Saint Leo University is ready to welcome new, transfer, and returning students to its residential campus in Pasco County. 

Of the more than 800 new students arriving at Saint Leo, most hail from Florida with a majority of those coming from Pasco and Hillsborough counties, while many will arrive from countries throughout the world. 


Beginning at 9 a.m., Thursday, August 24, Saint Leo will begin greeting traditional undergraduates, and the campus will be bustling with more than 800 new and transfer students and their families as they begin hauling clothes, belongings, and all the necessities of college life into their residence halls. They’ll find student, faculty, and staff volunteers to help them make the move. 

During their initial move-in days, new and transfer students will come to the parking garage located under the Turf Stadium at their assigned time, and drive through to receive their room keys (residential students only), welcome materials, and complete the new student checklist, and then it is on to their new home-away-from-home.

“We are so excited and ready for the upcoming academic year and to welcome our new and returning students,” said Dr. Ed Dadez, Saint Leo University president. “I can’t wait for the energy and excitement our students bring to our campus. And I’m looking forward to meeting those who will be living here as well as our commuter students and those who study online and at our education centers. We want every student to know that Saint Leo is home, no matter where they may be.” 

Staff and faculty have been busy during the summer preparing for the new academic year, Dadez said. “I appreciate the efforts of everyone to come together to educate our students, live Saint Leo’s mission, and focus on making it a great year.” 

Assistance for Families

A Family Respite Area will be open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., August 24, in the Student Activities Building lobby, where families and students may enjoy refreshments, ask questions, meet other students and family members, and interact with support staff. 


There will be plenty of activities for families and opportunities to answer their questions. Appointments can be made with Student Financial ServicesAccessibility Services, and Student Success. Informational sessions planned for parents include Safety and Security, Health and Counseling, and Supporting Your Student’s Academic Success. There also will be a Parent and Family Association Meeting, 4:30-5:15 p.m., August 24, in TECO Hall, Tapia College of Business Building, to provide information on ways to get involved and how to stay connected, as well as a question-and-answer session. 

Students and families also can stop by the Office of Alumni Engagement for a welcome reception 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., Thursday, August 24, on the Alumni Engagement Patio, Benedictine Hall. Everyone — especially alumni parents — are invited to connect with Alumni Engagement and learn how they can benefit from Saint Leo’s network of more than 104,000 alumni.

A welcome event will be held 3 – 4 p.m., Friday, August 25, in the Marion Bowman Activities Center and will feature remarks from President Dadez and Student Government Union (SGU) President Khristian Parrish. 

In addition, international students will participate in a parade of countries, showcasing their home countries’ flags. There also will be student performances and sharing of the university’s history and traditions. 

For Commuters, Grad Students

An increasing number of local students are choosing to stay with their families and commute to campus, particularly in their first year. In addition, the number of campus graduate students has greatly increased in the past couple of years. For these groups of students, there are multiple great places like the library and Benedict’s Coffeehouse to spend time in between classes. 

This fall, a new one is added to the list. DeChantal Hall has been renovated and outfitted to serve as a relax/relate/study/eat location, the Commuter Student Commons and the Graduate Student Den at DeChantal Hall. Individual and group study rooms and a lounge have been designated at the front of the building for graduate students and on the County Road 52 side of DeChantal Hall for commuter students. 

The lounges include refrigerators, microwaves, comfortable furniture, and a TV.  Work-study students will staff the lobby. Initially, DeChantal will be open based on their schedules, likely 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday, said Dr. Jen Shaw, vice president of Student Affairs. Usage of the space will be tracked and schedule changes will be made if necessary. 

“We are very excited to offer this additional resource for commuter and graduate students,” Shaw said. “Thank you to the many staff who pulled together to provide this comfortable, welcoming space for our students.”

New commuter students will check in 2 – 3 p.m., Friday, August 25, at the Bowman Activities Center. They will receive a welcome bag, pick up preordered student IDs, and parking decals. 

Academic Update

Classes for Fall 2023 begin at all Saint Leo University locations — at the residential campus, six education centers, and online — on Monday, August 28. Among the new students, the top major is management. Other top majors, in order, include: biology: biomedical and health sciences; criminal justice; sport business; undeclared business; and computer science. 


Some highlights and additions to the academic program for Fall 2023 include: 

● Saint Leo’s inaugural class of nursing students will start their junior year in their core nursing program classes and will begin their hands-on learning in dedicated space in the Daniel A. Cannon Memorial Library until renovations are completed on the second floor of Benedictine Hall where there will be innovative lab spaces, classrooms, and simulated-learning areas.

● The university’s newest degree offering is the Doctor of Theology in applied theology. The ThD is designed for those already engaged in careers in ministry, education, publishing, and the nonprofit sector. 

● Saint Leo created a new master’s degree in accounting with a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) designation, Master of Science in Accounting STEM, which begins this fall. This replaces the Master’s in Accounting (MAcc). 

● The Honors Program at Saint Leo is the university’s fastest growing interdisciplinary program. Students find that the Honors Program — based on a theme of global citizenship — is about more than just academic rigor. It offers an upgraded undergraduate experience with more in-depth conversation and engagement. 

Every semester, the courses change topics. In the fall, Honors Program students complete First-Year Seminar I: Wild Florida (HON 160), which examines the historical, environmental, social, and cultural forces that have shaped the Florida of today. Other Honors Program courses offered this fall include AI & Global Economy (HON 361); Women Behaving Badly (HON 360); History of the Body (HON 261); and Political Speeches from Washington to Whatsapp (HON 260).

Welcome Week

After getting settled into their residence halls, Saint Leo’s newest Lions — along with returning students — will find many activities and events to keep them busy and allow them to meet new friends. 


On Saturday, August 26, the new students will enjoy Club Leo and Glow Night, 7 – 10 p.m. for “glow activities” such as mini golf, air hockey, dancing, and more.

Monday, August 28, the first day of classes, features some “firsts” for students including First Day of School Pictures, noon – 2 p.m., in the Student Community Center, second floor lobby. For those feeling a little stressed, there will be Puppy Play at the same time and place, so students may meet some four-legged friends — therapy dogs from Saint Leo’s Social Work Program. 

Rec the Night will take place 6 – 8 p.m., August 28, at the Turf Stadium. Students can play soccer, flag football, kickball, yard games and more and learn more about intramural sports, Saint Leo’s athletic and recreations facilities, and Division II sports. 

There will be events all week — from We’ve Got Your Six for military-affiliated and student-veterans, to Popsicle® Pursuit with the staff of the Cannon Memorial Library, and from a volunteer fair to Greek Life informational sessions — for students to attend and explore new opportunities. 

At 11 a.m., Thursday, August 31, the university will gather together to begin the year in prayer and community, with Mass of the Holy Spirit in the Saint Leo Abbey Church. For the opening of each academic year, Catholic colleges and universities have the tradition of celebrating a Mass of the Holy Spirit. This dates back to 16th century Europe and allows the entire university community to come together to invoke the Holy Spirit for guidance and wisdom.

More information about New Student Orientation can be found at