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Saint Leo is eliminating campuses and some sports programs to streamline operations

Aerial view of Saint Leo University
Saint Leo University
Saint Leo University officials say the changes are an effort to streamline operations at the 134-year-old nonprofit Catholic institution, based in Pasco County.

The university will close several education centers in Florida and three other states while discontinuing six NCAA Division II athletic programs. The moves will eliminate 111 faculty and staff positions.

Saint Leo University announced plans Thursday to cease operations at several campuses, along with eliminating some sports programs and discontinuing three degree programs.

In a news release, university officials say it's an effort to streamline operations at the 134-year-old nonprofit Catholic institution based in Pasco County, and enrollment trends showed an "opportunity to improve efficiencies and enhance its future offerings for students."

Officials announced it will be closing eight education education centers, including in Jacksonville, Lake City, Ocala and Mayport, along with locations in South Carolina, Mississippi and Texas.

The moves will eliminate 111 faculty and staff positions — of which 27% were recently vacant, according to the release.

In the release, Saint Leo University president Ed Dadez said the changes were part of his plans to "create a reimagined vision for the university — one that will make a Benedictine Catholic, value-based education more accessible to people everywhere."

“Throughout its history, Saint Leo University has continually evolved to meet the needs of students — from opening education centers on military bases to being one of the first to offer online degree programs,” said Dadez, a longtime Saint Leo administrator who was named president in July. “The future vision for our university will continue on this course, including more educational partnerships with businesses and organizations, customized pathways for earning degrees and new investments in our online learning program.

"We will continue innovating our offerings to support the new learning needs of students and today’s workforce.”

Among the changes:

  • Six unidentified intercollegiate athletic programs out of 23 will be discontinued following their seasons. According to the release, those programs are currently competing on the road and will be notified upon their return.
  • Degree programs in the College of Education and Social Services will be absorbed into other colleges by the end of the academic year.
  • The university will discontinue the following degree programs: Bachelor of Arts in international hospitality, Bachelor of Arts in human services, and Master of Science in human services. Students enrolled in these programs will be assisted with a plan to achieve degree completion.

Students enrolled at the campuses that are closing will be transitioned to online learning.
Despite the changes, university officials said they will focus growing the university's bachelor's degree program in nursing, along with its newly established School of Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Data Science.

“Reducing our university’s footprint and programs will allow us to focus more strategically on areas and opportunities with high demand,” said Stacy Gato, vice president for strategic enrollment management. “We are always looking for ways to innovate and enhance the services we provide to students.”

School officials say the university will continue to work with local businesses and organizations to "support their professional development needs and establish new talent pipelines for skilled employees in high-demand fields."

“The university already maintains strong partnerships with many school districts, law enforcement agencies, faith-based groups and other organizations,” said Mark Gesner, vice president of community engagement and communications. “We look forward to growing our community partnerships and being a full-service education and training partner for many more businesses, nonprofits and groups of all sizes.”

Thursday's announcement comes nearly a year after university officials called off a proposed merger between Saint Leo and Marymount California University, which would have operated under the Saint Leo name.

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