The Year in Review: Forging Ahead with COVID Vaccines and Major Projects in 2021

Female student receives a vaccine
a student gets a COVID-19 vaccine, for 2021 Year in Review
2021: The Year in Review. A student gets a COVID-19 vaccination during an on-campus clinic during the Spring 2021 Semester.

As 2021 began, Stetson University was busy trying to obtain COVID-19 vaccinations for students, faculty and staff. Nine months later, 70% of the campus community was vaccinated.

That effort was a “significant milestone” in the university’s efforts to maintain a healthy campus during the global pandemic, President Christopher F. Roellke, PhD, said in September. In addition, the vaccination rate brought increased freedoms on campus.

As 2021 drew to a close, face coverings were optional on the DeLand campus, except in classrooms and based on occupant preference in individual offices and residential spaces. Less than a handful of active cases of COVID-19 were reported on campus.

What’s more, there were other signs that campus life in 2021 was slowly beginning to return to normal.

Graduates gather on the field for Commencement 2021, for Year in Review
Graduates gather in Spec Martin Memorial Stadium for Commencement in May.

Spring Commencement returned to Spec Martin Memorial Stadium in May, with physical distancing and other safety protocols in place.

President Roellke was finally inaugurated in November as Stetson’s 10th president after 16 months on the job. And the ever-popular Christmas Candlelight concerts returned to historic Lee Chapel for four performances.

Despite the pandemic, Stetson forged ahead with major projects, renovating the Sage Hall Science Center and adding a new suite of labs in time for the Fall 2021 semester. Construction started on the Cici & Hyatt Brown Hall for Health & Innovation. By year’s end, it was taking shape behind the duPont-Ball Library and is set to open next fall.

exterior rendering of new building, for Year in Review for 2021
The Cici & Hyatt Brown Hall for Health & Innovation will open for the Fall 2022 semester.

Stetson also announced a number of significant grants and gifts, including $15 million to provide support for students in the arts and music. School officials said these would greatly expand opportunities for students and transform the university for generations to come.

Further, the school selected its first executive officer for Diversity, Collaboration and Inclusion to lead the university’s initiatives in diversity, equity and inclusion. And Stetson hired its first Latin-American dean of the School of Music.

By the start of winter break in mid-December, the vaccination rate had reached more than 75% of the DeLand campus community, according to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard. Only two positive cases were reported, despite emerging variants of the coronavirus like Omicron and Delta.

In the end, those numbers raised hopes that 2022 may finally bring a Healthy New Year!

Here’s a look back on those top stories and others from Stetson Today:


Centurion Sales Program launches new partnership with NASCAR
Stetson students can gain hands-on experience and a chance at internships, jobs

A professor and a student work in a science lab, for Year in Review for 2021
Michael King, PhD, professor of Biology, works with a student in a lab in the Sage Hall Science Center.

$1M NSF Award Spells STEM Advancement
Stetson receives nearly $1 million from the National Science Foundation for an initiative involving science, technology, engineering and math.

Stetson outlines efforts ‘to move forward toward equity and justice’
The update lists the inclusion work that will take place for the remainder of the academic year

School of Business Administration Named a Best Business School by Princeton Review
2021 list recognizes Stetson’s online MBA

Stetson Law wins Chester Bedell Mock Trial Competition for 25th time
The 3-day competition was held virtually this year


Amid pandemic, Stetson approves lowest tuition increase in 33 years
Board of Trustees recognizes tuition increase for 2021-22 needs to be as low as possible

inmates work in a classroom on assignments
Stetson University’s Community Education Project (CEP) offers high-quality liberal-arts education to incarcerated students.

Seeding Justice: Stetson Receives $359,000 Mellon Foundation Grant For College-In-Prison Program
2-year grant will expand humanities course offerings at Daytona Beach prison


Stetson Named A Leading University in Elementary Education
Stetson’s teacher program ranks in top 5% nationally for admission standards and diversity

Hatterthon Attracts Record-Setting Philanthropy
Amid the pandemic, the student-led event raises a record amount for an Orlando children’s hospital

portrait at a piano.
Washington García, DMA

Stetson Selects Pianist Washington García as First Latin-American Dean of the School of Music
García, founding director of the University of Nebraska Omaha’s School of Music, will join Stetson on July 12

Stetson’s RGIP Teams Place 1st and 3rd in CFA Institute Research Challenge
Two student teams competed against 13 colleges and universities in the state competition


Shot in the Arm for Health: Stetson hosts on-campus vaccinations
200 appointments available for students, faculty, staff and Chartwells Stetson employees age 18 and up to receive Moderna vaccine

portrait of Ray Nault
Ray Nault, EdD

Stetson Selects Ray Nault as New Vice President of Enrollment Management
Nault will take Stetson to its next level of success

Students Organize Vigil To Honor George Floyd, Advocate For Change
At Vigil 4 Floyd on April 21, speakers say the verdict is only the beginning of needed change

Students stand holding cellphones with the flashlights on, for Year in Review 2021
The Year in Review for 2021: Students gather for a vigil to honor the life of George Floyd.

Steven and Donna Overly establish Scholarship Program at Stetson Law with $10 million planned gift
Competitive scholarship program will provide 10 annual full-tuition scholarships


Stetson Master of Accountancy Online Program Ranks in Top 50 Nationally’s 2021 list named Stetson as one of the leading universities in Florida

Nearly 700 Stetson Students Graduate during Weekend Commencement Ceremonies
See photo galleries from the Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement ceremonies

Stetson Board of Trustees Approves 2021-2022 Budget
Stetson begins renovation of Sage Hall Science Center and will break ground in June on Cici & Hyatt Brown Hall for Health & Innovation

Stetson College of Law named 2021 ABA Competitions Champion
Stetson breaks Texas Tech University School of Law’s two-year reign to regain the crown


Brian Young

Brian Young Selected As Stetson Football Coach
Former defensive coordinator for the Hatters becomes the university’s 10th head football coach

Senior Leadership Transitions for Campus Life and Student Success
Lua Hancock, EdD, steps down as vice president; co-interim vice presidents named to replace her

‘A Big, Big Deal’: Breaking Ground On The Cici & Hyatt Brown Hall For Health & Innovation
The building is scheduled for completion by the Fall 2022 Semester

Stetson officials use shovels to move dirt at groundbreaking for Brown Hall, for Year in Review 2021
From left, President Christopher F. Roellke, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Elizabeth Skomp, President Emerita Wendy B. Libby, and Stetson Trustees Hyatt and Cici Brown mark the official start of construction of the Cici & Hyatt Brown Hall for Health & Innovation.

Fulbright Student Success: Three for Three
Three former students receive Fulbright scholarships to research, study and teach abroad

T. Wayne Bailey, PhD

Stetson Mourns Passing of T. Wayne Bailey, PhD
“A champion for generations of Stetson students”


Stetson Receives $4.66M In Federal COVID-19 Relief To Help Students
The university also receives $4.659M to help cover pandemic-related expenses

Stetson University Offers Free Tuition Award To Students To Promote Vaccination Ahead Of Fall Semester
Other incentives include $1,000, theme park tickets, free parking

Portrait of Krista Bofill
Krista Bofill

Krista Bofill Named New VP For Development And Alumni Engagement
Bofill brings more than 25 years of successful and progressive leadership experience. Her appointment begins on Aug. 1


Stetson Awards Free Tuition To 2 Vaccinated Hatters
Two runners-up receive $1,000 and theme park tickets in the final drawing for Safer Stetson Awards

Stetson Requires Faculty, Staff To Get COVID-19 Vaccines
University outlines health and safety measures as students return for fall classes

portrait outside
Carmen Johnson, JD

Stetson Announces New Executive Officer For Diversity, Inclusion
Carmen Johnson, JD, will promote diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, both in DeLand and at the College of Law


The Princeton Review Names Stetson One Of Best 387 Colleges In The U.S.
Only 14% of U.S. colleges are featured in the book

Stetson Ranked No. 5 By U.S. News & World Report
Stetson in top 25 for Best Value, and College for Veterans, Social Mobility and Undergraduate Teaching

Assistant Biology Professor Lynn Kee, PhD, talks about Stetson's inverted fluorescent microscope system, for Year in Review for 2021
Assistant Biology Professor Lynn Kee, PhD, talks about Stetson’s inverted fluorescent microscope system in one of the new labs in Sage Hall.

Renovated Sage Hall: Expanding Opportunities For Student And Faculty Research
Renovated Sage Hall offers two new microscopy labs and two new tissue-culture labs for student and faculty research


Stetson College Of Law Receives 2021 Higher Education Excellence In Diversity Award
The national honor recognizes U.S. colleges that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion

Counselor Education Faculty Receive Two Grants Totaling $2.8 Million
The grant funds are the largest combined amount awarded to a department in Stetson’s history

Values Day Speaker: America’s Caste System Foments Today’s Political Divisions
Keynote address by bestselling author Isabel Wilkerson tops off busy day of activities for Values Day 2021

President Outlines Commitments After Campus Climate Survey Report
President Roellke outlines next steps during first Campus Climate Open Forum

Christopher Roellke speaks at his Inauguration, for Year in Review for 2021
President Christopher F. Roellke speaks at his inauguration in November.


Stetson Inaugurates Its 10th President
Roellke says Stetson will continue to provide an “extraordinary education” to students and challenge them to be the best that they can be

Former U.S. Senator And Vietnam War Veteran Max Cleland ’64 Passes Away
One of Stetson’s most beloved alumni passes away at age 79

Stetson Gets $15M For Scholarships For Students In The Arts, Music
The bequest from Antoinette “Toni” LaValle is the second-largest single gift in the university’s history

portrait with flag in background
Max Cleland, ’64


Stetson Law To Establish The Dick And Joan Jacobs Public Interest Law Clinic
The Jacobs have contributed $1 million and committed to raise additional funds

Face Mask Policy, The Omicron Variant And Spring 2022 Gateway Testing
Effective Monday, Dec. 6, face coverings are optional, except in classrooms and based on occupant preference in individual offices or residential spaces

-Cory Lancaster and Michael Candelaria