‘Front and Center’: New Board of Trustees Chair to Put Students First

Steven Alexander, chair, Stetson University Board of Trustees

Steven Alexander has a long history of achievement in the corporate world — 35 years of business success after obtaining a 1985 finance degree from Stetson University. 

Alexander started out with the Orange County Comptroller’s Office in nearby Orlando and ended his career in 2022 as managing director/partner of PFM Asset Management LLC, a firm specializing in investment advisory services for local governments, pension funds, higher education, healthcare and nonprofits across the nation.

All during that time, he also was an active leader in numerous professional organizations and was a stalwart community champion. 

Now, in “retirement,” Alexander is eagerly in charge and squarely engaged in one final mission: to further elevate his alma mater to even greater heights.

“I’m fully committed to Stetson,” asserts Alexander, who has been on the university’s Board of Trustees since 2012. “I’m totally focused on Stetson — committed to making the next three years the best possible three years for Stetson.”

Stetson President Christopher F. Roellke, PhD, affirms that resolve with this simple description: “He’s all in!”

Notably, the lone exception to that full Stetson throttle is AdventHealth — a close and especially important partner of the university on multiple fronts.

And, while the university is at the center of Alexander’s attention, its students are at the very core. His words: “My focus is really about the student success and student experience.”

The Student Experience

To begin, following extensive conversations since July with administrators, senior staffers and, most of all, students, Alexander has worked to streamline and realign board committees. The sole purpose, he cites, is to ensure that the “student experience is really front and center.” 

“We realigned so that we really concentrate on the student in totality, in a 360-[degree] view, so that we see all aspects of the students and get to understand them — to make the student experience better and better,” he emphasizes.

More specifically, as part of committee realignment, a student success committee has been created to encompass all aspects that affect students both in the classroom and on/off campus. “I look at it as if you had a conference room, and you put a student in the very middle of that room. Whatever affects that student is going to be discussed and evaluated within that committee,” Alexander explains.

By contrast, there will no longer be separate committees for such areas as academics, student affairs and athletics. “At the end of the day, does the student care about those various different topics and silos? What they care about is what affects them on campus,” he continues. 

‘Chairman’s Committee’ of Students

In addition, Alexander is creating his own “chairman’s committee” of students, which will even participate in board meetings. Already, there are at least 12 students who have indicated an interest in joining that advisory group. “They [the students] are going to help me understand the student experience from the student’s perspective as opposed to other perspectives,” Alexander says. “I want to hear right from them firsthand. So, we’re going to open the ‘windows and doors’ to get a better understanding.”

There are plenty of other items on his agenda, of course, not the least of which are the university’s financial health, a master plan for facilities enhancement and an overview of university’s marketing/enrollment strategies. 

Yet, Alexander’s Stetson priority is clear going into the future.

“We want to see all aspects of the student,” he concludes, “and get to better understand them.”

-Michael Candelaria