Biography of President Christopher F. Roellke

Christopher F. Roellke, PhD, President, Stetson University

On July 1, 2020, at the height of the summer COVID-19 pandemic, Christopher F. Roellke, PhD became the 10th President of Stetson University, succeeding Stetson’s former president Wendy Libby.

Prior to officially joining the university he was immersed in strategy meetings with the Stetson Board of Trustees and senior administrators and faculty. This allowed Stetson University to successfully navigate budgets issues, COVID-19 mitigation and day-to-day health and safety planning for the university’s campus locations in DeLand, Tampa and Gulfport. Stetson students and parents responded in Fall 2020 with stronger- than-projected enrollment in undergraduate and graduate classes, which has allowed the university to operate at near normal levels.

Roellke has conscientiously built relations with faculty, students and the greater Stetson community by bringing his values of kindness, empathy and agency to the President’s office. He launched a weekly series of webinars to personally address the issues facing Stetson and hosts panel discussions that have featured local physicians and campus health and safety staff talking about COVID-19, and faculty and students tackling issues ranging from race to politics. In December 2020 he hosted six, separate in-person and online commencement ceremonies on the university’s green under strict health and safety guidelines for 2019 and 2020 graduates whose commencement was postponed by the pandemic.

Roellke joined Stetson from Vassar College, where he was Professor of Education and was named Dean of the College Emeritus. As Dean of the College, he was on the President’s Senior Leadership Team and oversaw most aspects of Vassar’s day-to-day life and was known as a dedicated fundraiser. 

He oversaw international partnerships and exchanges, including Vassar's junior year abroad programs in Europe, Russia and Costa Rica. An American Council on Education Fellow, Roellke has also served as a visiting scholar at Yale Law School conducting research on school finance litigation and in Spring of 2014 was a Fulbright Scholar in Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Kyoto, Japan.

He is a past president for the Association of Education Finance and Policy, and the founder and fundraiser of Vassar College’s Urban Education Initiative.

He did his undergraduate work at Wesleyan University in Connecticut and his graduate studies and PhD at Cornell.

Roellke's wife, Kim, is a veterinarian and they have three daughters, Emma, Julia and Olivia. President Roellke and his wife were introduced to the Stetson communities during welcome ceremonies in both DeLand and Gulfport in November of 2019.