Alumnus Donates $1 Million for Scholarships

May 30, 2014

From left: University President Arthur F. Kirk, Jr.; Board of Trustees Chair Cynthia Brannen ’92; School of Arts and Sciences Dean Mary T. Spoto; John Picciano ’69; Department of English, Fine Arts, and Humanities Assistant Chair Karen Bryant.

Saint Leo alumnus and executive John Picciano ’69, on behalf of his entire family, has donated $1 million to the university to endow scholarships for students with interests and talents in music and the fine arts. The scholarships are to be named for Mr. Picciano’s late brother Carmine, who was also an alumnus and graduated in 1976 after studying music education.

Mr. Picciano said Thursday during a reception in the Music Building at University Campus that at Saint Leo, he “was given a chance that most people were not given.” Under the caring tutelage of Benedictine monks and nuns who then comprised the faculty, he was inspired to leave behind his previous ways of behaving as an underachieving teenager and grow into a student who learned he “could be creative in his thinking.” His brother Carmine also benefitted from the opportunities at Saint Leo, he recalled, and spent his career in the insurance industry while continuing his appreciation for saxophone and piano. Members of the Benedictine community from Mr. Picciano’s time at Saint Leo were present at the Thursday reception so that the alumnus could acknowledge their lasting influence.

Today, Mr. Picciano is CEO of Oglethorpe, Inc., a hospital management company based in Tampa, FL, that directs the operation of eight behavioral health facilities in Florida, Ohio, Louisiana, and Texas. He also serves as CEO of the new Darryl Strawberry Recovery Center in St. Cloud, FL, which offers treatment for people struggling with drug abuse, and which was co-founded by former Major League Baseball player Darryl Strawberry.

University President Arthur F. Kirk, Jr., expressed his gratitude at the reception, noting that “more and more students are pursuing their passion for music” while pursuing a broad variety of majors. Music is an element important to offer as part of Saint Leo’s values-inspired, liberal-arts-based curriculum, Dr. Kirk said, as “it helps provide a fully rounded education.”