Weekend of Commencement Activities Scheduled at Saint Leo University

April 28, 2014

More than 1,300 graduates of Saint Leo University will be awarded their degrees over the course of three commencement ceremonies to be held on Friday and Saturday, May 2 and 3, at University Campus in Pasco County. Each ceremony will be held in the Marion Bowman Activities Center.

An Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree will be awarded to alumnus Donald R. Tapia, ’05, ’07 on Saturday afternoon. Mr. Tapia is a retired entrepreneur and namesake of the Donald R. Tapia School of Business at Saint Leo University (see related story).

Details on Ceremonies

Friday at 7 p.m., a ceremony will be held for an expected 449 graduates who have earned bachelor’s degrees through the Center for Online Learning, at the Adult Education Center at University Campus (which offers weekend and evening classes). Degrees to be awarded include the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Social Work. The guest commencement speaker is Bob Rohrlack (pictured), president and CEO of The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. The voice of business for the Tampa/Hillsborough County area, he assumed his role in 2009 and has over 27 years of experience in the chamber of commerce/economic development profession at the local and state levels. Two students were selected to deliver farewell addresses: Brian Anderson, who earned the Bachelor of Science in Social Work, will represent the Adult Education Center at University Campus, and Olan Tiangco, who studied for the Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a specialization in Homeland Security, will represent the Center for Online Learning.

Saturday at 9 a.m., degrees will be conferred to 515 candidates from a broad variety of degree programs; the Master of Business Administration, the Master of Accounting, Master of Science in Criminal Justice, Master of Science in Critical Incident Management, Master of Education, Master of Science in Instructional Design, Master of Theology, and Master of Social Work. The guest speaker for the graduate program is Brigadier General Susan A. Davidson (pictured), U.S. Army Commander of the Defense Logistics Agency Distribution, the leading provider of global distribution support to America’s military. Born in Dade City, she grew up in nearby Saint Joseph, just north of San Antonio. Brig, Gen. Davidson received her commission in May 1983 and began active duty in April 1986. She has commanded at company, battalion, and brigade levels in peace and war. Gina Marie Julia, a Master of Education degree recipient, was selected to deliver the farewell address on behalf of the Class of 2014.

Saturday at 2:30 p.m., more than 350 traditional undergraduates who studied at University Campus will receive their degrees: the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, or Bachelor of Social Work. Additionally, seven graduating ROTC cadets who are now prepared to enter the U.S. Army as second lieutenants, will be formally recognized during the ceremony. The guest commencement speaker for the undergraduate ceremony is Mike Petters (pictured), president and CEO, Huntington, Ingalls Industries, America’s largest military shipbuilder. A native of Florida, the executive earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from the U.S. Naval Academy and a master’s degree in business administration from the College of William and Mary. He served aboard the nuclear-powered submarine USS George Bancroft and spent five years in the U.S. Naval Reserve.David Joseph LeBlanc, who earned a Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice and political science, was selected to deliver the farewell address to the Class of 2014.

For his dedication to Saint Leo University and for his great vision and sound advice, Donald R. Tapia (pictured), was awarded the degree Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa during the afternoon ceremony. Mr. Tapia enrolled in Saint Leo’s online program, and finished his degree in 2005. He later went on to earn his master’s degree from Saint Leo in 2007. While Mr. Tapia benefited from the education he received from Saint Leo, the university benefitted from his philanthropy. A generous donor since he graduated, in 2010, Mr. Tapia donated the $4 million lead gift to the university; making the School of Business building a reality. Mr. Tapia began his service to the Board of Trustees in 2006, and became chairman of the board in 2011. His term ended in 2013.