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History, Values, & Catholic Roots

History & Mission

Saint Leo University is Florida’s first Catholic University, offering a liberal arts-based education for people of all faiths.

Rooted in the 1,500-year-old Benedictine tradition, the university seeks balanced growth in mind, body, and spirit for all members of its community. At University Campus, at education centers, and through the Center for Online Learning, Saint Leo University offers a practical, effective model for life and leadership in a challenging world; a model based on a steadfast moral consciousness that recognizes the dignity, value, and gifts of all people.

To accomplish its mission, the university community creates a student-centered environment in which the love of learning is of prime importance. Members of the community are expected to examine and express their own values, listen respectfully to and respond to the opinions of others, serve the community in which they live, welcome others into their lives, and care for all of God’s creations.

Core Values


Saint Leo University is an educational enterprise. All of us, individually and collectively, work hard to ensure that our students develop the character, learn the skills, and assimilate the knowledge essential to become morally responsible leaders. The success of our University depends upon a conscientious commitment to our mission, vision, and goals.


Saint Leo University develops hospitable Christian learning communities everywhere we serve. We foster a spirit of belonging, unity, and interdependence based on mutual trust and respect to create socially responsible environments that challenge all of us to listen, to learn, to change, and to serve.


Animated in the spirit of Jesus Christ, we value all individuals’ unique talents, respect their dignity, and strive to foster their commitment to excellence in our work. Our community’s strength depends on the unity and diversity of our people, on the free exchange of ideas, and on learning, living, and working harmoniously.

Personal Development

Saint Leo University stresses the development of every person’s mind, spirit, and body for a balanced life. All members of the Saint Leo University community must demonstrate their commitment to personal development to help strengthen the character of our community.

Responsible Stewardship

Our Creator blesses us with an abundance of resources. We foster a spirit of service to employ our resources for University and community development. We must be resourceful. We must optimize and apply all of the resources of our community to fulfill Saint Leo University’s mission and goals.


The commitment of Saint Leo University to excellence demands that its members live its mission and deliver on its promise. The faculty, staff, and students pledge to be honest, just, and consistent in word and deed.

Catholic Roots

Saint Leo is proud to be one of the oldest Catholic universities in Florida, and the largest of four Catholic higher education institutions in Florida.

Faith is one of those qualities that lives inside each of us, remaining constant when dedicated and unwavering beliefs are present.

At Saint Leo University, faith has remained a constant since 1889, when the Florida legislature authorized the Order of Saint Benedict of Florida to establish the university. Saint Leo Abbey remains active today, a living embodiment of our history and our future.

Respect for All

Our mission to truly live the rich Catholic values of individual and collective excellence is still as firmly intact today as it has been from our beginning. In the spirit of this mission, we welcome learners of all faiths, and those with no religious affiliation.

A living-learning-serving community, our University Campus thrives in bringing together students, faculty and staff from all paths of life through service and leadership. Across our University Campus, Education Centers and online programs, our vast history of integrity and responsible stewardship is uniquely woven into our academic curriculum. As part of their general education core, all our undergraduate students take courses in religion and philosophy, with no Christian or Catholic-specific subject requirements.

Living Our Catholic Faith

Opportunities abound at our University Campus for faith and spirituality in action. University Ministry programs include eucharistic adoration, Sunday and weekday Mass and confession, as well as:

  • Voice of Christ: Student choir and band
  • Imago Dei: Pro-life group
  • Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA): A scripture- and community-based process of learning more about the Catholic faith and practice
  • Peer Ministry: Students are selected and trained to serve as spiritual partners for their campus peers
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