On January 6, 1997, Saint Leo College’s newly appointed
president, Arthur F. Kirk, Jr., stood before faculty and staff to
describe the future he pictured for the school. "I see great
potential here and I can envision Saint Leo being the great
Catholic university of the southeastern United States," he said.
"We have the potential to combine the resources of a university
with a small college’s strengths of community and commitment to
each student’s learning and development."
In the years since Dr. Kirk arrived at Saint Leo, his
vision––for Saint Leo to become a leading Catholic teaching
university––has guided the efforts of its faculty and staff.
Enrollments have doubled and graduation rates have improved
significantly. Eight new buildings have been constructed, seven
others purchased, and several more extensively renovated and
refurbished. Today the university’s curriculum is more academically
rigorous than at any time in the school’s history. Student
satisfaction, graduation rates, learning outcomes, and student
engagement are constantly and consistently improving, as measured
by national comparative studies. During Dr. Kirk’s tenure, eight
intercollegiate athletic teams have been added, all campus
residential students are issued laptop computers, and new
technologies are employed online and at all teaching locations to
enhance the teaching and learning environment.
Dr. Kirk places a high priority on community service, so the
university sponsors a community service day each semester with
hundreds of students, faculty and staff volunteering their time at
local charities. In addition, every athletic team engages in
multiple service projects each year.
Dr. Kirk received his bachelor's degree in history and his
master’s degree in administration and supervision from Kean
University in New Jersey. He earned his doctorate from Rutgers
University. Dr. Kirk wrote his dissertation on small college
He began his administrative career at Kean University where he
served as assistant director of the Division of College Development
and director of Alumni Affairs. He also served as director of
Development and Planning for Raritan Valley Community College and
directed the college’s off-campus, non-credit and curriculum
development programs. Dr. Kirk moved on to be executive vice
president and chief financial officer of College Misericordia in
northeastern Pennsylvania. In 1984 he was named president of Keuka
College in upstate New York.
An avid athlete and former college football coach, he competes
in triathlons and in 1995 completed a cross-country bike ride.
Dr. Kirk has received honors and awards from Rutgers University,
Kean University of New Jersey, and Keuka College.
He serves as a member of the board of the Council for Adult and
Experiential Learning (CAEL), the Association of Governing Boards
(AGB) Council of Presidents, and the National Association of
Independent Colleges and Universities’ (NAICU) Committee on
He is past chair of the president’s council of the Independent
Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF), past vice president of
the Florida Association of Colleges and Universities Board of
Directors, and he currently serves on several corporate and
community boards. Dr. Kirk served two terms as vice chair of the
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II
President’s Council and the NCAA Executive Committee.
Read Dr. Kirk's Speeches &