At Saint Leo, we’ve been preparing students for success since 1889.
A lot has changed since then, but our focus on academic excellence and personal growth remains just as strong as it was in the very beginning. Comb through a complete history of the University here, or check out some of the the highlights below.
1889 – Saint Leo College is founded. The first Catholic college in Florida, it is named after Pope Saint Leo the Great, Pope Leo XIII (the reigning pope at the time) and founder Abbot Leo Haid.
1890 – Saint Leo is declared a military school for a period of 13 years (this will happen a few other times throughout the early 1900’s).
1893 – Saint Leo College holds its first graduation ceremony where five students receive a Master of Accountants degree.
1898 – The first black student, Rudolph Antorcha, is enrolled in Saint Leo Military Academy at a time when it was illegal for a black student to attend class with white students.
1899 – Students from Cuba are recruited to attend Saint Leo and make up almost half the student body in 1901-1902.
1903 – Telephone service is installed at Saint Leo.
1910 – Purple and gold are selected as the school colors (it remained that way until 1959).
1920 – Saint Leo has been a college for 30 years. It awards its final Master of Accountants degrees before becoming a college preparatory school.
1959 – Saint Leo returns to its roots by opening a junior college and selecting the colors green and gold, representing the colors of the Abbey orange groves.
1965 – Saint Leo College is incorporated as an independent college, separate from the Saint Leo Abbey.
1967 – Saint Leo College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and awards its first bachelor degrees.
1969 – Fred Cambria becomes the first Saint Leo College baseball player drafted by professional baseball when he is selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the third round.
1973 – Saint Leo College begins an extension program by opening education centers for military students at Avon Park Bombing Range and MacDill Air Force Base. Many more military education centers open in the following years.
1986 – The $1.9 million expansion to the Cannon Memorial Library is made possible by the generosity of Dr. Elizabeth Tousey Cannon in honor of her late husband.
1989 – Saint Leo College celebrates the 100th anniversary of its charter.
1994 – Saint Leo offers its first graduate-level degree programs with an Executive M.B.A.
1996 – Saint Leo offers another master’s degree program, this one in education.
1997 – Dr. Arthur F. Kirk, Jr. is appointed the eighth president of Saint Leo College.
1998 – The Center for Online Learning is established, offering internet-based bachelor’s degree programs.
1999 – The Board of Trustees votes to change the name of Saint Leo College to Saint Leo University.
2000 – The Goizueta Foundation awards Saint Leo a $500,000 grant to establish the Goizueta Foundation Scholars Fund. This program awards Latino/Hispanic students need-based scholarships.
2003-2004 – 4 new residence halls are constructed to house the growing student population.
2004 – The University installs a state-of-the-art Video Teaching and Teleconferencing system (VTT), linking University Campus with its education centers. This technology will later also be used to connect military families with their soldiers in Iraq.
2008 – Saint Leo begins a yearlong celebration to mark 35 years of providing academic degree programs and services to members of our nation’s armed forces.
2009 – More than 100 delegates attend the university’s first International Business Conference at University Campus. Presenters come from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Slovenia and Taiwan.
2010 – Saint Leo receives a $4 million pledge from Trustee Don Tapia, who earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree online at the university. The Donald R. Tapia School of Business is named in his honor. On Veteran’s Day, a bronze sculpture honoring the men and women of our nation’s armed forces is dedicated at the University Campus.
2011 – The university opens the doors of a new, ultramodern building to house the Donald R. Tapia School of Business.
2012 – University Campus expands with two new residence halls and a Turf Stadium, which sits atop a 750-car underground parking garage.
2013 – Saint Leo celebrates 40 years of serving those who serve our nation, providing academic degree programs and support to members of the U.S. armed forces.
2014 – Saint Leo University celebrates its 125th year as an institution.
2015 – Saint Leo dedicates Kirk Hall at University Campus. The four-story, 48,000-square-foot academic building is named for Dr. Arthur F. Kirk Jr., who served as President of the university for more than 18 years. Kirk Hall is the 11th new addition to University Campus within the last 13 years. On July 1, 2015, Dr. William J. Lennox Jr. is named the ninth president of Saint Leo University.