President Libby: Stetson Will Sign Diversity Pledge

Stetson University will become one of a handful of universities in the country to sign the CEO Action Pledge to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace, reinforcing its commitment to “become a better place to learn and work,” President Wendy B. Libby said Wednesday.

Speaking at the Opening Faculty and Staff Meeting the day before classes start for all students on the DeLand campus, Libby said she will join with companies like Duke Energy, Pfizer, American Express and General Mills, which have signed the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion.

Stetson President Wendy Libby on stage at the lecturn
Stetson University President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D., speaks at the Opening Faculty and Staff Meeting on Wednesday morning, Aug. 23.

Ten universities have taken the pledge so far, including Villanova University and Miami University (Ohio), according to the website.

Watch Libby’s speech on Stetson Broadcast Productions.

“I have an important and special announcement to make to you today to further signal to you, and to those outside our institution, our ongoing and public commitment to diversity and inclusion,” said Libby, Ph.D., a week and a half after a violent rally by Neo-Nazis and white supremacists at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

“This morning, I’m announcing that Stetson University intends to sign the CEO Action Pledge, being one of the first universities in the country to do so and joining hundreds of national and international companies.”

Stetson has a foundational goal to “Be a Diverse Community of Inclusive Excellence,” Libby said, and she outlined “markers of progress” in the past year.

An additional staff person was hired for the student Diversity and Inclusion department, as well as a full-time investigator to look into reports or violations of Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in education.

Two of four new Board of Trustee members are diverse; and a Bias Education and Response Team, BERT, is being created to provide education, support and resolution of bias-related events on campus. More information on BERT will be coming soon.

Stetson Executive Vice President and Provost Noel Painter on stage at lecturn
Stetson Executive Vice President and Provost Noel Painter, Ph.D., addresses the crowd on Wednesday.

“Let this goal be unambiguous,” Libby told the crowd gathered in the Edmunds Center. “We must become a better place to learn and work, to develop a more positive campus community, to be a university where sexual assault and harassment are rooted out, where we treat each other with respect, and where everyone belongs and hate has no place.”

New Faculty and Programs

Stetson Executive Vice President and Provost Noel Painter, Ph.D., said the university will start the 2017-2018 academic year with 32 new full-time faculty members and new adjunct faculty in many areas.

“The university continues to develop through a growing faculty body that this year, perhaps more than any other that I’ve previously been aware, represents a learning environment with a strong international perspective,” Painter said. “Our cohort of new faculty together represent North American, South American, African, European and Asian cultures, languages and thought perspectives.”

Stetson’s approximately 3,000 undergraduate students will find a number of improvements to the learning and teaching environment on campus that occurred over the summer. The Centurion Sales Lab in the Lynn Business Center has six state-of-the-art recording labs to help students work on sales techniques, as well as a large group recording room. The School of Music upgraded and refurbished students practice rooms on the third floor of Presser Hall.

About 15 classrooms in Sampson and Flagler halls were outfitted with new computers, large-screen TVs, document cameras and other equipment. And new programs include Adult Degree Completion and two international partnership agreements that Painter said he signed just last week with the University of Montreal and the University of Granada in Spain.

The days leading up to the start of classes each fall are filled with events for students, faculty and staff. First-year students take a five-day orientation, called FOCUS, and on Tuesday night, participated in the Pass through the Gate candlelight walk as they were welcomed as Hatters.

On Wednesday evening, students, faculty and staff will attend Convocation, marking the official start of the 2017-2018 academic year.

-Cory Lancaster

Students walking by Stetson gates holding candles
First-year students “Pass through the Gate” at Stetson University in DeLand on Tuesday night, Aug. 22, and are greeted by President Wendy B. Libby and Executive Vice President and Provost Noel Painter. Photo by Tove Strand/Stetson.