Worth the Wait

On a sunny winter day, Stetson President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D., stood on the steps of the Carlton Union Building and said she had waited a long time for this day.

Stetson President Wendy B. Libby cuts the ribbon at a Dedication Ceremony for the renovated Carlton Union Building on the historic DeLand campus on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019.

“I think my husband Richard and I have been waiting for this day since Sept. 14, 2008, when we first saw this building on a Friday night at 7 o’clock,” she told a crowd of local dignitaries, university Trustees, benefactors, alumni, students, faculty and staff.

“There were no students in it because there were no services and everything looked really tired and the bathroom fan hadn’t worked for 20 years,” she said to laughter. “And we looked at each other and we said, ‘We know how to fix this.’ And so, what a treat – what a real treat — to be here for this ribbon-cutting.”  

A decade after she was named Stetson’s new president and two years after its renovations began, the CUB has been transformed, she said, thanking all involved for their hard work and support.

She and others spoke Friday, Jan. 18, at the Dedication and Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony for the building named in honor of former Florida Gov. Doyle Carlton Sr., Class of 1909, and a longtime Stetson trustee.

The CUB, built in 1957, now becomes the heart of campus with a new Commons dining room and kitchen, Coffee Shop, Bookstore, student offices and meeting spaces, WHAT Radio station, Stetson Room, Faculty-Staff Lounge and patio seating outdoors, they said.

The new amenities and expansion will better serve the needs of Stetson’s student body, which has grown from 2,100 to more than 3,000 undergraduate students in recent years.

Bob Lipscomb, CEO of general contractor Williams Co., said workers literally rebuilt the building from the inside. Along the way, they added about 40,000 square feet of space and managed to complete the work while the building remained in use.

A crowd gathers for the Ribbon-cutting and Dedication Ceremony of the Carlton Union Building on Friday.

“The building you see before you, which was built in the 1950s, has beautiful bones, very strong bones, and that’s about all she has left from 60 years later,” he told the crowd. “She now has a new roof, new windows, new electrical system, a new air-conditioning system, a new bookstore, new bathrooms, new backup generator and, of course, a beautiful new kitchen and cafeteria.”

Still to come are a new water feature and landscaping to the east of the Commons Dining Room, visible through its two-story wall of glass. The water feature will have 42 water jets and LED lights.

Danny Mejia ’19, president of the Student Government Association, called the CUB a “precious and historical landmark” for the Stetson Community and said its renovation is “one of the greatest ways that we can honor the student body.”

“As a student, I can now say that we have a central location that has it all,” Mejia said. “And we, the students, can proudly say that this is our student union.”