The road that led Pete Biscardi ’70 to Saint Leo was similar to many. He wanted to go to a college in Florida, he loved sports, and most importantly, he had untapped potential just waiting to be unlocked.
Originally from Haledon, NJ, Biscardi was delighted to join many other students who also traveled from the Northeast to attend the university. Because of the remote location of the campus, Biscardi’s experience was made memorable by the relationships he developed with his classmates and professors. He also enjoyed playing intramural sports in the Bowl.
Biscardi recalls how one of his professors, Dr. James Horgan, inspired students to overachieve and to appreciate the unique opportunities and talents of individuals.
“Dr. Horgan valued the underdog—that was something many of us students could relate to,” Biscardi said.
Reflecting on how Saint Leo’s values have remained consistent since he was a student, Biscardi said, “When I walk around the campus today—the same campus where my journey began more than 50 years ago— I still see those values in action.”
The values Biscardi learned during his time in college stayed with him through his professional career. After graduating from Saint Leo College in 1970, Biscardi worked for Hertz Corp. for 16 years. He would later go on to serve as the president of National Auto Care (NAC) Corporation for more than 20 years.
“I hired the person, not the résumé,” Biscardi said when asked about how Saint Leo’s values carried with him after college. “I looked beyond the surface to find the best in people—the hidden gems.”
Now, Biscardi dedicates his time and talent to Saint Leo University as a member of the board of trustees. He believes that his life was made better by his experience at Saint Leo, and now as an alumnus, he recognizes an obligation to give back and invest in student-focused programs and athletic initiatives.
“I choose to give back to those who gave to me,” he said. “Saint Leo gave me an opportunity, and I am fortunate enough to continue that mission by giving opportunities to others.”
You, too, can be like Pete Bicardi and give back to Saint Leo University by investing in programs that matter to you.
To learn more about how you can support the next generation of leaders, thinkers, and doers, contact our Development Office by email at email@example.com or by phone at (352) 588-8450.
From serving as the CEO of her family business to leading philanthropic efforts, Trustee Emerita Virginia “Ginger” Judge attributes much of her success to taking bold action and saying “yes” in times when others have said “no.”
“In business, you don’t get what you deserve—you get what you negotiate,” Ginger said.
Saint Leo has an important place in Ginger’s heart because of her familial connection to the university. Her son, Timothy ’77; daughter-in-law, Kathleen ’79; and grandson, Christopher ’15 are all graduates of Saint Leo.
Ginger and her late husband, Dan, provided a combined 20 years of distinguished leadership as members of Saint Leo’s Board of Trustees.
Before serving as a trustee, Ginger demonstrated her ability to lead at the family-owned and -operated Honeycomb Company of America, where she was the go-to person for many projects.
Honeycomb specialized in the manufacturing of replacement aircraft parts for the U.S. Air Force. The business relocated from Bridgeport, CT, to Sarasota, FL, in 1964. Ginger was actively involved in the company, serving as office manager, purchasing agent, contracts administrator, and senior vice president. Having earned the respect and trust of the employees, she took over as Honeycomb’s president and CEO after Daniel’s passing in 2005.
When asked about how she came into a leadership role in the company early on, Ginger said, “I offered to help.” Those four simple words embody Ginger’s ethos, demonstrating her willingness to offer her time, talent, and treasure in service of others.
Ginger also demonstrated the Saint Leo value of integrity throughout her career. Her commitment to delivering quality products remained steadfast throughout her 49 years of business ownership.
“If it wasn’t right, it wouldn’t go,” Ginger said, emphasizing the importance of doing what was right for servicemembers, whose lives depended on the structural integrity of the parts.
Ginger recalled a time where she packed an airplane part in the trunk of a Lincoln and drove to Warner Robins Air Force Base in Georgia. She knew that if she did not get it there, the plane could not get off the ground. Ginger understood how important those hours were to the servicemembers, so she did what she knew had to be done.
While she has many fond memories of the people she worked with, there were many challenges that came with working as a government contractor for the U.S. Air Force.
“Some days were bad; some days were great. You just keep going,” Ginger said.
While Ginger retired and sold her business in 2014, her words on leading in business through good times and bad are still relevant to many challenges we face today.
As COVID-19 continues to have an unprecedented impact on public health and on the financial situations of so many across the globe, Ginger has continued to step up and act.
When the Lions Together Fund was established to support the needs of both students and staff who faced serious financial hardship due to the effects of the pandemic, Ginger was one of the selfless individuals who made a generous investment to the fund. This was not out of character for her, as she has dedicated much of her time, talent, and treasure to giving back to those most disadvantaged.
Part of what makes Ginger such a distinctive charitable donor is her unassuming disposition.
“It doesn’t have to be a lot of money,” Ginger stated, as she discussed the importance of encouraging others to do what they can to support the university’s mission.
To inspire generosity from others within the Saint Leo community, Ginger raised a matching gift challenge during A Day for Saint Leo. Her advocacy was a significant factor in the success of this record-breaking day, during which the university raised more than $160,000 from 600 individual donors.
Ginger’s sentiment on giving speaks to the tremendous satisfaction she and other donors like her derive from establishing a legacy of charitable support by making a gift to an organization close to their hearts.
Recognizing the importance of supporting students not just today, but tomorrow, Ginger has made a commitment to join the James J. Horgan Heritage Society. The society honors alumni, parents, and friends who have provided a visionary gift for tomorrow’s generation by including Saint Leo University in their estate plans.
Ginger understands that for many students, a college degree opens doors to opportunities in life that may have seemed beyond reach.
“It gives the youth a shot at doing well,” Ginger answered when asked about what motivated her to make a legacy gift. “They’ve got to have a shot.”
Join the James J. Horgan Heritage Society
Our community is grateful for trailblazers like Ginger, who demonstrate their belief in what matters most: faith, family, and community. If you would like to join Ginger in becoming a member of the James J. Horgan Heritage Society, please contact Associate Vice President of Advancement Stephen Kubasek at (352) 588-8355 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saint Leo alumnus, former board chair, and philanthropist Donald R. Tapia ’05 ’07 was sworn in as U.S. ambassador to Jamaica in August after being confirmed by a Senate vote in July.
As ambassador, he will represent the president in an official capacity and work on efforts to protect and promote national interests and maintain diplomacy.
“This is a remarkable opportunity that will have national and international impact,” said Saint Leo University President Jeffrey Senese. “I am incredibly excited for Don and the great work that he will do to serve our country in this position.”
Tapia was the chairman and CEO of Essco Group Management, which grew to become the largest Hispanic-owned business in Arizona. In 2010, he retired from the company to devote his time to philanthropy.
It was nearly 17 years ago that Tapia made the decision to pursue a college degree after being inspired by his grandchildren. In just 32 months, he completed his undergraduate degree in business administration from Saint Leo’s Center for Online Learning, while at the same time managing his multimillion dollar company in Chandler, AZ.
Tapia was deeply impressed when he visited Saint Leo’s main campus for the first time in 2005 to attend his commencement ceremony, and his relationship with Saint Leo strengthened. He joined the board of trustees in 2006, and earned his Master of Business Administration degree from Saint Leo, also online, in 2007. In 2011, he was named chair of Saint Leo’s Board of Trustees.
His generous gift of $4 million to Saint Leo was announced in 2010 and is the largest donation in the university’s history to date. The gift supported the construction of what today is the Tapia College of Business building.
In 2014, the university awarded Tapia with the degree Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, for his dedication to the university and for his great vision and sound advice.
Saint Leo University has been involved with the Caps of Love project for three years, collecting plastic bottle caps with the proceeds from recycling going toward purchasing wheelchairs for children with mobility issues. In March, the university shipped about 15,000 pounds of bottle caps for recycling. With the value of plastic caps declining due to a low petroleum market, the university will be participating in a new charitable project in an effort to make a greater impact.
After celebrating commencement on University Campus this April, Dr. William J. Lennox Jr. announced his retirement as president of Saint Leo University.
Lennox became the university’s ninth president in 2015, following the retirement of Dr. Arthur F. Kirk Jr. A retired U.S. Army lieutenant general, Lennox previously served as superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy.
“When I was asked to assume the role of president, it was always my intention to serve, in a way, as a transition leader between the long service of Dr. Kirk and a candidate who could serve for a decade or longer,” Lennox said.
Lennox, who served as a university trustee prior to being named president, said he knows he is leaving great faculty, staff, alumni, and students. He said will miss the people most of all and will forever be a Lion.
“It goes without saying that the board is grateful for Bill’s service,” said Saint Leo University Board of Trustees Chair Mary O’Keefe ’76. “He assumed the role of president at a challenging time for us and his dedication to the university has been an example for us all. Both personally and professionally, we will miss him.”
On November 9, the Saint Leo University Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies hosted noted Holocaust historian and author Victoria Barnett, PhD, who spoke about those who resisted the Nazi efforts, including a theologian.