Less than a year after stepping into office, Saint Leo University President Ed Dadez on Thursday announced major changes for the private Catholic school in Pasco County.
The school will close eight of its 14 education centers located in five states over the next six months, eliminate 111 faculty and staff positions, end three degree programs and some course offerings, and discontinue six of its 23 NCAA Division II sports teams. The university said 27% of the faculty and staff positions were already vacant.
The centers to be closed are in Charleston, South Carolina; the Joint Base Charleston-Naval Weapons Station in South Carolina; Columbus, Mississippi; Corpus Christi, Texas; and the Florida cities of Jacksonville, Lake City, Ocala and Mayport. Students at those centers will transition to the university’s online program, according to a news release.
The school will stop offering bachelor of arts degrees in international hospitality and human services, and the master of science degree in human services. Additionally, all degree programs in the College of Education and Social Services will become part of other colleges at the end of the academic year.
The sports teams being canceled will be announced later, after all student-athletes are informed, the university said.
“Throughout its history, Saint Leo University has continually evolved to meet the needs of students — from opening education centers on military bases to being one of the first to offer online degree programs,” Dadez said in the news release.
The university said the decisions were made after an enrollment audit. To meet workforce demands, the school intends to grow its programs in nursing and in its new School of Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Data Science, the release said.
Saint Leo also has expanded its online offerings to Latin America and India, where more than 1,000 students have recently enrolled, according to the release.
“Reducing our university’s footprint and programs will allow us to focus more strategically on areas and opportunities with high demand,” Stacy Gato, vice president for strategic enrollment management, said in the release. “We are always looking for ways to innovate and enhance the services we provide to students.”
The changes come seven months after Saint Leo abruptly announced a new president.
In 2021, the school unveiled a deal to merge with Marymount California University, where it planned to take ownership of $60 million in property and assume the California school’s debts totaling $3.7 million.
But the plan was not approved by Saint Leo’s accrediting body, which cited financial concerns. In 2020, 17 of the school’s campuses shuttered.
In the release on Thursday, Dadez said the cuts will allow the university to grow in other ways.
“We will continue innovating our offerings to support the new learning needs of students and today’s workforce,” he said.