St. Thomas University
St. Thomas University (STU) seeks a President who will embrace STU’s vision to be recognized as a leading Catholic University, distinguished by its innovative curriculum, core values reflecting its Catholic intellectual and spiritual tradition, and vibrancy in its Miami location. The core values of Catholic Identity, Global Diversity, Student Success, and Leadership Development are key to the identity of STU as a whole. In addition, the theme of creating Leaders for Life supports the transformational nature of the University’s work.
St. Thomas University traces its roots back to the Universidad de Santo Tomas de Villanueva, founded in 1946 in Havana, Cuba, by American Augustinians. In 1961, the University was established in Miami on an expansive 130-acre campus.
The University is divided into six colleges that together offer 35 undergraduate majors, 27 graduate majors, five doctoral programs and two professional programs in Nursing and Law. Total enrollment is 6,257 students, including dual-enrolled high school students. STU carries out an impressive program of research over a wide variety of disciplines. In particular, the University is a leader in the fields of Business, Law, Human Rights, Communication Arts, Criminal Justice, Sports Administration/Management, Cyber Security, Law, and Education. The University is establishing an Honors College and guaranteed internship opportunities, and has expanded research opportunities in Life and Health Sciences. Community based engaged scholarship programs exist within many courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. More information about the University may be found at: www.stu.edu.
Key Success Indicators
St. Thomas University is an institution on the move with a number of success indicators fueling its momentum. In 2017, the University explored the possibility of a merger with nearby Barry University. Those talks ended amicably with both institutions choosing to remain independent. St. Thomas University has recommitted itself to its mission and to strengthening student success. As a Hispanic minority-majority institution, the University is dedicated to ensuring success for all students and has been investing, successfully, in improving its persistence and graduation rates. Application rates have been increasing, and the University’s dual enrollment high school program has created an additional strong enrollment pipeline. With the addition of nursing programs, track and field in athletics as well as continued growth in the established on line education platform, the University is experiencing increased demand. Notably, athletics has played a role in attracting superior students across a wide range of sport programs. The University’s signature Law School is the nation’s top law school for Hispanics and is one of only three accredited Catholic law schools south of Washington, D.C. Law students experience Catholic Social Teaching through the Law School’s emphasis on human rights, human trafficking, an internationally recognized program in Haiti and the University’s community engagement in Miami Gardens and Immokalee.
The University has been actively building a resource base to support its aspirations. The institution has built a strong web of relationships in the community. The University’s Blueprint for Leadership $100 million capital campaign is well underway with $44 million raised to date. One of the signature priorities, a new business school building, will be breaking ground in January 2018. Another priority is the establishment of an Honors College named for its retiring president, Monsignor Casale.
During the last 3 years, the academic results of the university investments have been evidenced by expanding student metrics including GPAs as well as expanded graduation rates above the average for its peer group. Student groups in the various colleges have competed and been recognized for national prominence winning numerous awards. For example, in the School of Science many graduates have won prominent awards in chemistry and other fields of research. These results were fueled by the Summer Research Institute which inspires focused projects across many disciplines. In the School of Business, students placed 1st nationally in the 11th Annual Keybanc Foundation MBA Student Competition, competing in final rounds against MBA teams from Yale, Boston College and University of Chicago.
For more information about enrollment, degree recipients, demographics, student outcomes and employment outcomes, please see St. Thomas University’s Fact Book.
The Role of the President
Rev. Msgr. Franklyn Casale, who retires in 2018, has led St. Thomas University with distinction for nearly a quarter of a century. In its over 70-year history, the University has been blessed with consistent and inspired leadership by Roman Catholic priests. The new President, while not required to be a religious, will clearly understand and work to enhance the interconnected values of higher education and the Roman Catholic Church. The new President will benefit from a strong working relationship with the University’s dedicated faculty, a highly motivated Board of Trustees, and STU’s Juridic Sponsor, the Archbishop of Miami as the sponsor of the University.
Reporting to the President are:
- Academic Affairs: Provost and Chief Academic Officer
- Administrative Affairs: Chief Financial and Administrative Officer
- University Advancement: VP for Development/Advancement/Communications
- University Mission: Vice President of Theology
The 2017-2018 budget for St. Thomas University was comprised of total revenues just over $55 million, netting to $46 million after scholarships. The University’s students receive substantial support from State and Federal Student Financial Assistance Programs as well. Investment portfolio totaled just over $30 million. Total debt was just over $28 million. The University is collateralized by its expansive real estate ownership.
The President of St. Thomas University reports to a 26-member board of trustees and is further supported by seven advisory boards comprised of 170 prestigious business leaders.
Opportunities and Expectations for Leadership
The new President will be asked to address the following priorities, among others:
Vision and Strategy
The STU Board of Trustees and leadership are in the process of exploring and defining what would be required to establish St. Thomas University as the leading Catholic institution in the Southeast. The University’s current strategic plan is coming to the end of its useful life, so this is an ideal time for a new president to join the conversation underway and lead initiatives and efforts necessary to achieve this goal.
Catholic Identity and Mission
The faculty, students, staff and volunteers who are drawn to St. Thomas University cite its Catholic identity and mission of preparing Leaders for Life as compelling distinctions that set the University apart from other higher education options in the region. The University’s mission is made manifest through community relationships, outreach and service; curriculum; and its connection to the Archdiocese of Miami. On campus, leadership formation is a central theme throughout the organization. No matter what background or experience the next president brings, they will be the most visible symbol and representative of the University’s Catholic mission and identity, and will be expected not only to uphold but also to strengthen that mission throughout the organization and beyond. The University has a unique opportunity to build on its mission and the goodwill and connections in South Florida to take a leadership role in the region’s social, spiritual, cultural and economic development and well-being.
Program and Enrollment
As a tuition driven institution with a high percentage of students requiring financial assistance, it is crucial that St. Thomas University strike a healthy balance between robust enrollment and net tuition revenue. A good deal of work has been done at the University to identify programmatic strengths, gaps, and weaknesses, which is informing decisions about new programs and resource allocation. The development of a four-year nursing program is one example where the University built on existing strengths to create a program that not only meets a pressing need in the region but also expands full time enrollment. The University has had a significant impact in the region with its dual enrollment program for high school students which have also fed its enrollment. In addition, the University has successfully launched new graduate and online programs, and its law school is a major draw in the region. The new building in the business school and Honors College will attract more enrollment as well.
Growing the undergraduate population, particularly for full time residential students, is a major priority, so understanding, investing in and developing faculty and programs must continue while also building a culture of academic excellence. Among necessary investments will be a compelling branding strategy to support the University’s strategic vision and its enrollment efforts.
St. Thomas University has demonstrated success in fund raising due in no small part to a strong case, the personal efforts of the current president, the active engagement of the Board of Trustees and volunteers on the college’s advisory boards, and talented advancement leadership. The current campaign is well underway and showing positive results. The next President will be expected to continue these and other efforts to build donor and alumni engagement, grow the endowment, and raise the level of annual support.
The University has taken appropriate measures to manage its debt and balance its 2017-2018 budget after two years of operating deficits due to substantial investments in new programs, faculty and students. An increase in first time enrollment in the fall of 2017 coupled with improved persistence rates will contribute to a positive budget situation. The University is blessed with substantial assets, most notably its considerable real estate holdings. The Board of Trustees is carefully weighing options to leverage these assets in order to free up resources to invest strategically in existing and new campus facilities, support programs, and build endowment.
As the University seeks to achieve its aspiration as the leading Catholic university in the Southeast, it must assess and align its talent, technology, facilities and infrastructure with these goals, and strengthen its culture so that everyone throughout the organization has a role to play and is held accountable for achieving goals. The organization is gathering and using data to make decisions, more transparent with its communications, and more focused on infusing the entire organization with a leadership development culture. At the same time, staff, faculty and students cite the University’s supportive, caring culture as one of its most distinctive features. St. Thomas is a close-knit community in which faculty and staff loyalty is high and the next president will be able to get to know members of the community easily because of the small size and commitment to St. Thomas. The next president will want to lead the entire campus in defining success, developing a culture of performance and accountability, and making key strategic decisions that move the University’s aspirational agenda forward while staying true to the University’s mission and values.
Partnership with Miami and South Florida
The next president will be tasked with growing the relationship between St. Thomas University and Miami, which is the sixth largest economic municipal engine in the world. Creating partnerships within the South Florida community is an integral part of what St. Thomas University does, works with, and markets as a place to learn, grow, work and serve.
Preferred Qualities and Characteristics
St. Thomas University seeks a President who will embrace STU’s vision to be recognized as a leading Catholic University, distinguished by its innovative curriculum, core values reflecting its Catholic intellectual and spiritual tradition, and vibrancy in its Miami location. St. Thomas University’s next President will be a passionate believer in the power of education to build better futures, elevate communities and improve the quality of life through the implementation of high academic standards and practices. The new President also needs to possess the personal characteristics necessary to be an effective spokesperson and fundraiser for St. Thomas University; a track record of successful philanthropic fundraising will be an advantage.
While leadership experience, specifically in higher education, is preferred rather than required, candidates with a personal experience with undergraduate, graduate and professional education will be decidedly advantaged, including those with a personal history of teaching, scholarly research and faculty governance. Importantly, the President will have the experience to excel in such areas as strategic planning, budgeting and financial management. Also, it will be beneficial for the new President to have a deep knowledge of student enrollment trends and tuition discounting, and its impact on the institution’s budget.
Additional preferred qualities and characteristics include:
- A sincere, visible interest in students
- Commitment to the University’s Catholic mission
- Ability to lead change in a complex organization
- Energy and enthusiasm
- An understanding of and vision for the strategic role of technology in higher education
- Ability to utilize data effectively to inform decisions
- An inclusive, transparent leadership style
- Commitment to diversity
- Curiosity about and deep interest in faculty and their intellectual contributions
- Evidence of ability to hire, retain and delegate effectively to a senior leadership team
- Understanding of the national landscape of higher education
- Business acumen with financial experience
- Experience and/or ability to work effectively with a Board of Trustees