Why Give?

Your gift shows your pride in Stetson University. As an alum donor, you pay it forward and join other Hatters in forming a strong giving participation rate, which is an important factor for Stetson University – a private, not-for-profit – when it comes to college rankings and receiving grants from foundations. Alumni giving reflects, and enhances, Stetson’s reputation.

Donor gifts also help attract talented students and faculty, and support teaching and learning in engaging and academically-rigorous environments. Your support provides scholarships, as well as funding for faculty, staff, programs and facilities.

We invite you to explore our strategic initiatives and talk with us about the impact you want your giving to make at Stetson. Thanks for your interest!

Read some of our donor stories

Before Jay Mechling and Elizabeth Ann Walker met at Stetson University, they shared similar challenges after completing high school. "My family was working class...Elizabeth came from a very poor family. She never thought she would go to college," says Jay. Fate, and some encouragement from Elizabeth's high school guidance counselor, would ultimately change that. Stetson awarded Jay with a scholarship and a work-study job, and Elizabeth received a "full ride." "We received very good educations at Stetson," Jay says. Asked why he and his wife still give back to Stetson University today, Jay says, "For us, the giving is its own reward. We pay it forward."

Jay Mechling '67 & Elizabeth Ann Walker '67

Jay Mechling & Elizabeth Ann Walker now and then photo collage
Gwen Azama-Edwards Speaking

Gwen Azama-Edwards, Bachelor's in Psychology and '83 Master of Arts in Counseling, shares that becoming valedictorian of her class helped her earn a scholarship at Stetson University. She says Stetson prepares students to be "critical thinkers and lovers of all people." Gwen gives back to Stetson so other students can have the same opportunity she did. "Education is so important, so we need to do what can to help others. My mother used to say, 'It is the one thing that no one can take away from you.'" With a smile, Gwen adds, "I am happy to be able to give."

Gwen Azama-Edwards '71, '83

Dr. Charles Gillespie is a Renaissance man: a scientist who worked for NASA, an artist, a writer, a former jockey and all-around lover of education and the arts. When he reached out to Stetson University, he wanted to offer financial support, but more so he wanted to hear from students to better understand the challenges they face. Staff members helped make that connection. Dr. Gillespie was able to spend some time with art major Mario in Sampson Hall and share lunch together on campus. The visit helped him see firsthand the needs of students and the impact a gift to Stetson University can make. As he would say, "support is great, and connecting with a student is even better."

Dr. Charles Gillespie

Dr. Charles Gillespie sitting beside the John B statue
Tina Wolf-Wiley and Janice Bartolotta standing by Chaudoin Hall staircase

"Besties" Tina Wolf-Wiley and Janice Bartolotta both graduated Stetson University with the class of 1972. During Homecoming, one of their highlights was being able to visit their old dormitory, Chaudoin Hall, built in 1892, before renovations to the building began. "I believe Stetson is a place you fall in love with at first sight," says Tina. Asked about Stetson’s strategic initiative to update student housing, Jan says that is what makes Stetson great. "They hold to tradition, but keep innovating." Both alumnae also shared how proud they are of the university’s commitment to improving the student first-year experience. They hope future generations of Stetson students will be blessed with similar close, everlasting friendships that they found at the university.

Tina Wolf-Wiley '72 & Janice Bartolotta '72

Russ Bausch graduated from both Stetson University in 1979, and then Stetson Law School in Gulfport in 1982. He and his wife, Merrill, are strong supporters of Stetson University's Ukrainian Initiative, which helps sponsor students and faculty displaced by Russia's war against Ukraine. Donating to the fund also allowed the Bausch’s an opportunity to attend a special panel discussion on the war featuring professors from the Stetson’s Prussian, Russia and Eastern European (SPREES) program, and a meet-and-greet with the four Ukrainian students. "I want to again personally thank you all for the Values Day segment yesterday on Ukraine! The discussion was informative, enlightening and in some portions, emotional," Russ wrote in an email. Although, he admits the campus has grown since he attended, and he says, "I still feel that intimate spirit even now and that is one thing that I hope never changes at Stetson."

Russ Bausch '79, '82

Russ and Merrill Bausch

Donor Recognition

We express our gratitude to Stetson donors through various giving societies. Stetson honors those alumni and friends who invest consistently and also celebrates donors who have made significant gifts that make a long-lasting impact on students, faculty, staff and the Stetson community.

Fountain Loyalty Society

Fountain Loyalty Society

A recognition society that celebrates donors who have generously given a gift in any dollar amount to Stetson University for at least three consecutive fiscal years (July 1–June 30). Stetson is grateful to these donors for their ongoing support and dedication to the university, its students and our core values. Special recognition and tokens of appreciation will be given to donors at milestone years.

The 1883 Society logo

1883 Society

This recognition society celebrates donors who generously donate $1,000 or more within a fiscal year (July 1–June 30). The 1883 Society honors donors who show an increased level of commitment to our students and Stetson’s core values: personal growth, intellectual development, global citizenship, and personal and social responsibility. Society members receive invitations to campus events, donor impact updates and an invitation to an exclusive 1883 Society event.

Stetson Society logo

Stetson Society

This recognition society celebrates donors who have made a lasting commitment to include Stetson in their estate planning. We honor these members for their generosity, kindness and vision for the future of Stetson University. Society members receive special recognition and invitations to exclusive leadership events, donor impact updates, occasional tokens of appreciation and access to Stetson leadership.

Stetson Leadership Society

Stetson Leadership Society

Following in the tradition of philanthropy of our founder, John B. Stetson, this recognition society honors donors who have generously given $25,000 or more cumulatively in their lifetime. Members of this society display a strong commitment to Stetson’s initiatives and overall mission and help provide a world-class education to the best and brightest students while preparing them to be tomorrow’s leaders. Society members receive special recognition and invitations to exclusive leadership events, donor impact updates, occasional tokens of appreciation, and increased opportunities to meet with Stetson students and Stetson leadership.