Make us your home page

Saint Leo University plans to open first corporate campus in Lakeland

ST. LEO — Nestled in the sleepy rolling hills of east Pasco, Saint Leo University may be small in size, but it continues to grow rapidly as a force in adult higher education with its satellite education centers cropping up across the country.

The latest evidence of that is a new partnership announced last week between the university and Sykes Enterprises for an education center at the Tampa company's huge contact center in Lakeland. Classes could begin as early as this fall at the Sykes center at 1044 Griffin Road, geared toward offering higher education not only to the hundreds of Sykes workers, but also to the broader Lakeland community.

"It's certainly going to be an added perk for our employees in Lakeland," said Andrea Thomas, spokeswoman for Sykes, a company that provides call center services for cellphone companies, credit card companies, computer manufacturers and more. "It's just not something you see for employees to have the opportunity to pursue their educational goals in the workplace."

The deal marks Saint Leo University's first satellite campus at a corporate facility. But it's a logical next step for the university, which has established numerous satellite learning centers at community colleges and military facilities around the country, providing easier access for adults seeking higher education, according to Edward Dadez, the school's vice president of continuing education and student services.

Dadez said the university conducts a thorough analysis of the market, and in discussions with Sykes officials, it became apparent that there was an opportunity there. Sykes officials showed interest in having the university take root in its center as another tool to retain employees, Dadez said.

"We have it down to the science," Dadez said of launching new sites.

And Saint Leo University's growth in recent years may be an indication of that. In the past six years, the university has opened 15 education centers nationally, including three locally through a partnership with Pasco-Hernando Community College at its campuses in New Port Richey, Spring Hill and Brooksville.

"We hope to partner with them at their Wesley Chapel site in the future as well," Dadez said.

The majority of Saint Leo's satellite education centers are at military installations, which the university began providing in the 1970s, making it a pioneer in offering higher education to military personnel, Dadez said. The university has 33 education centers in Florida, including at MacDill Air Force Base, and six other states: Georgia, Virginia, South Carolina, Mississippi, Texas and California.

That's in addition to the main university campus on State Road 52 in the tiny town of St. Leo, where the Catholic school has operated since 1889. The university has an on-campus enrollment of 4,000, with a liberal arts curriculum, but it also specializes in offering degrees at its satellite locations and online, Dadez said. Add in the satellite campuses and online students, and Saint Leo's total enrollment tops 16,000.

"It's great for Pasco County to know that Saint Leo is an institution much bigger than what they perceive it to be when they drive down State Road 52," he said.

The new campus at the Sykes facility in Lakeland awaits regulatory approval by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The university plans to offer associate's degrees in liberal arts, business administration and criminal justice, as well as bachelor's degrees in business administration, psychology, criminal justice and health care administration.

When the Saint Leo partnership was announced Monday, Sykes president and chief executive officer Chuck Sykes told employees and guests what his own successful father used to say: Education is important because it can never be taken away from a person, even if he or she falls on hard times.

"This is an opportunity," Sykes said, "to really grab hold of life skills."

by the numbers


Students enrolled at Saint Leo University's main campus in east Pasco

16,000 Total students enrolled in Saint Leo's main campus, satellite campuses and online learning programs


Portion of Saint Leo students who are adult learners, not 18- to 22-year-old college kids


Average age of adult students at Saint Leo

Source: Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University plans to open first corporate campus in Lakeland 05/18/13 [Last modified: Friday, May 17, 2013 7:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Study: Florida most friendly state for retired veterans

    Working Life

    Florida is the nation's best state for military retirees looking for somewhere to settle. That's according to a study released Monday by WalletHub which rated Florida the most friendly when it comes to economic factors, quality of life and health care.

    Veterans watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during training camp in 2016. Florida is the most friendly state for retired veterans according to a new WalletHub study. | LOREN ELLIOTT, Times
  2. Department store chain from Puerto Rico coming to University Mall


    TAMPA — Grand's, a department store chain from Puerto Rico, will open inside the former Dillard's space at University Mall in September.

    Grand's, a department store chain from n Puerto Rico, will open inside the former Dillard's space at University Mall in Tampa in September. Coloring rendering of revamped University Mall.
[CBRE Group]
  3. Bistro 60 offers inviting buffet in surprising location on Adamo Drive


    While many families scrambled to find a brunch option that didn't have a line out the door and a long wait so mom could enjoy her special day earlier this week, a new posh eatery boldly entered the local market in time for its first Mother's Day buffet.

    The Bistro 60 at the Clarion Hotel on E Adamo Drive features three bars, including a well-lit one inside.
  4. AP Source: Ford replaces CEO in push to transform business


    DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. is replacing CEO Mark Fields amid questions about its current performance and future strategy, according to a person familiar with the situation.

    Ford Motor Co. President and CEO Mark Fields speaks during a media preview of the 2018 Lincoln Navigator at the New York International Auto Show in New York in April 2017. Ford is replacing its CEO amid questions about its current performance and future strategy, a person familiar with the situation has said. Fields will be replaced by Jim Hackett, who joined Ford's board in 2013. [Associated Press]
  5. St. Petersburg hopeful Congress will add a NOAA facility, research vessel to downtown waterfront

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The city's efforts to energize its downtown port could get a big boost from the federal government.

    There is vacant land next to SRI International, 450 Eighth Ave. SE, that could be the site of a new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration center in downtown St. Petersburg.