Monday, January 30, 2017

STU's Response to President's Executive Order on Immigration

On Monday, Jan. 30, STU President delivered this message to the University community:

Dear University Community:
This weekend I joined 500 university administrators at the annual meeting of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) in Washington, DC. The Board of Directors, which I chair, issued a statement concerning the executive order on immigration policy issued by the President on Friday.

The statement received overwhelming support from the Catholic college and university presidents who were in attendance at the association's annual meeting, which concluded today. I am issuing this statement to our St. Thomas University community as my official response on behalf of our university, as well.

ACCU Statement on Recent Executive Order by the President
As the voice of Catholic higher education, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities expresses its strong opposition to the Executive Order signed by President Donald J. Trump concerning U.S. immigration policy. We stand in solidarity with other Catholic and higher education organizations that recognize the moral obligation of our country to assist migrants, particularly those who are fleeing any kind of persecution.

In referring to the order’s halt of refugee admissions, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, stated, "We believe that now more than ever, welcoming newcomers and refugees is an act of love and hope. … We will work vigorously to ensure that refugees are humanely welcomed in collaboration with Catholic Charities, without sacrificing our security or our core values as Americans, and to ensure that families may be reunified with their loved ones." (Read Bishop Vasquez’s full statement online.)

Pope Francis has said that “authentic hospitality is our greatest security against hateful acts of terrorism.” As ACCU gathers this weekend in Washington, DC to celebrate the value of diversity within Catholic higher education, we reaffirm the commitment of our institutions to creating inclusive, welcoming campus environments that embrace people of all faiths and cultures. Catholic higher education was founded precisely to serve the children of Catholic immigrants who in their own time were excluded from higher education. This is a legacy that we proudly pledge to continue.

Friday, January 27, 2017

STU President Announces Retirement in 2018

After a 22-year tenure that saw enormous growth for the private, Catholic St. Thomas University,
Msgr. Franklyn M. Casale announced his intention to retire as University President in January of next year. Msgr. Casale, 75, has been the longest-serving president at St. Thomas, and has the longest tenure of any South Florida college or university president.

His presidency has marked remarkable progress for the institution. Msgr. Casale has been building the University’s position as the leading Catholic university in the Southeast by developing and graduating recognized global leaders in ministry, science, business, education and justice. He has shaped four fundamental core values in the institution: a strong Catholic identity; global diversity; student success; and leadership development.

“It takes great leadership to create a great institution,” explains John J. Dooner, ’70, chair of the University’s Board of Trustees. “Since he first arrived on campus, Msgr. Casale has worked to make St. Thomas a model resource that prepares students to lead and engage in the legal, business, social entrepreneurship and scientific universe of the global community. He will leave a legacy of committed service to higher education, which has resulted in positioning the University not only as a leader in higher education, but a leader in producing graduates that are ethical, knowledgeable and confident leaders in their fields.”

His legacy at St. Thomas is reflected in, among other things:
  • A nationally recognized program in Intercultural Human Rights that has been teaching, training, and empowering the next generation of human rights advocates and decision makers through globally unique LL.M. and J.S.D. programs in Intercultural Human Rights, and in establishing STU’s national and international academic presence on the issue of human trafficking. Msgr. Casale convened the first workshop on this topic in 2004, helped formulate the globally influential Miami Declaration of Principles against Human Trafficking in February 2005, and established a Human Trafficking Academy funded by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2012. Msgr. Casale has testified on human trafficking before the U.S. House of Representatives, keynoted conferences in Rome and South America, as well as leading interdisciplinary workshops in Siena, Italy (where he helped develop the 2013 Siena Principles on Human Trafficking and Public Health).
  • The construction and expansion of campus facilities, combining the advantage of intimate and caring environment for the students with the provision of the highest standards of technology needed in today’s economy. This has included the Chapel of Saint Anthony; School of Law’s Professional Development Building and Shojaee Law Annex; Goya Family Student Academic Enhancement Building; Evelyn and George Goldbloom Convocation Hall; Villanova Residential Hall; Fernandez Family Center for Leadership and Wellness; and the Carnival Cruise Lines School of Science, Technology and Engineering Management. Major renovations have also been completed to the athletic facilities, all residential halls, academic classrooms, and new entrance and tower. The result has been a tripling of the University’s assets.
  • An academic restructuring into five schools and a college that positioned the University to better serve its globally diverse student body through enhanced focus on leadership development, academic rigor, experiential learning (through internships, service learning, study abroad), and student success. The School of Law and Sports Administration programs are nationally lauded, and programs in pastoral ministry and community engagement are well-recognized and highly respected by the Archdiocese of Miami and nationally.
  • The enhanced focus on academic rigor through the introduction of the University’s first doctoral degrees, as well as an expansion of post-graduate (master’s) programs.
  • Increased partnerships and support of University initiatives, student scholarships and community programs, resulting in almost $100 million in new philanthropic, corporate and grant funding.
  • The implementation of unique, hands-on undergraduate scientific research that engages students in drug discovery, spinal cord injury, and cancer research, as well as scientific publication.
  • Social justice and long-term sustainability projects that have demonstrated results in Haiti’s poorest regions, migrant worker communities in Central Florida, and in the local community and schools.
  • A School of Theology and Ministry that fosters global dialogue for peace and ecumenical understanding, and has strengthened its long history of ministry formation.
“Monsignor Franklyn Casale’s long tenure has been a blessing to St. Thomas University as well to our South Florida community,” adds Archbishop Thomas Wenski. “During his presidency, more than 17,000 have graduated to positions of leadership and influence in their communities. Their formation in an academic setting imbued with the values of Catholic social teaching help them to remain focused on service, compassion and ethics. We all owe Monsignor a big “thank you” for his vision, commitment and dedication.”
Msgr. Casale is active in a wide range of community organizations and has been a significant presence in Miami since his arrival. His involvements include participation in committees with the Archdiocese of Miami; the Board of Governors for the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce; the Academic Leaders Council of the Beacon Council, One Community One Goal; the Holocaust Documentation & Education Center, Inc.; and a long-serving member of the Orange Bowl Committee. He was appointed by former Governor Jeb Bush to serve on the Governor’s Haiti Advisory Group.
His leadership positions in higher education associations include Chair of the Board of Directors, Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities; Board of Trustees and former Vice Chair, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges; Governing Board, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities; Past-Chair, President’s Council of Independent Colleges & Universities of Florida; Florida Association of Colleges & Universities; and Co-founder, Haiti-Tech, an organization that organizes and maintains a vocational/technical school in Haiti and educates over 700 students yearly. He was appointed as the President Member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Higher Education Working Group.
Prior to joining St. Thomas University, Msgr. Casale 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 Board of Trustees and executive committee at Bloomfield College. A catholic priest from the Archdiocese of New Jersey who will celebrate 50 years of ordination this year, he received his B.A. in Humanities with a concentration in Philosophy from Seton Hall University, a Bachelor in Sacred Theology (STB) from the Catholic University in Washington D.C., and his Masters of Divinity (M.Div.) from the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Darlington, New Jersey.
“It has been an honor to be part of an institution that changes the lives of people for the better, both intellectually and spiritually,” said Msgr. Casale. “I look back at my years at STU with much pride for what we have accomplished, how we have grown our Catholic intellectual tradition, and how we have impacted communities here and abroad. I look forward to working with our committed Board and the excellent administration, faculty and staff during the next year, as we transition to the next exciting phase of St. Thomas University.”
The Board of Trustees will be implementing a search process and work with Msgr. Casale on ensuring a seamless transition.

Monday, January 23, 2017

STU ‘Toasts’ to Public Speaking, Leadership and Confidence

The Office of Student Affairs at St. Thomas University officially kicked off its chapter of Toastmasters International during common hour Wednesday, Jan. 18.

More than 145 students were in attendance to learn the art of public speaking and to effectively formulate ways to communicate better. Students gave impromptu speeches and learned various tips to enhance clarity, persistence and audience appeal. Other topics discussed during the event focused on the art of giving compelling speeches, making dynamic presentations, and being confident, effective leaders.

“This program will no doubt bring students together to develop skills that will serve them as future leaders in their respective fields,” said Richard McNab, associate vice president of student affairs.

Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Founded in October 1924, the organization currently has more than 270,000 members in 13,000 clubs in 116 countries. Each week, Toastmasters helps more than a quarter million people of every ethnicity, education and profession build their competence in communication so they can gain the confidence to lead others. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit

 For photos of the event, click here.