Saint Leo U Acquires 32 Acres, Plans Expansion

An expansion for Saint Leo University is in the works: The Pasco County-based university recently acquired more than 30 acres of land from the Benedictine Sisters of Florida.

Founded in 1889 by Benedictine monks, Saint Leo University, at 33701 S.R. 52 a few miles west of Dade City, is the oldest Catholic university in Florida, operating independently as a private nonprofit institution embracing Catholic Benedictine values and traditions. The university currently sits on 186 acres in Saint Leo, FL, offering more than 40 academic programs, including associate, bachelor's and master's degrees, as well as the educational specialist (Ed.S.) degree.

“The university continues to grow and meet the ever-changing needs of our students,” says VP of Student Services Ken Posner. “We've been strategic in designing a campus learning environment that works.”

Acquiring 37 acres of the Benedictine Sisters' land holdings, the area includes the Holy Name Monastery, at 33201 S.R. 52 in Saint Leo, directly adjacent to the west end of Saint Leo University's campus. The university plans to use the land for future expansion as enrollment grows, incorporating the space into its updated master plan.

“We have been so blessed to have the Sister's involvement in Saint Leo since our founding as the first Catholic college in Florida,” says university President Arthur F. Kirk, Jr. “The Sisters' work will continue: They will live nearby, their presence will continue to enrich our university and they will be able to see on a daily basis how the addition of this parcel enhances our educational mission.”

The Benedictine Sisters, a community of 16, has been in Pasco County for 123 years and will remain on the existing Holy Name Monastery while a new one is built on the 40 acres of remaining land owned by the Sisters; the project is expected to take approximately two and a half years, including a fundraising effort.

“We plant our roots deep and feel blessed that we can transplant ourselves across the street near the university and in our hometown of Saint Leo,” says Prioress of Holy Name Monastery Sister Roberta Bailey, O.S.B. “We are pleased that the land will remain in the 'family' and continue to be used for educational ministries that uphold the same Benedictine values that the Sisters espouse.”

The six core values currently guiding university life are drawn from the Benedictine tradition, emphasizing a life of prayer, work, community, scholasticism and hospitality.

In September 2011, St. Leo celebrated the opening of the $12 million, 47,921-square-foot Donald R. Tapia School of Business and began an approximately $19 million construction project on two new apartment-style residence halls on the main campus in Pasco County.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Sources: Ken Posner & Dr. Arthur F. Kirk, Jr., Saint Leo University & Sister Roberta Bailey, Benedictine Sisters of Florida
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