President Ed Dadez


Saint Leo University’s 11th president reflects on plans to help the university continue to offer a values-based education, focused on the needs of students.

When President Ed Dadez began his tenure at Saint Leo University more than 20 years ago, he knew that moving into Marmion-Snyder Hall would go a long way toward building trust and fostering community with students.

“I felt that the best way to connect with students was to live with students,” said Dadez, who has held many positions at the university, including roles as vice president of the university’s regional education centers, online learning program, student affairs, and campus operations. He also was a visiting professor in Graduate Education.

Now as Saint Leo University’s 11th president, Dadez’s desire to go above and beyond to support and serve students has become a cornerstone of his strategic vision for the university. His plan to make Saint Leo the leading Benedictine Catholic teaching university includes adding new degree programs with high market demand; collaborating with businesses and organizations to build unique learning opportunities for working professionals; and creating alternative pathways for learning beyond traditional degree programs. Dadez believes firmly that with every new endeavor the university pursues, it must allow Saint Leo to serve students on a greater level.

“How can we make a Saint Leo University education more affordable, convenient, and easy to access? Saint Leo University has always valued those who are looking to pursue a better way of life, supporting them personally and professionally,” Dadez said. “As we move the university forward, I want to explore new initiatives that will allow us to provide for students in the ways that are most helpful to them.”Ed Dadez, Saint Leo University President, walking down the hallway talking to students.

Over the decades, Saint Leo has continually evolved to meet student needs — from being one of the first universities to offer an online degree program to teaching on military bases. As Dadez looks to the future, his plans help the university follow this precedent.

“The university has invested in programs that help those working in Florida school districts pursue a flexible path toward becoming teachers and now has a program that offers online degree programs in Spanish for those living in Latin America,” Dadez said. “Saint Leo will continue to innovate our academic and cocurricular programs, activities, and services that are essential to helping students build on their moral foundation and succeed in today’s job market.”

Growing up in a Catholic family and serving as an active volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America, Dadez feels a genuine connection to the university’s Benedictine Catholic core values.

“My upbringing taught me about the value of hard work and about the importance of showing kindness to others,” Dadez said. “One of the things that I always admired about Saint Leo is that it shares many of these same values, and that’s not something you can find everywhere.”

Dadez recalls how during one Saturday spring open house on campus, he noticed some garbage cans were overflowing with trash and began to clean them up.

“Parents started to notice what I was doing and began helping me,” Dadez said. “One of them said to me that my actions were all they needed to know about the university’s culture and values. That’s what I want Saint Leo to be known for — not just having core values, but living them every day.”

Get to know President Dadez

Learn more about Saint Leo University’s 11th president in 15 questions. 

  1. Describe yourself in three words.
    Educator, leader, family-focused
  2. What was your most memorable class in college?
    A resident assistant [RA] class that focused on leadership training
  3. What quote inspires you the most?
    “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr, Lutheran theologian
  4. What book would you recommend to every Saint Leo student?
    The Art of War by Sun Tzu
  5. What is your favorite weekend activity?
    Spending time with my wife, Terry.
  6. Are you a dog or a cat person? 
    Neither, but Terry loves dogs.
  7. How many children and grandchildren do you have?
    I am the proud parent of two sons and three grandsons, ages 4, 13, and 15.
  8. What piece of advice do you share with Saint Leo graduates?
    Live our Saint Leo core values, don’t forget your alma mater, and remember what you learned inside and outside the classroom.
  9. What is your favorite Bible verse?
    “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’” Mark 10:27
  10. What is your definition of success?
    Something I share with students is, “Success is only ounces of elbow grease away.”
  11. Share one fact that many people don’t know about you.
    My favorite movie is It’s a Wonderful Life because too often we don’t think about the effect we have on people.
  12. What is your favorite professional sports team?
    The Baltimore Orioles.
  13. Which Saint Leo core value influences you most in your daily life?
  14. How would you like to be remembered?
    As an educator, inside and outside the classroom.
  15. How would you describe Saint Leo University students in three words?
    Every student is different, but they are typically values-oriented, inquisitive learners, and friendly, sociable individuals.

Headshot of Ed Dadez, Saint Leo University PresidentDear friends,

Like many of the alumni profiled in this magazine, I have learned that hard work, sacrifice, and a commitment toward serving others can make dreams possible. 

I grew up as the oldest of six children in a multiracial, Catholic family. My father served in the U.S. Coast Guard, and my mother ran our household, raising my brothers, sisters, and me as we moved from one military base to the next. Money was always tight, but my parents instilled in me the importance of a strong work ethic, family, and faith.

While my parents could offer no financial support, I had a dream of going to college and becoming a physician, making me the third of 30 cousins in my extended family to pursue an education beyond high school. I worked several jobs while I earned two degrees (biology and psychology) from Virginia Commonwealth University. My jobs included serving as a work-study student in the biology lab during my freshmen and sophomore years; serving as a resident assistant during my junior and senior years; and then working three jobs during my fifth year of college, which I took to complete my second major.

While these were challenging times for me, I can now see by looking back that they helped shape my character and were essential to my personal and professional growth. Eventually, because of my work ethic and willingness to serve others, I was presented with opportunities that launched my career in higher education.

In this issue of Spirit Magazine, we profile the stories of fellow dreamers — those who have a vision for a better life and have done the hard work to achieve it.

You’ll read the stories of alumni who faced challenging upbringings, encountered adversity, and overcame odds to achieve their goals. You’ll also find stories about the growth of the university’s Honors Program and our new bachelor’s degree in nursing. These programs are helping to build well-rounded college graduates and solve our world’s problems.

One of the reasons I was excited about the opportunity to serve as Saint Leo University’s 11th president is because of the character and commitment of our students, alumni, faculty, and staff. The university is home to so many who dream big and are working toward creating a better world and a better way of life. They are not only inspiring to be around, but they also are the reason why Saint Leo University will always have a special place in my heart.

May God bless you, and may you always keep dreaming of greater things.


Ed Dadez, Ph.D.