For the third year in a row, Saint Leo University will welcome another record-breaking incoming class of students to its University Campus. This year's class, comprised of more than 1,100 new campus students, will surpass the size of the Fall 2019 and Fall 2020 classes, previously the largest and second-largest in the institution's history.

"We're looking forward to welcoming this historic number of new students to Saint Leo this year," said Dr. Jeffrey D. Senese, Saint Leo University president. "The past year was challenging for everyone, but working together, the university community accomplished much and is ready for the new academic year. There is no replacement for the learning that happens when we are physically and socially engaged together, and it is time that we get back to that. We are encouraging students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 so that we can be together.

"This incoming class demonstrates our students' enthusiasm for a more typical college experience," Senese continued. "And Saint Leo provides not only the academics, but also prepares our students to be good citizens of the world."

Moving In

Saint Leo University is welcoming students to its campus over several days in order to protect the health and safety of everyone. New international students will arrive on campus beginning on Wednesday, August 25, while new students from across the United States will move in to their residence halls from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday, August 28. Returning students will move in Sunday, August 29. Classes begin at the Pasco County campus on Tuesday, August 31.

New students arriving on August 28 will check in at the university's parking garage to receive their welcome packages. They then will proceed to their residence halls where they will be greeted by fully vaccinated volunteers (faculty, staff, and students) who will help move their belonging to their rooms. 

Throughout the summer months, new students have had the opportunity to participate in mini-orientation events including the in-person Welcome to the Pride and Super Saturday (July 17), combined with an online course platform and virtual webinars developed to help students become more familiar with their future classmates.

"The past 18 months have presented unique challenges," said Dr. Senthil Kumar, vice president of Strategic Enrollment Management. "Despite those challenges, we were able to connect with students both virtually and in-person throughout their enrollment process, maintaining the one-on-one connection and attention that is the hallmark of the Saint Leo experience."

About the New Saint Leo Lions

Notable characteristics of the incoming Fall 2021 class include:

  • 63 percent are from Florida;
  • 22 percent are from out of state; and,
  • 15 percent are from 45 international countries.

Choosing Saint Leo

Saint Leo University is expecting to enroll more than 1,000 new undergraduate students, with an additional anticipated 100 new students enrolling in the on-ground graduate programs in business administration, computer science, and cybersecurity. The new Lions were selected from 11,977 applicants, the largest application pool in Saint Leo's history. This year's applications rose 81 percent over the previous year and can be attributed to new academic programs, the D2R Program, the Tuition Advantage as well as the Catholic Promise Scholarship and other new financial aid programs.

Throughout the pandemic, international students have faced additional challenges in their pursuit of higher education in the United States. However, Saint Leo is poised to welcome its largest international class in the institution's history, a landmark success during the COVID-19 pandemic.

About the Academics

Saint Leo recently launched a new college and school and will introduce several new degree programs throughout 2021-2022.

The new College of Health Professions now will offer three degree programs, including the new Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. The BSN program will be offered at University Campus as well as the Bachelor of Science in health education and health promotion degree, which the university started in 2020. Population trends and events, including the coronavirus pandemic, created an ongoing need for additional nurses, particularly in Florida and the Southeast. This new degree will prepare nurses to not only help fill the labor demand, but also provide them with an orientation toward treating the whole patient, advancing the well-being of the patient's community, and working collaboratively with clinical colleagues.

In Spring 2022, the College of Health Professions will offer the new online Bachelor of Sceince in Respiratory Therapy (BSRT) for those employed as respiratory therapists, who already have an associate degree.

Saint Leo recently introduced its new School of Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Data Science (CARDS), which is recruiting students for the new Bachelor of Science in robotics and artificial intelligence. The new degree program will be offered in Fall Semester 2022. Because of projected job growth in Florida and neighboring states, the Florida State Legislature granted Saint Leo $1 million in 2021 to launch this program.

The university also established the nation's first Bachelor of Arts in veteran studies, which will begin in Fall Semester 2021 at University Campus. The degree also will be offered online in the future. Those majoring in veteran studies will be immersed into courses from history, art, policy, psychology, ethics, and other fields to learn how people from various generations, ethnicities, genders, and nations have been influenced by their military service and then the transition back to civilian life.

Week of Welcome

Many activities are planned as classes begin for Fall Semester 2021 at University Campus on Tuesday, August 31. Kicking off the new academic year, students will find an information tent to assist newcomers, and breakfast bags will be available for commuter students. Everyone can enjoy the music of Lucas Nocera, music minister for University Ministry, from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at Benedict's Coffeehouse, and Career Services will host a virtual Leo Great Challenge to help get students career ready.

The first day of classes will be capped off by "Aloha, Leo," which is sponsored by the Campus Activities Board (CAB). Dr. Cynthia Selph, assistant professor of music, will be joined by the Chamber Singers and music faculty to present some tunes at 5:30 p.m. at the Lakeside Patio of the Student Community Center. The GoldRush Dancers will perform, and there will be a special performance—including fire dancers—by Polynesian dancers.

On Thursday, September 2, the community will celebrate the Mass of the Holy Spirit at the Saint Leo Abbey Church. In-person attendance will be limited to 50 percent of the church's capacity and the community may join the Mass virtually via the Saint Leo Abbey's Facebook page. During this Mass, students, faculty, and staff will ask for the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit for the academic year and for the university's activities.

Faculty and staff are ready to greet the new and returning students and start the semester.

"Some of our returning students, those starting their second year of studies, have not resided on campus," said Senese, the university president. "They took their courses online last year. We're excited to welcome them to their new home away from home and get them involved in campus activities, attending our athletic events, and hanging out at Benedict's Coffeehouse."