Thomas Leitzel to Resign As President of South Florida State College
As the Queen of the Air, Leitzel amazed audiences with her trapeze skills. She became an immensely popular star performer with Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus.
Men were drawn to Leitzel and showered her with gifts; railroad magnates and senators frequently sought her out.
Atchley and Leitzel have not responded to our requests for comment regarding the presidential search process.
Early Life and Education
Thomas Leitzel hails from Pennsylvania. After graduating Williamsport Area Community College with an associate degree in business management in 1976, he went on to obtain both his Bachelor’s of Business Administration from Lycoming College and Master’s in Education from Temple University – also earning himself a doctorate in community and junior college education at Virginia Tech University.
Leitzel has been widely recognized for leading institutional positioning initiatives and marketing campaigns that kept DeSoto, Hardee, and Highlands counties competitive when it comes to credit and workforce programs.
8 On Your Side has attempted unsuccessfully to contact Terry Atchley, chair of both ACCT and district board chair Terry Atchley regarding communications from ACCT or Governor Walker’s office, but to no avail.
State Representative Fred Hawkins of Avon Park has been offered the presidency of South Florida State College. With its campuses located across DeSoto, Hardee and Highlands counties scheduled to lose its current president on June 30, details regarding any proposed contract will not be made known until after a trustee meeting scheduled for June 21. A college spokesperson stated.
Leitzel joined the college in 2013 and since that time has seen it improve its ranking within the Florida College System and increase credit enrollment in its workforce programs.
He serves on several local boards, such as AdventHealth Sebring and Wauchula, CareerSource Heartland and the Sebring Chamber. 8 On Your Side reached out to both Leitzel and District Board of Trustees Chair Terry Atchley for comment but were both unresponsive.
Achievement and Honors
Leitzel played an instrumental role in helping establish community partnerships at San Francisco State College (SFSC), expanding offerings to include mechatronics and advanced manufacturing and construction technologies, mechatronics training, mechatronic systems engineering and advanced manufacturing & construction technologies. He oversaw steady enrollment growth even through and post pandemic, while initiating programs such as surgical services technology.
In 1928, Leitzel married Alfredo Codona – known as “The King of the Trapeze.” Their turbulent romance brought drama and excitement to their circus performances; Codona became obsessed with Leitzel while she frequently cursed or hit him out of temper.
They quickly rose to fame, becoming the first female trapeze artists with their own dressing tent and car on a circus train. After performing for 10 years and appearing in newspapers and magazines across the United States, eventually being recognized as circus royalty earning millions in prize money and profits.
South Florida State College will see a change of leadership with the District Board of Trustees selecting Thomas Leitzel’s replacement as President. Leitzel has served higher education for over 45 years – much of it at Florida institutions.
Outside the ring, Leitzel was known for being volatile and difficult. Men often approached her, yet she did not allow their money or attention to change her mood or behavior – she would curse and strike circus workers and children alike with her hands while cursing as well as having her own dressing tent and private car on the circus train train.
Codona came quickly to her aid when Leitzel became injured during a plange trip and later passed away, the following year. A memorial statue commemorating them stands in Inglewood Park Cemetery with two Roman rings at their bases depicting them hugging.