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Construction officially began on Stetson University’s Cici & Hyatt Brown Hall for Health & Innovation when ceremonial shovels dug into dirt one recent morning.

The two-story, 40,000-square-foot building — the result of Stetson’s largest-ever single charitable gift — will create a science complex for students studying the health sciences, environmental sciences and other fields.

The building, to be completed for the fall 2022 semester, will connect to Sage Hall Science Center through internal glass walkways. Sage Hall is being renovated as part of the $18 million project.

“After more than three years since Cici and Hyatt Brown made their generous gift to this project, we are thrilled — and I mean thrilled — to gather today to officially commence the construction of the new Cici & Hyatt Brown Hall for Health & Innovation at Stetson University!” said Stetson President Christopher F. Roellke, Ph.D., at the ceremony June 11, according to a story in Stetson Today.

Roellke spoke to an audience that included Stetson students, faculty, staff, administrators and members of the university’s board of trustees, along with representatives from Volusia County government and the firms performing the construction work.

President Emerita Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D., recalled the day in September 2017 when she and Provost Noel Painter, Ph.D., first visited the Browns to discuss possible new giving opportunities.

The Browns indicated a willingness to “do something,” but at a later time. That day came the following spring, when the Browns ultimately agreed to $18 million, announced on April 9, 2018.

“I had never met a donor who gave more than I asked for, except Hyatt and Cici Brown,” Libby said at the groundbreaking, according to Stetson Today.

Cici Brown, Honorary Class of ’07, shared brief thoughts.

“It’s been a long time coming,” she said about the new building, according to Stetson Today, “and it’s going to happen. And we’ve had the best team to put this together.”

GENEROUS DONORS — Cici and Hyatt Brown spoke during a ceremonial groundbreaking for a new science complex at Stetson University that will bear their name.

Hyatt Brown, Honorary Class of ’92, insisted the dollars weren’t a gift, but instead an investment in Stetson, where he has served as a trustee since 1981.

“[Cici and I] don’t make contributions. We make investments,” he said, pointing to the eventual returns of “better education for those who are coming in the future.”

“The nice thing about Stetson is that it is, and it is going to be even more successful in the future,” Brown continued. “So, the people who are products of this educational institution are going to be proud that they went to Stetson.”

Roellke closed the ceremony by calling the day “very momentous in Stetson University’s history.”

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