A green ceremonial ribbon was cut Oct. 28 to celebrate the dedication of Stetson University’s newest addition to its DeLand campus: the $19 million Cici & Hyatt Brown Hall for Health & Innovation.
Brown Hall — located on the edge of the Stetson Green — connects to the existing Sage Hall, and together the two structures make up the school’s science complex.
The two-story building boasts 40,000 square feet of space that has been filled with scientific and educational advancements. It hosts several different labs, a greenhouse, a teaching kitchen and an outdoor classroom with space for a garden, among other amenities.
The plans for the project started with the Browns’ $18 million donation — the largest single gift in the school’s history — in April of 2018.
The Browns are long-term trustees of the school and have both received honorary doctorates from the institution.
Hyatt Brown, an Orlando-born billionaire who made his money through the insurance industry, is chairman of the board of Brown & Brown Inc., an insurance company co-founded by his father. He was also a member of the Florida House of Representatives from 1972 to 1980 and served as speaker of the House for the last three years of his term.
Cici Brown, Hyatt Brown’s wife since 1965, served as a member on the board of advisers of Stetson’s College of Arts and Sciences. She also served as the chair of the board for a term.
During the couple’s April 2018 announcement to the Stetson community, Hyatt and Cici Brown explained that health and sciences were an area they cared about and wanted to focus on. They believed the university was the perfect place to not only aid in fostering the growth of related career fields to match impending population growth but also contribute to the economy.
From the announcement of the donation, Hyatt Brown has continued to refer to the donation as an “investment.”
After 222,750 feet of wire, 179 tons of steel and 1,130 cubic yards of concrete, the Browns’ investment has become a reality.
Stetson President Dr. Christopher F. Roellke opened the dedicatory ceremony and greeted a crowded room filled with students, faculty and staff, and other members of the community. In his welcome speech, Roellke referred to the science building as an “important milestone” for Stetson University.
The crowd erupted into applause when Roellke declared the building a “magical new space” for the campus.
The excitement grew palpable as others spoke after Roellke.
“[Brown Hall] is more than bricks and mortar. It brings a promise of collaboration,” the chair of Stetson University’s board of trustees, Maureen Breakiron-Evans, said.
The Browns stood at the podium together and talked about the importance of the future for Stetson University students. “The future is theirs. It ain’t ours,” Hyatt Brown said.
“Bring in the students. Now, let’s make this work!” Cici Brown added before cutting the ceremonial ribbon.
After a few finishing touches are made to the building, the Cici & Hyatt Brown Hall for Health & Innovation is slated to be opened and used by January 2023.