Monday, February 22, 2016

Cardinal Turkson Speaks at STU Climate Change Conference, Ignites Action

During St. Thomas University’s (STU) inaugural International Conference on Climate, Nature and Society, business leaders, high school students, innovators and academics gathered to hear leading experts tackle the science and social impact of global climate change.

Pope Francis's right-hand man on climate change, and President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Peter Turkson, closed the conference speaking to a standing room only crowd about our social responsibility to mobilize and curb climate change. Cardinal Turkson, who helped draft the eco-encyclical “Laudato Si’: On Care For Our Common Home,” also participated in a Q&A session after his presentation.

Laudato Si’ is the first papal encyclical in the 2,000 year history of the Catholic Church devoted solely to environmental issues highlighting the crisis posed by climate change, and our collective responsibility to pass along a clean and safe planet to future generations.

Father Alfred Cioffi, the Florida Blue endowed chair in bioethics and director of STU’s Institute for Bioethics, said the conference educated, but more importantly, unleashed actions or ideas to curb global climate change.

Other speakers included: Dr. Richard Muller, astrophysicist from the University of California, Berkeley, and director of the Berkeley Earth Institute; Dr. John Van Leer, physical oceanographer at University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science; Dr. Chris Langdon, marine biologist at University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science; Dr. Claudio Cioffi-Revilla, computational social scientist at George Mason University; and Greg Hamra, sustainability educator.

For the full text of his speech, click here. For photos of Cardinal Turkson at the conference, click here.

The two-day conference, which took place on Feb. 18-19, was spearheaded by STU’s Institute for Bioethics.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Registration Opens for St. Thomas University’s IMPACT Program

Registration is now open for STU IMPACT: Empowering Young Disciples, a program which aims to gather 100 rising sophomore through senior high school students both from South Florida and from throughout Florida for an eight-day experience in Catholic theological education during summer 2016.

In December 2015, STU received a grant of $557,588 to establish STU IMPACT. 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.

Jennifer Kryszak, program manager and assistant professor of theological and ministerial studies at STU, will be joined by other STU faculty members, guest faculty, and counselors in leading the high school students through the program. During the program, scheduled for June 17 - 24, 2016, students will live on campus, learn from renowned scholars, and participate in local and regional civic engagement activities. 

Mike Patin will be one of the speakers participating in the summer youth program. Patin is an enthusiastic motivational speaker known for his wit, humor and common sense approach to spirituality. He engages students and inspires them to develop and deepen their spirituality using comedy to discuss theology in a challenging, yet age-appropriate way.

“We’re excited to help strengthen young people’s spiritual journeys and future,” said Sister Ondina Cort├ęs, assistant professor at STU. “In addition to the lineup speakers, we will provide opportunities for participants to reflect in prayer and directly explore critical situations which call for a Christian response.”

High school students wishing to participate in the STU IMPACT summer institute must complete the application process available here by March 30, 2015. Students will be notified of their acceptance no later than Apr. 15, 2016. For any questions about the program or the application process, please email

STU IMPACT is also seeking counselors, age 21 and up. Counselors will walk along-side high school youth as they explore their call to service, as well as have an opportunity to discover, or re-discover their own call to service. The position provides a $500 stipend. For more information, click here.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

STU Opens, Names New Beach Volleyball Courts

Volleyballs were flying under the clear blue skies at STU Thursday afternoon after a special dedication and blessing by President Monsignor Franklyn Casale officially opening the courts to players and students.

The newly named Dominick Miniaci Beach Volleyball Courts feature three regulation-size beach volleyball courts, located just to the west of the Fernandez Family Center. The courts meet Olympic, professional and college specifications, allowing STU the ability to host sanctioned events. The Gerritts family donated one court and Gerritts Construction was responsible for the construction of the entire facility. One of the courts was also made possible thanks to a donation by the Nowaczyk family.

STU will field a women’s beach volleyball team using the Dominick Miniaci Beach Volleyball Courts as its home. The team will begin play in two tournaments this season and is planning a full schedule for the Spring of 2017 which will include the hosting of tournaments at the Dominick Miniaci Beach Volleyball Courts.

The Beach Volleyball players in attendance included St. Thomas University alumna Adriana Montilla, AVP Tour player and international games gold medalist Bonnie Levin, Mexican national player Cynthia Aceves, former Cal State and UNLV standout Leah Maurer, top junior player Mazarine Tsuji, and fitness pro and upcoming South Beach talent Stacia Pape.

Following the exhibition, the courts were open to the St. Thomas University student body for free play, followed by a faculty/staff vs. students game.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

St. Thomas University Unveils Renderings of New Gus Machado School of Business Complex

Rendering of the Gus Machado Business School Complex
St. Thomas University’s Gus Machado School of Business is one step closer to the fruition of its new home with the unveiling of architectural renderings showcasing the newest addition to the 144-acre campus. The first renderings, designed by Bermello, Ajamil and Partners, were revealed during a private reception last night at the home of STU Trustee and alumnus, Jorge Rico,’86.

In attendance for the unveiling were community leaders, board members, successful alumni, and well-known South Florida philanthropist Gus Machado and his wife Lilliam. Last year, Machado provided the naming gift for the School of Business.

“It is an honor to have Gus Machado be part of this transformative project,” said Monsignor Franklyn Casale, STU president. “Our business programs have expanded to meet market demand, including new degree programs in cybersecurity management and trade and logistics. This complex meets an important need of the growing Gus Machado School of Business, and its many multipurpose uses will make it a hub where students meet and exchange ideas.”

The 21st-century complex includes a classroom building that will house the institutes of global entrepreneurship, cybersecurity management, sports administration, and trade and logistics. The building’s open architecture design features multi-purpose spaces that combine robust technology with functionalities that will help students learn real-life business practices, and will be equipped with interactive smart classrooms, audience response technology, networking and audio/visual capabilities, as well as a trading room, a global conference auditorium, the student business incubator, and a communications and media lab. An administration building for the Business School, and a building that will house an expanded Center for Career Development, Alumni Relations and a Business Commons, will round out the “campus-within-a-campus” design.

“We are planning, preparing and building for the future,” said Machado. “My grandfather had a tradition of giving, and Lilliam and I feel blessed to be able to continue his legacy by making a gift that will provide a place where generations to come can learn and grow.”

Construction of the more than 45,000-square-foot complex is slated to begin summer 2016, welcoming its first students in the fall of 2017.

To view the complete renderings, click here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

STU Celebrates New Partnership with Athens-based School

From left to right: Father Romanos Galben, Yiannis Vassiliou, George Lakis, and Paschal Roubides
Leaders from South Florida’s Greek community joined ACS Athens President Stefanos Gialamas; Steve Medeiros, Dean of Academic Affairs; Tim Ananiadis, Board of Trustees member; and several alumni from the American Community Schools of Athens, Greece, at St. Thomas University Monday, Feb. 8, to celebrate STU’s outreach efforts to attract students from Greece.
“We have signed an articulation agreement to provide an opportunity for Greek students from American Community Schools of Athens to come and study in Miami,” said Yiannis Vassiliou, the associate provost for student success at St. Thomas University. “If you know what you are trying to accomplish, we will help you do it.”
Greek community leaders, including priests, college professors and lawyers, applauded the partnership at a private ceremony in the STU library. Miami-Dade County is home to a large Greek population with three Greek Orthodox Churches. 
The newly signed agreement also provides additional opportunities for the two institutions, such as:
  • Innovative Teaching in an International Environment to be taught by ACS Athens faculty in Athens, as well as by STU faculty in Miami, with an on-line component.
  • Two STU students, every year, in the Master’s in Educational Studies: International Teaching and Global Studies program to spend an academic school year completing a teaching internship/assistantship under the supervision of a faculty at ACS Athens.
  • Visiting Faculty Program allows for the opportunity for the ACS Athens faculty to spend a semester on the STU campus as visiting scholars, and for STU faculty to have the same experience at ACS Athens.

ACS Athens’ roots go back to 1946 when it served the children of British military personnel stationed in Greece during World War II. A few years later, the school began to admit both British and American civilians.
“Diversity for us is the norm,” said Dr. Gialamas. “This is the beginning of a wonderful partnership.”
Six students from Greece have already been admitted for fall classes at STU.

Friday, February 12, 2016

STU Begins Season of Lent

Ash Wednesday Mass, Feb. 10, at the Chapel of Saint Anthony
Students, faculty, staff and community members packed the Chapel of Saint Anthony Feb. 10, for Ash Wednesday Mass to mark the beginning of the Lenten season.

Lent is the 40-day period of fasting and prayer that Catholics and Christians observe in preparation for the celebration of Easter. The practice dates back to the early church when the new Christians-to-be were preparing to be baptized on Easter.

“Lent is also a time for spiritual reflection, and a time to remember what we are as a Catholic institution,” said STU President Monsignor Franklyn Casale.

The St. Thomas University community marks this period of preparation for Jesus Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday with various liturgical and spiritual activities developed by our Campus Ministry team. The St. Thomas University Office of Campus Ministry invites our students, alumni, parents, friends and faculty to journey through the Lenten Season by participating in our daily activities, Sunday Celebrations of the Eucharist (Mass), taking advantage of the times offered for the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession), joining us for Wednesday night soup, bread, and spiritual reflections, and participating in other opportunities that enrich our faith.

For more information on our scheduled activities for Holy Week, click here.

STU Campus Ministry Students

Mass was followed by a lunch consisting of soup and bread, as well as a skit presented by Campus Ministry student leaders.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Trustee Hosts a Memorable Night for Admitted Students

For STU’s first University Preview event of 2016, STU trustee Constance Fernandez and her husband Mike Fernandez, opened the doors of their home to admitted students from several South Florida schools. In attendance were students from: Archbishop Curley High School, Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School, Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, Christopher Columbus High School, Hialeah Gardens Senior High School, Keyes Gate Charter School, Marjory Stone Douglas High School, Miami Community Charter School, Melbourne High School, Monsignor Edward Pace High School, Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, St. Brendan High School, Trinity Christian Academy, MAST Academy, Gulliver Prep School, Mater Academy Charter School, Ransom Everglades and Trinity Christian Academy.

The event, which took place on Feb. 8, provided an opportunity for admitted students, 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 a first glance at what attending STU is all about. At the event, attendees meet current faculty, staff and students, learn about academic programs and financial assistance, and get the answers to university questions.

To see more pictures of this event please click here.

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


Thursday, February 4, 2016

St. Thomas University to Host Discussion Panel on ‘The Muslim Experience in America’

St. Thomas University (STU) will host a panel discussion titled “Two Faiths One God: The Muslim Experience in America,” with the intention of informing, educating and enlightening the community about the central beliefs of the faith, and the common roots it shares with other faiths.

The panel, taking place Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., will feature Father James L. Heft, President of the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles; and, via video conferencing, Dr. Amir Hussain, who is both a professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and a Muslim whose specialty is the study of Islam. At the conclusion of the discussion, the speakers will answer questions from the audience.

“Our religions have more in common than they have differences,” said STU President Monsignor Franklyn Casale. “Our School of Theology’s Institute for Ecumenical and Interreligious Studies looks for opportunities to facilitate dialogue and scholarship across religious boundaries for the purpose of deepening knowledge and understanding of the world’s religions. With so much discussion about Islam occurring in the world right now, understanding what life in America is like as a Muslim is not only timely, but important.”

According to the Pew Research Center, Muslims are the fastest-growing religious group in the world. The growth and migration of Muslims, alongside the impact of extremist groups such as ISIS, have brought Muslims and the Islamic faith to the forefront of U.S. politics. Yet information and facts about Muslims are not well known.
“Most Americans say they know little or nothing about Islam, which is worrisome because this lack of knowledge results in prejudice against or hatred of Islam and Muslims,” said Hussain. “My hope is that discussions like this facilitate a diverse learning environment, shed light on the similarities between us, and help us to understand the experience of American Muslims.”

The event, hosted by STU’s School of Theology and Ministry and the Winifred and Joseph Amaturo Lecture Series, is free and open to the general public, and will take place at the Shojaee Family Law School Wing, A-112.

Monday, February 1, 2016

St. Thomas University President named chair of ACCU board

STU President Monsignor Franklyn M. Casale
Rev. Monsignor Franklyn M. Casale, president of St. Thomas University (STU), has been elected chair of the board of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU), a Washington-D.C.-based association of more than 230 member institutions.

Monsignor Casale, who was previously chair of the ACCU Investment Committee, will serve as chair for a two-year term. He succeeds James Collins, president of Loras College.

As chair, Casale will work with President and CEO Michael Galligan-Stierle, to help guide the work of the association to serve its member institutions and respond to emerging member needs. He was originally elected to the ACCU Board in 2014.

“I am honored by the prospect of working closely with ACCU’s Board of Directors and staff on behalf of Catholic institutions, their faculty and students,” said Casale. “I look forward to the tremendous opportunity we have to serve one of the most dynamic sectors of higher education.”

Casale became President of STU in April 1994. Prior to joining STU, he was the vicar general, chancellor and moderator of the Curia of the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, where he also served as a member of the Board of Trustees at Seton Hall University and as a member of the Board of Trustees and executive committee at Bloomfield College.

His leadership positions in higher education associations include the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges, where he served as vice chair; Governing Board, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities; President’s Council of Independent Colleges & Universities of Florida; Florida Association of Colleges & Universities; and Haiti-Tech, an organization he helped found that organizes and maintains a vocational/technical school in Haiti and educates over 700 students yearly.

“Monsignor Casale brings a unique blend of experience to our board,” noted Galligan-Stierle. “He has worked with bishops at the highest levels, and been engaged with Catholic university leadership in various capacities. He understands the dynamic environment in which ACCU serves as ‘the collective voice of Catholic higher education,’ and can assist us in responding to multiple stakeholders.”

Casale’s significant time leading the university also benefits ACCU. “Since taking the helm there, Monsignor Casale has transformed St. Thomas University,” Galligan-Stierle added. “In this environment in which all of higher education is being challenged to reach new levels, he has experience in enhancing university mission while advancing Catholic identity, with impressive results.”

Casale received his Bachelor of Arts in humanities with a concentration in philosophy from Seton Hall University, a bachelor’s degree in sacred theology from the Catholic University in Washington D.C., and his Masters of Divinity from the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Darlington, New Jersey.

The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, founded in 1899, serves as the collective voice of U.S. Catholic higher education. Through programs and services, the association strengthens and promotes the Catholic identity and mission of its member institutions so that all associated with Catholic higher education can contribute to the greater good of the world and the Church.