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.