New Community Center Complex Celebrated

February 07, 2008

The majority of the work on the $21 million, Spanish Mission-style complex was completed in late October. It was funded partly through the success of the university’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign, which set out to raise $15 million for new projects and endowment needs. Donors topped that goal and pledged $19.7 million to SLU, a cause for celebration.

The university plans to recognize the accomplishments with a special gathering this weekend to dedicate the complex formally and to thank donors. Tom Dempsey, president of Saddlebrook Resort, and distinguished former member of the Saint Leo University Board of Trustees, will deliver the keynote speech at dinner Saturday evening at the new Student Community Center complex.

The addition of the complex has transformed the landscape at University Campus, without distracting from the charm of the existing, surrounding buildings.

The complex sits in the middle of the University Campus, and is comprised of two buildings that share a common courtyard and walkways. The larger of the two structures, the actual Student Community Center, replaces the former McDonald Center building.

The SCC houses the university’s popular dining hall, a convenience store, a comfortable lounge and combination conference room and special-events dining area. The names of forty-six leading donors to the project are honored with a plaque in the lounge.

The SCC’s north face and adjoining patio directly overlook Lake Jovita. Its south side flows out across the courtyard to the Student Activities Building.

The two-story Student Activities Building has created more office and meeting space for student organizations, and it houses the university tutoring center and University Ministry. The Saint Jude Chapel, a quiet sanctuary open to people of all faiths, balances the west end. A distinctive clock tower, also on the west wing, has become a new campus landmark.

"These facilities will be the living room, family room, home office and dining room for our students," President Arthur F. Kirk Jr. predicts.

In fact, resident students were so excited when their new lakeside dining hall opened in October that 150 of them helped move chairs and tables from the old, temporary dining hall in another building, says Frank Mezzanini, who, as vice president of business affairs, oversaw the construction project.

Mario Jones, a junior living on campus, says he notices more commuter students are enjoying the facilities and spending more time on campus since the SCC has opened. The business student thinks the complex has given commuters a comfortable place, with wireless Internet access, to study before and after classes. "It has increased their involvement with the campus," he says, "and that’s good."

David Ostrander, vice president for University Advancement, at or (352) 588-8250.