Trustee honors Stetson with original sculpture

At the recent Stetson University 1883 Society dinner, the 200 donors in attendance gathered after dinner in historic Elizabeth Hall for the unveiling of a sculpture titled “Shalom,” mounted near the entrance to Lee Chapel.

“Shalom” is the latest wood sculpture that Stetson Trustee Emeritus Mark C. Hollis, a 1956 Stetson alumnus and resident of Lakeland, Fla., created in his studio in North Carolina. Known best for his years of service as president and chief operating officer of Publix Super Markets, from which he is retired, Hollis now enjoys creative projects such as woodworking. He also serves as president and CEO of Hollis & Sons Inc., a business consulting company.

Hollis sculpted the art piece for the chapel in memory of his dear friend, Dr. H. Douglas Lee, who retired as Stetson president in May 2009 and died unexpectedly three months later. Hollis decided to name the tribute sculpture “Shalom” after reading a chapter of Rabbi Harold Kushner’s book, “Living a Life that Matters” entitled, “SHALOM: The Quest for Integrity.” He said that the connection between the concepts “shalom” and “integrity” made a lasting impression on him. Integrity, he explained, is defined as “being whole, unbroken, undivided, one who has united (integrated) the different parts of her or his personality so there is no longer a split in the soul.”

Also at the annual event for donors, Hollis and his wife, Lynn Hollis, were honored with one of the university’s most prestigious awards, the George and Mary Hood Award. The award, presented by Stetson President Dr. Wendy B. Libby, is named in honor of Dr. George Hood, former dean of students, professor and director of the Counseling Center, and his late wife Mary Turner Hood, longtime assistant to President and Chancellor J. Ollie Edmunds, in recognition of their commitment and contributions to Stetson and its core values.

“Your outstanding support of innovative approaches to teaching and learning has impacted countless students, faculty and surrounding communities,” Libby told the Hollises. “You are treasured colleagues who have brought distinction and special recognition toStetson University.”

The Hollis family’s long ties with Stetson began with Mark Hollis’s parents, the late William M. and Nina B. Hollis, who were generous supporters. The Hollis family is the largest donor family in the university’s history.

There are many facilities named for the Hollises at the DeLand campus. Mark and Lynn Hollis established the Hollis Renaissance Program and the Nina B. Hollis Institute for Educational Reform and made the lead gift to build the Hollis Center health and wellness facility on the DeLand campus. Their philanthropy has endowed both student scholarships and faculty initiatives. In 2009 they created the Lynn and Mark Hollis Health and Wellness Chair for faculty, now occupied by Dr. Michele Skelton, associate professor and chair of integrative health science. Dean Hollis, a 1982 alumnus and son of Mark and Lynn Hollis, also currently serves on Stetson’s Board of Trustees.