Saint Leo University will celebrate the inauguration of Dr. Jeffrey D. Senese as the university's 10th president with a full slate of activities. The celebration, marking a milestone in Saint Leo's 130-year history, will be capped by a formal inauguration and investiture ceremony at 2 p.m., Friday, October 11, in the Marion Bowman Activities Center.

Prior to being named president by Saint Leo University's Board of Trustees, Senese became the university's first provost in 2018. He came to Saint Leo from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, WI, where he served as provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. He held similar academic positions throughout his career, including the following: vice provost, vice president of Academic Affairs, and professor at Johnson and Wales University (Providence, RI); vice president of Academic Affairs, dean of faculty, and professor at Philadelphia University (PA); vice president of Academic Affairs and professor at Mount Ida College (Newton Centre, MA); chief academic officer and director of academic affairs at Penn State Wilkes-Barre; and other faculty positions.

Senese earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Pennsylvania State University; a master's degree in criminology from Indiana State University; and a PhD in criminal justice/research methods/statistics from Michigan State University.

As Saint Leo University's 10th president, Senese has implemented a foundational three-year strategic plan to grow the university, strengthen its culture, and transform the educational experience to better serve the needs of students.

Inauguration highlights include the following:

Scholarship Gala

True to its student-centered mission, a fundraising scholarship gala is being hosted on Thursday, October 10, at The Orlo Club in the historic Spafford House, 315 S. Plant Ave., in Tampa. Saint Leo has never held a philanthropic gala of this scale in its history, and the goal is to host an annual fundraising event, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to continue the university's mission and educate students for years to come.

Formal Inauguration Ceremony

The highlight of inauguration week activities is the inauguration ceremony and reception on Friday, October 11. The installation ceremony and Eucharistic celebration will start promptly at 2 p.m. in the Marion Bowman Activities Center.

Delegates from other universities, alumni representing previous graduation classes, students representing Saint Leo's locations from across the United States, the Saint Leo board of trustees, and local community leaders will be in attendance. The ceremony will include Mass presided by Abbott Isaac Camacho, OSB, musical performances, greetings to the president delivered by a faculty, staff, and student representative, and a presidential address from Senese, among other activities. Following the ceremony, attendees will be invited to a reception on the Kirk Hall lawn.

The reception kicks off Saint Leo's Fall Family Festival for students, their parents, and families. A talent show will be held later that evening, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., Friday, October 11, in Selby Auditorium.

Other inauguration activities include:

Breakin' for Badges: Inaugural Clay Shoot Classic

This event will take place at 1:30 p.m., Friday, October 4, at Tampa Bay Sporting Clays in Land O' Lakes, FL. This special fundraiser organized by Saint Leo University and the Dade City Police Department will benefit law enforcement professionals who wish to pursue a degree at the university.

Industry Council

Management, sport business, marketing, accounting, and hospitality industry councils will join Tapia College of Business students and faculty from 4 to 4:45 p.m., Monday, October 7, in the lobby and TECO Hall in the College of Business building for a strategic planning session followed by a meet and greet. Darren Richards, COO of Tucker/Hall, will give a presentation on "Disaster and Recovery: Communications Lessons from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill."

Intersection of Law Enforcement and Mental Health

The university will host a criminal justice discussion panel on Monday, October 7, which will examine topics such as mental health systems; sociology issues and mental health; mental health issues in detention centers; mental health professionals and law enforcement and current and future trends in mental health and law enforcement. Among the panelists is Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco.

A reception will be held from 4 to 5:50 p.m. in the lobby of Kirk Hall. The panel discussion will follow from 6 to 8 p.m., in Selby Auditorium in Lewis Hall, just across from Kirk Hall.

Fall Into Song

The annual fall concert by Saint Leo's students will take place at 4 and 7 p.m., Tuesday, October 8, in Selby Auditorium. Student musical groups will perform songs from the Roaring Twenties as part of the College of Arts and Sciences' Decades Project. This academic year, the university has events planned around the 1920s.

Student and Staff Kickball Tournament

The university community will come together for some recreational fun and a little competition at 6 p.m., Tuesday, October 8, at the Thomas B. Southard Stadium.

Family Fun Run

The Running Lions group, hosted by the president, invites guests to join them for a run, beginning at the Marion Bowman Activities Center at 8:30 a.m., Saturday, October 12.

Fall Family Festival

Saint Leo will welcome students and their families with a wide range of activities on Saturday, October 12, and Sunday, October 13.

Men's Soccer Game and Fireworks

At 6:45 p.m., Saturday, October 12, Saint Leo men's soccer team will take on Barry University at the Saint Leo soccer field. Senese will kick off the game as the guest captain. A fireworks show will light up the sky during halftime at about 7:50 p.m.


Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m., Sunday, October 13, by Abbot Camacho, in the Abbey Church.

Saint Leo University is at 33701 State Road 52, St. Leo, FL, four miles east of Interstate 75 (Exit 285).

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University is one of the largest Catholic universities in the nation, offering nearly 60 undergraduate and graduate-level degree programs to more than 19,500 students each year. Founded in 1889 by Benedictine monks, the private, nonprofit university is known for providing a values-based education to learners of all backgrounds and ages in the liberal arts tradition. Saint Leo is regionally accredited and offers a residential campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, 32 education centers in seven states, and an online program for students anywhere. The university is home to more than 95,000 alumni.

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