presented numerous papers on the subject. He is also a contributing author of three books on construction law. Prats has been recognized by Florida Super Lawyers as one of Florida’s Top 100 Lawyers and is listed in Best Lawyers in America, Florida Trend’s Legal Elite and Chambers USA Guide to America’s Leading Business Lawyers, among other professional rating publications. He is active in professional and civic organizations including the Hillsborough County, Florida, and American Bar Associations.
  • Harlan L. “Butch” Paul, ’76, will be former chair of the Board of Trustees, and continue to serve on the board. Paul is board-certified as a Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and is a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America. He is active in civic and community affairs, having served on the Florida Federal Judicial Nominating Commission, Chair of the Emergency Medical Foundation, the West Volusia YMCA Board and the St. Barnabas Episcopal School Board of Directors. Butch has served as an adjunct professor at Stetson in the area of Business Law.
  • Joseph W. “Jay” Landers, ’64, J.D. ’70, was named Trustee Emeritus. Landers served on the Board of Trustees for 19 years and served as chair from 2002-06. Landers had an extensive career in public service, serving in several capacities under Gov. Reubin Askew before leaving government in 1979 to practice environmental and land-use law. He later founded USMed, a medical finance company which he later sold to JP Morgan Chase. Landers continues to serve in volunteer capacities with the Tallahassee Urban League, the Southern Scholarship Foundation and Goodwood Museum, and is on the board of the FSU Research Foundation.
  • Maureen Breakiron-Evans, ’76, received the Joe Master Award from the School of Business Administration. Named after former accounting professor Joe Master, the award recognizes exemplary leadership in the accounting field. Breakiron-Evans, who is a past chair of the School of Business Administration Board of Advisors, was elected to the Board of Trustees in 2013 and currently serves as chair of the Audit Committee. She founded Strategic Forge with her husband, Jim Evans, in 2008, and is a former CFO at Towers Perrin, a global professional-services firm. Prior to joining Towers, she served in senior finance, technology, audit or risk management positions at CIGNA, Transamerica, VISA and Arthur Andersen.
  • Three new Trustees were named to the Board:

o Susan Morris, ’70, principal and senior vice president, Central Florida – Colliers International in Orlando, and owner, Resource Development Investment Properties, Inc. Morris is on the Urban Trust Bank Board of Directors in 2011. She has served as chair of the Downtown Development Board and served on the boards of the UCF Foundation, the Tri-County Transit Authority and the Central Florida Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee. Morris has received numerous awards and volunteers with the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity and the Callahan Community School.

o Robert S. Pocica, ’75, senior vice president and chief security officer, McKesson Corporation in San Francisco, Calif. Pocica has served on the Stetson University Alumni Association Board since 2012 and participated in Leadership Stetson in 2011. Pocica is a member of the HealthCare Distribution Management Association, the International Security Management Association, the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS), the ASIS Chief Security Officers Roundtable, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the Conference Board, the Security Council Board and the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI. Pocica serves on the Utica College Board of Advisors and on the Advocacy Committee of the Northern California Business Aviation Association.

o Troy D. Templeton, ’82, M.B.A. ’83, managing partner, Trivest Partners in Coral Gables. Templeton currently serves as chairman on several Trivest portfolio companies including Ryko Solutions and Group III International. He has served on several other Trivest boards, and is past chair of DEI Holdings and Aero Products International. Templeton sits on a number of other boards, including Twin-Star International, DirectBuy Holdings, Box-Board Products and the Allegiance Security Group. He is also affiliated with Trivest Aviation and Templewood Investments, LLC.

About Stetson University
Founded in 1883, Stetson University in Central Florida is an independent university that provides a transforming education in the liberal arts tradition. Stetson stresses academic excellence and community-engaged learning, and consistently earns high national rankings. In 1982, Stetson was awarded a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa honorary society. The College of Arts & Sciences, School of Business Administration and School of Music are located at the historic campus in DeLand. The College of Law is in Gulfport/St. Petersburg. The university also has two satellite centers: the Tampa Law Center and the Stetson University Center at Celebration near Orlando. More information: University Marketing, 386-822-8920. Stay connected with Stetson on social media.