Friday, September 15, 2017

President Msgr. Casale's post Hurricane Irma message

Dear St. Thomas University Community:

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

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

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

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

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

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

I look forward to seeing you on Monday.

Sincerely,

Msgr. Casale

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Hurricane Irma Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A letter to Bobcat Parents: Hurricane Irma

Dear Parents,

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

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

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

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

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

Kind Regards,


Msgr. Franklyn Casale
President

Friday, September 1, 2017

Donor Spotlight: Wini and Joe Amaturo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donor Spotlight: Mario Trueba ’80

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donor Spotlight: Don Dresback ’69

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donor Spotlight: Margee Martinez ’06

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donor Spotlight: The Santistebans

Carlos and Christyne Santisteban met as law students in 2009, and it didn’t take them long to make a connection. They were quick to become friends, began dating soon after graduating, married in 2015, and in turn, STU got two devoted alumni who have made a habit of sharing their time and generosity with the university that launched their life together.

“St. Thomas University has always been very important to us,” said the Santistebans. “Not only because it’s where we first met and fell in love, but it’s where we were given the tools to achieve our dreams and be successful in our careers. If it weren’t for St. Thomas, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve what we have in our careers. We thrived then, and thrive today because of the caring faculty and the one-on-one attention that was given to us.”

Both Carlos and Christyne share the same humble beginnings – they are both first generation college graduates with immigrant parents who fled Cuba in hopes of a better life.

“It’s important to us to be examples of what you can accomplish regardless of your background, and your financial situation,” they said. “That’s why we’ve stayed active in the law school, we want to give back and create opportunities for students like us.”

The most visible example of the couple's generosity can be seen in the endowed scholarship they established in their names. The Santisteban Family Scholarship is specifically for law students of Cuban descent with demonstrated good character and in financial need who reside in South Florida. “It’s geared toward someone with aspirations of going to law school, but has financial obstacles.”

With their gift, they are paying it forward to the next generation of Hispanic lawyers.

“I look at the time and money I give to St. Thomas as an investment, and I have a vested interest to see that investment do well,” said Carlos. I also want to be part of the school’s future, and ensure that it keeps prospering, which is another important reason why I invest my time.”

In addition to financial contributions to the university, the Santistebans also contribute their time. Carlos sits on the Law School’s Board of Advisor’s, and they have both participated in STU panels and lectures.

In October of 2016, the Santistebans welcomed their first child, Michaela, who was later baptized at St. Thomas in the Chapel of Saint Anthony.

Carlos received his bachelor of arts in political science from STU in 2005, then went on to law school and graduated in 2009. Christyne is completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Central Florida, and received her juris doctorate’s degree from STU in 2011.

To make a gift to the STU Law School, please click here.

Donor Spotlight: Patrick Cordero ’87

Attorney Patrick Cordero, a 1987 graduate of the St. Thomas University School of Law, is helping others pursue the education they need to enter the profession that gave him a successful career.
“I feel a tremendous amount of gratitude toward St. Thomas University Law,” said Patrick, who was part of the first graduating law school class. “STU took a chance on me, gave me an opportunity to achieve my career goals, and I want others to have the same opportunities.”

Patrick is a managing partner of his law firm, which concentrates on consumer bankruptcy law. The law firm employs more than 45 staff members, eight of whom are STU Law graduates or current law students.

“I love hiring STU graduates,” he said. “They stand out because they go beyond what is expected of them. They have grit, a hard-working ethic, and character. I have so much faith in STU law graduates, that two of my six children are attending the law school, one is entering his third year, and the other is entering his first year of law school.”

Although three decades have passed since Patrick graduated, the core of STU and its law school hasn’t changed – its diverse student body from strong, working-class families.

“Watching the university grow, and its academic visions unfold and come to fruition definitely makes me proud. It is a one-of-a-kind campus (then and now) with a one-of-a-kind student population, and it gets better every year.”

Patrick, whose firm is the largest in consumer bankruptcy in Florida, and third largest in the United States, was born in the Bronx, New York, and raised in Miami. He started his higher education at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis.; and in 1983, he completed his bachelor’s degree. Shortly thereafter, he began his law studies at St. Thomas University. At the time, there was no law building, and he and other law students would sometimes have class in the cafeteria, and on occasion, sharing space with the Miami Dolphins football team.*

Law school is a challenging endeavor both financially and intellectually, but with the support and encouragement from donors like Patrick, students are motivated to face the challenges head on.

Throughout the years, Patrick has provided leadership as a member of the law school’s board of advisors, as well as in several religious and community organizations. In addition to the time he invests in the university and community, he also contributes financially.

“Giving back in any way you can, big or small, shows your appreciation. By giving back I’m investing in our community’s future, in education, and in the legacy of my graduating class.”

His gratitude toward STU has also led him to help families in need. Every year he has personally sponsored and held a Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway in Little Havana, in which he hands out 1,500 turkeys. He also gifts more than 1,200 backpacks to children prior to the start of the school year.

 To learn more about making a gift to the STU Law School, please click here.

*The Dolphins held their training camp on the campus of St. Thomas University from 1970 – 1992.

Donor Spotlight: Col. Jacquelin Kelly ’87

Before Col. Jacquelin Kelly passed away from cancer in 2014, she bequeathed a generous gift to STU’s Athletic Program. Jacquelin, a lifelong athlete and coach, held a strong belief that women should participate in competitive sports and pursue higher education, and in recognition of her gift, the university dedicated “The Col. Jacquelin Kelly Field” at the St. Thomas Softball Complex.

Jacqueline led an adventurous, unconventional life. In 1960, she joined the army and was stationed in the Middle East and the Far East working in military intelligence. Jacquelin, who received her bachelors from St. Elizabeth College, served in the army for 21 years, 12 of them at the Pentagon, where she was the highest ranking woman at that time, having achieved the rank of colonel.

In the mid-1980s, Jacquelin moved to South Florida where she continued her education by pursuing a master’s in sports administration at STU and graduated in 1987 at the age of 56 - in total, she earned four master’s degrees, including one in Chinese.

"This generous donation to our athletics department not only allows us to upgrade our facilities, but also gives us the opportunity to honor an amazing female, a champion of character,” said Laura Courtley-Todd, STU director of athletics. “Jacquelin was a phenomenal role model, and will remain so through the naming of the softball complex."

Donor Spotlight: Joe Cooney ’68

1964 was a year of many firsts – The Rolling Stones released their first album, the first Ford Mustang was manufactured, Martin Luther King received the Nobel Peace Prize, and Joseph “Joe” Cooney, alongside eight other young men, arrived at St. Thomas University, then called Biscayne College, for their first day of class.

They lived in temporary dorm rooms located in a Miami Beach hotel, and according to Joe it wasn’t the posh, high-rises you see today, “the Kimberly Motel looked like an ugly concrete box.” And although having the beach as their backyard had its perks, the early-morning bus ride to campus was a difficult routine to keep up, so they were happy to move in to Cassia Hall when it opened three months later.

“We had such a good time. We were the first resident class, so we were the first to do many things. We were young and dumb, and sorta had free reign,” said Joe, between bouts of laughter.

Joe, originally from Philadelphia, said it was hard to pin down his most memorable moment at St. Thomas. He credits his class for starting STU’s first student-run newspaper, intramural sports, and for hosting STU’s first basketball game against the Jamaican National team. Intertwined with dances and socials at Marymount College (now Lynn University) and Barry College (now Barry University), STU students were also hitting the books, and the professors made sure of it.

“There was nowhere to hide at St. Thomas. If a professor thought you were cutting class, he’d have a classmate come get you out of bed.”

It was a different world in the 1960s, but what made St. Thomas special then, still makes it special today. Students then and now had one-on-one relationships with professors, class sizes were small creating a strong comradery, and a vibrant, caring, close-knit university community.

It’s been 50 years since graduating from St. Thomas, and Joe still visits campus, meets for lunch with professor Richard Raleigh, and plays golf with other ’68 graduates during STU’s annual Fore the Love of Education Golf and Tennis Tournament. Currently, he is spearheading their 50-year class reunion.

Shortly after graduating in 1968 with a bachelor’s of arts degree in English, Joe was drafted into the United States Army and sent to Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division. After the war, he went to graduate school, married, and held various jobs ranging from teaching grade schoolers to working in human resources. He eventually settled in the human resource department at the University of Pennsylvania where he worked for 24 years.

Over the years, Joe and his wife, Mary, now both retired, have contributed significantly to STU – both financially and with their time. Joe says he enjoys the relationship he has with STU now, juest as much as he enjoyed it when he was a student. When he visits he still sees familiar faces, and has the opportunity to meet new ones.

“Having been a university employee myself, I know the importance of higher education and the impact gifts have to a university,” said Joe. “I feel an obligation to higher education and how it transforms people’s lives, specifically St. Thomas. I was a mischievous teenager with average grades, and St. Thomas took a chance on me, and gave me the foundation to begin a career.”

There’s a sense of pride when I see what St. Thomas has become. We give because we want to see St. Thomas continue to grow and thrive. We’ve had a good life, we’ve done well for ourselves, and we want to share whatever we can.”

To learn more about giving to St. Thomas University, click here [LINK PENDING].

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

STU joins Hurricane Harvey relief efforts

Photo courtesy of the Dallas Observer.












Given the extent of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey, STU Campus Ministry is joining the Archdiocese of Miami in the relief efforts taking place this week in all 109 parishes and missions of the Archdiocese of Miami.

According with the Archdiocese of Miami Media Alert, “this emergency collection will be used to support the humanitarian and recovery efforts and to provide pastoral and rebuilding support.” Officials say about 30,000 people may be forced to seek shelter, while forecasters warn of more rain in the coming days. The full extent of damages and destruction has yet to be determined by the authorities.

To make an online donation, please click here.

Please note that no donations of food, water, or other supplies will be accepted. Donated monies enable local church relief agencies to purchase in bulk the items that are most needed, (water, food, building supplies, tents, tarps, beds, etc.) and truck them quickly to affected areas.


You can also make a check payable to St. Thomas University with memo: Hurricane Harvey Relief and deposit it at the business office in Dooner Hall 102.

This will be our first University response. We will continue responding and serving according to the upcoming needs.

For more information on Archdiocese of Miami Relief Efforts over the weekend, click here.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Students work as interns for US Senator

STU senior Brandon Keller with U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
STU students continue to prove their leadership skills and potential to impact the community well beyond the classroom. If you’ve recently called Senator Marco Rubio’s office or called during the summer, chances are you most likely interacted with STU students Yanelis Madrigal or Brandon Keller.

Both Yanelis and Brandon agree that interning at U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s office is anything but average–their day-to-day work affects the lives of Florida constituents.

“There isn’t a day in which you do the same thing as the day before,” said Brandon, a political science major entering his senior year. “One day we’re talking to constituents, the next we’re writing memorandums that go to the Senator himself, meeting with federal and local agencies, and researching issues affecting constituents.”

For Yanelis, who holds an undergraduate degree from STU and is currently working toward a graduate degree in criminal justice, the experience is strengthening her understanding of local and state politics, and legal matters.

Graduate student Yanelis Madrigal began her internship at Marco Rubio's office this fall.

“Aside from answering constituents’ calls, we also deal with a range of issues like immigration, housing and tourist visas,” said Yanelis. “And thanks to the professors at St. Thomas, who prepared me for life beyond the classroom, I have a solid foundation to build on.”

Brandon, who finished his congressional internship over the summer, has his sights set on interning at the White House. With the help of STU’s Career Services Center, he applied earlier this year and is waiting for a response.

For students interested in following in their footsteps, Brandon has some solid advice: “Never doubt your abilities. If you really want to do something, go for it!”

Both Yanelis and Brandon have plans of attending law school at St. Thomas.

For more information on internships like the one mentioned above, please visit our Career Services Center, or email Cristina Lopez, director of the Career Services Center, at cclopez@stu.edu.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Great American Eclipse at STU

Photo courtesy of Jim Davis.



On the hot and humid afternoon of Aug. 21, St. Thomas University science professors David Quesada and Luis Fernandez-Torres were working up a sweat educating STU students and faculty about the once-in-a-lifetime Great American Eclipse simultaneously happening overhead.

The main attraction was the viewing telescope equipped with a special solar filter, which allowed people to view the eclipse without hurting their eyes. The eclipse watchers also shared eclipse viewing sunglasses, using them as filters for their cell phone cameras.

In an interview with a Florida Catholic reporter, Quesada said: "Science is one thing many people dismiss as boring," he said. "But the students and faculty and staff witnessed something that they’ve never seen before. That got their attention. That's success."

To read the post-eclipse story written by Jim Davis, click here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

STU President, US Bishops condemn Virginia violence

“As President of St. Thomas University, I stand with the University community and the United States Catholic Bishops and all peoples of good will in denouncing violence in any shape and form that stands in contrast to the message of the Gospel as well as the principles of a just and peaceful society.”
- Msgr. Franklyn Casale


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USCCB president and domestic justice chairman call for prayer and unity in response to deadly Charlottesville attack

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, are calling on all people of goodwill to join in prayer and unity today in response to this weekend’s violent protest and deadly attack in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Full statement follows:
"As we learn more about the horrible events of [this weekend], our prayer turns today, on the Lord's Day, to the people of Charlottesville who offered a counter example to the hate marching in the streets. Let us unite ourselves in the spirit of hope offered by the clergy, people of faith, and all people of good will who peacefully defended their city and country.

We stand against the evil of racism, white supremacy and neo-nazism. We stand with our sisters and brothers united in the sacrifice of Jesus, by which love's victory over every form of evil is assured. At Mass, let us offer a special prayer of gratitude for the brave souls who sought to protect us from the violent ideology displayed yesterday. Let us especially remember those who lost their lives. Let us join their witness and stand against every form of oppression."

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

STU Alumni Spotlight: Ana Eberhard ’88

Ana Eberhard ’88
B.A. in Communication Arts
Vice President, Member Experience | AvMed
 
1. How did your experience at St. Thomas University shape you into the leader you are today?
It gave me confidence to believe that whatever I set my mind to do, I can achieve. Having that mindset, combined with discipline, hard work, and time management skills, any challenge can be broken down into smaller actionable steps.

2. What is your most memorable experience from when you were a student at STU?
I had many; from the euphoria and excitement shared with the law students when the law school received its accreditation, to the various cultural events featuring excellent ethnic foods and music (the Jamaican heritage events were some of my favorites.) Being a Catholic institution, I always felt surrounded by people with similar values, but also open to new and diverse cultures and beliefs. The honors seminar classes, in which I was fortunate enough to have participated, led to the most exciting, thought-provoking and interesting discussions.

3. Our motto is “Leaders for Life,” how do you think our university molds students into Leaders for Life?
It establishes a sense of community and helps develop an appreciation for the fellowship of others. I believe this is foundational to developing a “Leader for Life.”

4. What advice would you give STU students or young alumni interested in pursuing a career in marketing, communications, and public relations?
Expose yourself to what interests you about the field you are pursuing, get to know the companies you aspire to work for, follow their clients, and familiarize yourself with their bodies of work. Use your time at St. Thomas to refine the skills those employers are looking for, and don’t ever think it is too early to start making connections with the folks that work there. Seek them out. Impress them with your knowledge and passion for what they do. When you are ready to graduate, those initial contacts and relationships will serve you well, and make you stand out as a job candidate. 

5. How did you first start down your career path?
Soon after I started at St. Thomas, I realized that what I had planned as a major was not really what I wanted to do. Luckily, I had a great guidance counselor in the Humanities Department, Dr. James Conley, who suggested focusing on the core requirements to give myself time to figure out my passion. Once I had done that, I had ruled out some fields that did not interest me, but was no closer to figuring out what did. I went back to Dr. Conley and, after discussing my interests in art, he suggested exploring a communications major which exposed students to various tracts across advertising, journalism, etc. The first class I took in advertising was with Mr. Stan Flax, and that is all it took to know this was my calling.

6. What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
Though I have worked on advertising campaigns for fantastic global brands from Nestle to BMW, I must admit, the work I am doing at AvMed gives me the most pride. That’s not just because of the work itself, but more importantly, because of the impact we are having on the health and well-being of people in the great communities we serve.

7. What do you find most rewarding about your job at AvMed?
Being able to make a difference in the company, as well as in the community, is what I find most rewarding. During my time at AvMed, I have been involved in exciting work around developing our brand purpose as “transforming lives to create a WELLfluentTM World” (a world of people who have made it their purpose to lead a balanced life, rich in what matters most – health and happiness), leading the development of award-winning advertising campaigns, leading the launch of our redesigned corporate website, AvMed.org, and developing programs like the AvMed Mobile Pantry in conjunction with Feed South Florida to bring healthy food alternatives to areas in our community that are “food deserts,” void of healthy food options.

8. In your 28+ years working with top brands on the advertising agency side, what attracted you to a career on “the other side of the desk” in healthcare?
Working on the client/brand side allows me to make the decisions about which efforts deserve support. With ownership comes accountability, it was the right time in my career to take on this responsibility.

9. In your opinion, what are some future trends in marketing, communications, and public relations?
Shiny objects will continue to drive marketers to test new tactics – whether it’s virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, you name it. Chat bots and artificial intelligence/machine learning will be embedded in the marketing engine of everything we do. The digital space and the technology that enables it will continue to play an increasing role in marketing and communications. Programmatic buying and marketing automation are here to stay. Brands will continue to be drawn to it, given continued focus on ROI, and the need to personalize messaging and approach. Increasingly, companies will drive demand for more data and transparency to ensure working dollars are maximized. But, while the need for science in quantifying results and the tools to access consumers will continue to drive marketers to these solutions, true success will come from those brands that don’t lose sight of the need to develop “love marks” and tell compelling stories built on human insights.

10. Are you involved in any volunteer projects or hobbies outside of work? If so, what?
I try to volunteer as much as my schedule permits. I am lucky in that, through the work at AvMed, volunteering is made easy as programs such as the AvMed Mobile Pantry allow me to deliver healthy food to those in need. In the past I have also volunteered at my church, at the Broward Pantry, YMCA, and for the City of Miami.

I am a bit of a gym rat, and I consider a killer Orange Theory workout one of my energy-boosting hobbies, but I am also an avid reader. I have a passion for the outdoors – biking, walking, or hiking and, when I need to connect with the energy that drives us all, my go-to hobby is yoga.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Curbing Human Trafficking through education, research and outreach

Florida has seen a 35 percent increase in reported human trafficking cases, ranking third in the United States for the most reported cases in 2016, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Last year, the state reported 550 cases, which includes 401 cases of sex trafficking and 92 cases of labor trafficking. In 2015, 407 cases were reported.
 
St. Thomas University School of Law has been a pioneering educational institution in addressing this growing problem. In order to build the necessary human resource infrastructure to effectively confront human trafficking, St. Thomas University will host its annual Human Trafficking Academy, July 31 – August 4, 2017.
 
“The dignity of every human being should be the guiding light of all law and policy; and the Catholic social teaching demands us to protect the dignity of all, with a particular focus on the most vulnerable amongst us,” said Roza Pati, STU law professor, and founder and director of the Human Trafficking Academy. “We designed this summer’s academy with a clear vision to empower participants to be a meaningful part of our great nation’s efforts to eradicate human trafficking while providing dignified care to victims and survivors.”
 
The academy offers 15 intensive and interactive courses, taught by top-level experts, academics and practitioners, to empower attendees with knowledge, skills and tools to address the many aspects of human trafficking.
 
Speakers include: 
  • Barbara Martinez, Chief, Special Prosecutions Section, U.S. DOJ, Miami U.S. Attorney's Office
  • Janet Basilan, Survivor of human trafficking and Vice Chairperson of GABRIELA USA
  • Greg H. Bristol, President, The Human Trafficking Investigations & Training Institute (Former FBI Special Agent)
  • Sean Sellers, Director of Strategic Partnerships, National Economic & Social Rights Initiative, Sarasota, Florida 
  • Brenda Mezick, Chief, Human Trafficking Unit, Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office
Upon completion of the training, participants will be awarded a certificate by St. Thomas University School of Law.

Registration deadline for the academy is July 21. To register, please visit www.stu.edu/HTARegistration.

For more information, visit the Human Trafficking Academy website here, or email humantrafficking@stu.edu.
 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

STU Students Intern at Midway Ford

From left to right: Marcos Castillo '16; graduate student Jesus Callejo; Juan Dominguez, Midway Ford's marketing manager and internship supervisor; and Alex Villamañán '95, attorney at Midway Ford. 
Marcos Castillo '16 (BBA, International Business) and graduate student Jesus Callejo (MBA) were two of our students selected to work at Midway Ford this summer as part of our unique “Automobile Dealership Operations, Sales and Marketing Internship Program. Marcos was fundamental in creating a salesmen training program for the dealership, and Jesus had hands-on experience by assisting with dealership events, blogging and social media.

Alex Villamañán (JD '95, BA '91,) Attorney at Midway Ford, said, "The talent pool of students was extraordinary. The students were very professional. It was such a tough choice, we ended up selecting two instead of one intern.”

Alumni interested in hiring our students for internships, part-time or full-time positions at their companies can contact Cristina Lopez at careerservices@stu.edu, 305-628-6577, or click here for more information.

Monday, June 26, 2017

STU students receive hands-on experience, help Carol City Middle School students propel




"A middle school erases its 'F' grade - college kids down the road might be why"
On Sunday, August 18, 2017, The Miami Herald featured our STU-CCMS partnership on the front page of it's Sunday edition. Click the hyperlink above for the full story.
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STU graduate student Cristina Soulavy has always known she’s wanted to make a difference in her community, so when the opportunity to help at-risk students at a neighboring middle school presented itself she was both excited and apprehensive about the journey she was about to take.
 
As part of her group therapy class, Cristina, a mother of three, and several other STU mental health counseling graduate students participated in the Success Academy, a program that helps students with behavioral issues.
 
“I was a little nervous,” said Cristina. “Up to that point all my experience came from text books and lectures, and now I was stepping into the real world, helping kids with real problems.”
 
The Success Academy is part of STU’s newly formed partnership with Carol City Middle School. In February 2015, St. Thomas University and Carol City Middle School established the STU-Carol City Middle School Community Educational Partnership (STU-CCMS CEP), a partnership to improve education in Miami Gardens.
 
This five-year partnership connects the community, schools, students and parents with university expertise, resources and research-based intervention programs to address the pressing educational and social needs of students at CCMS, a school in one of the most challenged communities in Florida.
 
The STU-CCMS partnership is a long-term initiative that integrates a variety of university engagement elements, from volunteer activities to internships, to courses in different disciplines, all with one goal – student success. Specifically, the partnership is aimed at improving student attendance, behavior, course grades and standardized test scores.
 
“Many times we think that you can improve schools simply by offering more tutoring. But the truth is that it’s much more complicated than that,” said Anthony Vinciguerra, coordinator for STU’s Center for Community Engagement. “We’ve been lucky to bring STU faculty together with an incredible team at CCMS to support not only students’ academic challenges, but also their behavioral issues and social services needs as well.”
 
The program, based on the national Diplomas Now initiative, collects data during quarterly “Report Card Reviews” where STU students are matched with CCMS students to evaluate their grades, and collect information on their challenges inside and outside of the classroom. The data is compiled and analyzed by students in courses such as applied psychology and psychological statistics to provide a birds-eye view to the CCMS administration on student challenges, and support them in formulating a plan for improvement. The information gathered helps determine which students need tutoring in specific subjects, counselling, and/or social services.
 
Professors Judith Bachay and Jeffrey Pickens, both long-time participants in the program, agree the partnership is a transformative one that allows STU students and CCMS students to learn and grow from each other.
 
“Working in the STU-CCMS partnership allows STU students to apply what they are learning in a context that makes a difference,” said Bachay, counseling professor and director of STU’s graduate program.
 
The program has even inspired recent graduates like Segane Robinson, STU’s new Americorp-VISTA member, to continue volunteering at the school.
 
“I love working at CCMS,” Robinson said. “I grew up in the same environment as these kids, so I understand and can relate to what a lot of them are going through. I want them to know that despite the challenges, they can still succeed.”
 
After five years of “F” status, CCMS is on the move. In 2016, the school saw 38 percent of its students improve their English language arts scores, 31 percent improve their math scores, and there was a 57% decrease in suspensions.
 
As the 2016-17 year comes to an end, Vinciguerra is hopeful.
 
“This is not just about St. Thomas. This is truly a community effort,” he said. It takes all of us: St. Thomas faculty and students, our community partners, and most importantly the incredible teachers and administrators of Carol City Middle School. It takes all of us all working together to make a difference.”
 
Carol City Middle School’s results for the 2016/17 school year will be available mid-July.
 
Other elements of the partnership include:
  • STU-CCMS Community-Engaged Leader Corp Tutors: Facilitated by the STU Center for Community Engagement and the Office of Financial Aid, STU students are able to work under a CCMS teacher’s supervision to provide in-class reading and math support while earning federal work-study dollars. 
  • STU First Year Orientation “Bobcats Serve” Days: Every year during orientation, all of STU’s incoming first-year students spend a full day working on beautification efforts at CCMS. The event exposes STU students to the importance of service in the community, while providing CCMS with thousands of dollars in painting and landscaping. 
  • STU-CCMS College is Cool Days: In collaboration with the Center for Community Engagement and STU’s Office of Student Affairs, STU students organize college awareness events that provide CCMS eight graders with an introduction to campus life, college athletics, college faculty guest lecturers, as well as a college application workshop.

For more information on the STU/Carol City Middle School Community Educational Partnership, and STU’s other engaged learning activities in the community, contact the STU Center for Community Engagement: cce@stu.edu.
 
 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

STU President Honored by Hispanic Chamber of Commerce


From left to right, Felipe Basulto, SFLHCC chairman; Liliam Lopez '88, SFLHCC president and CEO; and Msgr. Franklyn Casale. 

St. Thomas University President Msgr. Franklyn Casale was honored by the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce during its annual installation gala Friday, May 19.

Casale was presented with the Golden Eagle Award in recognition of his more than 22 years of leadership and service at STU. The Golden Eagle Award is the chamber’s most prestigious award.

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. And he is currently chair of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU).


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Bernard Graham Foundation Recognizes STU Student Leader


On Thursday, May 11, the Bernard F. Graham Scholastic Award in Finance and Accounting recognized the finance student with the highest grade point average, Luciano Cucinotta, and awarded him with a $10,000 check.

Pictured above from left to right, Dean Som Bhattacharya, award recipient Luciano Cucinotta, and Paul Bodin, director at Carlsen & Company and director of The Bernard Graham Foundation.

The Bernard F. Graham Scholastic Award in Finance and Accounting is provided by the Bernard F. Graham Charitable Foundation. This generous monetary award is intended to recognize student dedication and commitment to the study of finance and accounting – a passion of Mr. Graham.


Monday, May 8, 2017

Worming Around STU’s Research Garden

Dr. Pilar Maul and students in the I-Catch garden.
If you’ve ever wondered about the gardens on the north side of campus, you’re not alone. We were curious too and decided to do some digging.

St. Thomas University’s School of Science is always up to something new and striving to lead the path of innovation and opportunities for its students. And one of its latest projects is the I-CATCH program (Innovative Curriculum for Agriculture Training and Career for Hispanics), which is a collaboration between Florida International University, Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, Miami Dade College-North, St. Thomas University, and Miami Dade College-Homestead.

So, what is it?
The program trains Hispanic students in agricultural, plants, herbs and other natural resources, and prepares them for jobs with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as other federal agencies. The program also offers internships with the USDA, community engagement, and collaborative learning.

“We offer many opportunities such as tuition scholarship stipends, developing expertise in molecular biology, tissue culture, bioinformatics, field studies, and developing your soft skills (creativity, analytical thinking, multitasking, verbal and written communications, time management, teamwork, and collaboration),” said professor Dr. Pilar Maul.

It’s more than a garden
It’s a research garden, and it’s where several students have class every week. The garden is home to several scientific experiments arranged in different plots. Experiments range from testing organic fertilizers, growing carrots (as well as other vegetables), and medicinal plants.

Currently, students are testing different organic fertilizers, which they produce at STU using earthworm compost. In other words, using several bins, they have created an earthworm compost factory where they feed food scraps and other organic material to the worms, and use the worm’s nutrient-rich compost to grow plants.

Maul’s focus for this year is to expand the current garden and grow medicinal plants such as yarrow, aloe, Echinacea, and marshmallow. She challenges students by allowing them to use different growing techniques for their choice of plant. When plants are harvested, they assess the final product by measuring its length, width and mass.

STU student Luis Cendan, said the program has help him grow professionally and personally.

“The I-CATCH program changed me in many ways,” he said. “I grew as a scientist, learnied to design experiments, analyze data, and present my research in symposia. This kind of hands-on learning simply cannot be replicated by the mere reading of a book or watching videos, and I know I have grown considerably in the two years I've been involved in I-CATCH. “

If you would like to apply to this program, please contact professor Maul at Dmaul@stu.edu for more information.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Business Students Leading in Global Online Business Strategy Competition

From left to right: Kristers Zeidaks, Jeanette Pena, Federico Moronell, and Roni Luokkamaki.
Throughout the 2017 spring semester, St. Thomas University Gus Machado School of Business students have been competing in a global online business strategy simulation, the Business Strategy Game. The simulation is part of the capstone course, Business Policy, taught by professor Lloyd Mitchell.

During the online simulation competition, STU students manage an athletic footwear company that produces and markets both branded and private-label footwear. They compete against similar footwear companies run by other universities around the world (35 countries).

Students integrate concepts and apply principles studied throughout their undergraduate careers, covering multiple business disciplines. More than 415 universities make up the 2,457 competing companies, and one of our STU companies tied for first place in the world! First-place group members include: Roni Luokkamaki, Federico Moronell, Jeanette Pena, and Kristers Zeidaks.

While competing, students assess market conditions, respond to the actions of competitors, forge a long-term strategy, forecast sales volumes, and make operating decisions on a weekly basis. In addition to financing company operations, teams are responsible for worker compensation and training, shipping and inventory management, pricing and marketing.

“This simulation draws upon students’ ability to use theory, as well as team work and leadership skills,” said Mitchell. “This is what we are all about at St. Thomas University, we produce leaders for life. That our groups are doing so well, illustrates the quality of education at St. Thomas’ Gus Machado School of Business.”

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

STU Impact: A Summer Program With a Higher Purpose

Registration is now open for STU IMPACT: Empowering Young Disciples, a summer program which aims to gather high school students both from South Florida and throughout Florida for an eight-day experience in Catholic theological education during summer 2017.

STU IMPACT is made possible through a grant from the 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, faculty director 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 youth through the program. During the program, scheduled for June 17 - 24, 2017, youths will live on campus, learn from renowned scholars, and participate in local and regional civic engagement activities. 

The program will open with guest speaker ValLimar Jansen, an inspirational and catechetical speaker, singer, composer and recording artist. Her records include Catholic classics: African American Sacred Songs, Give God the Glory, and Spirit & Soul.

“We’re excited for this second year of the program. STU IIMPACT provides the youth opportunities to reflect on their faith and how they will live it out in the course of their lives,” said Kryszak. “In addition to time with professors learning about the Old Testament, New Testament, and Catholic social teaching, the youth participate in service projects, as well daily prayer and a concluding retreat.”

High school students wishing to participate in the STU IMPACT summer institute must complete the application process available here. While the cost for the program is $600, scholarships are available. For any questions about the program, scholarships, or the application process, please email STUIMPACT@stu.edu, or call 305-474-6842.

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, March 23, 2017

Leaving a Legacy: The Col. Jacquelin J. Kelly Softball Field

Before Col. Jacquelin Kelly passed away from cancer in 2014, she bequeathed a generous gift to STU’s Athletic Program. Jacquelin, a lifelong athlete and coach, held a strong belief that women should participate in competitive sports and pursue higher education, and in recognition of her gift, the university will be dedicating “The Col. Jacquelin Kelly Field” at the St. Thomas Softball Complex.

In 1960 she joined the army and was stationed in the Middle East and the Far East working in military intelligence. Jacquelin, who received her bachelors from St. Elizabeth College, served in the army for 21 years, 12 of them at the Pentagon, where she was the highest ranking woman at that time, having achieved the rank of colonel.

In the mid-1980s, Jacquelin moved to South Florida where she continued her education by pursuing a master’s in sports administration at STU and graduated in 1987 at the age of 56 - in total she earned four master’s degrees, including one in Chinese.

"This generous donation to our athletics department not only allows us to upgrade our facilities, but also gives us the opportunity to honor an amazing female, a champion of character,” said Laura Courtley-Todd, STU director of athletics. “Jacquelin was a phenomenal role model, and will remain so through the naming of the softball complex."

 STU will host the Jacquelin J. Kelly Softball Field dedication Friday, March 23, at 4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Lent Q&A: Everything you were embarrassed to ask about Lent


This week marks the beginning of the Lent season, and in collaboration with STU’s Campus Ministry, we’ve developed the following questions and answers about Lent. After the Q&A, make sure to view our schedule of events for the Lent season.

Q: Getting fat on Fat Tuesday?
A: Fat Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday. It is also known as Mardi Gras Day or Shrove Day. Mardi Gras, which is French for "Fat Tuesday," is a day when people eat all they want of everything and anything they want as the following day is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of a long fasting period.

Q: What is Ash Wednesday?
A: Ash Wednesday celebrates the first day of Lent, and it always falls 46 days before Easter Sunday. On this day, observers attend worship services, where a priest or minister combines ashes with water, dips his or her thumb into the mixture, and uses it to make the sign of the cross on parishioner’s foreheads.

Q: What is Lent?
A: It’s the 40-day fasting period leading up to Easter, modeled after Christ's 40-day fast in the desert, and ends on Good Friday. During this fasting period people give up certain foods, habits, or indulgences. This is considered a season of fasting, prayer and almsgiving.

Q: Why are we marked with ashes?
A: Ashes, applied in the shape of a cross, are a symbol of mortality and repentance, and represent the idea that "people came from ash, and to ash they will return." Most people wear them throughout the day as a public expression of their faith and penance.

Q: Where do the ashes come from?
A: The ashes are from the burning the palms used for the previous year’s Palm Sunday, which occurs on the Sunday before Easter. Palm Sunday marks Jesus' return to Jerusalem, when people waved palm branches to celebrate his arrival.

Q: Meatless Fridays?
A: Since Jesus sacrificed his body for us on Good Friday, we refrain from eating meat in his honor on the Fridays during lent.

Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and the Fridays in between are considered “Days of Abstinence.” You will notice that over the next few weeks beginning from tomorrow March 1, until April 14, the Dining Hall and the Rathskeller will not be serving meat or any meat products on Fridays. This is part of our Catholic Tradition.

On these days, by sacrificing something we really enjoy, we reflect on God’s goodness to us in the abundance of not only food but of the many blessings in our lives. By not eating meat, and whatever else you may choose to give up, we also reflect on the many people in our own community and throughout the world who go to bed hungry each day. It is for these people that we should pray and offer whatever support we can. We invite our entire religiously diverse community to participate in this meaningful and personally fulfilling Lenten Discipline.

For a list of events and activities on campus during Lent, click here.

For a list of Holy Week events, click here.




Thursday, February 23, 2017

From Skin Cells to Stem Cells: How STU Students are Helping Advance Autism Research

Senior Leana Ramos studying neural stem cells.



Walk by professor Alexis Tapanes-Castillo’s lab at St. Thomas University, and you'll see gloved students dressed in lab coats and hunched over microscopes. What you won't know just from looking are that the students are trying to treat autism in a petri dish.
Under the watchful eye of Tapanes-Castillo, STU undergraduates are growing and manipulating stem cells. In collaboration with the University of Miami, these students are playing a key role in researching autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

 “In the labs at UM, a microscopic piece of skin is taken from participants with autism and reprogrammed into a stem cell,” Tapanes-Castillo explains. “Using different techniques and drugs, the stem cells are then turned into neural stem cells. At STU, we grow these neural stem cells from patients with autism, as well neural stem cells from patients who do not have autism.”

Under a microscope the cells look like sunbursts with branches. To the untrained eye, the only difference between the ASD cells and the control cells appears to be the number of branches (connections) they make, and how far they branch out. Many believe that having so many connections is what causes individuals with autism to easily become overwhelmed by the environment.

“One of the theories is that the cells of those with autism grow too quickly and make too many connections,” explained Tapanes-Castillo. “Ironically enough, genius is also thought to originate from cells making too many connections.”
Senior Carlos Canales makes is a daily routine to check in on the cells and make sure they are receiving the nutrition they require.

Since the stem cells are just a few weeks old when STU students receive them, they are responsible for culturing (growing) the cells. In other words, they are responsible for nurturing the cells to maturity, which can take 100 days.

In the lab, students are also testing molecular differences between the control cells and autistic cells. The testing of specific candidate molecules is based on data obtained by UM, who has sequenced the DNA of thousands of people with autism, and family members that don’t have autism. These differences are tested at STU using genetic engineering techniques.

“Since we grow the cells in the lab, we can control which molecules they make. We can turn genes on and off; and we can manipulate the levels of specific molecules using lab viruses,” said Tapanes-Castillo. “We can see if changing the levels of these molecules, which are different between autistic and non-autistic people, make the autistic cells look and behave more like the control cells.”

Last week the cells were infected with viruses, which the students helped create in the lab, and the experiment is under way to see how the cells will react to the virus. They should start understanding how the virus affects the biology of autistic cells over the next several months.

Leana Ramos, an STU undergraduate majoring in biology and chemistry, as well as completing specializations in research and English literature, says she feels very fortunate to be participating in such groundbreaking research.

“Research of this caliber isn’t available to undergraduate students at other universities,” Ramos said. “It’s exciting to work on something that could possibly help millions of people with autism.”

Ramos credits the University’s undergraduate research programs and its professors for the year-long fellowship she was recently awarded at the National Institute of Health (NIH).

Tapanes-Castillo stresses a very important aspect of their research–they are not trying to completely eradicate autism. They’re trying to treat it, so that those with autism can manage it better.

“We want to understand the biology of autism so that we can help patients manage its challenges–the feelings of anxiety, the sensory overload. However, we would not want to eliminate the ability of autistic cells to make extra connections. This ability may be what gives autistic individuals special talents.”

Currently there are no medications for autism because not enough is understood about the biology of the disorder to suggest specific medications. ASD patients are usually prescribed medications that treat other conditions like obsessive compulsive disorder, epilepsy, anxiety, and so on. Although the symptoms range dramatically in type and severity, autism can be characterized by problems communicating, difficulties interacting with others, and repetitive behaviors.

Autism spectrum disorder is a disorder that affects the lives of millions around the world. In the United States, one in 68 children live with autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).