2017 was a major year, not just for the world, but for the Saint Leo campus as well. There’s no better way to kick off 2018 than with a fond look back at all the University accomplished and celebrated in the previous year.
10. Cross Country Team Goes to Nationals
The Lions’ men’s and women’s cross-country teams traveled to Evansville, Indiana, to compete in the 2017
NCAA Division II Cross-Country National Championships. It was a big event for the teams as they got to
compete against some of the best schools in the country. Saint Leo Cross-Country will look to build on their
achievement next season when competition starts again.
9. Saint Leo Adds Beach Volleyball Team
Starting this spring, Saint Leo will be introducing their beach volleyball program. The announcement of
the Lions’ 20th intercollegiate sport came back in May. Saint Leo will join Eckerd College, University of
Tampa, and Florida Southern College as the only schools in the Sunshine State Conference to compete in
2018. The team will be playing at a brand-new beach volleyball complex built on a portion of the recreational field on campus.
8. Veterans Day Celebration Featured State Rep. Gus Bilirakis
On Nov. 10 Saint Leo University observed Veterans Day with a ceremony honoring those that have served
and are currently serving The United States with pride and dignity. In attendance at the event was congressman Gus Bilirakis of the U.S. House of Representatives for Florida’s 12th Congressional District. Congressman Bilirakis gave stirring words to the eager crowd and stressed the importance of making sure the adults and by extension, the children under their remit understand that the true heroes are not the politicians, actors, and athletes, but the men and women on the front line.
7. Saint Leo Opens Ocala Center
On March 1 Saint Leo University opened its newest center to facilitate Ocala City residents. The facility
has 10 state of the art classrooms, outfitted with the latest technology that parallels that of University
Campus. The center continues to work alongside the Ocala/Marion Chamber and Economic Partnership,
along with local businesses in an effort to bolster the local workforce. The Mayor of Ocala, Kent Guinn, was inattendance and relayed his excitement to an enthusiastic crowd for the incredible partnership created
between Saint Leo, the local business community, and its veteran reach. University President Dr. William
Lennox assured the attendees that it was his duty to continue to reiterate the Core Values of Saint Leo,
etched by the Benedictine Monks. The decor and aesthetic of the center sought to continue to bridge the
divide between the University Campus and Center students. The opening of the Center solidified the Core
Value of Community as the Saint Leo family continued to expand.
6. New Clubs on Campus: Prism and the Saint Leo Republicans
In the fall 2017 semester, Saint Leo added two brand-new clubs to its official roster of Student
Government Union-recognized clubs and organizations. The first is Prism, Saint Leo’s first ever official gay-
straight alliance (GSA). Their president is sophomore Olivia Callahan. Prism is recognized by the Gay,
Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the national GSA Network. The second is Saint Leo
Republicans, the University’s first partisan political club established in recent history. Their chairman is freshman John-Michael Fernandez. The Saint Leo Republicans are a federated chapter recognized by the
Florida Federation of College Republicans (FFCR) and the College Republican National Committee (CRNC).
5. DACA’s Effect on Saint Leo Students
The repeal of DACA impacted many souls across the nation, but also made a major impact on
the Saint Leo campus. On Sept. 6, University President William Lennox expressed his sentiments
on the matter in an email to the student body. “As a Catholic university, Saint Leo University is
disheartened by the move to terminate DACA,” the letter stated. “We are in accord with the U.S.
Conference of Catholic Bishops.” The letter prompted Saint Leo staff to stand by their students
affected by DACA and ensure their continuing education at the University.
4. Saint Leo’s First Town Hall Meeting
The first Town Hall Meeting was a special event that was held during the 2017 spring
semester in the SCC Boardrooms where Dr. Lennox made a presentation about plans for
the school. The event was also an opportunity for students to pose questions to Dr.
Lennox, who was able to address some concerns with a bit of help from some faculty
members. However, tensions were high as some students had some startling complaints.
Despite its rocky start, Dr. Lennox said that he’d gladly host the event again.
Saint Leo reinstated its Homecoming tradition with an unforgettable bash Nov. 4. The
celebration ended a weeklong series of Homecoming events and reunited current students
and alumni. The festivities included food trucks, rides, games, fireworks, and the crowning
of the Homecoming court. The most notable part of the day, however, was the musical
entertainment that took the campus by surprise the day their attendance was announced:
iconic 90s band Smash Mouth.
2. Health Center Under New Management
The changes made to Saint Leo’s student health care served as one of the hot-button issues on
University campus in 2017. In May, Saint Leo’s former Health and Wellness Center began operating
under the new management of Florida Hospital, with its staff replacing the former Wellness Center’s
nurses staff. Bits of information about the change were prematurely disclosed, causing all sorts of
rumors to fly and ultimately the University having to release the official announcement earlier than
planned. Many students were very conflicted about the transition, primarily because they were
concerned about losing a staff of nurses that some had known for years and built relationships with.
The University ensured that Florida Hospital’s team can offer more advanced care than the old
Wellness Center staff was capable of.
1. The Hurricanes
Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma had quite an effect on the Saint Leo community
last year. First, Hurricane Harvey hit the Corpus Christi Center and many students and
staff suffered property damage. Then, Hurricane Irma also impacted the Saint Leo
community, causing the Centers and the main campus to close for a couple of days. The
University Campus was a haven for many students who lived on campus, as well as some
faculty, as some of the buildings were used as shelters. One of the Centers that took the
big hit was the Key West Center; it was closed for weeks, and some students were not
able to finish the semester due to effects of the storm.