Saint Leo Opens in Downtown Tampa

July 22, 2011

Tampa_DowntownSaint Leo University has opened a new location in Tampa’s Channelside District that by the end of the year will employ 90 people and extend more educational opportunities to the downtown community.

University President Arthur F. Kirk, Jr., made the news public at the university’s new Tampa location at 1120 E. Kennedy Blvd., the complex commonly known as Grand Central at Kennedy. Dr. Kirk was joined there Thursday, July 21, by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn (shown in the tan suit) and Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Rohrlack (standing beside Mayor Buckhorn at the ribbon cutting) as he explained the dual nature of the university’s operation in Tampa.

The Tampa Education Center, a 21st century teaching location for adult students, represents one aspect of the operation. The other element of the university’s base in Tampa is the Student Support Center, a department assembled to serve adult learners who are earning Saint Leo undergraduate degrees online. Most of the Tampa jobs announced are with the Student Support Center, which should be fully staffed by the end of the year.

“We are delighted that Saint Leo University will be creating jobs and employing 90 people in high-wage jobs by the end of the year in the Tampa Channelside District,” Dr. Kirk said in a statement.

“Not only are we employing people in Tampa, our operations here will create convenient educational opportunities for adults living and working in downtown, “ Dr. Kirk added. “Our Tampa Education Center, with five state-of-the art classrooms, will be offering traditional classroom instruction for adult learners beginning August 29. We have built a significant operation in the Channelside District to support our online students as well. Our Student Support Center employs enrollment, admissions, financial aid and veterans specialists, along with academic advisers, all of whom assist Saint Leo students earning undergraduate degrees online, from anywhere in the country, or even the world.”

As the top executive at the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Rohrlack noted in a statement that the Saint Leo jobs offer high-quality employment opportunities, generating more than $4 million (in pay and benefits) annually into the economy. “This influx of jobs will provide a great boost locally and we are excited about Saint Leo’s expansion downtown,” Mr. Rohrlack said.

Mayor Buckhorn joined the announcement in support of Saint Leo University’s growing involvement in the city’s economic and educational base. “These are the days that mayors live for,” he said Thursday.

Saint Leo has actually been part of the Tampa landscape since 1973 when it opened a teaching center at MacDill Air Force Base, and which the university continues to operate.

“I am absolutely ecstatic about the fact that Saint Leo is expanding in Tampa,” said Sturgis Griffin III, a 2009 graduate and U.S. Air Force veteran who studied at MacDill and online to obtain a Bachelor of Science in computer information systems. “It is good to see the university going outside the Saint Leo University Campus and MacDill for those people who may not have realized Saint Leo is available.” And as someone who studied both in the classroom and online, he added, “both methods provided a very rigorous and very fair opportunity to obtain an education.”