Trustees approve budget, strategic plan

May 22, 2014

BOT story-PratsStetson 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.” (Libby is pictured at right in the photo above with trustees Luis “Lu” Prats, left, and Harlan L. “Butch” Paul, center.)

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.

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


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