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The oldest Catholic university in Florida is now calling a historic West Tampa cigar factory home for its Tampa operations. Saint Leo University in October 2020 relocated its Tampa Education Center to the building formerly known as the Berriman-Morgan Cigar Factory. 

Built in 1903, the fully renovated building is iconic to West Tampa and is conveniently located off Interstate 275. Saint Leo University’s Tampa location offers 32,000 square feet across four floors. The basement and first floor are home to the Tampa Education Center; the second floor houses the Center for Online Learning Student Advising, Student Financial Services, and executive offices; and the third floor is home to the Center for Online Learning enrollment team.

Look for the Saint Leo University water tower, which you can see from I-275!

Saint Leo University is a world champion! The Odyssey of the Mind team, in its first year of competition, claimed first place and was Division 4 champion in the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals. Coached by the Tapia College of Business’ Dr. Sheri Bias, the team competed virtually April 30-May 29. 

Many people are familiar with the Odyssey of the Mind competition at the grade- and high-school levels. But Odyssey of the Mind also features Division IV – Collegiate & Military. The “world’s greatest problem-solving program” was established in 1978, and allows students to participate in projects that require teamwork and imaginative problem-solving.

Saint Leo’s world champion team included six then-students from Virginia: Justin Bias, Colby Baker, Zach Register, Ingrid Steinhau, Jim Bias, and Lori Steinhau, and coach Sheri Bias.

Saint Leo competed against teams from around the world, including China, Poland, and Russia in addition to the United States. 

The Guilamo family including dad Harold, new student Katelyn, mom Gloria, and brother Joshua, of Bradenton, FL, take a break during move-in day at Saint Leo on August 28.

The university welcomed its largest number of new students for the Fall 2021 Semester at Saint Leo’s residential campus in Pasco County, FL. 

This year, more than 1,100 new campus students joined the Saint Leo community, a number that surpasses the size of the Fall 2019 and Fall 2020 classes, previously the largest and second-largest in the institution’s 132-year history. The number of new students (undergraduate and graduate combined) at University Campus has steadily increased, with a drop in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new Lions were selected from 11,977 applicants, the largest application pool in Saint Leo’s history. This year’s applications rose 81 percent over the previous year and can be attributed to new academic programs, the D2R Program, the Tuition Advantage Program as well as the Catholic Promise Scholarship and other new financial aid programs. 

And there is a lot of international flavor on campus this year, as Saint Leo welcomed its largest international class with new students from 50 countries. 

Of the new students at University Campus, 59 percent are from Florida; 16 percent are from out of state; and 25 percent are from international countries. 

“I’m excited for new experiences, beginning my education, and working toward my goals,” said Katelyn Guilamo as she moved in to her residence hall on August 28. A freshman, Guilamo is majoring in early childhood education. She chose Saint Leo University because, “I like the environment and the smaller classes. You get more one-on-one attention.”

Her mother, Gloria Guilamo said she was feeling a little anxious about Katelyn moving away. “But she’s got the wings, and I’m letting her fly,” Gloria Guilamo said. “This is for her education
and for her future.”

As our world changes, so do the needs of the workforce. During the next 10 years, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that we will see heightened demand for skilled professionals in health care, technology, and data science, among other sectors.

To help support the workforce of the future, Saint Leo University has invested in four new degree programs that will support future workforce needs and lead to high job placements for students. “Curriculum really doesn’t stand still; it can’t,” explained Dr. Mary Spoto, vice president of Academic Affairs. “We are constantly finding ways to create new programs and to strengthen existing programs to provide the best educational experience for the future for our students.”

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

College: The College of Health Professions
Where: University Campus
When: Fall 2021 (must be accepted as pre-nursing student for two introductory years)

What Students Will Learn: Students will receive the best in classroom education and clinical experience, preparing them to take the national licensing exam for registered nurses. Graduates will be prepared to move straight into nursing positions at hospitals, clinics, community organizations, long-term care facilities, businesses, and other settings.

Why It Matters: Population trends and stressors, including the coronavirus pandemic, have created an ongoing, critical need for additional nurses, especially in the Southeast and Florida. Saint Leo-prepared nurses will not only help fill the labor demand, they will bring to the field an orientation toward treating the whole patient, advancing the well-being of the patient’s community, and working collaboratively with clinical colleagues. This philosophy is known as the Culture of Health framework and is embedded in all health professions programs.

Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy (BSRT)

College: The College of Health Professions
Where: Online
When: Spring Semester 2022

What Students Will Learn: Students who enroll will be professionals who already have an associate degree and are employed as respiratory therapists who assist patients whose ability to breathe is compromised. These professionals already know how to attend to patients’ breathing needs, operate the requisite medical equipment, and function as part of a health care team. The online, upper-level coursework will provide additional specialized knowledge and prepare students to become team leaders or managers in the field.

Why It Matters: The role of respiratory therapists became more visible during the first wave of COVID-19 hospitalizations, but other conditions prevalent among middle-aged and older patients also require respiratory therapy care. Consequently, demand in the field is increasing, including demand for respiratory therapists with bachelor’s degrees. This program is online so that these professionals can continue working while earning their bachelor’s degrees.

Bachelor of Science in Robotics & Artificial Intelligence (BS)

School: The School of Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Data Science
Where: University Campus
When: Fall 2022

What Students Will Learn: Robotics is an interdisciplinary field that combines computer science, computer hardware, mathematics, electrical engineering, software engineering, and mechanical engineering. Students earning this degree will gain firm, theoretical knowledge of the essentials of computer science, robotics, and artificial intelligence, plus the skills required to design, implement, and evaluate robotics technology and systems that will solve real-
life problems.

Why This Matters: Robotics is a fast-growing field with applications in space exploration, health care, automation, manufacturing, security, and other scientific and business fields. The worldwide market for robotics and the related need for skilled robotics engineers and designers will continue growing. Because of projected job growth in Florida and neighboring states, the Florida State Legislature granted Saint Leo $1 million in 2021 to launch this program.

Bachelor of Arts in Veteran Studies (BA)

College: The College of Arts and Sciences
Where: University Campus, Online Coming Soon
When: Fall 2021 Semester

What Students Will Learn: Students, who are veterans and non-veterans, will be immersed into courses in history, art, policy, psychology, ethics, and other fields to learn how people from various generations, ethnicities, genders, and nations have been influenced by their service in the military and the transition back to civilian life. Students will be able to pair this with other majors or minors if they choose and then move into careers in business, government administration, policy, teaching, or other areas where their understanding is vital. A minor is also an option.

Why This Matters: This is a new field in which other colleges or universities offer only a certificate or minor. Saint Leo is the first in the country to offer a bachelor’s degree in the field, which demonstrates both the faculty’s vision in seeing how our society will be improved by the contributions of veteran studies graduates and the overall commitment of the university to the military and military-connected population.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, educators have earned a new level of appreciation—whether from parents who have had to work through the challenges of virtual learning or from their students, who appreciate the inventive ways they make class engaging, no matter where it is held.

Despite the many challenges of working in education, there are some who have gone above and beyond to achieve success and make a difference. In this story, meet four of the many Saint Leo University alumni educators who are among some of the best, receiving top honors by their school districts and the state for their extraordinary work in our schools.

Andrea Altman ’14, Brittany Brown ’18, Joel DiVincent ’05, and Melissa Forsyth ’08 are passionate educators who remain touched by those who inspired them and motivate students with their all-in attitudes.

Altman is a diligent organizer, leaving no stone unturned.

Brown is passionate about reading and helping students find a love for books.

DiVincent is an inspirational mentor to so many.

Forsyth challenges students with a curriculum that includes only advanced learning courses.

But what they each have deep in their hearts is a true love of learning that enables them to be effective.

They are difference-makers, putting to use lessons learned while obtaining post-graduate degrees in educational leadership from Saint Leo University. They value that the university taught them to set the bar high for their students, provided them reliable networks comprised of those they attended university classes with, and set them up for administrative success.


Andrea Altman ’14

Andrea Altman

Andrea Altman discovered her mission in life early. Her elementary school teacher, Alicia Gelaro, planted the seed.

“I’ve always known that I wanted to be a teacher because I had a third-grade teacher who I really looked up to,” Altman said. “And ever since then, I knew that I was going to go into education.”

Altman, by displaying true diligence, made her mark quickly after moving from teaching into an administrator’s role. She was named Assistant Principal of the Year for the Pasco County (FL) School District after only two years in that position at Quail Hollow Elementary in Wesley Chapel, FL.

“I was surprised,” Altman said about receiving that news, “and also just grateful for the recognition for all the work and all the contributions that I’ve made to our system.”

What have been her primary contributions?

“I would say just the dedication and commitment to providing all students with the opportunity to be successful in school,” said Altman, now the principal at Watergrass Elementary, also in Wesley Chapel.

She said a strong game plan is essential in order to put students in a position to reach their full potential.

“The biggest obstacle is just recognizing and being able to utilize the resources that we have in a systematic way in order to be able to be impactful for students,” Altman said. “It really takes thoughtful and careful planning in order to be able to use the people we have and the curriculum that we have to create a concerted effort in order to provide support for all of our students.”

Altman, a California native, was an elementary school teacher for five years before becoming a literacy coach, and then an assistant principal and principal. She earned her undergraduate degree at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and completed a master’s degree in educational leadership at Saint Leo University in 2014.

Saint Leo, she stressed, prepared her for administrative success.

“The classes that I took at Saint Leo really held me to high expectations,” Altman said. “And the content of those courses has taught me to think critically about schools and how schools operate, and really how to think systematically about running a school.

“It was really all of [my instructors] who made an impact on me,” she said of her Saint Leo education.

What appealed most to her about teaching when she entered that field? “Seeing students learning and experiencing success,” Altman said.

Altman said there was one student whose story has stayed with her.

“When I was an assistant principal at a middle school (Raymond B. Stewart in Zephyrhills, FL), there was a student who was in advanced courses and really didn’t want to be there,” Altman said. “But I knew that he could do it, and I would not take him out of the advanced courses. He persevered through those courses, and when I left there, he thanked me for that. He said, ‘There were times when I wanted to give up, and you wouldn’t let me.’”

Is it harder to experience that feedback as an educational administrator?

“I think it’s just different,” Altman said. “As an administrator, you have that whole-school view. You get to see those experiences all across campus, across different grade levels, and also across content areas, too.”

Mrs. Gelaro, her third-grade teacher at Vista Grande Elementary School in San Diego, would be proud.


Brittany Brown ’18

Brittany Brown

While Brittany Brown says she didn’t become an educator to win accolades, being a 2022 Florida Teacher of the Year finalist was a special moment for her.

Brown earned a Master of Education degree with a specialization in educational leadership from Saint Leo in 2018. Her work as a third- and fourth-grade language arts teacher at Wildwood Elementary School in Sumter County, FL, propelled her into the finals, which she describesas a “mind-blowing experience.”

She was one of five finalists selected from 185,000 teachers statewide for Florida’s top teaching honor, with Pinellas County’s Sarah Ann Painter earning Teacher of the Year status.

“I never sat and thought about how many teachers there were in the state of Florida,” she said. “Once I had time to really sit and process it all, I was in shock. I just show up every day and do what I love doing the most—teaching kids. Never in a million years did I think that I would be here, receiving this type of honor.”

Brown wasn’t named the winner, but recognition for the impact she makes at Wildwood Elementary continued as she recently was named assistant principal. 

“I was inspired to teach because of some of the dynamic teachers that I had in my life,” said Brown, whose undergraduate degree is from the University of Florida. “They were just what I needed in my life. They helped me overcome some really tough challenges, and school became a place that I was excited to get to every day! I wanted to learn, I wanted to be with my teachers, and I wanted to be successful. I wanted to be able to do the same thing to help other children.

“I love everything about teaching,” Brown continued. “I think what I love the most is that I have the power to change a child’s life forever. I can be a light in their life, a safe space for them, and someone who helps them reach their greatest potential.”

Brown, a mother of four, described the joy of watching children acquire a love for reading: “It is honestly one of the best feelings in the world. Especially when students come in struggling to read or just not interested in reading at all. To see them develop a love for reading is just amazing. It’s something that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.”

Saint Leo University played a role in her development as an educator, Brown said. And one professor stands out.

“Dr. Jodi Lamb impacted me the most,” Brown noted. “I was on the fence about getting a master’s degree, but I went ahead and enrolled. She was my first instructor, and honestly [she was] the first impression of Saint Leo University. I completed her course wishing that I could have her for every course. She was amazing! She made herself available and worked to build relationships.”

Now as an assistant principal, Brown will continue to build relationships with her students, using her leadership training from Saint Leo, and encouraging them to be lifelong readers and learners.


Joel DiVincent ’05

Joel DiVincent

Joel DiVincent’s parents weren’t educators, but his father, Richard, and mother, Rosalie, provided the perfect guidance to form an impactful educator, first as a teacher and later as a school administrator.

DiVincent, who received his master’s in educational leadership from Saint Leo University in 2005 said, “My father and my mother—he in particular—inspired my brothers and my sister and me to consider others above yourself, and really inspired me in that life of service. My mother, on the other hand, taught me how to be a good person, a good, caring person.

“The two of them together inspired me and all my siblings to consider what it really means to consider others above yourself in a life of service. At my Saint Leo graduation ceremony, Dad told me that my mother would be very proud of me.”

DiVincent became choked up recalling that memory, and said his father, a U.S. Marine who became a police officer and firefighter, also passed away recently.

He added, “My mother would’ve been excited about me at Saint Leo, particularly because of its Christian teaching and the spirit of Jesus Christ there.”

DiVincent was named this year’s Pasco County Schools’ Principal of the Year for his impact at Paul R. Smith Middle School in Holiday, FL, continuing to honor the spirit his parents instilled in him. He serves as an inspiration to many of his students, but particularly treasures turning on the “educator light” for Danielle “Dee” Johnson, principal of Pasco Middle School in Dade City, FL, located near Saint Leo’s residential campus. Johnson earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Saint Leo in 2011.

“What’s interesting is she still calls me ‘Mr. DiVincent’ or ‘Mr. D,’” he said. “She stood out as a very talented person who decided to become a teacher and then a principal. That’s quite inspiring to me. She’s an amazing person and an amazing leader. To see how I inspired someone else to do the same thing I do is quite enjoyable.”

He attended schools in his native New Jersey and eventually Countryside High in Clearwater, FL.

“Probably the biggest factor for me was having so many wonderful teachers who positively impacted and influenced my life,” DiVincent said. “It’s about finding a connection for young people to their passions and how connecting their passion to learning can translate into a career that they love. It’s truly a blessing to be able to help connect those dots for young people.”

DiVincent, who received his undergraduate degree in education from the University of South Florida, taught for 10 years before moving into administration in 2005 after graduating from Saint Leo.

 “I learned a lot at Saint Leo University—not only about what it means to be a servant leader and a school leader. I learned a lot about myself and a lot more about what it means to be a good person. I’m still in touch with many of the students I attended with, and we have a network of principals and assistant principals. We support each other, and I carry what I learned there with me every day.”


Melissa Forsyth ’08

Melissa Forsyth

Melissa Forsyth was sure about one thing.

She didn’t want to be a school principal. Her grandmother, Rebecca Jarrell, had been a principal at several elementary schools. Her mother, Terri Forsyth, has been a principal for as far back as she can remember.

“I could never get away with anything!” said Melissa Forsyth, chuckling. “And my mom always took the teacher’s side of things when I was growing up. So, I had to do what was expected of me, and do it right. She wasn’t going to hear any excuses from me.”

When Forsyth majored in social studies education at the University of Central Florida, her intention was to teach—something she noted that her grandmother and mother did inspire her to pursue.

She began post-graduate studies at Saint Leo University’s Ocala (FL) Education Center, and later attended classes in St. Leo, FL, at University Campus. And even after earning her master’s degree in educational leadership in 2008, she didn’t immediately go into education administration.

However, by 2012, she became a convert to the virtues of leading from the principal’s office by becoming an assistant principal at Liberty Middle School in Ocala.

“Although I tried really hard not to,” she said. “I think it’s in my blood to be a principal.”

Forsyth, who was recently named Principal of the Year in Marion County at Liberty, actually has students coming to her school from the school where her mother is principal—College Park Elementary School.

She was honored for her work at the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID®) school, and recognized for her implementation of revolutionary concepts at Liberty. AVID, like Saint Leo, implements a student-centered approach, encouraging career and college readiness.

Her school incorporates the district’s mantra, “Find your E,” that is designed to help them find their path after high school. Forsyth explained the E as, “Are they going to Enlist in the military? Get Employed into the workforce? Enroll in college?”

“I have 1,400 students,” said Forsyth, “and what I have loved most about this position is that we’ve changed the community’s viewpoint, perception, and expectations. We were a very average school for a long time, and didn’t have the bells and whistles. We had to create a culture of really high expectations where we weren’t going to take excuses. Once we did that, we’ve seen a huge shift.

“We don’t have any regular courses here. All the courses are advanced courses. It’s a little bit of an experiment. We did this so kids know we expect big things out of them. Typically, when you expect big things, support them to attain that, they’ll show you they can do it. Students who might be struggling with that have an elective course where they learn study skills and peers help them through it, too.”

Dr. Roberta Ergle, who taught a course on how children’s relationships with adults affect them, inspired that line of thought for Forsyth at Saint Leo.

“She was the one who talked to me a lot about high expectations and how when you show them, they can do it with enough support,” Forsyth said.

“I have two kids myself [daughter Rainey, 12, and son Maddox, 8] and every classroom that I walk into, I want it to be one where I would be OK with Rainey or Maddox being in it. And if I can help teachers in my classrooms create a learning environment I’d want my own kid in, I know it’s good for everyone else’s kids.”

Saint Leo reaches 100,000 alumni

In spring 2021, Saint Leo University hit an important milestone—the university is now officially home to more than 100,000 living alumni. While Saint Leo has changed over the years—from its days as Saint Leo College Preparatory School and Holy Name Academy, followed by Saint Leo College—its commitment to providing students from all walks of life with a quality values-based education remains.

To commemorate this milestone, more than 400 Saint Leo University alumni contributed photographs to be part of this mosaic image, representing our growing network of alumni. The image features a Benedictine cross found on the exterior of Saint Francis Hall at University Campus.

Largest Graduating Classes

  • Class of 2009
  • Class of 2013
  • Class of 2014

Smallest Graduating Classes

  • Class of 1926
  • Class of 1930
  • Class of 1933

Top States of Residence for Alumni

  • Florida
  • Virginia
  • Georgia
  • Texas
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • California
  • Maryland
  • New York
  • New Jersey

Alumni by Age

  • 18-24: 1,333
  • 25-34: 12,088
  • 35-44: 20,175
  • 45-54: 23,247
  • 55-64: 22,697
  • 65 and older: 18,551
  • Undetermined: 2,676

Alumni Degrees 

  • Undergraduate: 87,881
  • Graduate: 17,009

From his time at Saint Leo University, Davion Cooper ’11 showed signs of promise that he was destined to be a leader.

The accounting major served as a resident assistant and was president of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity while studying at University Campus. He achieved several academic accolades, being named student of the year by both the Tapia College of Business (then a school) and its Accounting Department. He also was selected for a fellowship for a master’s degree in his field.

After his formal education, Cooper’s success continued when he landed his first job at one of the big four accounting firms, Ernst & Young. There, he worked with a variety of public and private companies performing external audits of financial statements, among other tasks.

Ten years later after holding many progressively responsible roles, he is the vice president and corporate controller at Dude Solutions, a global software company headquartered in Cary, NC, that provides support to more than 12,000 companies in the areas of operations, maintenance, and facilities.

Cooper oversees a team of 20 professionals to manage the company’s global financial operations, while also supporting executive leaders in strategic decision-making. On page 28, Cooper shares some insights about his current role and reflects on what may have led to his success.

  1. What do you enjoy the most about your work at Dude Solutions?

    It is exciting to be part of the reason why an organization grows and expands globally. I get to be a voice behind the decisions that influence the future of the company. I enjoy being able to make a daily, tangible impact on a global company, putting in place initiatives in a challenging role where I know my work makes a difference.

  2. What do you think has helped you achieve career growth throughout the years?

    Continuous learning and the strong belief that people matter. I love to learn. As a leader, I recognize that I cannot be the expert on every topic. However, I am always looking to grow in my knowledge and skill sets, which includes learning about topics that may not be directly related to my current responsibilities. I ask a lot of questions. I believe in people and know that the best way to achieve sustainable career growth is to invest in meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships. People matter and will support you if you treat them fairly, regardless of their role.

  3. In your experience, what are the qualities that distinguish a good leader from a great leader

    The key quality that transforms a good leader into a great leader is the ability to inspire teams to rally around a vision. Great leaders recognize that they can only accomplish their missions through people. They connect with people to articulate a clear and inspiring vision that becomes a rallying call for the entire team. They recognize that success is predicated upon getting people to buy into a vision and to pull in the same direction. 

  4. What are some lessons you learned from your time at Saint Leo that have helped you in your career?

    Saint Leo was a smaller and more intimate environment than many other institutions. That intimacy helped to reinforce the value of building relationships that has stayed with me and benefitted my career. Saint Leo also emphasized the value of responsible stewardship, which I still embrace. This value has had an influence on my career decisions. In my role, I have the weighty responsibility of always making sure that my financial decisions and the decisions of the company are for the benefit of its many stakeholders, including customers, employees, investors, and others. Being a part of the Saint Leo community emphasized the responsibility that we all have to each other and that still sticks with me.


More about Davion

The person who inspires you the most:
Martin Luther King Jr. He inspired people to imagine what was possible rather than simply what was.

Your favorite business book:
The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Patrick Lencioni

Your motivation for getting up each day:
My two children. I want to show them what’s possible every day and to make them proud.

Advice for future leaders:
People matter. You cannot do it by yourself. Everyone is watching, and they tend to mirror the tone that you set. If you want a culture of accountability, inclusion, integrity, and continuous improvement, you need to demonstrate that on a daily basis. Your success starts and ends with the people around you.

On July 29, Saint Leo University signed an agreement to merge with Marymount California University, following a vote from the university’s board of trustees.

Pending regulatory and accreditation approvals, this agreement will unite the two Catholic, values-based institutions together under the Saint Leo University name, helping to provide students everywhere with a quality education. Marymount California University is in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, nearly 2,500 miles from University Campus.

“There is value that comes from two universities working together to create something powerful for our students,” University President Jeffrey Senese said. “Working with Marymount, Saint Leo University looks forward to making an even more meaningful impact on Catholic higher education from coast to coast.” 

This first merger for Saint Leo is expected to offer many benefits for both institutions, providing students with more degree program options and internship opportunities, around-the-clock support for students studying online, and more university location options to consider attending, among other benefits.

Senese said Marymount California and the area surrounding it are a good fit for Saint Leo, as it serves first-generation college students, Catholics, Hispanics, and military students.Saint Leo and Marymount California Leaders

The university is in the process of gaining regulatory approvals to move forward with merging Marymount into Saint Leo as one institution. While the two institutions work to develop these plans, an immediate next step will be to work to allow new students at Marymount an immediate opportunity to consider additional degree programs.

As two universities rooted in the Catholic tradition, focused on the future for students, this newly unified community will offer an innovative, values-based learning environment inspired by individuals in pursuit of a greater purpose.

Dr. Jeffrey SeneseDear community,

Some of you may know that I love reading books that broaden my outlook. On many occasions, a well-written book, read in the right moment, has rewarded me with clarity on issues that I have been grappling with in life. Autobiographies and biographies are among the books I find fascinating. There is something to be learned from the lives of the waymakers and trailblazers in our world.

For example, in reading about the life of the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, we find out that his path to innovate was at times slowed by uphill battles. While many celebrate Jobs for launch of the iMac, iPod, and iPhone, his struggles to bring the famous products to market are often overlooked. Jobs described his return to Apple in 1997 as one of the most difficult periods in his life. Launching a new vision for the company required a meticulous attention to detail and many difficult conversations.

Even in the case of Catholic missionary Mother Teresa, who was able to help thousands of impoverished individuals through her nonprofit organization, Missionaries of Charity, there were struggles. At the height of her charity’s success, she faced harsh criticism in the media for the methods she employed to run the organization.  

While trailblazers like Jobs and Mother Teresa are a special kind who come around only every so often, there are countless individuals who live life in the same spirit. They are the everyday people who fight against injustice in their communities, take action in times when others sit by, and pursue ideas that many may fail to discern are worthy of an investment.

In this issue of Spirit Magazine, we take a look at the trailblazing initiatives and people who are part of the Saint Leo University community—from the university’s new Center for Alternative Pathway Programs to an alumna who is advocating for change on a national stage.

I hope you set aside some time and click through the pages of this digital magazine as you would crack open a biography. By reading these stories, I am sure you’ll find engaging content that will help you learn, feel inspired, and offer new insights for your life.

Peace and may God bless.

Sincerely,

Jeffrey D. Senese, Ph.D.
President

Dr. Jeffrey SeneseDear community,

Under these historic circumstances, I have found that time, and how we spend it, is even more valuable. There is something to be learned from having to go without the same routines and practices, which we once considered simple pleasures. It reminds us that each day is significant. Indeed, when we return to the next normal, I hope to redouble my efforts to connect and engage the community.

During convocation, I like to share a similar message with our students. I encourage students to use every minute of their time at the university to learn as much as they can and not let it slip away with regrets. To illustrate this point, I started a new tradition where I assign each graduating class a wristwatch. I hold up the watch at the convocation ceremony and tell our students to make the most of the opportunity before them. I tell them, “your time at Saint Leo University starts today.”

Just like the passing minutes on the clock, I think that so much of life can easily tick by if we are not careful. If we do not purposefully make the most of the time we have, then before we know it, we will be left with only the ideas of things we had hoped to do.

Jesus told a parable to illustrate this very point recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. It is a story about a master who gave away bags of talent (or gold) to three men. Two of the three men were able to double their gifts, but the third man, who only received one bag, hid his gift for safekeeping. In the end, the master was not pleased by his actions.

Life is meant for living. We need to use our talents, time, and treasures to our fullest abilities to create and to make the world better than we found it. To paraphrase one of my favorite authors, Henry David Thoreau, the price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.

This newly designed issue of Spirit Magazine, which was carefully developed with you in mind,  is dedicated to the theme of making investments in what matters most to you—from ideas, to passions, people, and careers. As you click through the stories, I hope you are able to reflect on where you want to make investments in your life. And maybe you will gain insights on how to achieve them, too. Our goal with the magazine is to continue to provide inspiration and encouragement for living a life with purpose, guided by Saint Leo University’s core values.

Wishing you much strength and courage to pursue the worthy investments in your life and the time to bring them to fruition.

Peace and may God bless,

Jeffrey D. Senese, Ph.D.
President

Remembering Mike Macekura

Macekura,-MikeCountless young people first heard of Saint Leo University because of the work of Mike Macekura. He worked as an associate director of admissions and often traveled to college fairs representing Saint Leo. He liked to place a palm tree on the Saint Leo display table. It was a conversation starter when he was chatting with families in the Northeast and explaining the advantages their students would enjoy if they attended college at University Campus in Florida. His daughter Vanessa ’11 followed that advice and proved him right.

Macekura, who lived in Marlton, NJ, passed away on December 19, 2017, at the age of 61. He proudly served his country as a major in the U.S. Army and as part of the Infantry 82nd Airborne Division. He was the first commandant of the Army Sniper School. In addition to his professional accomplishments, he was a man who loved antiques and who was trained in Italy to make violins.


Lorinda (Cindy) Eldredge,Honors Graduate 2008 (1/2+)

Cindy-'08-and-James-EldredgeMy darling wife, your spirit is with me as I see your name
written in stone.
I know that I shall never, nor will you ever, be alone.
Always and forever,
Husband Jim (1/2= 1)
P.S. — 1/2 each made us whole


John Sosin ’50
September 3, 2016

Victor (Vic) Helton ’53
April 21, 2016

Edward (Eddie) Herrmann ’53
October 21, 2017

Ronald L. Taylor ’58
December 20, 2016

Jay J. Miniet ’64
July 18, 2017

Elizabeth Allison ’69
May 22, 2017

Glen J. Swette ’72
September 15, 2017

Glover P. Manning ’76
January 7, 2017

Susan E. Huysman ’77
April 18, 2015

Karl Pedersen ’77
June 18, 2017

James O. Wallace ’77
September 16, 2014

Jack D. Hunn ’78
September 10, 2017

Lester J. Rarick ’78
January 30, 2015

Boyd M. Weber ’78
August 28, 2017

Charles W. Bishop ’81
May 6, 2014

John R. Moll ’81
March 17, 2015

Manuel Faria ’83
August 10, 2017

Donald (Don) McDowell ’83
March 30, 2017

John W. Winter ’83
November 5, 2016

Columbus H. Mize ’84
July 18, 2017

Benjamin A. Sablan ’84
October 5, 2017

Hollis C. Turner ’84
May 30, 2015

Charles E. Willie ’85
May 23, 2017

Moses C. Baines ’93
April 4, 2017

Ronald G. Bondurant ’00
May 26, 2006

David Cox ’03
May 10, 2017

Greg Fusco ’03
December 16, 2017

Lorinda (Cindy) Eldredge ’08
September 9, 2017

David M. Smith ’09
February 28, 2017

Kajuansa A. Jones ’11
January 19, 2017

Brett T. Bassett ’16
November 18, 2017

Anderlei Cunha Mello Jr. ’20
October 31, 2017

BC-RegUniversities-South

best-colleges-RU-Best-Value_2018In the 2018 U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges list, Saint Leo was ranked 61st among Regional Universities–South. In addition, the university was named as one of the Best Value Regional Universities–South.

 


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In the 2018 U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Programs edition, Saint Leo was ranked high in the Best Online Programs for bachelor’s degrees (tied for 88th) and was named to the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans list (51st).


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For the fifth consecutive year, Saint Leo University earned recognition as a Top School in the 2018 Military Advanced Education & Transition (MAE&T) Guide to Colleges & Universities. The honor recognizes Saint Leo as a leader in the nation for providing education to those who are serving or who have served in the armed forces.

 


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Saint Leo University was selected as one of the Military Times Best: Colleges 2018. Formerly known as Best for Vets, this rankings survey is the most comprehensive school-by-school assessment of veteran and military student services and rates of academic achievement.

 


Faculty Spotlight

Aefsky,-Fern_2017_verticalLast Fall, Dr. Fern Aefsky, head of the Education Department in the School of Education and Social Services, was recognized by U.S. Representative Gus Bilirakis of Florida for her extensive volunteer work with a program that helps teens stay in public high schools. She was among about 60 people who received a special certificate of recognition and a “Coin of Excellence – Outstanding Service” with the seal of the U.S. Congress. Bilirakis represents the 12th Congressional District, which includes Florida’s Pasco County, where University Campus is located.

 

Gianna-Russo_1_20172 In Fall 2017, Gianna Russo, assistant professor of English and creative writing, won the Best of the Bay – Best Local Poet from Creative Loafing: Tampa Bay.