Stetson University President H. Douglas Lee announces retirement plans

Contact Cheryl Downs or Cindi Brownfield
Office of Public Relations and Communications, Stetson University DeLand
386-822-7213 or 386-822-7214

DeLand, Fla. – Stetson University President H. Douglas Lee, whose visionary leadership over nearly two decades strengthened academic quality and transformed Stetson into a more diverse and socially responsible institution, will retire in May 2009.

Dr. Lee’s retirement will coincide with Stetson’s 125th anniversary in the 2008-09 academic year. Upon his retirement, he will become chancellor of the university, a position equivalent to president emeritus. Lee will be just the third chancellor in Stetson’s history.

“When Margaret and I moved to DeLand and Stetson, we did not know we were making a lifelong career commitment,” Lee said. “We were inspired by and fell in love with the people of Stetson and the community. We have enjoyed every minute of our work and life here.”

“My personal goal has always been to help create a model university for the 21st century committed to academic excellence, the integration of values into the teaching-learning process, and active forms of social responsibility,” Lee said. “This goal has become a reality through the joint commitment of all members of the Stetson community. It has been a privilege and honor for my wife, my family and me to be a part of Stetson and the DeLand community transformation.”

The Stetson University Board of Trustees has initiated the process to prepare for a national search for Lee’s successor. On Friday, the Board of Trustees selected Board Chairman Nestor de Armas to lead a search committee.

“Over the past 20 years, Dr. Lee has courageously led the university through a transformation to a more diverse and socially responsible institution, while also focusing on academic excellence,” de Armas said. “The board is looking forward to working closely with the rest of the university community as we attract and hire the right person to lead Stetson to build on its current academic excellence and to have that excellence nationally recognized.”

A Trustee Presidential Succession Task Force, chaired by Trustee David Rinker, has already conducted focus groups with faculty, students, staff, alumni, trustees and members of Stetson advisory boards to get input on the key strengths and characteristics desired in the next president.

The task force will finalize the presidential search profile this spring and appoint the search committee to be led by de Armas by August 2007. The search committee will lead the national search during 2008. The Board of Trustees expects to hire a new president in early 2009 and have the person on-board by around June 2009, de Armas said.

Dr. Lee, 63, has served as president of Stetson since June 1987, when he was promoted from his previous position as executive vice president at the university. Lee and his wife, First Lady Margaret Lee, have been heavily involved in Volusia County civic affairs over the years. They have purchased a home and plan to live in DeLand.

During Lee’s presidency, Stetson has improved its academic quality, increased its endowment fund from $26 million to $124 million, completed many capital projects, added Stetson centers in Tampa Bay and Celebration, and undergone a cultural transformation built on an institution-wide commitment to seven core values: religious and spiritual life, ethical decision-making, diversity, gender equity, environmental responsibility, community service, and health and wellness.

“In addition to improving academic quality, campus facilities and the university’s financial health, Dr. Lee has cultivated numerous major gifts and improved the quality of our board,” de Armas said. “Most importantly, from my viewpoint, Dr. Lee’s commitment to the vision of educating good people to lead great lives in the context of Stetson’s Christian heritage has been profound. His rich legacy will influence the university for decades after he retires.”

Founded in 1883, Stetson University in Central Florida is a private, liberal arts university that consistently earns high rankings in national college guides. The university’s College of Arts & Sciences, School of Business Administration and School of Music are housed on the historic main campus in DeLand. The university system also includes the Stetson University Center at Celebration, and two Stetson College of Law campuses in Tampa Bay.

For more information, visit
or call (386) 822-8920.