Saint Leo University welcomed the community to its new Jacksonville Education Center in the Oakleaf Town Center during a grand opening celebration March 10.

"The grand opening was a true celebration," said Jessica Starkey, center director. "We had current students, alumni, faculty, staff, and supportive community members attend. We were honored to have Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels, Clay County Chamber of Commerce President Tresa Calfee, and the Diocese of St. Augustine chancellor, Deacon David Williams, attend." 

More than 120 individuals toured Saint Leo's newest facility. The new teaching location occupies a stand-alone, 8,400-square-foot outparcel space near The Home Depot at 9775 Crosshill Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32222. The Oakleaf Town Center is an open-air regional shopping center that is convenient to those in the Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Orange Park, and Middleburg areas. 

While the Jacksonville location is new, Saint Leo has served the Northeast Florida community through partnerships with Naval Station Mayport and St. Johns River State College since 1994.  "We will continue to support our diverse student population and embrace our core value of community," Starkey said.

The Jacksonville and Mayport locations are convenient for adult learners and offer flexible schedules. "Whether it's your first time in college, or you want to transfer, or continue your degree, Saint Leo is here for you in Jacksonville," Starkey said.

Photo of Jessica Starkey and Dr. Senese The opening ceremony included remarks from Dr. Jeffrey Senese, provost and senior vice president of Academic & Student Affairs; prayer and blessing of the facility by the Rev. Kyle Smith, university chaplain; and a ribbon-cutting supported by Clay County Chamber of Commerce. Saint Leo University's alma mater was played by members of the Nease High School Marching Band. 

Those who attended the open house enjoyed live music by Jim Solari, a musician and adjunct instructor of psychology. Guests received commemorative grand opening coins. They also enjoyed a photo booth and inflatable basketball hoops provided by Progressive Entertainment and food by local favorite Anthony's Gourmet Catering. Kids shooting basketballs

Jacksonville Education Center offers associate and bachelor's degrees. Degrees include bachelor's degrees in accounting, criminal justice, human services, elementary and middle grades education, business administration, psychology, computer information systems, and health care management. Evening and online classes make it easy for busy professionals or members of the military to further their education, Starkey said.

Registration is taking place for the Summer 1 Semester, which begins Monday, April 30. Summer 2 Semester begins Monday, June 25. For more information, go to Jacksonville Education Center, call (904) 771-7825, or email

Upcoming events at Saint Leo's Jacksonville Education Center include:

Spring into Education, Refer Your Peeps: From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday, April 9, current students and alumni are invited to bring prospective students and guests to learn about the center and Saint Leo and receive a sweet treat. Application fee waivers will be available. Prospective students may bring their unofficial or official transcripts. For information, contact Michelle Frazier, or call (904) 771-7825.  

Coffee and Conversations: From 9 to 11 a.m., Wednesday, April 11, guests are invited to enjoy a free cup of coffee and a breakfast pastry while chatting with the Jacksonville staff about ways to make their education dreams a reality. Application fee waivers will be available. Prospective students may bring their unofficial or official transcripts. For information, contact Michelle Frazier, or call (904) 771-7825.  

Photos by Vicki Palombo of Photographic Memories by Vic


About Saint Leo University
Saint Leo University ( is a modern Catholic teaching university that is firmly grounded in the liberal arts tradition and the timeless Benedictine wisdom that seeks balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit. The Saint Leo University of today is a private, nonprofit institution that creates hospitable learning communities wherever students want to be or need to be, whether that is a campus classroom, a web-based environment, an employer's worksite, a military base, or an office park. Saint Leo welcomes people of all faiths and of no religious affiliation, and encourages learners of all generations. The university is committed to providing educational opportunities to the nation's armed forces, veterans, and their families. Saint Leo is regionally accredited to award degrees ranging from the associate to the doctorate, and the faculty and staff guide all students to develop their capacities for critical thinking, moral reflection, and lifelong learning and leadership.

The university remains the faithful steward of the beautiful lakeside University Campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, where its founding monks created the first Catholic college in the state in 1889. Serving more than 13,000 students, Saint Leo has expanded to downtown Tampa, to other sites in Florida and beyond, and maintains a physical presence in seven states. The university provides highly respected online learning programs to students nationally and internationally. More than 90,000 alumni reside in all 50 states, in Washington, DC, in three U.S. territories, and in 76 countries.

Media Contact:
Mary McCoy, University Writer & Media Relations,, (352) 588-7118 or cell (813) 610-8416