Stetson University gets $18M gift for science and health education

SMILES ALL AROUND — From left, Stetson University Provost Noel Painter, President Wendy B. Libby, trustees Cici and Hyatt Brown, and board Chair Joe Cooper celebrate an announcement that the Browns had donated $18 million to the university.

SMILES ALL AROUND — From left, Stetson University Provost Noel Painter, President Wendy B. Libby, trustees Cici and Hyatt Brown, and board Chair Joe Cooper celebrate an announcement that the Browns had donated $18 million to the university.

PHOTO COURTESY STETSON UNIVERSITY

A Daytona Beach businessman and his wife have made the largest-ever single donation in Stetson University’s 135-year history to further the school’s mission of science education and research.

“With this gift, the university’s great friends, supporters, and members of our Board of Trustees — Hyatt and Cici Brown — have provided $18 million for the continuing growth and excellence of Stetson science education and research,” Stetson University President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D, said in a news release announcing the donation. “Their generosity will enable Stetson to meet the increasing demand for science and health graduates in high paying jobs, enhance faculty and student research capabilities, and contribute to the economic growth and high quality of life in Central Florida.”

Hyatt Brown is the chairman of the board at Daytona Beach-based Brown & Brown. He and Cici Brown — both longtime Stetson trustees — are well-known for their civic philanthropy in Daytona Beach and at Stetson, the release noted.

The Browns’ gift will be used for the expansion and overall development of the awareness, visibility and stature of Stetson’s science programs, university officials said.

“We are just at the beginning stages of a planning process that involves many steps, but the intent is to build a new facility which, along with Sage Hall, will house science and health science education,” said spokeswoman Janie Graziani. “We believe that this new building will be very close to Sage Hall. The exact location, of course, is one of those many steps to be decided.”

Hyatt Brown called their contribution “an investment,” not a gift. It will help Stetson continue to be one of the leading economic engines of West Volusia, creating jobs through the construction of a new building and in attracting the better-paying jobs that come with an educated workforce.

“It’s really a pleasure for Cici and I to be involved and to be able to participate and be proud of what is happening at Stetson, and so we don’t view this as a contribution. We view this as an investment in the future,” he said.

Hyatt Brown has been a member of the Stetson University board of trustees since 1981 and is currently chair of the board’s finance committee. Cici Brown has been on the board since 1999 and spent 13 years on the College of Arts and Sciences’ Board of Advisors.

“Sciences and health are an area that Hyatt and I have really become focused on for a number of reasons,” Cici Brown said, adding that Stetson can prepare students for careers in science and health care. “We want to be ready. We think Stetson is in an incredible position to make this happen.”

— Joe Crews, joe@beacononlinenews.com

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