St. Thomas University History
St. Thomas University was founded in 1961 as Biscayne College by the order of the Augustinian Friars. The college was accepted as a member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and first accredited by the Commission on Colleges in 1968. Through continued growth and development, Biscayne College earned university status in 1984 after the addition of 10 Master degree programs and the opening of the School of Law. The University came under the sponsorship of the Archdiocese of Miami in 1988, conferring upon St. Thomas the distinction of being the only Catholic Archdiocesan sponsored university in the State of Florida.
When University status was attained, the name of the institution was changed to St. Thomas University to reflect its Cuban heritage. The University traces its roots to the Universidad de Santo Tomas de Villanueva, founded in 1946 in Havana, Cuba, by American Augustinians with assistance from European Augustinians. When the Castro government expelled the Augustinians from Cuba in 1961, several of the American Augustinians came to Miami where they founded Biscayne College. Given their experience in Cuba, the University’s founders, and specifically its first president, who was vice rector of Villanueva, were intimately familiar with teaching students from different backgrounds. That commitment to student diversity continues strongly today.
The St. Thomas University School of Law is one of only two accredited Catholic law schools south of Georgetown University’s School of Law in Washington, DC. The School of Law at St. Thomas was fully accredited by the American Bar Association in February 1995, and offers the Juris Doctor degree (J.D.).
St. Thomas has given its graduates the confidence and skills necessary for success in a variety of fields. Among notable graduates are: Alex Penelas, the former Mayor of Miami-Dade County, Andy Elisburg, Vice President of Operations for the Miami Heat; Christina Fernandez, Chief Marshall for the Southern Region U.S. Marshals Service; and John Dooner, CEO of Interpublic Group of Companies.