498. Stetson University mourns passing of retired President H. Douglas Lee in 2009

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Photo for Headline Surfer / Retired Stetson University President H. Douglas Lee President is shown at left in this undated photo announcing his passing on Aug. 29, 2009.

DELAND -- The Stetson University community in August 2009, mourned the passing of Dr. H. Douglas Lee, of DeLand, who had just retired after 22 years as president of Stetson University.

Lee died during the early morning hours of Aug. 29, 2009, at Florida Hospital-DeLand of complications following surgery. He was 66.

The milestone comes in at No. 498 in Headline Surfer's countdown of the Top 500 Stories as part of its 5th anniversary.

The following was written by Stetson University about Lee's passing:

A native of Danville, Va., Dr. Lee served as president of Stetson from June 1987 to May 31, 2009. He became chancellor – a position equivalent to president emeritus – upon his retirement. Before serving as president of Stetson, he served as the university’s executive vice president from 1983 to 1987, as vice president for Planning and Development from 1980 to 1983, and as vice president for Development from 1978 to 1980.
His visionary leadership strengthened academic quality and transformed Stetson into a more diverse and socially responsible institution. He led Stetson through her separation from the Southern Baptist Convention in the 1990s, moving Stetson forward into the 21st century as an internationally respected university.
“This is a huge loss to Stetson and the larger community, and our hearts go out to Margaret and the rest of his family,” said Nestor de Armas, chair of the Stetson Board of Trustees and a university alumnus. “Doug was a man of integrity who dedicated the last 30 years of his life to Stetson. Under his leadership, we distinguished ourselves by rolling up our sleeves and doing the work of faith without letting theology get in the way.
Stetson University President Wendy B. Libby added, “I will miss Doug’s wisdom and his enlightened world view, his passion for servant leadership and his fierce commitment to social justice. Stetson University has been greatly blessed by having this giant at her helm for so many years. Together, with Margaret at his side, Doug transformed every person and institution he touched. I am humbled to follow in his path.”
Dr. Lee’s presidency focused on a commitment to academic excellence, the integration of values into the teaching-learning process and active forms of social responsibility. Under his exceptional leadership, Stetson remained true to her 125-year heritage.
During his 22 years at the helm, Stetson hired more faculty and lowered the student-faculty ratio to 11 to 1, significantly increased the university’s overall endowment, completed numerous major capital projects, added satellite centers in Tampa Bay and Celebration, and boosted enrollment. The university underwent a cultural renewal built on an institution-wide commitment to seven core values: religious and spiritual life, ethical decision-making, diversity, gender equity, environmental responsibility, community engagement, and health and wellness.
In December 2008, the university named historic Elizabeth Hall chapel the Lee Chapel in his honor. During Homecoming 2009, Doug and his wife, Margaret Easley Lee, received Stetson’s Distinguished Service Award in recognition of their many contributions to the university. They also were recipients of the first George and Mary Hood Award, which honors those who personify the university’s core values.
Dr. Lee was well-known and respected as a leader in higher education and, with his wife, as an active member of First Baptist Church of DeLand and as a supporter of the arts and charitable causes in DeLand, Volusia County, Florida, the Southeast and beyond. Among their favorite causes were the Cultural Arts Center of DeLand, the Spring Hill community, the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Florida Museum for Women Artists.
Recognized for his passionate commitment to the community and social justice, Dr. Lee was presented the NAACP West Volusia Branch Humanitarian of the Year Award and the B’nai B’rith Citizen of the Year Award, both in 1998. Under his leadership in environmental responsibility, Stetson earned the Year 2000 Sustainable Florida Award for Initiative presented by the Governor’s Council for Sustainable Florida. In 2008, Stetson University and Dr. Lee, specifically, were awarded the first Historic Preservationist of the Year Award by the West Volusia Historical Society. He also was a leader in the evolution of the Volusia County ECHO Initiative.
Along with the many awards each has received as individuals, the Lees together were named Volusia County Citizens of the Year in 2006 and received the 2008 Spring Hill Neighborhood Association Exceptional Community Partner Award. In 2008, the Lees were recipients of the Volusia County Cultural Alliance (VCCA) Second Annual Tippen Davidson Award, presented to those who have made significant contributions to the arts.
Dr. Lee earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Richmond, along with Bachelor of Divinity and Master of Theology degrees from Southeastern Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C. He earned a doctorate in Religion from the University of Iowa, Iowa City.
In addition to Margaret, his wife of 44 years, Dr. Lee is survived by a son, Gregory Lee and wife Lara, Orlando; a daughter, Elizabeth Lee Williamson and husband Heath, Cary, N.C.; grandsons, Parker Lee, Grayson Lee and Ayers Williamson; granddaughters, Maggie Williamson and Piper Williamson; father, Dr. Howard Lee, Danville, Va.; brother, David Lee and wife Ethel and their children and grandchildren, Richmond, Va.; sister-in-law, Sarah Easley Drummond and her children and grandchildren, Richmond, Va.; and brother-in-law, Charles Easley III and wife Claudia and their children, Danville, Va. 
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Award-winning Headline Surfer Editor/Publisher Henry Frederick is counting down his ranking of the Top 500 Stories throughout Volusia County, as part of the fifth anniversary celebration of the 24/7 Internet newspaper launched April 7, 2008. 

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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.