Saint Leo University Names New Vice President of Academic Affairs

stleoFormer Dean of College of Arts and Sciences Begins New Role

  1. LEO, FL – Dr. Jeffrey D. Senese, president of Saint Leo University, has announced the appointment of Dr. Mary T. Spoto as vice president of Academic Affairs, effective immediately. Spoto, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, has served as the acting vice president of Academic Affairs since Senese was named president in July.

“Mary is a proven leader with strong support from our faculty and staff,” Senese said. “Her leadership experience in academics will be of great value as we move boldly and confidently into an even more successful future at Saint Leo University.”

A Tampa, FL, native, Spoto has served in several roles during her 25-year history with Saint Leo. Before serving as dean, she was the chair of the Department of English, Fine Arts, and Humanities, now referred to as the Department of Language Studies and the Arts. She also is a professor of English.

As dean, Spoto has been a leader in the development of the university’s general education program, University Explorations, designed with specially created courses to help students recognize the importance of the liberal arts to their larger learning.

Spoto expanded the fine arts programs at the university and leading the development of new academic programs such as the Bridge Program for second-language learners and the master’s programs in creative writing and psychology.

She earned her Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and doctoral degree in English from the University of South Florida.

“One of the things I’ve admired the most about Saint Leo is its strong focus on teaching,” Spoto said. “We are a university that truly exists to help students learn and gain the knowledge and skills that will help them in their careers and will guide them in life. In my new role, I plan to continue developing and strengthening this focus in partnership with our faculty and deans to create more innovative and distinctive programs, making academics a hallmark of the university for years to come.”

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University ( is a modern Catholic teaching university that is firmly grounded in the liberal arts tradition and the timeless Benedictine wisdom that seeks balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit. The Saint Leo University of today is a private, nonprofit institution that creates hospitable learning communities wherever students want to be or need to be, whether that is a campus classroom, a web-based environment, an employer’s worksite, a military base, or an office park. Saint Leo welcomes people of all faiths and of no religious affiliation, and encourages learners of all generations. The university is committed to providing educational opportunities to the nation’s armed forces, veterans, and their families. Saint Leo is regionally accredited to award degrees ranging from the associate to the doctorate, and the faculty and staff guide all students to develop their capacities for critical thinking, moral reflection, and lifelong learning and leadership.


The university remains the faithful steward of the beautiful lakeside University Campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, where its founding monks created the first Catholic college in the state in 1889. Serving nearly 12,000 students, Saint Leo has expanded to downtown Tampa, to other sites in Florida and beyond, and maintains a physical presence in seven states. The university provides highly respected online learning programs to students nationally and internationally. More than 93,000 alumni reside in all 50 states, in Washington, DC, in three U.S. territories, and in 76 countries.