August 21, 2014

Higher Education in Florida

Saint Leo University's Captain Kirk

Based in a tiny town in Pasco County, Saint Leo University operates more like an entrepreneurial venture than a traditional university.

Art Levy | 6/4/2012
Ed Moore
Saint Leo is “way ahead of the rest of the world on online education,” says Ed Moore, president of Independent Colleges & Universities
Ed Moore, president of Independent Colleges & Universities of Florida, says the state’s other universities, both private and public, ought to be paying attention. Saint Leo has been “way ahead of the rest of the world on online education,” Moore says. “They’ve been very creative with that. They’re a model, and the state would do well to copy what they’re doing — or consult with or borrow from or rent from them.”

Kirk, meanwhile, keeps pushing new ideas. As the military downsizes, he foresees fewer active soldiers, but more veterans seeking degrees. Saint Leo is developing a veterans support center that will offer services to vets in person and online. In its effort to step up its partnerships with businesses to develop degree and training programs for employees, the university is working on a curriculum with Newport News Shipbuilding.

“The classroom is being transformed,” Kirk says. “The business model, whether its public higher education or private not-for-profit higher education, is being upset in a lot of different ways, and so we have to be aggressive, innovative, entrepreneurial and agile in responding to all of this. The notion that a business model, any business model in any industry, is going to endure for decades and decades is obsolete thinking and very dangerous thinking.”

St. Leo
Saint Leo University’s new Donald R. Tapia School of Business

Value Proposition
Saint Leo University is Florida’s first Catholic university, but you don’t have to be Catholic to enroll. You do, however, have to be of good character, says Saint Leo President Art Kirk. All students, including those taking classes online, are exposed to Saint Leo’s core values. The values are written in numerous places, including a prominent display in the grand lobby of the university’s new $11-million Donald R. Tapia business school: “Excellence, Community, Respect, Personal Development, Responsible Stewardship, and Integrity.” Kirk says he considers those values whenever he makes a decision. “My ultimate vision for the place is 25 years from now that students come back to their reunion and talk about how they lived their life based on our core values,” he says. “The engineering we teach them or the computer science we teach them, those things are going to change. But the values, they’re forever.”

Tags: Education

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