Stetson University Elects Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D., Its Next President

Contact Cindi Brownfield
Office of Public Relations & Communications
386-822-7214 or main office 386-822-8920

DeLand, Fla. – The Stetson University Board of Trustees has unanimously elected Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D., president of Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., as its ninth president effective July 1, 2009.

Libby will succeed H. Douglas Lee, Ph.D., who has been Stetson’s president since 1987. Upon his retirement next May 31, Lee will become chancellor of the university, a position equivalent to president emeritus.

“Dr. Libby has an impressive record of leading with a compelling vision centered on fiscal responsibility, strategic planning and excellence both inside and outside the classroom,” said Nestor de Armas, chair of the Stetson University Board of Trustees. “She will be a dynamic, creative and courageous leader for Stetson University as we continue in our second century of academic excellence and transformation.”

Lee said he and First Lady Margaret Lee are pleased with the Board of Trustees’ choice. “We are 100 percent behind and enthusiastic about Wendy’s election as Stetson University’s next president,” he said.

Libby will be the first woman to serve at the helm of Stetson, an independent, private, liberal arts university with strong professional programs in business, music and law at central Florida campuses in DeLand and Gulfport and satellite centers in Celebration and Tampa. Celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, Stetson provides a transformative education that unites academic excellence and values with a passion for social justice.

President-elect Libby was selected from a diverse pool of 75 applicants following a 15-month national search, de Armas said.

“Stetson has a national reputation for providing an excellent, values-based education that prepares students to be engaged citizens of the world, and I am honored to have been selected as its next president,” Libby said. “I share the university’s commitment to academic excellence and transformation and look forward to leading Stetson into a new era of educating students to lead great lives.”

Since 2003, Libby has been president of Stephens College, the nation’s second-oldest women’s institution. She is credited with uniting the campus, alumnae and community in a major strategic planning initiative that resulted in a remarkable turnaround. A multi-million dollar deficit was reduced, undergraduate student enrollment was dramatically increased, and the Graduate & Continuing Studies division was reinvigorated.

Libby has a broad career in higher education and private industry. She served as vice president for business affairs and chief financial officer at Furman University, Greenville, S.C., from 1995 to 2003. She has 28 years of administrative and teaching experience in higher education, at institutions including Westbrook College (now part of the University of New England), the University of Hartford, the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, The Ohio State University and Cornell University.

David Shi, Ph.D., president of Furman University, where Libby served as vice president for business affairs, believes that Stetson and Libby are an ideal fit. “Wendy is energetic, experienced and wise beyond her years,” Shi said. “She will provide great leadership and vision for Stetson. The Board of Trustees made a terrific selection.”

At Stephens, Libby increased full-time undergraduate residential enrollment by 72 percent between 2003 and this fall. She launched a successful fundraising campaign, improved campus facilities and launched an aggressive strategic planning process that united faculty, staff and students and retailored Stephens’ academic programs.

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Libby earned her doctorate in educational administration from the University of Connecticut. Her undergraduate degree, in biology with a concentration in genetics, is from Cornell University. She earned an M.B.A., with a concentration in finance, from Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management.

Libby was a U.S. delegation leader this fall for the college presidents’ visit to Ewha University in Seoul, South Korea. She serves on a variety of boards in the Columbia, Mo., area and is a member of numerous higher education organizations. She was a founding board member and board chair of the Tuition Plan Consortium (the Independent 529 Plan), a national prepaid tuition plan offering American families a flexible and affordable way to save for tuition at the program’s more than 270 private college member institutions.

In honor of her outstanding leadership, Libby received the 2007 Athena Award from the Columbia Chamber of Commerce Women’s Network for her support of women in realizing their full leadership potential and for contributing to the quality of life in the community.

She and her husband, Richard M. Libby, Ph.D., have two sons, Glenn and wife Ginger, and Gregg and wife Lori, four grandchildren and three dogs. An avid reader, she also enjoys cooking and entertaining.

Editor’s Note: Visit for a complete media kit, including Libby’s biography, a high-resolution photo of Libby, a fact sheet about Stetson and its first eight presidents, and a news release with details on Lee’s appointment as chancellor. You can also watch an online video of the event.

For more information, contact Cheryl Downs (direct: 386-822-7213; cell: 386-717-5836) or Cindi Brownfield (direct: 386-822-7214) in the Stetson University Office of Public Relations and Communications (main office number: 386-822-8920).