Saint Leo University is one of the largest Catholic universities in the United States offering more than 50 undergraduate and graduate-level degree programs to more than 18,200 students each year. Founded in 1889 by Benedictine monks, the private, nonprofit university is known for providing a values-based education to learners of all backgrounds and ages in the liberal arts tradition.
Our determination to make higher education accessible to all has made Saint Leo a world leader in redefining the 21st-century college. Today, Saint Leo serves students hailing from all 49 states, the District of Columbia, three US territories and 95 countries. Saint Leo is one of the nation's leading providers of higher education to the US military.
We teach students not because they are Catholic, but because we are Catholic. And our faith compels us to imagine and contribute to a more socially just society.
Established in 1889 by the Order of Saint Benedict of Florida, the university seeks balanced growth in mind, body, and spirit for all members of our community. Saint Leo has grown from a peaceful campus in the rolling hills of Central Florida to an institution of international consequence—ranked one of the best regional universities in the South by U.S. News & World Report .
Our Tampa-area campus remains committed as ever to student-centered liberal arts education and is strengthened by the global reach of our regionally accredited online programs and Education Centers in seven states across the U.S., including on many military bases.
The publication Diverse Issues in Higher Education ranks Saint Leo among its Top 100 institutions graduating minority students with baccalaureate degrees. We're a small school, but we have an incredibly diverse student body composed of 41% students from underrepresented populations, representing 44 U.S. states and territories, and over 80 foreign countries.
In educating the individual to the benefit of society, Saint Leo University cultivates the capacity and propensity for life-long learning by fostering independent inquiry and promoting the value of knowledge and discovery. Through innovative undergraduate and graduate programs, Florida’s first college continues its commitment to making a vital contribution to the future of the region and the state.
Saint Leo's vision is that the university will be renowned for transforming student lives through personal and engaging educational experiences.
The university has been named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll each year since its inception in 2006. Saint Leo students, faculty and staff subscribe to a culture of service and volunteerism in the spirit of our core values.
Saint Leo University lives its mission and vision through engagement in the classroom, engagement across campus, and engagement in the region and beyond while valuing:
Saint Leo University is an educational enterprise. All of us, individually and collectively, work hard to ensure that our students develop the character, learn the skills, and assimilate the knowledge essential to become morally responsible leaders. The success of our university depends upon a conscientious commitment to our mission, vision, and goals.
Saint Leo University develops hospitable Christian learning communities everywhere we serve. We foster a spirit of belonging, unity, and interdependence based on mutual trust and respect to create socially responsible environments that challenge all of us to listen, to learn, to change, and to serve.
Animated in the spirit of Jesus Christ, we value all individuals’ unique talents, respect their dignity, and strive to foster their commitment to excellence in our work. Our community’s strength depends on the unity and diversity of our people, on the free exchange of ideas, and on learning, living, and working harmoniously.
The commitment of Saint Leo University to excellence demands that its members live its mission and deliver on its promise. The faculty, staff, and students pledge to be honest, just, and consistent in word and deed.
• Personal Development
Saint Leo University stresses the development of every person’s mind, spirit, and body for a balanced life. All members of the Saint Leo University community must demonstrate their commitment to personal development to help strengthen the character of our community.
• Responsible Stewardship
Our Creator blesses us with an abundance of resources. We foster a spirit of service to employ our resources for university and community development. We must be resourceful. We must optimize and apply all of the resources of our community to fulfill Saint Leo University’s mission and goals.
Saint Leo is an inventive global Catholic liberal arts university that fosters a personal and inclusive community which educates, prepares, and develops students for success, and consists of diverse learners who boldly confront the challenges of our world through service to others.
Saint Leo University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, and doctoral degrees. Questions about the accreditation of Saint Leo University may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (www.sacscoc.org).
Saint Leo University’s School of Business received initial accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP) in November 2014. ACBSP promotes continuous improvement and recognizes excellence in the accreditation of business education programs around the world. Its accreditation philosophy focuses on institutional leadership, strategic planning processes, community relations, quality of academic programs, faculty credentials and services, and educational support. The College is also a charter member of the Florida Council on Teacher Education.
Dr. Jeffrey D. Senese was named the tenth president of Saint Leo University on July 26, 2018. Senese has been an academic leader at the Pennsylvania State University, in the University of Maryland System and at several other private institutions after a decade as a full-time faculty member and scholar.
President Senese earned his bachelor’s degree in the administration of justice from the Pennsylvania State University. He went on to earn a Master of Arts degree in criminology from Indiana State University and a Ph.D. in criminal justice/research methods/statistics from Michigan State University. He also completed the Institute for Higher Education Management at Harvard University and the Academic Management Institute at the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems in Boulder, Colorado, as well as the Pennsylvania State University Leadership Academy. Dr. Senese has served as a reviewer for several regional higher education accreditors (NECHE and Middle States) as well as several program accreditors and state level accreditation reviews (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire).After graduating from Michigan State University, Dr. Senese was a faculty member at Indiana University and then the University of Baltimore, a member institution of the University of Maryland System. Dr. Senese engaged in extensive funded national research work with the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Defense on use of force, juvenile justice waivers, jail and prison management among several other topics. The extensive list of Dr. Senese’s academic achievements beyond his teaching roles include the publication of a methods book, dozens of professional article publications, book chapters, and other publications. Dr. Senese has also presented an impressive list of professional papers, interviews to various media outlets, and has served as a speaker for many educational and community conferences and events.
Senese has served as a department chair and then associate dean at the University of Baltimore. He then was appointed the chief academic officer of one of the Penn State campuses and, following that appointment, was selected as the academic vice president for Academic Affairs at Mount Ida College. He then served as the vice president for Academic Affairs at Philadelphia University followed by service as the vice president for Academic Affairs/vice provost of Johnson & Wales University-Providence. Previous to joining Saint Leo University Dr. Senese served as the first provost at Cardinal Stritch University and then came to Saint Leo as its first provost.
Dr. Senese also has extensive international work experiences in Asia, Europe, and South Africa. He is member of the Board of Enterprise Florida, the Global Listening Centre’s Advisory Board, a member of the Board of Directors of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Executive Committee. He has been recognized by the State of Maryland, City of Baltimore, and Baltimore City Council for his contributions during nearly a decade of service in that community.
He and his wife, Alicia, have two children: Mia, a graduate of Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, and Daniel, a student at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.