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.