The Stetson University board of trustees has elected Christopher F. Roellke, Ph.D., currently dean of the college emeritus and professor of education at Vassar College in New York, to become the 10th president of Stetson University, effective July 1, 2020.
Roellke is widely regarded as an exceptionally effective and collaborative higher-education leader who is past president of the Association for Education Finance and Policy, a 2014 Fulbright scholar, and the founder and fundraiser of Vassar College’s Urban Education Initiative.
Roellke will succeed Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D., who has served as Stetson University’s president since July 2009. Libby announced her retirement in February 2019 and will continue in her position until June 30, 2020.
“The Board of Trustees has unanimously elected Dr. Roellke to lead Stetson into the future as our university’s 10th president,” said board Chair Joe Cooper. “Dr. Roellke is bringing an outstanding record of energetic leadership in higher education and a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities Stetson University faces. The board is thrilled to welcome him as president-elect.”
“It is the greatest honor and privilege of my professional life to be selected as Stetson University’s 10th president,” said Roellke. “For nearly a century and a half, Stetson has been widely admired for its deep commitment to the traditions of liberal learning and globally engaged citizenship. My family and I are eager to immerse ourselves in this wonderful community of lifelong learners. Moving forward collaboratively with all of Stetson’s constituents, we are committed to preserving and enhancing this extraordinary form of education for generations to come.”
A graduate of Cornell University and Wesleyan University, Roellke has served three presidents at Vassar College. As dean of the college, he was one of three tenured faculty members on the President’s Senior Leadership Team.
“This is a wonderful appointment; Professor Roellke has tremendous skills and experience to take Stetson University to the next level, and we will miss him dearly here at Vassar. Our loss is Stetson’s gain,” said Vassar College President Elizabeth Howe Bradley, Ph.D.
Chris is an experienced educator who is ready to lead during these challenging times,” said Catharine Bond Hill, Ph.D. who was Vassar president, 2006-2017. “He is liked and respected, insightful and caring, and I really valued having him as part of my senior team. Chris has tremendous energy and great optimism for the future of American higher education. I am pleased for both Chris and for Stetson University.”
Roellke’s election by the board of trustees follows an extensive presidential search that drew a large and competitive group of candidates. The committee’s work, which included several exhaustive interviews with top candidates, spanned several months and, near the end of the process, various constituent groups met confidentially with final candidates on campus in formal and informal settings.
Members of these broadly representative constituent groups then provided feedback to the search committee, which in turn fulfilled its charge to recommend the candidate best qualified to lead, inspire and shape the future of Stetson University.
A dedicated fundraiser, Roellke has secured donations for major Vassar campus life and renovation projects, career development and local community outreach programs. He directly oversaw several major campus-life construction and renovation projects.
Roellke’s wife, Kim, is a veterinarian and they have three daughters, Emma, Julia and Olivia. President-elect Roellke and his wife will be introduced to the Stetson communities during welcome ceremonies in both DeLand and Gulfport next month.