5 Minutes with … Jeff Altier
Tell us about your job at Stetson?
I have been honored to be the Director of Athletics since 1996. It’s a job that I’ve absolutely loved since I started. And the job has evolved over the years. Actually, when President, Dr. Wendy Libby, came on board, it took a dramatic swing in what role it had at the institution. She put me on her Cabinet, which changed the job from being what I can do for athletics to what I could do for the University through athletics. One of the things I loved about Dr. Libby coming on board was she embraced athletics as what I’ve always seen it as — and what a lot of people have always seen it as — one of the strongest marketing arms for the institution, the rallying point for the community, students, faculty and staff. It becomes an asset for the institution if used properly — to market, to promote, to get students and to impact the University. That’s what happened when she came on board and that was a change in our culture. Athletics had always been valued but not in the same way – not as a tool that could help us advance strategically.
In that seven years, she has exhausted me, almost completely, but I’ve never been as professionally rewarded. As athletic director, I work with 75 full-time staff, a host of part-time event staff and over 430 student-athletes on 18 teams. In my tenure at the institution, we have never been in a more sound position — the campus is vibrant, beautiful; the athletic facilities, exceptional (except for the Edmunds Center, and fundraising is underway for a renovation), and the academic environment appropriately challenging. We have a vibrant, thriving community and my job has allowed me to impact this community in a positive way.
How long have you worked here?
From 1980 to 1982, I was a student and played on the baseball team. My first employment with the University came in the summer of 1982. I was a lifeguard at the Stetson pool, which at that time had no water, so my job was to protect people from jumping into the pool with no water.
I had just gotten married, and my wife and I took a two-year honeymoon to Australia. It wasn’t really a honeymoon. I was going there as a working player-coach on a beginning professional baseball team, but as it turned out, it felt like a two-year honeymoon. I came back to Stetson in 1984-85 to finish my degree. At that time, I volunteered for the baseball team and worked on the paint crew whenever my schedule allowed. In 1985, I became the graduate assistant baseball coach, and then in 1987, I created my first full-time job, as an assistant baseball coach.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned while working at Stetson?
When you think about Stetson, you think about the buildings and the property. It has never looked better than it does right now, not in my time here. But the thing that I’ve learned is it’s the people – it’s not the facilities that make this Stetson. It’s the people who give us the entire character of the institution and the fact that we embrace the new and honor the past is symbolic in the new Marshall & Vera Lea Rinker Welcome Center, in that you have the red brick, which you find across the campus, but you also have the glass, which gives it a modern, fresh, natural appeal. I’ve learned it’s the people – the students, the alumni, the faculty, the staff, the coaches — who bring this campus to life.
When people ask you about Stetson, what do you say?
You can’t duplicate this experience in any institution in the country, where you have this beautiful campus. It’s in the heart of Florida, which is unique in itself. For the majority of people and students whom I deal with, they accept the challenge of competing at the highest level of college athletics, while doing so in a classroom that is academically challenging and competitive.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Travel – I am passionate about traveling and especially like remote locations. I, along with my wife Dr. Sarah Altier, also a Stetson dual grad, have visited 52 countries with my favorites being Namibia and Mongolia.
I am also passionate about Ping pong.
Education: B.A., M.Ed., Stetson University
Hometown: Sarasota; born in Jamestown, New York
Family: Wife Dr. Sarah Altier (B.A., M.Ed., Stetson), son, Heath Altier (M.B.A., Stetson), daughter Brianne (Altier) Ard (B.A., M.A., Tulane University), and son Garrett Altier (B.A., Auburn University).