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!

A Message to the World
“If you had one story to share with the world, what would you say?” That is the premise behind the powerful Dear World interactive portrait project that came to Saint Leo University for two days in September. Faculty and staff were invited to join students in the photography project “that unites people through pictures in their distinct message-on-skin style.”

Participants wrote messages in black marker on their arms, hands, faces, or other body parts to tell their individual stories. “The words you wrote on your skin are a window into your story,” Katie Greenman, storyteller, photographer, and facilitator for the project, told the participants.

A Message to the World  A Message to the World (2)  A Message to the World (3)

The goal for the project was to find understanding and common ground among the Saint Leo community members. The event was sponsored by the Student Government Union; Campus Activities Board; Student Activities; Multicultural and International Services Office; Residence Life; and Counseling Services.

See more photos at spirit.saintleo.edu/dearworld.

Feeding Those in Need
Last fall, staff members in the Center for Online Learning Student Support Center collected four barrels of food for Metropolitan Ministries, based in Tampa, FL. That was nearly 600 pounds of food!

Lending a Faithful Hand
Lending a Faithful Hand“Little things can make a big difference to people.” That is an observation from Barry Doupnik, a sociology major at University Campus, who offers his time to Faith Tampa Bay.

Volunteering with this nonprofit organization founded in Tampa, FL, in 2007, Doupnik works with schools, churches, and other organizations to promote positive change. He and fellow volunteers organize teacher breakfasts, provide home rehab services, do yardwork for those in need, and even serve as a table host for annual celebrations. “We have no agenda,” he said. “We just do what we can to help.”

A Tampa native, Doupnik first got involved with Faith Tampa Bay as a Wharton High School student. He was also active in Young Life, helping adolescents learn about Christianity. In addition, he has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, the Salvation Army, Metropolitan Ministries, and other worthy causes.

Doupnik recognizes that many people want to lend a hand to those in
need but cannot afford to give financially. “There are other ways to give,” he explains. “I always love seeing a completed project. I step back and say, ‘We accomplished this. We did this to help someone.’ It’s a great feeling.”

Learn more at www.faithtampabay.com.

Offering Inspiration
Lending a Faithful Hand (2)
Lions Serve is exactly what it sounds like. It is a group of Saint Leo Adult Education Center students who study at the Pasco-Hernando State College (PHSC) locations—primarily at the Spring Hill, FL campus—and who are called to help others.

“We hope to inspire and help the community as a whole, said Sativa Fisher, president of Lions Serve.

Most of the members are pursuing degrees in social work, like Fisher, who is a senior and will graduate April 28. And a few members are majoring in psychology. “We all want to give back,” Fisher said. “We have a mind-set to help.”

Lions Serve is open to all students enrolled at Saint Leo through the Adult Education Center. Members meet to discuss ways they can help the community. Last year, they participated in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life at Nature Coast Technical High School in Brooksville, FL, and will do so again this year.

The students recently embraced the hot trend of painting rocks with messages of hope and encouragement and leaving them for others to enjoy. Before final exams for Fall 2 Semester, the Lions Serve members gathered to paint rocks with inspirational messages to help students make it through their tests and papers. “We wanted to boost morale because exams can be so stressful,” Fisher said.

One of the members saw a post on Facebook along with a photograph of one of the rocks. Whoever found the rock said, “At the most random time, you find inspiration.”

“It warms my heart that we made an impact,” Fisher said.

Helping Pasco County Veterans
Helping Pasco County VeteransSaint Leo University was one of the sponsors of One Community Now Stand Down for Pasco County (FL) veterans, which took place from September 29 to October 1 at Veterans Memorial Park in Hudson, FL.

University President William J. Lennox Jr., his wife, Anne, and Pamela Martis, director of Military Affairs and Services, joined other volunteers in filling plates and serving steak dinners to the veterans in attendance on Friday evening. The Military Resource Center also collected new socks for the veterans.

Saint Leo social work students and faculty provided a “coffeehouse” atmosphere in a tent at the Stand Down so veterans in transition could relax and talk.

Veterans who attended the One Community Now Stand Down were able to take showers, get haircuts, receive clothing, share meals, obtain career counseling and medical care, and receive referrals for housing and mental health counseling.

Helping Pasco County Veterans (2)   

Shoes for Shelter and SustenanceShoes for Shelter and Sustenance
In December 2016, Frances Volking, senior academic advisor at the Fort Eustis (VA) Education Office, led students and staff in hosting a shoe drive that collected 71 pairs for THRIVE Peninsula’s Walk a Mile in Their Shoes Mission. This effort assisted in raising funds to help feed, shelter, educate, and encourage families in crisis in the local community. The footwear contributions also supported a vital cause by helping create and/or sustain micro-business opportunities for low-income families in developing nations, where 1.3 billion people—400 million of them children—walk barefoot.

Comforting-the-Youngest-VictimsComforting the Youngest Victims
Sometimes, when victims of domestic violence flee their homes, they do so without clothing or a comforting blanket or stuffed animal for their children.

With this concern in mind Dr. Joanne Crossman, professor of education, suggested to members of the Lions women’s lacrosse team that they make baby blankets for Sunrise of Pasco County Inc. Domestic and Sexual Violence Center. Sunrise helps women and their children escape abusive situations.

“We hope that the women who come to the Sunrise Pasco shelter will select a blanket for their baby or toddler and find comfort in the bright colors and soft fabrics,” Crossman said. “We hope this small gesture helps the women to know that our Saint Leo community supports them during a difficult time in their lives.”

On September 27, Coaches Lesley Graham and Marial Pierce along with 27 team members cut and knotted pieces of fleece, turning them into blankets sporting pink and blue hedgehogs, Lacoste-like alligators, puppies and dog bones, and other motifs.

“I sure hope the babies like it!” player Danica Leili said of the colorful blankets. “I think it is heartwarming, and it’s nice to know we’re helping somebody else.”

Coach Graham echoed that sentiment. “It is important for these young women to realize that life is bigger than themselves,” she said. “We are lucky. Most of us are healthy, happy, and play a sport we love. It is important to give back to someone in a completely different situation.”

Psychology in the Saddle
When children are scared or sad, sometimes there is nothing like a horse to improve their day. No one knows that better than Theresa Malky ’15. Since earning her bachelor’s degree in psychology through Saint Leo’s online program, she has continued to follow her calling of helping people in need. These days she is pursuing her master’s degree in counseling from Messiah College while managing Trinity Equine Ranch, a nonprofit based in Pennsylvania and devoted to equine-assisted therapy.

On this 25-acre farm, she and her husband, Brock, use horses to help children work out grief, depression, and other problems. Malky has completed the first level of Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) training and will continue to level two. To date, she has worked with hundreds, both as individuals and in groups. “To serve others is a calling, and I have to be true to that person,” she said.

Years ago, Malky was a successful commercial real estate agent. “Sometimes I really miss that when I have to clean out the stalls,” she explained with a laugh.

Psychology in the Saddle

Minghe LiMinghe Li is an industrious new graduate of the Donald R. Tapia School of Business. The 22-year-old pursued a dual major in accounting and economics and, in a logical progression, landed a good position right away in Tampa, working for accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers.

No surprises there.

It’s his hometown that’s the attention grabber: Baotou, a large industrial and mining city in Inner Mongolia, China. The city of more than 2 million is recognized mainly for its supply of earth minerals.

Few other alumni have come to Saint Leo’s University Campus from schools in Inner Mongolia. But trends are shifting, and Li is a young man with a personality suited to discovery. He has come of age in an era when more Chinese families are able to afford to send children abroad to look at educational opportunities. More than 304,000 international students in the United States are from China, according to the Institute of International Education, and account for more than 31 percent of the international students in this country. In fact, China has produced more international students in American colleges than any other nation.

Li recalls his interest in overseas travel being stirred during his teen years, when he was able to visit London for a few weeks. He just kept thinking about what more there is to see in the world. Curiosity inspired him to seek his father’s permission to study abroad during high school.

At first Li tried Wisconsin, and then transferred to Melbourne Central Catholic High School in Florida. It proved to be a wonderful decision. The family of Timothy and Rosemary Laird wanted to host an international student attending the school, and Li proved to be the perfect match. He made a connection with both the parents and the Laird children—attending Mass with them, traveling with them on vacations—and considers them his “American family.”

Missie Valencia, director of the international student program at Melbourne Central Catholic, still recalls Li’s arrival in South Florida with other students on a long-delayed flight. Even though it was late at night by the time the plane finally landed, when Li exited the plane, he was so excited he hugged everyone in the group meeting the students at the airport. And he stayed true to that excited, joyful personality throughout his time at the school, she says, taking part in school social activities and shattering the stereotype that all Asian students are introverts who rarely speak. To the contrary, Li encouraged conversation, and adopted the American nickname of Scofield, based on a character on a cable TV show. The character’s personality, he explained to Valencia, is much his own, and the name would be easier for his new classmates to pronounce. Meanwhile, he impressed the adults with his thoughtfulness and willingness to work hard to improve his command of academic English and perform well in his courses.

Li loved Florida, Timothy Laird recalls, so much so that he decided to stay for college. Several people at Melbourne Central Catholic recommended that he visit Saint Leo University, and Li was accepted.

It was not just the Florida climate that attracted Li. He dreams someday of running a business in China that will be beneficial for society, and he thought an American business education would give him a vantage point on markets and commerce that Chinese society cannot yet provide. “China is developing its business structure, its economy. The United States has already developed its structure,” he said.

Minghe Li
Minghe celebrates his graduation day with his American family and fiancée, Ayaka.

He applied himself diligently at Saint Leo, learning how commerce is conducted in the West, and even became a tutor for other students in economics and accounting courses. Tapia School faculty helped Li decide to make those two disciplines his majors, and he is particularly grateful to Dr. Passard Dean of the accounting faculty for his guidance in the matter. Li and Dr. Dean had discussions about the ways that both accounting and economics can be applied and understood internationally, and how accounting credentials would allow Li to pursue positions abroad after he gains more experience. That, in turn, can move him closer to his eventual goal of making a contribution to the world of business in China.

Another benefit for Li at Saint Leo: He met his future wife, Ayaka Morita ’15, originally from Tokyo. By the time this magazine is printed, they will be married.

“Saint Leo University not only provided me the best education, but has also helped me to find my other half I can spend the rest of my life with,” he said. “I hope with this story, I will inspire more young people like me to pursue their dreams!”


The Latest from Dr. Lennox

It has been a busy year for President Bill Lennox. In March, Saint Leo University was honored as the Military Business Partner of the Year at Greater Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce’s 18th annual Military Appreciation Banquet, and Dr. Lennox accepted the award on behalf of the university. In May, he was asked to serve as treasurer of Independent Colleges and Universities in Florida (ICUF). On behalf of ICUF, he visited a number of state legislators and presented them with a plaque recognizing their inclusion on ICUF’s Legislative Honor Roll for supporting private higher education and educational choice in Florida (photo above with State Senator Wilton Simpson). In June, he served as the keynote speaker for the Joint Special Operations University Special Operations Forces Education Conference at MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa.

Dr. Melanie Storms
Dr. Melanie Storms has joined the university as vice president of the newly created Saint Leo WorldWide division. She has extensive experience with both programmatic and regional accreditation. As a university administrator, Dr. Storms has worked with traditional graduate student populations, as well as adult learners at the graduate and undergraduate levels in campus-based and online settings. Her experience positions her to lead Saint Leo’s online and education center programs through Saint Leo WorldWide. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from the University of Central Florida, and her master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from the Florida Institute of Technology.


Father Kyle Smith ’07
In July, Father Kyle Smith ’07 returned to his alma mater as chaplain for University Ministry. A Florida native, Father Kyle earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in middle grades education from Saint Leo. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami, FL, and moved on to St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, FL, to begin his study of theology. Father Kyle earned his Master of Divinity in 2014 and was ordained as a priest in May 2014 for the Diocese of St. Petersburg.


Bob Quinn
Bob Quinn has joined Saint Leo as vice president of Business Development. He earned his bachelor’s degree and MBA from Fordham University (NY). A seasoned veteran in corporate management, he served as a captain in the U.S. Army and was awarded the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, among other commendations.




Colonel Pamela Martis
In June, retired U.S. Army Colonel Pamela Martis joined Saint Leo University as director of Military Affairs and Services. She retired from active duty in 2013, having served 28 years. She was commissioned from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY, Class of 1985, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in operations research management. She earned a Master of Arts degree in Russian, Central European, East European, and Eurasian studies from the University of Kansas. In addition, she received a master’s degree from the National Defense University, Industrial College of the Armed Forces. She was awarded the Bronze Star and the Department of Defense Distinguished Superior Service Medal.


Cyrus Brown
In August, Cyrus Brown assumed the new role of executive director of University Public Safety. In this capacity, he is responsible for reviewing and improving safety measures throughout the university. Prior to joining Saint Leo, he was associate director of safety for Bethune-Cookman University (FL) and served for 31 years in the Florida Highway Patrol. A veteran of the U.S. Army, he earned his bachelor’s degree from Barry University (FL) and his master’s degree from the University of Central Florida. He also is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, the Southern Police Institute at the University of Louisville (KY), and Leadership in Police Organizations program from the International Association of Chiefs of Police.


Our alumni, students, faculty, and staff enjoy a variety of special events throughout the year. Take a few moments to experience Saint Leo in Pictures. Click on any photo below to learn more.


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Teens, parents, and mentors from 28 robotics teams rocked the Marion Bowman Activities Center on February 13, as Saint Leo University hosted the Florida statewide FIRST® Tech Challenge for the second consecutive year.

Saint Leo University’s governing board is a group of volunteers who exemplify the university’s six core values. They all give generously of their time, talent, and treasure to enhance the education our students receive. This year, we welcome eight new members to the board. Click the photos to learn more.


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Peter Biscardi ’70 graduated from Saint Leo College with a bachelor’s degree in political science and went on to hold a number of management positions in the automobile industry. These include positions at the Hertz Corporation, as well as president and then partner at National Auto Care Corporation. He was also city manager at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. An avid sports fan, he remains a loyal supporter of Saint Leo Lions Athletics. Since retiring, he continues to be active as a business consultant and is involved in local charities. He and his wife, Linda, live in Bonita Springs, FL, and maintain part-time residences in New York City and Dublin, OH. They have two grown children and a grandson.

The Saint Leo University alumni ranks grew to more than 80,000 this year with commencement ceremonies taking place from coast to coast. At University Campus, close to 1,200 students graduated during three ceremonies held April 29 and 30. Those events kicked off the “commencement season” for Saint Leo with 15 more ceremonies being held near education centers throughout May and June. Click the photos to learn more.


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Abena Ankomah ’11, ’16 earning her MBA

achonwaFlashback to 2014:
Chukwudi Peter Achonwa ’14

Originally from Imo state in southern Nigeria, Chukwudi Peter Achonwa has lived and worked across the Niger River in neighboring Delta state for more than 20 years. His home is in the city of Warri, which is not far from the Gulf of Guinea.

His entire life, Achonwa had never been outside Nigeria.
That was until May 2014, when the Saint Leo University online student—and now alumnus—boarded a plane and traveled for nearly 24 hours to arrive in Florida and attend commencement at University Campus.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting that day, and now he is an accountant in his native country. He hopes to earn a master’s degree and a PhD in his field.

Mary Beth Erskine, web content writer, posted a longer story about Chukwudi Peter Achonwa on Saint Leo’s online blog.

grad_4Want to see more photos from the Class of 2016 ceremonies? Be sure to visit
this page.




The 2015-2016 year was a remarkable one for Lions Athletics, with multiple conference and tournament championships, as well as the Sunshine State Conference Mayors’ Cup (above right) for the men’s program.

Men’s Program Captures SSC Mayors’ Cup
For the third time in four years, Saint Leo University captured the Sunshine State Conference Men’s Mayors’ Cup, representing overall supremacy among SSC institutions in men’s conference competition.

The Lions finished second in the race for the Women’s Mayors’ Cup for the second year in a row.

Points in the Mayors’ Cup race are earned based on order of finish in the final Sunshine State Conference standings in league sports. The Men’s Mayors’ Cup competition awards points in soccer, cross country, basketball, swimming, golf, tennis, lacrosse, and baseball, while the Women’s Mayors’ Cup is decided by competition in the sports of volleyball, soccer, cross country, basketball, swimming, golf, tennis, softball, and rowing.

Saint Leo walked away with the Men’s Mayors’ Cup with 46 points, besting its nearest rival in the standings, Florida Southern, by 10 points. In the Women’s Mayors’ Cup final standings, Nova Southeastern came out on top with 53.5 points; Saint Leo was close behind with 48 points.

Spring 2016 SCC Championships


Saint Leo captured four Sunshine State Conference spring championships with regular season crowns in softball (above), men’s tennis, and women’s tennis, and men’s tennis also claiming the SSC tournament championship.

These were the first SSC championships for the tennis teams. It was the second title in program history for the softball program, with the first earned in 2013. The 2016 senior class has now been a part of the two SSC championship teams at Saint Leo, its freshman year in 2013 and its final season in the Green and Gold.

Lions Take Second in Learfield Directors’ Cup

directors-cup-logo-_top-fiveSaint Leo University finished the 2015-2016 academic year ranked second among 307 NCAA Division II institutions for the Learfield Directors’ Cup, presented by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA).

The Lions finished the year with 723 points, trailing only Grand Valley State (MI), which earned 1,070 points and won its second-straight Division II Learfield Directors’ Cup and 11th overall.

Saint Leo’s second-place finish eclipses the previous high of eighth, set in 2015.

“This is an incredible moment for Saint Leo Athletics. The class that entered Saint Leo in August 2012 arrived when we had broken the top 100 in the Directors’ Cup standings for just the second time in program history. That class graduated this past April as part of the second-best overall athletics program in all of Division II. Those student-athletes believed in our goals and mission, as did our coaches and staff and university administration, and together they made this achievement possible,” said Francis X. Reidy, Saint Leo’s director of athletics.

Troy Sieber Chosen by the Houston Astros

Saint Leo junior first baseman Troy Sieber was selected by the Houston Astros on the third day of the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft. He was taken in the 24th Round, and was the 727th pick of the draft.

“We’re very proud of Troy and all the hard work he has put in to make this happen. We wish him all the best and we will miss him,” said Sean O’Connor, Saint Leo’s head baseball coach. Sieber is the fifth Saint Leo player drafted under O’Connor, who recently completed his fourth season as the Lions head coach.

An ABCA/Rawlings Second Team All-American and finalist for the 2016 Tino Martinez Award as Division II Player of the Year, Sieber batted .457 this season, leading the Sunshine State Conference and ranking fourth in all of Division II.

Anthony Crocitto Named Head Women’s Basketball Coach

crocitto-anthonyA veteran Division II head coach with experience at all three levels of NCAA women’s basketball, Anthony Crocitto has been named Saint Leo University’s new head women’s basketball coach.

”We were looking for a coach with a proven record of success in Division II women’s basketball, and out of an incredibly deep pool of applicants we found an ideal fit in Anthony Crocitto,” said Francis X. Reidy, Saint Leo’s director of athletics. “I believe that Coach Crocitto’s passion for the game, coupled with his experience at identifying, recruiting, and developing talent at this level, will quickly lead to greater success for Saint Leo women’s basketball.”

Crocitto comes to Saint Leo from the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), where he has served as the Bears’ head women’s basketball coach for the past seven seasons. Under Crocitto’s guidance, NYIT has logged three 20-win campaigns over the last four seasons, rejuvenating a program that was 4-23 in the year prior to his arrival at the Old Westbury, NY, campus.