Dr. Roellke with student

About President Roellke

Christopher F. Roellke, PhD

 Announcement | November 2019 Visit and Address

Stetson University’s10th president, Christopher F. Roellke, PhD, officially took office on July 1, 2020. He succeeded Wendy B. Libby, PhD, who served as the university's president from July 2009 until her retirement on June 30, 2020.
Previously, Roellke was the Dean of the College and Professor of Education at Vassar College, and upon his departure was named Dean of the College Emeritus. As Dean of the College, he was one of three tenured faculty members on the President’s Senior Leadership Team and oversaw the Dean of Studies, Dean of Students, Campus Life and Diversity, Career Development, portions of Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action/Title IX, Accessibility and Educational Opportunity, Safety and Security, and Campus Activities. He was the founder/fundraiser of Vassar College’s Urban Education Initiative.
Also, Roellke is a past president for the Association of Education Finance and Policy, and as an American Council on Education Fellow, he served as a visiting scholar at Yale Law School, conducting research on school finance litigation.
Roellke earned his BA degree in political science from Wesleyan University and MS and PhD degrees in the social and philosophical foundations of educational administration from Cornell University. He was a 2014 Fulbright Scholar.
Upon arrival at Stetson, Roellke immediately emphasized the importance of kindness, empathy and shared aspirations — themes that continue to permeate the Stetson community. In addition, he displayed the highly regarded traits of an exceptionally effective and collaborative leader in higher education.
As 2021 began, Stetson forged ahead with major projects, renovating the Sage Hall Science Center and adding a new suite of labs in time for the Fall 2021 semester. Construction began on the 40,000-square-foot Cici & Hyatt Brown Hall for Health & Innovation to create a new combined science complex. In addition, the university announced a number of significant grants and gifts, greatly expanding opportunities for students and, in effect, transforming the campus for generations to come. Also in 2021, Roellke began making what is perhaps his greatest contribution to Stetson thus far— building substantial trust with the faculty and the student body.
Among the highlights in 2022, Stetson was nationally recognized for excellence. That spring, the Digital Arts Program — for the first time — was ranked among the best for game design by The Princeton Review. In September, the U.S. News & World Report’s rankings placed Stetson higher in the Top 5 of Best Regional Universities (South).
Also in 2022, Roellke led the charge during a ceremonial ribbon-cutting on the Cici & Hyatt Brown Hall for Health & Innovation, and Stetson’s new Center for Public Opinion Research was launched with national aspirations. In addition, four Ukrainian students were welcomed to campus, with tuition paid through university fundraising, along with a Ukrainian professor.
In 2023, the Cici & Hyatt Brown Hall for Health & Innovation officially opened in time for the spring semester. Stetson again ranked in the Top 5 for Best Regional Universities (South) and moved up in three other categories. Also, Stetson’s College of Law was ranked the No. 1 in the country for Trial Advocacy and the No. 3 destination for Legal Writing.
With those achievements serving as the backdrop, Stetson shattered its fundraising record for a second consecutive year during the 2023 fiscal year, with a total of $65 million. With Roellke as president, the four-year fundraising total exceeds $191 million. Also, led by Roellke, the university’s head cheerleader and inspirational leader, Stetson robustly celebrated its 140th anniversary.
In 2024, the recently announced FORWARD TOGETHER Strategic Priorities Framework, 2023-2030, outlines five core themes: Experiential, Contemporary & Integrative Learning; Student-Centered Success & Wellness; People, Culture & Inclusive Excellence; Lifelong Relationships & Connections; and Comprehensive Sustainability. The Strategic Priorities Framework was established to enhance and modernize the academic and co-curricular environment of Stetson’s campuses, as well as include a host of capital projects.
Roellke’s current goal is to take the university, founded in 1883, from “Florida Gem to National Treasure.”
President Roellke’s leadership journey at Stetson has been joyfully supported by his wife, Kim, and their three daughters: Emma, Julia and Olivia (Liv).  Kim is a small animal veterinarian and is now licensed to practice in Florida. Emma is a physician and Chief Resident at the Winthrop Hospital in Long Island, New York. Julia is completing graduate studies in Environmental Science and Sustainability at the Lund University in Lund, Sweden. Liv is an undergraduate student at Elon University, studying exercise science and sports management.