ST. LEO — Saint Leo University president Arthur F. Kirk Jr. announced Tuesday his plan to retire after the 2014-2015 academic year.
Kirk joined the university as president in January 1997, when it was still called Saint Leo College. He had previously worked as president of Keuka College in upstate New York.
Under Kirk, Saint Leo became a university, and its student body grew from 7,403 students to 16,450. The number of full-time faculty members has quadrupled to more than 240, and the number of degree programs has grown from 22 to 48. The campus also has grown during his tenure by more than 70 acres and a million square feet in new facilities.
"While presidents often get credit for success, I am most proud of those at Saint Leo who embraced our mission, practiced our values and pursued our vision, never fearing change," Kirk said in a news release. "The faculty, staff, trustees, alumni and friends have all been an integral part of what stands today as the third-largest Catholic university in America."
Kirk will miss the students, he said, who "stand as role models by practicing our core values on campus and then living them in the world as alumni."
In the release, Cindy Brannen, chairwoman of the university's board of trustees, said one of Kirk's strengths is building strong teams.
"The university can never repay Dr. Kirk for all he has done at Saint Leo," Brannen said. "But we will (appoint) a president who shares the university's commitment to its mission, values and vision, and embraces his legacy of hard work."