Friday, September 15, 2017

President Msgr. Casale's post Hurricane Irma message

Dear St. Thomas University Community:

I hope you and your families are well and recovering from the effects of Hurricane Irma. Hurricanes create very difficult circumstances for many, but also seem to bring out the best in people who pull together to help one another.

Our campus was fortunate not to have severe damage. Structurally our buildings are still intact, but as you can imagine with all the foliage on campus there was quite a bit to clean up after Irma passed by. As usual, our Physical Plant crew, with its great leadership was superb at restoring order to the campus, cleaning up as much as possible before we open.

As we communicated to you before, we were able to open the campus at noon on Thursday, since our electricity had been restored the day before. The teamwork among the members of our campus, especially the members of our Emergency Management group, enabled us to make proper decisions and communicate them in a timely fashion. I thank everyone who worked so hard, especially the Office of Emergency Management and the Office of Communication.

Our resident students who were not able to evacuate, received hospitality at FIU. I am deeply grateful to President Mark Rosenberg for his kindness to us. The students are now back on campus.

We are ready to begin classes on Monday. Our Provost is meeting with the deans to arrange the schedule for the rest of the academic year to accommodate the missed classes.

Mass will be offered Sunday, September 17th in the Chapel of St. Anthony at 7pm. Our thoughts continue for those who are not as fortunate as we in avoiding devastation. May God help them recover as quickly as possible.

I look forward to seeing you on Monday.

Sincerely,

Msgr. Casale

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Hurricane Irma Update

Advisory #9: Wednesday, Sept. 13 @ 4:00 p.m.

We are happy to report that power has been fully restored at St. Thomas University. The following is a list of dates and times specific facilities/services on campus will be reopening.

  • All classes have been canceled through Friday, Sept. 15, and will resume Monday, Sept. 18. A make-up plan for lost instructional time will be developed.
  • Residential students can begin returning to their residence halls at 12 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 14
  • All faculty and staff also have the option of returning to campus at 12 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 14. Since most schools remain closed, you may bring your child(ren) to work, as long as they are supervised by you.
  • The Fernandez Family Center will open at 12 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 14, and Friday, Sept. 15. 
  • Dining Hours: The cafeteria will be open Thursday through Friday for brunch, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and for dinner, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
  • The Main University Library will open:
       - Thursday, 9/14, from 12 to 5 p.m.          
       - Friday, 9/15, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
       - Saturday, 9/16, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
       - Sunday, 9/17, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Counseling Services available on campus. We realize the psychological stress and anxiety natural disasters like Hurricane Irma have on individuals. STU will have a counselor on campus tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 14, and Friday, Sept. 15, from noon to 4 p.m., in the Student Affairs Office located in the Student Center. Please call 305.628.6695 if you wish to speak with a counselor, or schedule an appointment.
  • Although there was no structural damage, our campus grounds were adversely affected. We urge everyone on campus to exercise caution when traveling through campus, as clean-up efforts continue.
  •  All local curfews should be observed.
Please continue to closely monitor the STU website, STU Alert! Notifications, and STU social media for further updates and reminders.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as STU’s Emergency Management Team works through this situation. The safety and interests of the STU community are of the utmost importance.

We extend our thoughts and prayers to everyone who has been impacted by this storm.
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Advisory #8: Tuesday, Sept. 12 @ 4:45 p.m.

St. Thomas University Emergency Management Team is aiming to get our campus up and running as soon as possible. After today's 3 p.m. call, the team has decided the following:
  • All classes have been canceled through Friday, Sept. 15, and will resume Monday, Sept. 18. A make-up plan for lost instructional time will be developed.
  • Residential students can begin returning to their residence halls at 12 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 14*
  • All faculty and staff also have the option of returning to campus at 12 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 14.* Since most schools remain closed, you may bring your child(ren) to work, as long as they are supervised by you.
  • The Fernandez Family Center will open at 12 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 14.* 
  • Although there was no structural damage, our campus grounds were adversely affected. We urge everyone on campus to exercise caution when traveling through campus, as clean-up efforts continue.
  • Dining Hours: The cafeteria will be open Thursday through Friday for brunch, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and for dinner, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.*
  • All local curfews should be observed.
*If power is not restored in time, the Thursday reopening will be postponed. In which case, we will send out an STU Alert! Wednesday afternoon.

Please continue to closely monitor the STU website, STU Alert! Notifications, and STU social media for further updates and instructions.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as STU’s Emergency Management Team continues to assess and work through this situation. The safety and interests of the STU community are of the utmost importance.

We extend our thoughts and prayers to everyone who has been impacted by this storm.
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Advisory #7: Monday, Sept. 11 @ 3:30 p.m.

St. Thomas University Emergency Management Team is aiming to get our campus up and running as soon as possible. Damage assessments are underway, as well as the clearing of debris from campus roads and sidewalks. After today's 3 p.m. call, the team has decided that it will likely take a few more days to reopen the university.

As of today at 3:30 p.m., St. Thomas University will remain closed through Wednesday, Sept. 13.

STU students and employees are asked NOT to return to campus until further notice. An all clear will be sent out about the reopening of campus. Please continue to closely monitor the STU website, STU Alert! Notifications, and STU social media for further updates and instructions.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as STU’s Emergency Management Team continues to assess and work through this situation. The safety and interests of the STU community are of the utmost importance.

We extend our thoughts and prayers to everyone who has been impacted by this storm.

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Advisory #6: Monday, Sept. 11 @ 10:15 a.m.

STU’s Emergency Management Team held a conference call at 9:30 this morning. Fortunately, the university did not sustain any structural damage, but trees are down and power is out throughout campus.

St. Thomas University will remain closed through Tuesday, Sept. 12.

STU students and employees are asked NOT to return to campus until further notice. An all clear will be sent out about the reopening of campus. Please continue to closely monitor the STU website, STU Alert! Notifications, and STU social media for further updates and instructions.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as STU’s Emergency Management Team continues to assess and work through this situation. The safety and interests of the STU community are of the utmost importance.

We extend our thoughts and prayers to everyone who has been impacted by this storm.
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Advisory #5: Sunday, Sept. 10 @ 7 p.m.

Due to power outages, and the inability to inspect and make repairs to campus buildings that may have sustained damage from Hurricane Irma, St. Thomas University will remain closed through Tuesday, Sept. 12.

STU students and employees are asked NOT to return to campus until further notice. An all clear will be sent out about the reopening of campus. Please continue to closely monitor the STU website, STU Alert! Notifications, and STU social media for further updates and instructions.
We appreciate your patience and understanding as STU’s Emergency Management Team continues to work through this complex situation. The safety and interests of the STU community are of the utmost importance. 
We extend our thoughts and prayers to everyone who has been impacted by this storm.
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Advisory #4: Thursday, Sept. 7 @ 4 p.m.
St. Thomas University continues to closely monitor Hurricane Irma, which is currently located approximately 700 miles from Miami-Dade County. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for South Florida.

With the latest track, officials predict the storm could impact Florida as early as Saturday, with most of the state feeling the effects by Sunday. Because of this new information, the Emergency Management Team has decided to close campus on Monday, Sept. 11.

STU students and employees are asked NOT to return to campus until the university sends an all-clear alert.

We urge students, faculty, and staff to continue monitoring TV reports, www.stu.edu, or STU’s Facebook page for further updates and instructions.


STU’s Emergency Management Team will continue to monitor the storm’s progress and provide updates and instructions, as needed.
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Advisory #3: Wednesday, Sept. 6 @ 11:30 a.m.

St. Thomas University is closely monitoring Hurricane Irma, which is currently located approximately 1,200 miles east-southeast of Miami-Dade County. The potential for impacts to South Florida are increasing and plans are being rapidly implemented to ensure the safety of our university community and facilities. The earliest time South Florida would experience impacts is Friday evening.

All classes, programs, and events for both the Main University and Law School are cancelled effective at 3 p.m. today, Wednesday, Sept. 6. Administrative offices and the library will also close at 3 p.m. The university will remain closed tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 7, through the weekend.

The safety and wellbeing of our students, faculty, and staff is of utmost concern. As of today, the university is issuing a mandatory evacuation of all student residents. If you live on campus, please contact your Resident Advisor (R.A.) IMMEDIATELY. We are strongly encouraging all residential students to rapidly implement evacuation plans and communicate them with their R.A., or with Richard McNabb. For students without a place to go, STU will be providing you with transportation to a safe, designated shelter.

We urge students, faculty, and staff to continue monitoring TV reports, www.stu.edu, or STU’s Facebook page for further updates and instructions.

Please review the 2017 Weather Emergency Guide to familiarize yourself with preparations. It can be found here.

The STU Emergency Management Team will meet again today, and another communication will be issued this afternoon.

For students with questions or concerns regarding their Comprehensive Health Insurance, please send an email to either: carbos@aisstudentinsurance.com, or mailto:orablack@academicinsurancesolutions.com
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Advisory #2: Tuesday, Sept. 5 @ 6:30 p.m.

The University’s Emergency Management Team has been closely monitoring the progress of Hurricane Irma and any potential impact to our area. At this time, there are no plans to evacuate residential students, but we strongly encourage them to find alternative places to stay. For students with no alternative shelter, the county will be providing a list of nearby shelters, and we will share that list as soon as it becomes available. More information will be provided to residential students via Student Affairs.

We urge students, faculty, and staff to review the 2017 Weather Emergency Guide to familiarize themselves with preparations. It can be found here.

The next STU Advisory will be sent tomorrow at approximately 10:30 a.m., after the Emergency Management Team meets.

We urge you to continue monitoring TV reports, www.stu.edu, or STU’s Facebook page for further updates and instructions.
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Advisory #1: Tuesday, Sept. 5 @ 3:45 p.m.

As Hurricane Irma continues to travel west and closer to Florida, St. Thomas University’s Emergency Management Team is closely monitoring the developments and will be providing the university community with updates as information becomes available. The team has made the following decisions and regarding class cancellations:

All Main University and Law School classes and programs are cancelled from Thursday, Sept. 7, through the weekend. Administrative offices, online classes, and the Library will also close.

Residential students are strongly encouraged to seek shelter off campus. The Emergency Management Team will make a decision on mandatory evacuations tomorrow, and will notify you promptly. In the meantime, please begin planning and storm proofing your rooms. Please make sure to notify your RAs if you are planning on weathering the storm off campus.

Students, faculty and staff should continue monitoring local media and paying attention to updates from the National Hurricane Center. This is a good time to review and finalize personal hurricane plans and make personal and family preparations at home.

For more information on hurricane preparation and tips, please visit please visit STU’s Weather Emergency Guide or Miami-Dade County’s Hurricane Guide.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A letter to Bobcat Parents: Hurricane Irma

Dear Parents,

St. Thomas University is closely monitoring Hurricane Irma. The potential for impacts to South Florida are increasing and plans are being rapidly implemented to ensure the safety of our university community and facilities. The earliest time South Florida would experience impacts is Friday evening.

Living with the threat of hurricanes is part of living in South Florida. Because the University’s first concern is for the safety of its students and employees, we have emergency plans and teams in place, ready to act, when a storm approaches. We are continually making improvements to our emergency plans and procedures to ensure an effective and well-managed response.

To give the University community ample time to prepare for Hurricane Irma, we cancelled all classes, programs, and events for both the Main University and Law School effective at 3 p.m. today, Wednesday, Sept. 6. The university will remain closed tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 7, through the weekend.

The safety and wellbeing of our students is of utmost concern, and due to the potential severity of Hurricane Irma, we have issued a mandatory evacuation of all student residents. Rest assured that your son/daughter are in good hands. For students without a place to go, STU is providing them with transportation to a safe, designated shelter.

We urge you to monitor TV reports, www.stu.edu, or STU’s Facebook page for further updates.

Kind Regards,


Msgr. Franklyn Casale
President

Friday, September 1, 2017

Donor Spotlight: Wini and Joe Amaturo

Central to St. Thomas University is its chapel, the Chapel of Saint Anthony, and it’s hard to believe it hasn’t always been there. The chapel’s doors first opened 13 years ago in February 2004, thanks to philanthropists Winifred “Wini” and Joseph “Joe” Amaturo.

Joe and Wini have been involved with St. Thomas for over two decades, and it started with a chance meeting with STU President Monsignor Casale through a mutual friend, David Lawrence, then Miami Herald publisher. Since then, their generosity has touched many STU and non-STU students.

The Amaturo’s first gift to STU helped build a vocational school in Haiti – Haiti Tec. And when they heard of Msgr. Casale’s dream of having a chapel on campus, they didn’t think twice about donating the funds needed to build it.

“We believe in the strong academic and ethical values taught in Catholic institutions, especially at St. Thomas,” said Wini. “So when we heard of the opportunity to help support St. Thomas, we were more than happy to do so. Especially with the building of the chapel, every Catholic university should have one; it’s the essence of the university.”

Over the years, the Amaturos have also funded STU’s Winifred and Joseph Amaturo Lecture Series that has brought several well-known speakers to campus to inform, educate and enlighten the community about several topics ranging from religion to autism.

“St. Thomas is a wonderfully well-rounded university, and it’s steadily growing. Knowing that its students are instilled with the skills and values to become leaders in our community is reason enough to support St. Thomas. Its students not only learn, but thrive.”

Wini is president of their foundation, The Amaturo Family Foundation, as well as serving on St. Thomas’ Board of Trustees making her and Joe regulars on campus.

“Just giving financially, isn’t as satisfying as actually seeing what you’re investing in. What always strikes me when I’m on campus is the feeling of comradery among everyone, a sense of family. We always feel welcomed in this tight-knit community.”

One of Wini’s favorite events to attend on campus is commencement.

“We love the various events at St. Thomas, but graduations are my favorite. Seeing many first generation college students proudly walk across the stage to receive their diploma and hearing their friends and family cheer for them is a very beautiful moment to watch.”

Joe, who holds an MBA from Harvard, is a prominent entrepreneur having owned and managed 22 radio and television stations and served as chairman of MUVICO Theaters, Inc. Wini attended NYU and worked in an advertising agency in New York City up until she married in 1956.

Committed to making their community a better place, both Joe and Wini remain active in, and generously support many local organizations including the United Way of Broward, The Salvation Army, and the YMCA. They are most enthusiastic about the excellent results of the ACCELERATED READING PROGRAM in 16 Catholic schools in Broward County, which they have underwritten for 13 years. Today, more than 6,000 students participate, and each student reads an average of 35 to 40 books per school year. Wini and Joe are also blessed with five children and seven grandchildren.

To learn more about supporting St. Thomas University, click here.

Donor Spotlight: Mario Trueba ’80

Most college-bound students want to leave their hometown and go away for college, but that wasn’t the case for Mario Trueba. After moving to South Florida from Philadelphia in the eighth grade, he knew he’d always want sand in his shoes.

Cuban-born Mario wanted a small values-based environment, and Biscayne College fit the bill. He started his college career in the fall of 1976.

“What I loved most about St. Thomas was the connection we had with the professors, and the comradery between students,” said Mario, CEO of Sabadell United Bank.* “We were all from working-class families, and working our way through college.”

He said many of STU endearing characteristics that made it unique then are still present today. Not many schools can offer individualized attention, the “personalized” touch that STU offers.

“When I was a freshman, a very good friend of mine from high school was going through some tough medical issues, and it was hard for him to physically get to classes. The staff and faculty at Biscayne College took notice, and rearranged his schedule so that I could help him. St. Thomas adds a personal touch to higher education, and everyone on campus feels it.”

Mario graduated in 1980 with a degree in psychology and secondary education, although he went on to receive a master’s degree in business administration, he credits his undergraduate studies as the foundation of what he does every day.

“My undergraduate studies help me every day in my business role – I learned about public speaking, how to write well, and how to insightfully research and ask questions.”

Giving back to the community, especially to St. Thomas, is very important to Mario, who in addition to serving different committees and boards in South Florida, also serves on the university’s Board of Trustees.

“It’s important to give to organizations that impact the community, organizations you believe in,” he said. “When I was asked to join the Board of Trustees, it was an easy ‘yes.’ When I give financially, it’s also an easy ‘yes.’ I believe in St. Thomas’ mission, in its future, and it was really good to me, so the least I can do is give back.”

Mario and his wife, Susana, are long-term supporters of St. Thomas University, their gifts have helped established the student travel fund which support study aboard programs.

To learn more about supporting St. Thomas University, click here.

*In February 2017 IBERIABANK Corporation announced its acquiring Miami-based Sabadell United Bank, and as of July 31, Mario’s new role is South Florida President of IBERIABANK.

Donor Spotlight: Don Dresback ’69

In 1965, college-bound, 18-year-old Don Dresback searched for the southern-most Catholic school he could find, and came across St. Thomas University, known then as Biscayne College. He didn’t know much about the college other than the address and phone number, but he knew it had to be warmer than his hometown of Erie, Pa. Don applied, received an acceptance letter, and before he knew it, he was on his way to the Sunshine State to become the first in his family to earn a college degree.

In the four years he spent at STU, his most memorable moments came from living in the dormitories, developing lifelong friendships, and going to socials at nearby colleges like Barry and Marymount College, now Lynn University.

“Many of us were out-of-state students looking to get into adventures, and we became a very close-knit group,” he said. “I am very grateful for the friendships I developed; and almost 50 years later, several of us still communicate by email and meet up for lunch or dinner when possible. Of the 40 or so graduates in 1969, about 10 of us are still regularly in touch.”

One friendship in particular proved to be the most endearing and impactful – the friendship between him and his wife, Patricia, which started over a game of bridge.

“The biggest highlight of my Biscayne College life was meeting my wife Pat in 1969 at Barry College. I was the president of the STU bridge club, and she was the president of Barry’s bridge club. We met over a bridge table, and the rest is history. In October we will be celebrating 48 years of marriage!”

After graduating in 1969 with a bachelor’s of science, Don pursued his master’s degree at Indiana University where he also worked as a math graduate assistant. Afterward, he and his wife moved to Baltimore where he continued to teach math, but at inner city public schools.

During this time, the Vietnam War was in full swing, and Don joined the Maryland National Guard. He served for six years in a MASH unit as an operating room surgical assistant. In 1972, Don started his insurance career in Annapolis, Md.

Yearning for the year-round summer weather of South Florida, Don and his family relocated to Boca Raton, where he met his business partner of 38 years. Together, in 1979, they established The Beacon Group, Inc., an independent insurance agency serving the South Florida tri county area.

Throughout the years Don has been very busy growing his business and his family – he has three daughters and four grandchildren – but he always made time for STU. For the last 35 years he’s been active with the university in some way or another. He’s currently the chair of the President’s Board of Advisors, and aside from contributing his time, he also contributes to student scholarships.

“It’s important for people to understand the impact individual contributions, big or small, have on a university and its students. I’m fortunate to be able to contribute my time and to contribute financially. I know from personal experience how straining college expenses can be on students. When I was a student, I worked in the cafeteria and as a dorm counselor, and I also had loans.”

Many STU students today, like many Biscayne College students in the 60’s and 70’s, are the firsts in their families to go to college, and scholarship gifts help these students achieve their dreams of becoming college graduates. In turn, donors like Dresback hope these first-generation graduates become leaders, give back and inspire other students.

“And it’s not all about the dollar amount, but the participation and time you invest. For me, it’s important to give back to an institution that has academically and personally helped me achieve success, and I want to offer that opportunity to others who are struggling like we were in the 60’s. Someone needs to help them along the way and make sure they get a quality education. That’s why I give.”

To learn more about supporting St. Thomas University, click here.

Donor Spotlight: Margee Martinez ’06

During her undergraduate years at St. Thomas University, Margee Martinez ’06 was learning life lessons on the field and in the classroom. She came to STU for the opportunity to play soccer, and she was given an athletics’ scholarship. After three years of amazing leadership, wins, and losses her coach left St. Thomas, and Margee was devastated, so much so that she quit the soccer team. But soon afterward she changed her mind.

“When I saw my teammates training and heard them talking about the upcoming season, I wanted back in,” she said. “I realized made a hasty decision without giving the new coach [Michelle] a chance. And she turned out to me one of my favorite coaches.”

Since Margee missed pre-season training, it wasn’t going to be easy getting back on the team. Coach Michelle made sure she, like the rest of her teammates, went through pre-season training, which entailed waking up every day before the sun was out and afternoon sessions as well.

“It took a lot of discipline and hard work, but it paid off. That season was my best season, and Coach Michelle turned out to be a phenomenal coach.”

The discipline Margee, a sales manager for Mass Mutual Miami, learned at STU has also paid off in her career in the financial industry.

“When I was first promoted, my boss said, ‘you come in the earliest and leave the latest, and it shows.’ I received a quality, personalized education at STU that taught me good work ethic, values, and provided a solid foundation and understanding of the business industry.”

In addition to her work at Mass Mutual, Margee also holds financial seminars aptly named “Women and the F word,” in which the F word stands for: family, fitness, friends, and finances. Suffice it to say, the seminars are void of anything run-of-the-mill.

“Education, especially financial education is powerful and empowering. And I realized shortly after beginning my career that young women starting out in their careers need to know that everything they want is within their reach if they are willing to work hard for it. I want to equip young women to become the leaders of tomorrow.”

Although Margee had an athletics scholarship, it didn’t cover 100 percent of her tuition, so she was left to figure out how she was going to come up with the extra money needed to pay tuition.

“I had to come up with $2,000 each semester, which is more like a million dollars to a teenager. I told my coach about my predicament, and she gave me a list of donor scholarships for several denominations, and I applied to all of them.”

Margee ended up receiving the financial aid she needed because of the generosity of others, and now she gives back to STU to pay it forward.

“I was there before, I was one of the students who needed financial aid. And now, I am able to help someone like me reach their dreams. Giving to STU scholarships is my way of giving back to the university that shaped me as a person and kick-started my career in the financial arena.”

Margee graduated in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in business, sports administration.

To learn more about supporting St. Thomas University scholarships, click here.