The sounds of drills spinning into freshly cut drywall, electrical saws buzzing into tile, and bulldozers roaring to unearth soil can only mean one thing: Changes are underway at University Campus.
Block by block, the construction of new facilities has helped Saint Leo University keep pace with the growing needs of students throughout the years.
When the university officially transitioned to a four-year college in 1965, the campus grounds were home to just a few buildings. Saint Francis and Crawford halls served as classroom buildings, and Saint Edward, Marmion (completed in 1966), Roderick, and Benoit halls served as dormitories. Shortly after, the college soon offered a student center, 250-seat cafeteria, and library.
As the university experienced growth over the years, more buildings were added. In just the past 10 years, Saint Leo University has focused on the addition of academic buildings and residence halls. University officials hope the trend in this direction will continue as University Campus welcomes record-breaking classes of incoming students in the coming years.
Within the past four years, the university has focused on creating facilities that support an engaging student-life experience. Here we showcase some of the new amenities that have been added to University Campus—or will soon be added—to help provide students with an experience like no other.
In March, Saint Leo University opened the doors to a 59,500-square-foot Wellness Center on the west end of University Campus, located across from Benedictine Hall. The multilevel facility, offering breath-taking views of Lake Jovita, was built to provide much-needed recreational, meeting, and office space for the university. The Wellness Center now houses the university’s Student Recreation and Fitness, Health Services, Counseling Services, and University Ministry departments.
Patio and Pool Deck
One of the center’s most attractive features is its patio and pool deck. Sitting 17 feet from the ground, the pool offers two lap lanes, an area to play volleyball and basketball, and a shallow area for lounging. Café 36, named in honor of the 36 acres of land that started the university, sits on the pool-level floor of the building and serves healthy food options, including smoothies, salads, wraps, and snacks. There is also a poolside barbecue and seating area featuring a large gas grill and fire pit.
Overlooking the pool area and Lake Jovita,the fitness area on the second floor offers cardio equipment, free weights and machines, as well as a group exercise studio with a variety of scheduled class programming.
A large multipurpose gymnasium overlooking the lake boasts an indoor walking track, and it can be converted for a variety of events—from basketball games and meetings to wedding receptions and formal galas.
Coffeehouses have a reputation for being popular gathering spots on college campuses across the United States, but until recently, this hub for student engagement was missing from the Saint Leo Campus scene.
In January 2020, the university converted its mail center building into Benedict’s Coffeehouse, a We Proudly Serve Starbucks™ venue, featuring Starbucks coffees, specialty drinks and teas, and a variety of breakfast and lunch sandwiches, salads, and snacks.
Benedict’s Coffeehouse is located on the east end of the Kirk Hall lawn and offers a comfortable space for students, faculty, staff, and alumni to gather, as well as guests from the surrounding community. There is inside seating and an outside patio area.
While the Marion Bowman Activities Center has received several enhancements since it first opened in 1970, construction is underway to improve the entrance and several interior spaces of this frequently visited facility. Plans include converting the breezeway into an interior, air-conditioned space and making it the main entrance into the center. The Athletics training room and the restrooms also will be renovated and reconfigured. The project is expected to be completed by this summer.
With the addition of an undergraduate degree program in robotics and artificial intelligence, Saint Leo University is transforming two existing classrooms in Kirk Hall into a space that will help prepare students for rewarding careers in this growing sector. The new Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Lab is made possible thanks to a $1 million grant received from the state of Florida. It will feature different workstations designed for collaboration and hands-on learning experiences.
At the lab, students will have the opportunity to design programming to interact with Pepper humanoid robots, explore the possibilities with the KUKA pro robotics arm for industrial use, engage with and program a Unitree advanced robot dog, and fly the university’s DJI Tello EDU Drones, which are unmanned vehicles. They will also have the opportunity to compete against other universities in mini robotics soccer tournaments.