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