Saint Leo University names 10th president

Jeffrey D. Senese, Saint Leo University's newest president. (Courtesy Saint Leo University)
Jeffrey D. Senese, Saint Leo University's newest president. (Courtesy Saint Leo University)
Published July 30 2018

Saint Leo University has named its 10th president.

Jeffrey D. Senese joined the university at the beginning of the year as first provost and senior vice president of academic and student affairs. Then, when William J. Lennox Jr. retired in late April, he became acting president. On July 26, the board of trustees elected him president.

In a statement, board chair Mary O'Keefe said: "Although Jeff was named as acting president just three months ago, his leadership and forward thinking made it clear to the Board of Trustees that we could not find a better fit for our next president."

In his provost role, he oversaw all educational programs at Saint Leo's main campus in Pasco County, as well as at its 35 education centers and online.

Then, as acting president, he led the reorganization of top leadership, planned for further campus expansion and turned the school's strategic plan into an "action plan that will lead Saint Leo University into the next stage of growth nationally and internationally," O'Keefe said.

Before coming to Saint Leo, with its 2,000 students on the main campus and 13,000 in all, Senese worked at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, one of the country's biggest Franciscan universities. There, he served as provost and vice president of academic affairs for its roughly 4,000 students.

He has also worked as:

  • Vice provost, vice president of academic affairs, and professor at Johnson & Wales University
  • Vice president of academic affairs, dean of faculty, and professor at Philadelphia University
  • Vice president of academic affairs and professor at Mount Ida College
  • Chief academic officer and director of academic affairs at Penn State Wilkes-Barre

He got his bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Pennsylvania State University, a master's degree in criminology from Indiana State University and a PhD in criminal justice, research methods and statistics from Michigan State University.

"When I came to Saint Leo University as provost in January, I knew we had great history and a two-decade tradition of cutting edge leadership," Senese said in a statement. "I am now more confident than ever that we stand on the edge of greatness. The faculty and staff welcome innovation, challenge status quo and believe every year brings the opportunity to be better than before."

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