Weekend of Commencement Activities Scheduled at Saint Leo University

April 23, 2015

Nearly 1,400 graduates of Saint Leo University will be awarded their degrees over the course of three commencement ceremonies to be held on Friday and Saturday, May 1 and 2, at University Campus in Pasco County. Each ceremony will be held in the Marion Bowman Activities Center.

For her commitment to improve the quality of lives of farmworkers and their families in Pasco County and throughout Florida, an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree will be awarded to Reverend Margarita Romo (pictured), on Saturday afternoon. Reverend Romo is the founder and executive director of Farmworkers Self-Help, Inc., a local grassroots organization which facilitates the self-development of farmworkers and other poor, through programs of education, advocacy, organizing, and health.

Reverend Romo, who became an ordained minister in 2003, is the only woman directing a farmworker organization in Florida. She organized AWING (Agricultural Women Involved in New Goals), the first farmworker women’s organization in Florida, and developed the Norma Godinez Learning Center, designed to address the education needs of farmworkers and other poor. She is an alumnus of Leadership Pasco Class of 1995. Reverend Romo received the Cesar Chavez Award for Farmworker Advocacy and the Florida Commission on the Status of Women Achievement Award. She was named the 2010 Hispanic Woman of the Year for the Tampa Bay Area.

Details on Ceremonies

Friday at 7 p.m., a ceremony will be held for an expected 448 graduates who have earned bachelor’s degrees through the Center for Online Learning and at the Adult Education Center at University Campus (which offers weekend and evening classes). Degrees to be awarded include the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Social Work. The guest commencement speaker is Jeffrey R. Caponingro (pictured), CEO of Caponigro Public Relations, a Michigan-based firm that specializes in crisis communications, branding, and media relations. He has worked with several Tampa-area corporations on PR initiatives and is a graduate of Leadership Tampa, former board member of the Tampa Bay Partnership, and former chair of the accreditation program for the Tampa Bay section of the Public Relations Society of America. For the past four years, he has served on the Donald R. Tapia School of Business Dean’s Executive Advisory Council at Saint Leo University. Two students were selected to deliver farewell addresses: Jeremy Larson, who is earning the Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice, will represent the Adult Education Center at University Campus, and Miles Surdi, who studied for the Bachelor of Arts in accounting, will represent the Center for Online Learning.

Prior to Friday’s evening’s commencement exercises, a Baccalaureate Mass will be celebrated at 3 p.m. at the same venue. It is a time of prayer and thanksgiving for graduates, families, faculty, staff, and university administrators and supporters—of all faiths.

The presider of the Baccalaureate Mass will be the Most Reverend Robert N. Lynch ’97, bishop of the Diocese of Saint Petersburg and a Saint Leo University trustee.

Celebrants of the Mass will be the Most Reverend John Noonan ’12, bishop of the Diocese of Orlando; the Right Reverend Isaac J. Camacho, O.S.B. ’95, abbot of Saint Leo Abbey and a Saint Leo University trustee; Very Reverend Robert Morris ’79, vicar general of the Diocese of St. Petersburg and a university trustee; Very Reverend Frank Mouch, S.T.L., 7th president of Saint Leo University; Reverend Michael W. Cooper, S.J., S.T.D., assistant professor of religion, Saint Leo University; and Reverend Stephan Brown, S.V.D., M.Div., assistant to the president for University Ministry.

Saturday at 9 a.m., degrees will be conferred to 545 candidates from a broad variety of degree programs: the Master of Business Administration, the Master of Accounting, Master of Science in Criminal Justice, Master of Science in Critical Incident Management, Master of Education, Master of Science in Instructional Design, Master of Theology, and Master of Social Work. The guest speaker for the graduate program is Edwin H. Moore, Ph.D. (pictured), president, Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF). Dr. Moore has been the president of ICUF, a Tallahassee-based association of 31 private, not-for-profit colleges and universities, since 2003. He also serves as the executive director of the Higher Education Facilities Finance Authority in Florida and as chief executive officer of the Florida Independent College Fund, a nonprofit organization. His Ph.D. is in public administration and policy with an emphasis on creating learning organizations in policy making settings. Dr. Moore is also a Fulbright Program Scholar. Eric Roman, a Master of Business Administration degree recipient, was selected to deliver the farewell address on behalf of the Class of 2015.

Saturday at 2:30 p.m., nearly 400 traditional undergraduates who studied at University Campus will receive their degrees: the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, or Bachelor of Social Work. Additionally, seven graduating ROTC cadets, who are now prepared to enter the U.S. Army as second lieutenants, will be formally recognized during the ceremony. The commencement speaker for the undergraduate ceremony is Dr. Arthur F. Kirk, Jr. (pictured), president of Saint Leo University. Dr. Kirk, the eighth president of Saint Leo, is retiring this summer following an 18-year career as the university’s senior administrator. Since his arrival in 1997, enrollment university-wide has more than doubled, while enrollment at University Campus tripled, making Saint Leo the third-largest Catholic college in the United States. He has overseen a major transformation during which the culture of the university evolved and the institution experienced remarkable growth. Jessica Miller, who is earning a Bachelor of Arts in English: professional writing, was selected to deliver the farewell address to the Class of 2015.