Wednesday, December 23, 2015

New Year's Message From STU President

STU President Msgr. Franklyn M. Casale

Dear STU Community,

Here we are at the end of 2015, a momentous year for St. Thomas University, and we are filled with so much gratitude and hope. This year we’ve added 18 new degree programs; received a historic naming gift for the Gus Machado School of Business; expanded our athletic complex with the new Dominick Miniaci Beach Volleyball courts, and the Boras Batting Cages; launched an accelerated law degree program with Miami-Dade College and Lynn University; inaugurated the Catholic Education Continuum with our Catholic high schools; were recognized with the Global Impact Award for our project in Port-de-Paix, Haiti by Florida Campus Compact; and received over half-million dollar grant from the Lilly Endowment for the School of Theology. And these are just a few of our 2015 accomplishments!

No doubt, the best is yet to come! Thank you for helping us achieve so much. We are blessed to have your commitment to our student success, learning, and community well-being.

As 2015 comes to an end, St. Thomas University would like to wish you and your family and friends a Happy New Year! May the New Year bring you health and prosperity.

May God bless you and your family,

Msgr. Franklyn M. Casale

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

St. Thomas Law Named Number One Law School in the Nation for Hispanics

St. Thomas University School of Law has long been nationally-recognized for its students' quality of life and the diversity among its student body. Now, the Miami-based law school has been ranked the number one law school in the United States for Hispanics by Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine.

The Top 25 rankings, released in the December 2015 issue, is based on enrollment and completion surveys submitted to the National Center for Education Statistics in Washington D.C., an arm of the U.S. Department of Education.

“The ranking is consistent with our school’s mission of access for students from groups that have been underrepresented in the profession," stated St. Thomas Law Dean Alfredo Garcia. "We are proud of our students and alumni who have fulfilled our mission and aspirations.”

St. Thomas Law, where 67% of the students are Hispanic, was also featured for the innovative programs created to support our students from pre-admission to post-graduation. The Summer Conditional Program, which is geared towards newly-admitted students and exposes them to the law school experience, and the Active Learning Instructor (ALI) Program which involves, among other things, upper-level students serving as mentors to first-year students, were mentioned.

The learning process is further enhanced through workshops on exam-taking, essay skill-building, and bar exam preparation.

Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education is a national monthly magazine rooted in serving the unique needs of the Hispanic community in higher education. It is notable for its annual Top 100 list of colleges and universities awarding degrees to Hispanic students.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Recognizing High School Student Athletes

St. Thomas University is a proud supporter of the FOX Deportes High School Student Athlete of the Year Program.

Sponsored by FOX Deportes, Doral Lincoln, Sedano's and St. Thomas University, the FOX Deportes Student Athlete of the Year Program recognizes high school seniors from the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area who have demonstrated achievement in the classroom and in their chosen sports.

On Friday, Dec. 18, two individual grand prizes were awarded, one male, one female. Each grand prize included a $5,000 college scholarship, which were presented to the winners at the American Airlines Arena before the Miami Heat game against the Toronto Raptors.

For more information, visit

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Alumni Spotlight: Judge Michaelle Gonzalez-Paulson

Judge Michaelle Gonzalez-Paulson '01

St. Thomas Law 2001 graduate, Judge Michaelle Gonzalez-Paulson, was recently profiled by the Daily Business Review. The profile recounts Judge Gonzalez-Paulson's history with domestic violence and how those experiences guided her decision to attend law school.

"I realized at that time how difficult it was to afford an attorney, and I didn't qualify for legal aid either," she stated. "I think that experience is something that made me realize that I wanted to go to law school, that I wanted to be in public service, and I wanted to be able to help those who could otherwise not have access to justice."

True to her goals, she worked as a certified legal intern with Dade Legal Aid during law school, working for them, full-time, after graduation. She eventually started a private practice where she hadled family law including divorce and domestic violence cases.

She was elected to the bench in 2010 and noted that being a judge was something she wanted not only as a career but as a part of her life. Her judicial career started in the civil division, however she now presides over cases that, once again, brings her into contact with victims and perpetrators of domestic violence.

Read the full profile here.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

STU Alumni Host Night to Remember

St. Thomas University (STU) alumni Jorge Rico ‘86, and his wife Isabel ’91, opened the doors of their home to students from Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, Msgr. Edward Pace High School, Christopher Columbus High School, and St. Brendan High School, for STU’s first University Preview event of the year. Jorge, a university trustee and prominent businessperson, is also the father of a 2012 STU graduate, Jessica.

The event, which took place on Dec. 3, provided an opportunity for prospective students, parents, principals and guidance counselors to meet with alumni, university trustees, STU President Msgr. Franklyn Casale, Provost Irma Becerra and university admissions staff, to learn about the many programs offered at STU.

Student Government Association officers also were in attendance, conveying to prospective students their respective STU experiences.

Several Preview Events are planned throughout the next few months at the homes of university trustees.

Preview events are first glance at what attending St. Thomas University is all about. At the event, you'll meet current faculty, staff and students, learn about academic programs and financial assistance, and get the answers to all your university questions.

For photos of the event, click here.

For more information about preview events, please contact Carmen Brown at

Monday, December 7, 2015

St. Thomas University Welcomes Three New Trustees

From left to right: Michael T. Fay, Lourdes Rivas, and Maureen Shea

St. Thomas University (STU) has announced the appointment of three prominent South Florida leaders to its Board of Trustees. Michael T. Fay, Lourdes Rivas, and Maureen Shea were recently appointed to the university’s 25-member governing and policy-setting board.

“STU is very fortunate to have these members and their unique talents and skills join our dynamic Board of Trustees,” said STU President Monsignor Franklyn Casale. “Their leadership, guidance, and commitment will benefit our students, community and university mission.”

Michael T. Fay is principal and managing director at Avison Young. He is a prominent commercial real estate professional with more than 32 years of commercial real estate experience. Over the course of his career, he has closed over $5.5 billion in transactions, specializing in investment sales, REO and note sales, as well as strategy and implementation for large national corporate real estate accounts.

Fay, who graduated from LaGrange College with a bachelor’s degree in business, is also an avid surfer and a nationally and world-ranked wakeboard champion.

Lourdes Rivas, CEO of Simply Healthcare, is a distinguished healthcare executive with more than 15 years of industry experience. Throughout her career, she has led healthcare organizations in Florida and nationally. Prior to joining Simply in January of 2012, she served as regional vice president for DentaQuest. Before that, she was chief operating officer for Atlantic Dental and chief executive officer of PrescribIT. From 1997-2003, Rivas served as senior vice president for United Home Care Services.

Rivas holds a certificate in healthcare management and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Florida International University.

Maureen Shea, CEO and co-founder of Right Management, drives growth in diverse talent management and career management services for privately and publicly owned companies throughout Florida and the Caribbean region. Previously, she served as the company’s chief financial officer. Before joining Right Management, Shea was director of recruiting for MassMutual Life Insurance Company and Lincoln National Life.

Shea, a graduate of Kean College in New Jersey, has served on the Board of Trustees and the finance committee for Holy Cross Hospital. She is a Leadership Broward Foundation alumna, a board member of the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California and of the Business Advisory Board of St. Thomas University.

Friday, December 4, 2015

St. Thomas University receives $550,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.

St. Thomas University (STU) has received a grant of $557,588 to establish STU IMPACT: Empowering Young Disciples. It is part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s High School Youth Theology Institutes initiative, which seeks to encourage young people to explore theological traditions, ask questions about the moral dimensions of contemporary issues and examine how their faith calls them to lives of service.

 STU’s Institute for High School Youth: STU IMPACT: Empowering Young Disciples, in collaboration with the Catholic Archdiocese of Miami, will create opportunities for rising sophomores through senior high school students to discover and explore their faith. During an intensive eight-day program, tentatively scheduled for June 11 – 19, 2016, students will live on campus, learn from renowned scholars, and participate in local and regional civic engagement activities. Activities will include formal theological education and a mid-year convocation. Additionally, students will design and implement a service learning project to be implemented in their home community or parish.

 “This support from Lilly Endowment accelerates the university’s expansion and strengthens our Catholic identity in ways that will make a real difference for students and drive civic involvement that will have an impact in our community and the world,” said STU President Monsignor Franklyn Casale. “We thank Lilly Endowment for contributing to the long-term success of our institution.”

St. Thomas University is one of 82 schools participating in the initiative. The schools are located in 29 states and the District of Columbia. Although some schools are independent, many reflect the religious heritage of their founding traditions. These traditions include Baptist, Brethren, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Reformed churches, as well as Roman Catholic, non-denominational, Pentecostal and historic African-American Christian communities.

“These colleges and universities are well-positioned to reach out to high school students in this way,” said Dr. Christopher L. Coble, vice president for religion at the Endowment. “They have outstanding faculty in theology and religion who know how to help young people explore the wisdom of religious traditions and apply these insights to contemporary challenges.”

The Endowment is giving $44.5 million in grants to help a select group of private four-year colleges and universities around the nation to create the institutes. The grants are part of the Endowment’s commitment to identify and cultivate a cadre of theologically minded youth who will become leaders in church and society.

An additional grant to the Forum for Theological Exploration will establish a program that will bring together leaders of the high school youth theology institutes to foster mutual learning and support.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family - J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli - through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. Lilly Endowment’s religion grantmaking is designed to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians. It does this largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes.

STU will begin accepting applications the spring of 2016. To learn more about STU IMPACT, please contact Sr. Ondina Cortes at 305-474-6870, or

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

STU student runner-up in Startup Weekend Miami at FIU

Team Tip N' Go. Marcos Castillo is the seventh person from the right. Photo courtesy of FIU.

St. Thomas University (STU) business student and Vice President of STU’s Student Government Association, Marcos Castillo, along with his team Tip N’ Go stood out in a crowd of business ideas and eager entrepreneurs during Startup Weekend Miami at FIU.

Tip N’ Go - an application that allows users to tip for hotel services electronically - came in second place during the event. The team was comprised of a wide range of majors: computer science, hospitality business, marketing and finance. Within the team, Castillo’s role was that of marketing strategist, researcher, and revenue and cost analyst.

“We only had a weekend, so we all had to work together and wear all sorts of different hats to make our idea come to life,” said Castillo.

Although there was no cash prize given to second and third place winners, the teams were privy to advice and tips from some of South Florida’s best startup investors, business coaches and mentors.

“The opportunity to network was a prize in and of itself,” said Castillo. “We had access to business leaders in key industries who offered amazing guidance and advice.”

In total, 88 participants competing in 16 teams running on unlimited coffee and snacks, brainstormed, crafted business plans and marketing plans, the presented their ideas to a panel of judges and investors.

The winning team, Headliner - an online platform and application which allows users to crowdfund for the bands of their choice to perform locally - took the $500 first prize.

Startup Weekend Miami at FIU is designed to enable developers, designers and entrepreneurs to create, pitch and launch their startup ideas over an intense, 54-hour weekend. The event was held at FIU’s Tech Station, and began Friday, Nov. 20, at 6:30 p.m., and concluded Sunday, Nov. 22 at 9 p.m.

Monday, November 30, 2015

STU Celebrates Asian Heritage Month with Gyotaku Prints Exhibition

“Gyotaku Prints: Sand Perch” is an exhibition of prints created by St. Thomas University students, faculty and staff during a Gyotaku Printing Workshop presented by Jaclyn Dematzo of the Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens in honor of Asian Heritage Month.
The “Gyotaku Prints: Sand Perch” exhibit opens Dec. 2, at 11 a.m., in the Main Library, and will remain on display through the end of January.

Gyotaku (fish rubbing) is the traditional Japanese method of printing fish, which came about before the advent of photography, when fishermen were looking for a way to record the size and species of their catch. After reeling in their catch, fishermen would coat one side of the fish with ink, cover it with rice-straw paper, and then gently rub in a circular motion until an impression was made. Afterward, they would wash off the non-toxic ink so the fish could be sold.

Although Gyotaku is a time-honored Japanese tradition, many artists around the world incorporate this technique in many of their works.


St. Thomas Law Hosts Winter Human Trafficking Academy

St. Thomas Law’s 2015 Winter Human Trafficking Academy, a project originally funded by the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, is designed to conduct research, outreach and education in the field of human trafficking. Starting Dec. 7 - 11, through a multidisciplinary approach, the Academy will provide effective tools to increase the awareness about human trafficking, identify and protect human trafficking victims and develop strategies to prevent and effectively combat this crime.

Participants will gain insight into various forms of human trafficking, best practices in addressing this crime, modalities of working with survivors, and ways of partnering with the community to develop a cohesive anti-trafficking strategy. Upon completion of the training, participants will be able to recognize not only the importance of prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnership in facing trafficking crimes, but also the importance of rescue, recovery and reintegration of human trafficking survivors.

The 2015 Academy, directed by Dr. Roza Pati, consists of 22 interactive courses, available on campus and online, taught by top-level experts, academics and practitioners. For more information on the curriculum, instructors and course schedule, please visit Register today at: Registration closes Dec. 4.

Monday, November 23, 2015

St. Thomas and Lynn University Launch Accelerated Law Degree Program

Collaboration enables students to obtain bachelor’s degree and juris doctor in six years

Standing L-R: Anthony Marino, St. Thomas Law 2nd year student; Peter Kelly; Jessica Fonseca Nader; Cecile Dykas; Karline Lee '09; Bill Smith, Jr., former Mayor of Boca Raton; Mark Wolff, St. Thomas Law Professor. Seated L-R: Dr. Gregg Cox, Lynn University VP for Academic Affairs; Msgr. Franklyn Casale; Dr. Kevin Ross, President, Lynn University; St. Thomas Law's Dean Alfredo Garcia
St. Thomas University (STU) School of Law and Lynn University have signed a new articulation agreement that allows qualified students to earn their law degree in six years - as compared to seven years if completed in the traditional way. Students will complete three undergraduate years at Lynn University before matriculating into St. Thomas Law for a three-year juris doctor program.

The agreement was formalized at a signing ceremony held at Lynn University on Thursday, Nov. 19. The ceremony was attended by officials from both institutions including STU President, Monsignor Franklyn Casale; President of Lynn University, Dr. Kevin Ross; Dean of St. Thomas University School of Law, Alfredo Garcia; Lynn University’s Vice President for Academic Affairs, Gregg Cox, as well as other administrators, students and alumni from each school.
“We are happy to partner with our friends at Lynn in establishing this 3+3 program,” said Monsignor Casale. “We recognize and value the global experience that Lynn students receive as undergraduates and, through this partnership, give Lynn students the opportunity to continue that global experience at St. Thomas University School of Law, which is consistently recognized each year as one of the most diverse law schools in the country.”

The accelerated law degree will result in significant savings for students who are faced with ever-increasing education costs.

“Our partnership with St. Thomas Law provides access to a legal education at a more affordable price,” said President Ross. “Lynn students enrolled in the program can save up to one year of tuition—approximately $46,000—and will have access to scholarships.”

St. Thomas Law will automatically award a $5,000 annual scholarship to any Lynn student who is part of the program. Additionally, students who complete their first year at St. Thomas Law and rank in the top 25 percent of the class are eligible to receive a merit scholarship ranging from $5,000 to $33,000.

Thursday’s signing marks the second such agreement that St. Thomas Law has executed in 2016. Earlier this year, a 3+3 articulation agreement was signed between St. Thomas Law and Miami Dade College. Through partnerships such as these, St. Thomas Law continues to expand opportunities for undergraduates to earn law degrees, advance economically, and be part of successful academic and legal communities.


Friday, November 13, 2015

STU Offers Unique Certificate Program in Ethics and Compliance

With the rising demand of ethics and compliance education in the United States, St. Thomas University (STU) has launched a professional certificate program in ethics and compliance, making it the second academic institution in the country to offer this certification. The 30-hour, on-line training program prepares students for national certification as ethics and compliance professionals.

The 10-week program was developed by Robert Meyers, former executive director of the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust, who is now the executive director for the STU’s Center for Ethics, and an attorney with the law firm of Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman.

“As public and private organizations continue to expand their commitment to ethics and compliance activities, employment opportunities for work in this field have never been stronger not just in South Florida but across the country,” said Meyers. 

Lectures will be given by leading authorities in the field making the program stimulating and practical. Lecturers include: Mary Cagle, Inspector General of Miami Dade County; Norman Ostrau, the former chairman of the Florida Commission on Ethics; and Marcia Narine, STU law professor and former vice-president for global compliance at Ryder System.

“The Center for Ethics has perceived the need for comprehensive ethics and compliance training due to the increasing number of job openings calling for experience in ethics and compliance issues, and this program meets that demand,” said Art Kane, chairman of the Center for Ethics.

There are no pre-requisites for this certificate program, and continuing education credits will be available for those who complete the program. The program begins Jan. 11, 2016,  and registration is now open. To register or learn more about the program, contact Robert Meyers at, or call the Center for Ethics at 305-628-6581.

Florida Campus Compact Recognizes STU for Global Community Engagement

STU Students and COCANO Coffee Cooperative Members

In recognition of St. Thomas University’s (STU) commitment to community engagement and public service, the university has received Florida Campus Compact’s Global Impact Award for its STU/Port-de-Paix, Haiti, Global Solidarity Partnership (STU GSP). Each year the award recognizes one outstanding campus-community partnership that produces measurable global improvement while enhancing higher education.

Founded over eight years ago and facilitated by STU’s Center for Community Engagement, STU GSP leverages university teaching and research resources into three long-term, Haitian-led development projects in the Archdiocese of Miami’s sister-diocese of Port-de-Paix – a Haiti’s poorest region.
  • Café COCANO Coffee Project: STU business, marketing, and agricultural science students support coffee farmers in the production and export of heirloom, organic coffee to the United States in a fair/direct-trade partnership that keeps the profits in the hands of the farmers. Watch the video here.
  • Atelye Thevenet Haitian Artisan Initiative: STU business and art management students import handcrafted artisan items and custom bags, providing beautiful handiwork to markets in the United States while providing employment to dozens of women in rural Haiti.
  • STU/Port-de-Paix Solar Energy Initiative: ­STU electrical engineering and solar energy students work with Haiti Tec, a vocational college in Port-au-Prince, to install an 18kw solar energy system in the cathedral and community center of Port-de-Paix.
“The university’s partnership with Haiti has always served as an example of our commitment to long-term engagement projects that both empower communities and enrich our student’s learning,” said President Msgr. Franklyn Casale. “It is an honor to be recognized for the work that is such an integral part of our university.’’

Part of a national network of colleges and universities, Florida Campus Compact works to integrate service with academic study, educate students for civil and social responsibility and promote campus-community partnerships. The annual Florida Campus Compact awards recognize outstanding contributions in higher education that support engaged scholarship.

Friday, November 6, 2015

STU honors 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, Catholic-Jewish dialogue

Various religious groups came together at St. Thomas University (STU) last night to mark the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the landmark document that transformed Jewish-Catholic relations. The event celebrated 50 years of groundbreaking progress with discussion, prayer and a special musical performance.

The commemoration – a joint effort by St. Thomas University, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Archdiocese of Miami in collaboration with the Miami Coalition of Christians and Jews, the Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami, and the Jewish Community Relations Council – heard from Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations; and Rabbi Noam E. Marans, the AJC’s director of interreligious and intergroup relations.

Addressing the audience, Rabbi Marans said, “Nostra Aetate is the greatest interreligious transformation in history; and St. Thomas University is a living, breathing Nostra Aetate.”

Both Archbishop Auza and Rabbi Marans acknowledged that we still have a long way to go in terms of interreligious relations, but we are well on our way.

“So much good has come from the relationships Nostra Aetate helped establish,” said Archbishop Auza. “Much has been done, still there is much that needs to be achieved in terms of social action and creating more interreligious dialogue.”

Nostra Aetate, which is Latin for "in our time," was issued in October 1965 by Pope John Paul VI to try and build better relationships and understanding with other religious groups.

The night concluded with a few words from Rabbi Solomon Schiff, executive vice president emeritus of the Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami, and a musical performance by Paul Posnak and friends of the St. Martha-Yamaha concert series.

Monday, November 2, 2015

STU Gathers South Florida Business Leaders during Global Entrepreneurship Week

St. Thomas University is hosting Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), Nov. 16 – 19, with events, speakers and activities aimed to inspire and engage students and the community. Now in its seventh year, GEW at STU is strengthening the entrepreneurial and innovative culture of its students and local community by exposing them to new business trends, and successful, local entrepreneurs.

“We look forward to Global Entrepreneurship Week each year as a means of inspiring entrepreneurism, as well as celebrating and acknowledging the success of our students and local business leaders,” said STU President Monsignor Franklyn M. Casale. “We hope events like this will help further develop new opportunities for our students, and help us enhance the entrepreneurial efforts in Miami.”

GEW is the world’s largest celebration of those who invent products and create new companies and start-up businesses, in addition to those who use their business to create a social change. During one week each November, GEW inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators.

STU has several events and panel discussions planned for aspiring entrepreneurs, some of which are open to the public.

Monday, Nov. 16
Opening Ceremony: 3 – 4 p.m., Goldbloom Convocation Hall
Keynote Speaker: Manny Medina, CEO of Medina Capital Partners and founder of eMerge Americas and Terremark. Medina will be speaking about the opportunities and threats of the data revolution.

Business Leaders Roundtable: 4 – 5:30 p.m., Goldbloom Convocation Hall
Dynamic corporate leaders representing critical industries in South Florida will discuss their professional journeys, and how they see their industries changing and evolving in the next five years. Panelists include: Fabrizio Alcobe-Fierro, senior vice president of Univision Networks; Jeanette Blanch, senior vice president, real estate department at Continental National Bank; and Sam Zietz, CEO of TouchSuite.

Tuesday, Nov. 17
Young Entrepreneurs Panel: 3 – 4:30 p.m., Goldbloom Convocation Hall
This group of under-40 entrepreneurs are changing how people live, think and play through innovative ideas and technology. Panelists include: Stephanie Diaz, founder and designer of Love Always by SD; Vincente Fernandez, co-president of SportsManias; Felice Gorordo, CEO of Clearpath and co-founder of Roots of Hope; and Calibe Thompson, author and television producer.

Immigrant Entrepreneurs: 7 - 9 p.m., Goldbloom Convocation Hall
Our distinguished panelists will share how they adapted to a completely new culture, and the barriers they overcame to become successful entrepreneurs in the United States. Panelists include: Aston Lue, co-founder of Ocho Rios International Foods; Amir Hagoo, trial attorney and counselor-at-law at Law Office of Amir Hagoo, P.A.; Alvaro De la Cruz, founder, Fox Webpages LLC; and Anastasiya Voronina, CEO, Private Investment Firm.

Wednesday, Nov. 18
Women in Entrepreneurship Panel: 12:15 p.m., Bobcat Hall of Fame
This panel of trailblazing women is comprised of both entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, in the areas of banking, professional sports, insurance, technology, and real estate. They are leaders in their fields, and running businesses on their own terms. Panelists include: Patricia Delinois, CEO of Premier Elite Realty; Rachel Sapoznik, CEO of Sapoznik Insurance and Associates, Inc.; Maria Hernandez, senior vice president of strategic development at Modernizing Medicine; Kim Stone, executive vice president of the Miami HEAT and general manager of American Airlines Arena; and Maria Arazoza, senior vice president of Merrill Lynch.

STU Shark Tank Competition: 2 p.m., Fernandez Family Center
First, second and third place winners receive cash prizes of $1,500, $700, and $500. In addition to the cash prizes, winning teams also receive coaching and one-on-one mentoring.

Thursday, Nov. 19 Closing Ceremony: 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., Goldbloom Convocation Hall
STU Shark Tank Competition winners announced.

For registration information, please visit

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Economist Ranks STU No. 5 in Florida for Economic Value

St. Thomas University (STU) has been ranked fifth in Florida, and 220 in the nation for economic value by “The Economist.” In the publication’s first-ever college ranking, “The Economist” measured the economic value of a university based upon the gap between how much money its graduates earn, and how much they might have made had they studied elsewhere.

The analysis included a median graduate salary that its model predicted for 1,308 colleges. The publication then compared the actual earnings of a college’s graduates against this benchmark and ranked institutions based upon the over-under performance. The rankings are based upon the salaries of graduates 10 years after entering college.

The median earnings among STU undergraduate alumni is $42,600, according to the ranking. That is $2,950 more than their expected earnings of $39,650, had they studied at another institution.

The full list of universities and their rankings can be found online, as well as detailed story explaining the rankings.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

STU to Host Fall Open House

St. Thomas University will hold its Fall Open House for undergraduate and graduate programs on Saturday, Nov. 14, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., on campus. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn about STU’s academic and athletic programs, extra-curricular activities, and financial aid options. Undergraduates also have the opportunity of entering a $2,000 Scholarship Sweepstakes.

“Our Open Houses are very popular among students because STU strives to make it an interesting experience and gives attendees a glimpse into our culture, as well as the in-depth knowledge of our schools,” states the Dean of Enrollment Celso Alvarez. “Attendees have the opportunity to talk one-on-one with faculty, current students, representatives from admissions, financial aid, and athletics, and go on guided campus tours of the campus.”

This event is free and geared toward all prospective students. Those interested are encouraged to pre-register at

Questions regarding the event should be directed to the Admissions Office at 1-305-628-6546, or email Burcu Ayrim at

STU Lowers Graduate Tuition, Offers Free Text Books

In a move intended to help more students obtain graduate degrees, and address market demand St. Thomas University announced across-the-board adjustments to its graduate tuition rates. This fall, the new per-credit tuition rates represent savings in some programs of as much as 42 percent.

"As important as providing a quality, private education, is ensuring that our students are able to graduate with an advanced degree that will assist in career advancement, with as little debt as possible," said University President Franklyn M. Casale. "The adjustments ensure an incredible return on investment for our students. It is a value proposition that is win-win for them."

In addition to the adjusted per-credit-hour graduate tuition rate, books for all graduate degree courses are also included as part of the tuition. This approach allows graduate students to have their books available the first day of class.

"Studies demonstrate that students that have books when classes begin will achieve more success in their courses," said Provost and Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Irma Becerra. "This approach demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that our students don't merely enroll and attend, but graduate – in a timely manner - with their desired degree."

The changes to graduate tuition rates and the book policy coincide with the university's launch of 18 new degree programs, mostly graduate programs, this fall.

For more information on the new graduate tuition rates, visit

STU Dean Elected to Executive Board of Florida’s Largest Faith-Based Community Organization

Dr. Darrell Arnold, dean of Biscayne College at St. Thomas University, has been chosen as the first-ever university administrator to serve on the Executive Board of South Florida’s largest faith-based community organizing coalition, PACT (People Acting for Community Together), an interfaith coalition of diverse congregations working for social and economic justice in Miami-Dade County.

“I am honored to be chosen to join PACT’s leadership,” said Dean Arnold. “Perhaps more than any other organization in our region, PACT embodies both the principles of participatory democracy and the Catholic call to solidarity. It is an honor for St. Thomas to be a member of PACT, and I personally look forward to working with my colleagues to support PACT’s excellent efforts toward community change.”

Arnold teaches in the philosophy department at St. Thomas University, and is actively involved in civic engagement and in strengthening local democracy.

“Dean Arnold is going to be an excellent addition to the Executive Board of PACT,” said Megan O’Brien, lead organizer for PACT. “St. Thomas has long been a leader in engaging its faculty and students in meaningful research and advocacy, and we look forward to building the partnership as we work together toward a better community for all.”

PACT represents more than 150,000 people (including 39 churches, synagogues, schools and community groups). Its members work collectively to identify their commonly held concerns, research policy solutions these concerns, and use the power of their numbers to negotiate with officials for long-term change. Founded in 1988 by an Archdiocesan priest, PACT has long been supported by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development - the premier anti-poverty campaign of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

St. Thomas University has been a member of PACT since 2007, with the university’s Center for Community Engagement supporting faculty and students interested in integrating their teaching and research with PACT’s work for community change. Over the years there have been dozens of courses and internships with STU faculty and students working on issues such as job creation, community violence, and reform of the juvenile justice system.

For more information on St. Thomas University’s long-term partnership with PACT, visit, or contact the Center for Community Engagement at; 305-628-6717.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Religions come together at STU to mark 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate

Jewish and Catholic leaders will gather at St. Thomas University on the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the landmark doctrine by the Catholic Church to improve relations with non-Christian religious groups.
Nostra Aetate, which is Latin for "in our time," was issued in October 1965 by Pope John Paul VI to try and build better relationships and understanding with other religious groups. This event will commemorate 50 years of groundbreaking progress with discussion, prayer and a special musical presentation by musician Paul Posnak and friends of the St. Martha-Yamaha Concert series.
Speakers include:   
The event is free and open to the public, and will take place Nov. 5, from 7 to 9 p.m. at St. Thomas University’s Goldbloom Convocation Hall. Please RSVP by Oct. 30, to Cynthia Rose-McIntyre,, or 305-628-6641.
This conference is a joint effort by St. Thomas University, the American Jewish Committee and the Archdiocese of Miami, in collaboration with the Miami Coalition of Christians and Jews, the Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami and the Jewish Community Relations Council.

Monday, October 26, 2015

St. Thomas University Expands Health Science Programs with New Bachelor’s and Master’s in Nursing

In response to the high demand for nurses, St. Thomas University has expanded its nursing programming to now offer a 125-credit-hour Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, and a master’s in nursing designed to prepare students as nurse practitioners. The nursing curriculum is built on liberal arts and natural sciences with learning outcomes for which assessment of each is provided.

Upon completion, graduates of the BSN program will be eligible to sit for the National Commission on Licensing Examination (NCLEX) for Registered Nurses (RN’s). Graduates of the 45-credit MSN program will be eligible to take the Family Nurse Practitioner Exam.

The BSN degree program was approved by the Florida Board of Nursing, and both the BSN and MSN received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

“St. Thomas University is in the midst of one of the most exciting periods in its history,” said University President Rev. Msgr. Franklyn Casale. “Equally as exciting is the ability to fill a huge need for highly educated nurses in the healthcare field, especially as our population ages and the number of nurses declines.”

The 2013 Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) report titled “The US Nursing Workforce: Trends in Supply and Education” states that only 55 percent of the RN workforce held a baccalaureate or higher degree. The landmark 2010 report on the future of nursing by the Institute of Medicine called for increasing the number of baccalaureate prepared nurses in the workforce to 80 percent, and doubling the population of nurses with doctorate degrees. And according to a survey conducted by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 79 percent of employers are now requiring or expressing a strong preference for nurses with a baccalaureate.

“Nursing is part of the cutting-edge academic offerings that enhance the academic and professional success of our students while producing ethical leaders for our global community through our commitment to St. Thomas’ Catholic mission of service to the community,” said Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Irma Becerra. “We are preparing the nurses and nurse practitioners that will have important roles in the delivery of quality, culturally-competent healthcare.”

The nursing program is based out of St. Thomas University’s School of Science, Technology and Engineering Management, and will be headed by Linda A. Simunek, associate dean for nursing, who has more than four decades of experience practicing and teaching nursing, and who has also served as dean at numerous nursing schools.

“The expansion of the nursing programs at St. Thomas University will serve as an anchor for other health professions that are in the strategic plan of the School of Science, Technology and Engineering Management,” said Wim Steelant, dean of the School of Science, Technology and Engineering Management.

St. Thomas Law Ranked Top 10 Nationally for Most Diverse Faculty and Best Environment for Minority Students

St. Thomas University’s Law School is one of the nation’s best environments for minority students, according to Princeton Review’s annual guide to law schools, “The Best 173 Law Schools: 2016 Edition.” This year marks the eleventh consecutive year that St. Thomas Law ranks top 10 nationally for having the “Best Environment for Minority Students,” it is also the only Florida law school to be ranked in this category.

St. Thomas Law was also added to another top 10 ranking, "Most Diverse Faculty," which is based on the percentage of the law school’s faculty from a minority group and students’ assessment of whether the faculty is made up of a broadly diverse group of individuals.

“The recognition is consistent with our mission: to provide opportunities to those groups that have been and continue to be underrepresented in the legal profession,” said Dean Alfredo Garcia. “We adhere and live up to our mission and values in our continuing quest for excellence.”

The “Best Environment for Minority Students” ranking is based on the percentage of the student body from underrepresented minorities and their assessment of whether they receive equal treatment by fellow students and faculty, regardless of ethnicity.

The Princeton Review has 11 ranking lists of the top 10 law schools in various categories. This year’s rankings were based on more than 19,700 students at 173 law schools, who were asked questions about their school’s culture, academics, student body and campus life.

St. Thomas Law has continually attracted a diverse student population and is a highly-regarded, student-centered law school where diversity is cherished, a commitment to human rights and international law flourishes, and the Catholic heritage of social justice enhances the education of all faiths.
For more information, visit the Princeton Review’s law rankings website.

Friday, October 9, 2015

STU, Archdiocesan University, Explores its Havana Roots

This story was originally published on the Archdiocese of Miami News page.

In some ways it’s hard to believe that half a century passed since students walked the grounds of Santo Tomas de Villanueva campus here or since a Mass was celebrated in the student chapel.

Photographer: TOM TRACY | FC
The damaged statue of St. Thomas Villanova at the old Santo Tomas de Villanueva University in Havana shows that the statue is lacking a head. The chapel and university have not been in ecclesial use since it was seized by Cuban authorities following the Bay of Pigs U.S. military operation in 1961.

Situated in Havana’s leafy Miramar district, the majestic outside of the chapel looks reasonably intact, classical and dignified. A poster here or there on the outer doors announces the historic 2015 visit of Pope Francis to Cuba.
But then there is the matter of Santo Tomas chapel’s wooden roof: it is mostly gone, long since collapsed due to neglect and weather damages in the decades since the Cuban revolution drove out the Church and repurposed the campus as a vocational training facility.
Over the years, the chapel was reportedly used by the Castro regime for storage, and, like a sad, old barn along a country road, it still houses some loose timbers piled here and there. Mostly it is empty, faded, water stained.
The pews and other chapel furnishings are apparently in storage somewhere, and splotches of graffiti blight the inside walls.
Only the old altar — its position an indication of a pre-Second Vatican Council layout — and depiction of saints and other religious artwork high up over the arches confirms that this was once a church.
Outside on the spacious front lawn, Msgr. Franklyn Casale, president of Miami’s St. Thomas University — now a Miami archdiocesan institution born out of Santo Tomas’ abrupt relocation to Florida following the Cuban revolution — inspects the remnants of a statue of Santo Tomas de Villanueva.
The statue is headless, and Msgr. Casale is listening to a local Cuban man explain the statue’s fate and what may have happened to its head. Speaking in Spanish, the man says it may have been broken off by mischievous local youth hurling bricks or rocks; or, more likely it seems, it was shot off in the aftermath of the revolution, a signal that religion was no longer welcomed here.
Msgr. Casale was accompanied on his visit by two members of his staff and an alumnus from Miami who studied at the old campus here.

Photographer: TOM TRACY | FC
St. Thomas University staff tour the damaged chapel at the former Santo Tomas de Villanueva University, founded in 1946 in Havana. From left: alumnus Rene Leonard, Vice-President for Advancement Hilda Fernandez, President Msgr. Franklyn Casale and Provost Irma Becerra-Fernandez.

Several years ago the Cuban government returned ownership of the chapel — but not the campus — to the local Church, and the archdiocesan-sponsored papal pilgrimage to Havana provided the Miami group with a first-ever look inside the property.
They studied the chapel structure, which they hope the Havana Archdiocese can one day restore to a working church. They also took photos of the statue, and discussed the possibility of supporting a statue restoration project as a gesture of goodwill and a visible means of connecting the Miami campus to its Havana roots at a time when St. Thomas is getting ready to celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2016.
The original Universidad de Santo Tomas de Villanueva was founded in 1946 in Havana by American-based Augustinians with assistance from European Augustinians. When the Castro government expelled the Augustinians from Cuba in 1961, several of the American Augustinians came to Miami and founded Biscayne College.
The university came under the sponsorship of the Archdiocese of Miami in 1988, conferring upon St. Thomas the distinction of being the only Catholic archdiocesan-sponsored university in the southeastern U.S.
When university status was attained, the name of the institution was changed to St. Thomas University to reflect its Cuban heritage.
Msgr. Casale, who concelebrated the papal Mass in Havana Sept. 20, and who has traveled to Cuba for the previous papal visit and other occasions, said he has visited the old campus three other times. But until this visit he had been unable to look inside the chapel, which is situated behind a locked fence.
The 2015 papal pilgrimage to Cuba is unique, the priest said, for several reasons.
“The new (U.S. diplomatic) opening to Cuba, and with the pope going and being responsible for part of that, is significant,” Msgr. Casale said. “For me to go to Cuba and to visit the original site of our university, with our roots there, and add to that the visit of the pope, this is all kind of emotional.”
Irma Becerra-Fernandez, who was appointed provost at St. Thomas University last year, was also on the trip. She talked about the possibility of more university engagement with Cuba academically, especially if Cuba takes greater steps to privatize or loosen its economy and encourage local business entrepreneurship.
“We are looking to start some collaborations with the Catholic Church in Cuba,” she said. “There is a lot of interest in entrepreneurship for small business, and there are other educational needs, so we will see how we can collaborate with the Church in Cuba to support them in their needs. There are a number of conversations going on with the bishops."

She added that “St. Thomas University was founded in collaboration with Cuban families who gave the funding to start the university and it was the only Catholic university on the island. We will help in any way we can. It is our mission. It is our duty."

Monday, October 5, 2015

Student Leaders Meet With Members of Congress

Student Government Association President Josh Rosner and Officer Ariel Listo met with congressional leaders during their trip to the American Student Government Association Conference in Washington, DC in October. The students had an opportunity to meet with STU Alumnus U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, ‘85, as well as Congresswomen Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Frederica Wilson. “Our goal was to obtain knowledge and experience meeting with these important political figures and bring back that knowledge to campus to share with students,” said Rosner. “We will take what we learn and apply it to the St. Thomas University community and show that SGA can help develop leaders for life,” added Listo.

STU Announces New Published Work by Faculty Authors

Dr. Raúl Fernández-Calienes, of the STU School of Law, and Dr. Hagai Gringarten, of the STU School of Business, have co-authored a chapter entitled “Book Reviews at the Intersection of Humanities and Technology,” which has been published in the book Essays on Humanities and Technology (ed. by Arnold & Safit, 2015). The book is a publication of the Humanities and Technology Association, founded in 1978 to “promote understanding of the cultural interaction of humanities.” On Tuesday, October 6th, Library Interim Dean Dr. Jonathan Roach presented on the book he recently co-authored entitled “Expressing Theology."  The book’s focus is to provide “a guide to writing theology that readers want to read.”

STU Law Alumnus President-Elect of the South Florida Chapter of the Federal Bar Association

Oliver Ruiz III, a 2001 graduate of St. Thomas University’s School of Law, is the president-elect of the South Florida Chapter of the Federal Bar Association (FBA).  Oliver follows in the footsteps of Brett Barfield, and STU Law 1999 graduate and former president of the South Florida Chapter of the Federal Bar Association.
Oliver is a trademark and litigation attorney and a partner at Malloy & Malloy, P.L. located in Miami. While a student at St. Thomas Law, Oliver served as a board member of the Moot Court Board and was president of the Student Bar Association (SBA).  Mr. Ruiz is admitted to practice law in Florida and North Carolina as well as in the United State District Court for the Southern District of Florida and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

Delegation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Convenes at STU

On September 21, 2015, St. Thomas University School of Law hosted a delegation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The IACHR Chair, Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, launched a three-state investigation into the situation of racial discrimination and the issue of police violence against persons of African descent with a Community Forum at the University.
The commission heard from alleged victims of police abuse in Miami-Dade during the first leg of the fact-finding mission into racial discrimination and police violence in the U.S. at the two-hour community meeting coordinated by the Community Justice Project.  There was testimony from the mother of Travis McNeil, killed during a traffic stop in 2011; Demetrius Vaughn, a dream Defenders activist arrested by at least four officers; and Rosetta Bryson, a co-founder of South Florida “Black Lives Matter” movement describing the injustice people of color receive from some officers.
The IACHR protects and promotes human rights in the thirty-five state-members of the Organization of American States (OAS), and Commissioner Antoine invites community members to testify regarding human rights abuses occurring in South Florida in terms of policing, housing, health, education, wage theft, and more.  Ms. Antoine said the delegation came to Miami-Dade County because of the widely publicized reports about incidents of police abuse involving African Americans.  The commission’s report is expected to be published early next year.

St. Thomas University's Early Years in Cuba and Miami Featured on NPR

On the eve of celebrating its 70th anniversary since its founding in Havana, Cuba as the Universidad Catolica Santo Tomas de Villanueva, NPR recalls St. Thomas University’s early beginnings, using audio interviews with the Augustinian who served as university president in Cuba and then here.  To read or listen to the remarkable story in the report, The Bay of Pigs, Submachine Guns And The Founding Of St. Thomas University In Miami Gardens, click here: 

STU Law Hosts Florida Bar Induction Ceremony

St. Thomas Law hosted its Fourth Annual Florida Bar Induction Ceremony on Tuesday, September 29, for recent graduates who passed the July 2015 Florida Bar exam.  Judge Peter Lopez presided over the ceremony and officially swore in a group of 45 recent graduates.  After the formal ceremony, Judge Lopez signed each newly admitted lawyer’s sworn statement.

New Art Exhibit at Sardiñas Gallery to Feature "7 Plus One Art Project"

In 2010, artist Emilio Hector Rodriguez created a group exhibition with abstract artists in the community who shared the same sensibility and reflected their interest in abstract work. The original group in this collaborative consisted of five artists, and now numbers nine. In 2013, the group became known as 7 Plus One Art Project.
The common goal among the artists was to present their works as a group, while each artist displayed an individual independence from visual representation.  The collaborative is a globally diverse collection of artists, all of whom bring the culture, folklore and academic formation of their country to their work, while maintaining shared precepts and true concepts of abstract art that uses the raw language of non-representation. The artists whose work will be on display at the Sardinas Art Gallery at St. Thomas University are: Ana Maria Hoyos, Colombia; Bibiana Cervantes, Colombia; Emilio Hector Rodriguez, Cuba; Maggy Aguirre, Mexico; Margarita Correa Ochoa, Colombia; Maruchi Carmona, Cuba; Pedro Hernandez, Cuba; and, Maria Teresa D’Azucena, El Salvador.
The Gallery, located on the second floor of the Main Library, provides rotating exhibits of art, including from the University’s own permanent collection.

FOCUS Missionaries Join STU's Campus Ministry Program

St. Thomas University kicked off the academic year with a new Chaplain, a new home, new programming and now new missionaries to help students connect with their faith.  Ninoska Moratin and Maria Elena Botero are FOCUS Missionaries who will spend the next year on campus with our students. FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, is a national outreach program that meets college students where they are and invites them into a growing relationship with their faith. Over the course of 17 years, FOCUS missionaries’ work has spanned across the country to touch lives on the college campus; this academic year FOCUS missionaries are on 113 campuses across the country, reaching out to students through Bible studies, retreats, conferences, and one-on-on mentorship.
You can meet the FOCUS Missionaries at Campus Ministry’s new office and lounge located in Dooner Hall 111,  where they brew fresh coffee throughout the day. For information on programs, or to contact the FOCUS Missionaries, email Follow Campus Ministry on Instagram: stu_campusministry; Facebook: STU Campus Ministry; and Twitter: @stuCamMin.

Learning With A Purpose: STU Selected as a National Leader in Civic Learning

For the fourth consecutive year, St. Thomas University has been selected as a national leader in civic learning and democratic engagement.
The NASPA Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement project (CLDE) identifies universities based on their commitment to developing thoughtful civic engagement and implementing best practices in the field of engaged scholarship. This year NASPA highlighted some of the nation’s top colleges and universities in the program – placing STU alongside prestigious institutions such as Stanford and Johns Hopkins University.
“Our responsibility is to graduate students with the best academic credentials possible, but also with a spirit of community service and engagement,” said University President Msgr. Franklyn Casale. “Our fantastic Center for Community Engagement provides every student an opportunity for service learning that enhances the classroom experience tremendously.”
St. Thomas University has a long history of community engagement as a key component of its Catholic Identity. The St. Thomas Center for Community Engagement serves as a central unit for supporting community-based research and learning courses on campus. With collaborations locally in North Miami Dade County, regionally in the Central Florida Farmworker community, and internationally in Miami’s sister-diocese of Port-de-Paix, the Center supports faculty and students in leveraging their teaching and research into the most urgent problems of our region.
 “St. Thomas is excited to again be selected to participate in NASPA’s network of institutions dedicated to developing students’ sense of civic and moral identity as a core element of our Catholic mission,” said Anthony Vinciguerra, Coordinator of the St. Thomas University Center for Community Engagement. “Being recognized as a national leader in this field is a reflection of the quality of our current efforts, as well as our ongoing commitment to improve these efforts to bring faculty and student resources to bear on the urgent social problems of our world.”

For more information on the STU Center for Community Engagement visit To learn more about NASPA’s Lead Initiative and view a complete listing of participating institutions, please visit