Dr. Jeffrey D. Senese, president of Saint Leo University, has announced the appointment of Dr. Mary T. Spoto as vice president of Academic Affairs, effective immediately. Spoto, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, has served as the acting vice president of Academic Affairs since Senese was named president in July.

"Mary is a proven leader with strong support from our faculty and staff," Senese said. "Her leadership experience in academics will be of great value as we move boldly and confidently into an even more successful future at Saint Leo University."

A Tampa, FL, native, Spoto has served in several roles during her 25-year history with Saint Leo. Before serving as dean, she was the chair of the Department of English, Fine Arts, and Humanities, now referred to as the Department of Language Studies and the Arts. She also is a professor of English.

As dean, Spoto has been a leader in the development of the university's general education program, University Explorations, designed with specially created courses to help students recognize the importance of the liberal arts to their larger learning.

Spoto expanded the fine arts programs at the university and leading the development of new academic programs such as the Bridge Program for second-language learners and the master's programs in creative writing and psychology.

She earned her Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and doctoral degree in English from the University of South Florida.

"One of the things I've admired the most about Saint Leo is its strong focus on teaching," Spoto said. "We are a university that truly exists to help students learn and gain the knowledge and skills that will help them in their careers and will guide them in life. In my new role, I plan to continue developing and strengthening this focus in partnership with our faculty and deans to create more innovative and distinctive programs, making academics a hallmark of the university for years to come."