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President's Cabinet

Jeffrey D. Senese, Ph.D.

President
jeffrey.senese@saintleo.edu
Twitter: @SaintLeoPres
Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffsenese/

Dr. Jeffrey Senese joined Saint Leo University in January 2018. Dr. Senese comes to Saint Leo University from Cardinal Stritch University, where he was provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. He has held similar academic positions throughout his career over the past 28 years, 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. Dr. Senese earned a BS in the Administration of Justice from the Pennsylvania State University; an MA in criminology from Indiana State University; and a PhD in multidisciplinary social sciences from the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University.


Melanie Storms, Psy.D.

Senior Vice President
melanie.storms@saintleo.edu

Dr. Storms joined Saint Leo University in 2016.  Most recently, she served as vice president for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the College of Health Sciences at Walden University.  Prior to that she held a variety of roles within academia including campus president, vice-president of academic affairs, dean, and program chair.  She also served in a variety of administrative and clinical service provision roles earlier in her professional career as a licensed clinical psychologist.  Dr. Storms earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Central Florida, and both her master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from the Florida Institute of Technology. 


Mary T. Spoto, Ph.D.

Vice President of Academic Affairs
mary.spoto@saintleo.edu 

Dr. Spoto joined Saint Leo in March 1989.  Dr. Spoto is a professor of English and has served in several roles during her 30-year history with Saint Leo.  Before her appointment as vice president, she served as the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and the chair of the Department of Language Studies and the Arts.  Dr. Spoto expanded the fine arts programs at the university and led the development of the university’s general education program, University Explorations, and 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 Master of Arts and doctoral degrees in English from the University of South Florida.


Rebecca Eckstein, MA, CEC, PCC

Interim Vice President, University Enrollment Management
rebecca.eckstein@saintleo.edu

Rebecca Eckstein joined St. Leo University in November, 2021. She is an enrollment management expert and professional certified coach. In her role, she is responsible for the oversight of the Division of University Enrollment Management, which consists of University Campus and Worldwide Enrollment, which includes the university’s 16 education centers, online and graduate programs. In her 30-year career in enrollment, she has impacted enrollment teams, and increased net revenue at 15 different universities and independent schools. Her aggregate increases in net revenue have been profound for the institutions she served with increased retention, new student enrollment, optimized financial aid packaging, and/or budget savings. She is published in educational journals, appears on television and speaks nationally on subjects related to education. In 2013, she appeared on an India Reality TV Show, College Hunt USA, and in 2015, she led her team to win a Telly award for the creation of an open house video. She served on the U.S. Presidential Scholarship Review Committee in 2016 and 2017. She regularly serves on the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands as a scholarship judge and the "No Place for Hate" scholarships awarded by the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. Rebecca graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration/Accounting with a minor in Computer Science from Mary Baldwin College, and a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Computational Sciences from Hollins University. In 2020, she completed her certification with the International Coaching Federation, and in 2021 she completed a certification with MIT in Neuroscience for Business Leaders. She is the founder of Admission Network, LLC a business dedicated to Empowering Executives and Educating Students.


Mark Gesner, Ph.D.

Vice President of Community Engagement & Innovation
mark.gesner@saintleo.edu

Dr. Gesner joined Saint Leo in August 2021. He most recently served at Cardinal Stritch University where he was the executive director of the Hub for Innovation and Community Engaged Learning, the associate vice president for academic affairs, and the faculty chair of Community Engaged Learning and Leadership. Previously, Dr. Gesner held leadership positions at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside and Hostelling International – USA, an organization dedicated to educational travel and cross-cultural exchange. His teaching and research interests include social enterprise, leadership, and intercultural competence. He holds a bachelor’s degree in communication from the State University of New York at Albany, a master’s degree in education from Harvard University, and a doctoral degree in leadership for the advancement of learning and service in higher education from Cardinal Stritch University.


Fran Reidy

Vice President & Director of Athletics
fran.reidy@saintleo.edu

Reidy joined Saint Leo University in 1988 serving in the role of head soccer coach. He was a teacher of special education in Tampa for 10 years prior to joining Saint Leo full-time in 1992. During his tenure at Saint Leo he has held the role of soccer coach, sports information director, assistant athletic director and associate athletic director. He was named the athletic director in March 1999.  He earned a B.S. degree in elementary education and special education from Fitchburg State University and his M.B.A. from Saint Leo University.


Jen Shaw, Ph.D.

Vice President of Student Affairs
jen.shaw@saintleo.edu 

Dr. Shaw joined Saint Leo University in 2019. Jen has worked in Student Affairs for more than 25 years including as a Senior Fellow for NASPA, the Associate Vice President/Dean of Students at the University of Florida (UF), Dean of Student Relations at the University of South Florida, and the Dean of Students and Coordinator for Academic Integrity at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG). Dr. Shaw held Associate Professor rank at UF and UNCG and has taught undergraduate and graduate courses throughout her career. A nationally recognized crisis management expert, she has won numerous awards and has published and presented widely regarding crisis management in higher education. Jen’s Ph.D. degree is from Florida State University.


Staci Rhodes Shelley

General Counsel
staci.shelley@saintleo.edu

Staci comes to Saint Leo University from Walden University where she led Walden’s Legal team supporting academic faculty and staff serving over 52,000 students and offering more than 100 undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs. Prior to that, Staci served in senior legal roles supporting both campus-based and online higher education institutions and hospital systems.

Staci graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in Communications from North Carolina State University and with a J.D. from The Catholic University of America, serving as Associate Editor of the Law Review.


Abigail Appleton

Special Assistant to the President
abigail.appleton@saintleo.edu

Abigail Appleton joined Saint Leo University in July 2020. As Special Assistant to the President, she supports the President by managing presidential initiatives and projects, and assisting with the strategic planning process. Appleton most recently served as Executive Assistant at the U.S. Grains Council and before that was Special Assistant to the Executive Vice President at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Prior to these roles, Appleton was an Instruction and Reference Librarian at the American University in Cairo. Appleton has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Political Science from Valparaiso University, a Masters in Library Science from Indiana University, and a Master of Arts degree in Political Science from the American University in Cairo.


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