Former Florida Governor Bob Martinez and Philanthropist Peter Thomas Named as Commencement Speakers

April 16, 2009

Former Florida Governor Bob Martinez and Philanthropist Peter Thomas Named as Commencement Speakers

Saint Leo University graduates and their families will hear from two distinguished speakers from the worlds of government and business during morning and afternoon commencement ceremonies to be held at the main campus on Saturday, May 2.

Two ceremonies are needed to accommodate the estimated 775 degree recipients participating, and their families. Both programs are held in the Marion Bowman Activities Center.

A morning ceremony is scheduled at 9 a.m. to award a mix of undergraduate and graduate degrees. The participants have studied through Saint Leo’s Center for Online Learning, through Weekend and Evening programs, or various master’s degree programs.

Those attending the morning ceremony will be addressed by former Florida Governor Bob Martinez.

The former governor was born in Tampa and began his career as a classroom teacher in Hillsborough County in 1957. He later became a small business owner, operating a Tampa restaurant. He was elected mayor of Tampa in 1979 and promoted several economic development initiatives during his tenure. He was elected to the office of governor in 1986 and supported new environmental preservation programs, higher education expansion, and new criminal justice programs. President George H.W. Bush appointed Martinez to the post of federal “drug czar” in

Since the former governor’s return to Tampa, he has been active in a variety of community organizations, and serves as a senior policy advisor at the law firm Holland and Knight.

The governor’s audience is expected to include 463 graduates, including 285 who have earned bachelor’s degrees, and another 178 who have completed master’s degree programs. The increasingly popular Master of Business Administration degree will be awarded to 115 students. Additional master’s degrees are to be awarded in the fields of education, criminal justice and theology.

A 2:30 p.m. ceremony will be held to award bachelor’s degrees to seniors who studied full-time at the main campus. Molina

Graduates and guests will be addressed by Phoenix-area businessman and philanthropist Alfredo J. Molina, who joined the university’s Board of Trustees in 2008. Alfredo Molina comes from a family renowned for centuries as master jewelers, dating back to 17th century Italy. The family story took a dramatic turn in the 1960s when a young Alfredo came to the United States with his family from Cuba, following Fidel Castro’s rise to power.

The young Alfredo was mentored by his grandfather, and became a national and international leader in the jewelry industry. Today, he heads The Molina Group in Phoenix, Ariz. As he built his business, he also volunteered and contributed to philanthropic activities. He has been inducted into the Frederick Douglass Museum and Hall of Fame for Caring Americans in Washington, D.C.

He will share his experiences with 312 students graduating from Saint Leo, and their families. Most of the afternoon graduates are receiving the Bachelor of Arts degree, while 42 students have earned the Bachelor of Science degree, and another 12 have completed the Bachelor of Social Work degree.

The main campus is located at 33701 State Road 52, four miles east of Interstate 75 (Exit 285).

Saint Leo will also hold 12 more commencement ceremonies in May and June for students who have earned their degrees at other teaching locations.