St. Thomas University Commencement Features White House Director and Latino Affairs Expert

Dec 14, 2010, 13:27 ET from St. Thomas University

MIAMI, Dec. 14, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Miami's St. Thomas University will hold its December 2010 Commencement Saturday, December 18 at the Fernandez Family Center for Leadership and Wellness starting at 10 AM. The keynote speaker is Mexican-American Juan Sepulveda, Director of The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans.


Sepulveda graduated from Harvard, was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University, and received a law degree from Stanford University. He is in charge of directing the efforts of the White House in engaging Hispanic students, parents, families and organizations, as active participants in improving the academic achievement of Hispanic Americans. Prior to assuming his current position, Mr. Sepulveda was president of The Common Enterprise (TCE), which he founded in 1995 to help build stronger communities by making nonprofits, philanthropic organizations, governments, businesses, and communities more effective as they tackled critical social issues. For the last 20 years, Mr. Sepulveda has been a senior executive, strategist, and advocate in the nonprofit and philanthropic communities, with a focus on community development, capacity building, and transformational management. From 1992 to 1995, he worked with the Rockefeller Foundation, where he helped establish a national network of community-building efforts to encourage citizens to go beyond partisan perspectives to accomplish common goals.

Mr. Sepulveda has served on numerous U.S. delegations, and national and local boards, including the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Center for Policy Alternatives, the Communications Consortium Media Center, the National Civic League, and MDC. He has lectured at universities around the country and co-founded the San Antonio Latino-Jewish Dialogue Group. He was the first recipient of the Hobby Visionary Award by the Center for Public Policy Priorities. The award recognizes outstanding leadership and commitment to the challenges faced by low and moderate-income Americans.

St. Thomas University's vision aims at expanding student leadership development through strategic relationships with Latino education networks; new programs like the Science Fellows – which provides special funding to qualified student minorities in the sciences - and The Center for Global Entrepreneurship Program. These are in place to address higher education needs at a time when critical analysis, immersion programs and problem solving skills are urgent educational objectives. "As the US Hispanic population grows, St. Thomas is committed to creating and sustaining new educational programs and financial support to educate a next generation of world leaders," said St. Thomas President, Monsignor Franklyn M. Casale.

St. Thomas is a federally designated Hispanic-serving institution. Monsignor Casale, most recently appointed Vice Chair of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools,  has become a national figure in addressing burning issues on immigration and Hispanic affairs. This past July, he spoke at NAICUSE (National Association of Colleges and Universities) on "Engaging the Latino community" exploring the complex needs of the U.S. Latino culture and how private education can leverage its strengths. "St. Thomas University has been developing leaders for various walks of life for almost 50 years and a majority comes from Latino background," added Monsignor Casale. "As educators, we face a responsibility to engage in conversations that will give way to public policy that will support the advancement of the largest, most rapidly growing population segment in the United States. This is particularly important to us as a Catholic organization as we are a Hispanic-serving institution and U.S. Catholics will continue to grow locally, statewide and nationally."

About St. Thomas University

Miami's St. Thomas University is dedicated to its mission of "Developing Leaders for Life." An urban, student-centered, Catholic university with rich cultural and international diversity, St. Thomas University has been developing leaders who contribute to the economic and cultural vitality of the regions they serve.  Federally designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, the University has earned a reputation for academic excellence and is renowned as an international leader in human rights, sports administration, business degrees and sciences and is one of the few US universities to offer undergraduate scientific research. Programs of study are offered at the undergraduate, graduate and law school levels. For more information, visit

SOURCE St. Thomas University