Biography of President Christopher F. Roellke

Christopher F. Roellke, PhD, President, Stetson University

Professor of American Studies and Education

Christopher F. Roellke, PhD, is the 10th president of Stetson University, accepting the university’s leadership on July 1, 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 shutdown and pandemic. Long before he was officially in office, he was an active participant in Stetson COVID-19 discussions and is widely credited for instilling three principles in all of Stetson’s actions and decisions; empathy, kindness and shared responsibility.

He led efforts to work with faculty and students to establish priorities for budget reductions in the face of the pandemic, and a net result of that was a better-than-expected Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, putting Stetson in a solid financial situation. Moody’s recently announced the university’s “stable” rating would remain unchanged this year despite the overall impact of COVID-19 on colleges and universities everywhere.

His weekly and monthly webinars, now known by his nickname, “Rolks Report Live,” for students, faculty and staff have been well received and he is credited for maintaining open communications with the university’s community during the past academic year. His monthly newsletter, Rolks Report, provides consistent communication with alumni and friends of the university.

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. He is also known as a dedicated and successful 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 also has served as a visiting scholar at Yale Law School conducting research on school finance litigation.

Roellke is a past president for the Association of Education Finance and Policy, a 2014 Fulbright Scholar, 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 University.

Roellke's wife, Kim, is a veterinarian and they have three daughters, Emma, Julia and Olivia. Emma is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Vassar College and is currently a medical school student at the New York University Long Island School of Medicine. Julia, a graduate of Vassar College,  was an All-Academic Team honoree of the Liberty League for collegiate basketball. Currently, Julia is a science educator and sustainability coordinator at the Dwight School in New York City. Olivia is a senior at Poughkeepsie Day School and is an avid equestrian who competes in the jumper division in regional and national horse shows.