Skip to comments.Ave Maria University: A Catholic project gone wrong
Posted on 10/25/2011 8:08:31 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
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But there has been trouble in paradise. Construction has halted, leaving half-built subdivisions to mildew in the tropical heat. Lawsuits and a federal investigation have dogged Monaghan. Ave Maria University's ambitious athletic program fell to pieces amid an unholy trinity of F-bombs, firings, and defections. And the town's hidden, anti-democratic, and perhaps unconstitutional origins have been splashed across local news. Instead of a city on a hill, Ave Maria has become a place of secrets and sectarianism....
....In 2003, Barron Collier Companies one of the state's largest real estate developers made Monaghan an offer he couldn't refuse: nearly 1,000 acres to build his university, for free. In return, the company would develop nearby land. Monaghan invested $100 million into the town, planning to recycle real estate profits into the new school....
....[The church in the center of town]...was locked the result of a battle between Monaghan and the bishop of the Diocese of Venice, Frank Dewane. Monaghan had built himself a church; now he wanted to name his own pastor. The bishop refused to let him....The church now has a priest, but to this day retains its ignominious title as the world's only "quasi oratory" privately owned Catholic church.
In the spring, Stuart received another shock, this time in the mail. It was a $1,287 bill to be paid to something called the Ave Maria Stewardship Community District. Like many of her neighbors, Stuart had no idea what that was. Gov. Jeb Bush had signed the stewardship into law June 17, 2004. Like other special districts in Florida, it had been designed to give the developer in this case Barron Collier Companies government-like powers over the town as it was being built. But the special district's charter hid an unprecedented secret....
....there might be no pulling up from Ave Maria University's nosedive. Its law school, which is still in Naples, remains in rapid decline. This summer, only 11 of 23 of its graduates passed the Florida Bar exam. At less than 48 percent, it was the worst result in the state and nearly 20 percentage points behind its closest competitor. The Ave Maria campus, meanwhile, continues to be plagued by high attrition....
....Towey might be reforming Ave Maria University, but there is little he can do for the town itself. There the real baron is Barron Collier Companies, argues Georgia Hiller. The pretty Republican Collier County commissioner suspects that the company via its control of the Ave Maria Stewardship Community District is siphoning money from other parts of the county. This summer she ordered the county clerk to audit the district, but the results aren't in yet. "I was concerned about the accuracy of their numbers," she says. "Ave Maria is supposed to be an independent, self-supporting district. We should not be subsidizing it"....
....There are other signs that Ave Maria is leeching resources away from the county. On October 12, 2008, the town suffered its first truly violent crime. At 2:30 in the afternoon, two masked men, guns drawn, burst into Beckner Jewelry on the piazza. They quickly duct-taped owner Alan Beckner's feet, wrists, and mouth before stealing as much as $100,000 in jewelry. But Ave Maria has no government of its own and no police force. It took county sheriffs at least 15 minutes to cover the 14 miles from Naples to the crime scene. By then, the thieves were long gone.
I’m now waiting article(s) on those godforsaken places where Sharia law is practiced here in the U.S.
CW-II...it’s not just an idea, but a prediction.
Im now waiting article(s) on those godforsaken places where Sharia law is practiced here in the U.S.
Those places are out there. Very little is written about them. For, unless you are a muzzie, you ain’t going in.
And I understand there are Jewish communities also. If you ain’t a Jew - you ain’t living there.
Mormons too have their own communites.
And I recall a quaint little place called Jonestown. Had some tasy Kool-Aid.
Utopian communities never work, regardless of their basis. Florida has always been a magnet for people with ideas like this, ranging from spiritualists to Catholics to Jews and innumerable little Protestant groups. Levy County is named for the Jewish would-be founder of a Jewish utopian community.
More broadly, the mixing of ecclesiastical and temporal power is a lousy idea.
Don’t rightly recall those nasty Jews or Mormons killing those who disobey within their communities.
Just wait, our little encounter with the Muzzies is coming.
"Mountain Meadows" doesn't ring any bells for you?
“Dont rightly recall those nasty Jews or Mormons killing those who disobey within their communities.”
Actually, Mormons did a bit of thinning of their own herd, and others as well.
“Just wait, our little encounter with the Muzzies is coming.”
When do you think the first game of ‘Cowboys & Muslims’ will be played?
This is truly disappointing. I had heard good things about this University a few years ago. I guess it was all spin.
This is the picture which headlines the article.
I think it's self explanatory and tells us all we need to know about the publication's objectivity.
I would take the article with a grain of salt, along with the person who posted it. Liberals have wanted the University to fail ever since it began, and the anti's will happily be a soapbox for them.
My doctor has warned me to cut back on salt, so all can afford to take more of me than usual.
Just look at these whacked out Catholics, will ya??!!
Don't attend Ave Maria folks, or you might end up like this!!
People said I was daft to build a utopia in a swamp.
But I built it all the same.
Just to show ‘em.
I have visited Ave Maria and met with some of the residents and students.They were all quite happy and content.This appears to be a ‘what is good is bad and what is bad is good’ story.
All I have heard is on the excellent education given. I guess it’s a shame when the facts get in the way of a perfectly bad hit piece.
Wow, Alex... a hit piece on AMU from what appears to be a vengeful God-hater?
Where was Michael Miller when Notre Dame banned pro-lifers from campus? Sorry, Marielena, just because the town and the university are founded by the same people, doesn’t mean the university is your property. (My beef with Notre Dame wasn’t that they banned hostile trespassers from their university; it was that the categorized pro-lifers as hostile trespassers.)
As for Ave Maria’s nosedive... what? Ave Maria is already the fourth most exclusive Catholic university in America, behind only BC, Georgetown, and Notre Dame. The size of a graduating class as Ave Maria law school, still a separate institution, is 209.
Miami New Times is the local ultra-liberal rag. Read it for fun, not for news.
According to the article;
Any recent bar exam takers around here? What's the bulk of the test focused on?
Don't attend Ave Maria folks, or you might end up like this!!
The Stepford Catholics?
What I’m wondering is why a “nose-diving” law school has a class of 209, but they are reporting the results of only 23 graduates.
I wonder if these 23 graduates are the only ones who couldn’t finish on time, but also couldn’t transfer out when Ave Maria left Michigan... because yeah, it’s THAT class.
Did you know that Ave Maria includes required courses in sacred music chorus? Given a Catholic school like that, you’re going to invoke “But Father, I don’t want to sing!”
Did you know that Ave Maria includes required courses in sacred music chorus? Given a Catholic school like that, you’re going to invoke “But Father, I don’t want to sing!”
You'll find some agreement concerning the slant of the photos, from someone who actually knows about the goings one there, from http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2011-10-27/news/reader-mail-ave-maria-university-is-like-rehab-for-smug-catholics/, but otherwise, she claims the article is basically factual;
Ms. Ernsting was featured in the article;
"The whole thing was kind of a nightmare for me," says Ernsting, who nearly went bankrupt because Monaghan's lawyers delayed the trial for five years. "These were people that I loved. I still have very warm feelings for Tom Monaghan... but I knew brushing it under the rug wasn't right either." Monaghan declined to comment for this article.
Here's something coming from none other than "Ave Maria's new president and CEO" "Jim Towey...a former assistant to Mother Teresa";
I found the article to be chock-a-block FULL of stuff like that, that fairly leap off the page.
Just waving one's hands at the photo the Miami publication used, dismissing all the rest, is to bury one's head in the sand, concerning all the rest.
The Broward/Palm Beach New Times version didn't use the weird photos.
Here's some more, from the in-case-you-missed-it department;
I left my Ouija Board in my other suit.
VVM was getting sued because online ads it runs promote and provide essential services to child prostitution, but a judge threw out the case.
Is that a legit stat? I thought you took the bar in whatever state you wanted to practice in, so the fact that only 11 passed the Florida Bar might be because only 11 took the Florida bar. The sentence is worded that you assume the rest flunked it, but does actually come out and say it. Being the NYT, I wouldn’t put it past them.
I *so* don’t care what anti-Catholics say about Ave Maria University. If my debating kid (currently in 10th grade) is interested in a Catholic school focussed on his strengths, we’ll strongly consider it. Plenty of reptiles (his other enthusiasm) in Florida, too. And his grandparents!
Looks like this Marielena woman is a pariah.
Scant Financial Support for Ave Maria Resident’s U.S. Senate Bid
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 10:59
The long-shot bid for the Republican nomination for U.S. senate by Ave Maria resident Marielena Stuart has failed to attract much interest from people willing to support her financially, according to documents filed with the Federal Elections Commission.
Campaign finance reports show that Mrs. Stuart had just $51 in her campaign account as of Sept. 30, the lowest amount of any candidate who filed a quarterly report by the Oct. 15 deadline. She raised only $615 from donors other than herself or her husband in the third quarter of 2011 and her reports show no donations from anyone in the town of Ave Maria, where she is best known.
As would be expected, the top-tier candidates in the race raised the bulk of the money.
Adam Hasner raised $545,000 in the third quarter and had $786,000 in cash on hand. George Lemieux raised $403,000 and had more than $1 million cash on hand. Craig Miller raised $235,000 in the quarter and had $145,000 cash as of Sept. 30.
Fundraising by all Republican candidates paled in comparison to incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson who raised almost $2 million in the third quarter and has about $7.5 million in cash on hand.
Full copies of the FEC financial disclosure information can be viewed at www.fec.gov.
My proposed marginal reform: allow realtors to advertise if a home or apartment for sale/rent is near a church or religious school. (This is presently illegal, I think.) Less strictness about religious steering would also help.
What about Christendom College or Thomas Aquinas College? They seem pretty exclusive to me.
Define “exclusive” for the context. Does it simply mean what is commonly called “selective,” that is, the number of accepted students as a percentage of the number of applications?
Kate Ernsting, who was mentioned in that article as winning a lawsuite against the university, posted this in the comments section of this article:
“This was kind of a broad brush used to paint everything Ave Maria. I know many of the facts were accurate, at least the ones I lived, but is it fair to only present the negative like this? It was pretty myopically focused on the problems. And what’s with the photo was used to depict students—the article wasn’t even about them! It seemed like an unnecessary low blow. I will admit that I was interviewed for this article. There’s a time and a place speaking truth to power, or trying to correct a wrong, I hope that purpose was served here. I’m not sure I think it was. This is a project I still support, these are people who good people, human beings in the process of seeking redemption—just like me. It seems myopic to air all this without pointing out one exculpatory fact. What about the fact that the Bishop just granted AMU recognition to allow themselves to be identified as a Catholic institution? Would this article have been written if Tom Monaghan were Steve Jobs and a Buddhist? Or would he have won his legal battles more easily if he were Eisner (Disney cases I, II and III)? I think this is over the top—hopefully everyone has the common sense to see that. — Kate Ernsting”
Those schools are both selective and exclusive, due to the fact that they have strict standards that they expect their students to maintain on campus.
Wyoming Catholic College also doesn’t take federal funding. Like Hillsdale, which my sister is loving. I’m a TAC grad myself, respect and admire the school, but am keeping my options open for my own kids. No matter what, if my children want me to assist with their college education, it will be a Catholic school we both agree on, or local, where they don’t have to deal with dorm life.
Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/ave-maria-receives-official-recognition-as-a-catholic-university#ixzz1bqGBmx4o
by TIM DRAKE 10/07/2011
From the Press Release:
Today, Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane, bishop of the Diocese of Venice in Florida, made perhaps the most significant announcement in the history of Ave Maria University. During the investiture ceremony for new Ave Maria University president H. James Towey, Bishop Dewane announced that he grants recognition of Ave Maria University as a Catholic university.
Bishop Dewane commented, “This announcement marks a special time in the history and faith life of Ave Maria University. While the university continues to grow, it is the deepening of its roots of faith that is of primary importance to me as the bishop of this diocese. The Catholic Church views Catholic universities in very high regard, and, with that, the entire Ave Maria University community should be encouraged and inspired by its new designation.”
Ave Maria president Jim Towey expressed appreciation and joy upon hearing the news: “I am grateful to Bishop Dewane for his confidence in our future and thankful for Tom Monaghan and all those who built the foundation that made this announcement possible. This recognition means a lot to us as we continue on the path toward new excellence.”
Bishop Dewane also took time out to congratulate President Towey as he enters into this new phase of leadership, which will move Ave Maria University into a bright future. The bishop also thanked Thomas S. Monaghan, founder of Ave Maria University, for his forthright commitment to Catholic education and his Catholic faith. His leadership and vision brought the monumental undertaking of building a Catholic university in southwest Florida to where it stands today.
The Code of Canon Law regulates the establishment and conduct of a Catholic university by the competent ecclesiastical authority, which in this case is Bishop Dewane. The recognition of Ave Maria University as a Catholic university is granted upon their commitment to continue to be guided by the teachings of the Catholic Church and faithfulness to the apostolic constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae. First and foremost, it is the responsibility of the local bishop to provide pastoral care to the university community, as stated in Ex Corde Ecclesiae.
Bishop Dewane has served as an ex officio member of the Ave Maria University board of trustees since 2009. Ave Maria University was founded in 2003. The quasi-parish of Ave Maria Oratory was established in 2008.
Jim Towey, President of Ave Maria University ... Excerpt from prepared text of his inaugural address given on Friday.
Editors note: Jim Towey has been inducted as the new president of Ave Maria University. Here is an excerpt from the prepared text of his inaugural address given on Friday.
I believe that Ave Maria University can play a pivotal role in reforming Catholic higher education and American culture. The need has never been greater.
Too often students leave high school and arrive at college and find the values their parents instilled in them under constant attack. They are encouraged to believe that hooking up is better than getting hitched. They are urged to live recklessly, to the point where binge drinking has nearly become a rite of passage for freshmen.
The prevalent secular ideology on American campuses, including many faith-based ones, seems to assert that absolute moral truth does not exist, and that faith and reason are enemies.
The Church disagrees. Six weeks ago in Madrid at World Youth Day, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI met with a group of young university professors. He himself had been one in Bonn and to this day has not lost his love of the academy.
The Pope said to the group, “Always remember that teaching is not just about communicating content, but about forming young people. You need to understand and love them, to awaken their innate thirst for truth and their yearning for transcendence.”
I would like to touch upon what I believe the three hallmarks of Ave Maria University must be as it accomplishes this task.
First, academic excellence in the liberal arts tradition. Pope Benedict rightly decried in his Madrid address an approach to education that simply prepares students to satisfy societys demand for labor without leading them in the pursuit of truth. He said, “The Gospel message perceives a rationality inherent in creation and considers man as a creature participating in, and capable of attaining to, an understanding of this rationality.”
He continued, “The University thus embodies an ideal which must not be attenuated or compromised, whether by ideologies closed to reasoned dialogue or by truckling to a purely utilitarian and economic conception which would view man solely as a consumer.”
As we ponder the Popes words, we must be careful in how we apply them. His warning does not mean that Ave Maria should ignore the development of professional and pre-professional programs; indeed our mission statement requires us to.
But it does mean that our students must become critical thinkers, competent writers, and perpetual students of life. Of course, we hope that their studies in theology and philosophy, the lungs of any true Catholic university, will breathe life into their vocations.
It is our desire that each and every graduate leaves this campus as a responsible adult and better human being. The Catholic, liberal arts education we offer at Ave Maria University must be transformative.
The second distinctive trait of Ave Maria must be that we are firmly rooted in our Catholic faith while remaining fully open to the world. I say this because we are called to engage the culture, not flee it, or our convictions.
Students should not be sheltered from society and the so-called “real world” that awaits their full participation. When an Ave Maria student graduates, he or she should be able to thrive in the midst of people who do not pray like them, think like them, vote like them or worship like them. That is why during my tenure we will look to expand study abroad, service learning, campus ministry initiatives and student internships. The more outside engagement, the better.
The freedom students experience away from home should lead to the formation of virtue and a deepening of faith, as befits their God-given dignity. Such things cannot be coerced but should be encouraged, and I pledge myself to that task. I believe we can foster the responsible exercise of freedom and promote open debate, without abandoning our convictions, provided that we remain rooted in our Catholic faith and open to the world.
The third hallmark of Ave Maria University must be our unity. In Calcutta, Mother Teresas tomb has the simple inscription from the Gospel of John: “Love one another as I have loved you.” St. Paul warns that we can move mountains and work wonders but if we have not love, then we have gained nothing.
Twenty-one years ago, the apostolic constitution governing Catholic universities was issued, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, that is, “From the Heart of the Church.” It recognized the importance of having an authentic human community grounded in “a common dedication to truth, a common vision of the dignity of the human person and, ultimately, the person and message of Christ which gives the Institution its distinctive character.”
The document goes on to call for mutual respect, sincere dialogue, and protection of the rights of individuals. My friends, those characteristics of a Catholic university serve as a “sign of contradiction” within academia.
And from its founding, Ave Maria University has held itself to a higher standard to be a light to academia by the example of our unity and our love for one another, even in the midst of reasonable disagreement. It would be hypocritical for us to present ourselves as an authentically Catholic institution if our relationships with one another are not rooted in Christ.
Imagine a campus free of the defects of pettiness, jealousy, intellectual bullying, and spiritual arrogance. Such an environment in our faculty lounges, administrative offices, classrooms, and residence halls would place Ave Maria University at the forefront of the new evangelization. Unity and intellectual charity will be the bond that perfects our scholarship and allows the “splendor of the truth” to shine.
I send donations to Wyoming Catholic College, because I think their frontier spirit is really cool. I don’t know if any of my Offspring would ever consider it, but it should be there for those who are the right people. (Maybe James, who seems to have no standards for personal comfort when there’s outdoorsiness to be done ... but he’s only 7.)
Neither are exclusive in any way; they are affordable and will accept just about any qualified applicant.
By the meaning you are using for “exclusive,” that wouldn’t apply to Boston College, Georgetown, or Notre Dame, referenced in the original post using the term. They do not have moral standards or expectations for students.
Maybe that post just meant “academically selective.”
Well, their qualifications had better be pretty high - judging by the grads I’ve met and they most certainly are exclusive when you consider how small they are. They’re so small they have to be exclusive. They literally can’t be very open because they DON’T HAVE THE ROOM to be anythimng else.
TAC has 359 students. Sounds exclusive to me.
CC has 389 undergrads. Sounds exclusive to me.
This Marielena Stuart (who claims to be a journalist) has gotten caught and spanked for writing false stories about Ave Maria in the recent past:
The Wanderer Retracts “False Statements” About Ave Maria
Saturday, 24 April 2010 12:46
The editor of The Wanderer has publicly retracted “false statements” that were published in the weekly newspaper about the town of Ave Maria and Ave Maria University.
In a statement titled “Retraction and Correction,” published in the April 29 edition of The Wanderer, Editor Alphonse J. Matt Jr. apologized for six different errors in fact that appeared in stories published in August, 2009, and January, 2010. Both stories were written by Ave Maria town resident Marielena Montesino de Stuart.
Mr. Matt said his retraction was “in accord with The Wanderers policy to offer a prompt apology and retraction for any factual inaccuracies published in The Wanderer.” He said that the errors were detailed in a letter from lawyers representing Ave Maria University.
Three of the statements were in a January, 2010, article that claimed abortions could be permissible in the town of Ave Maria despite statements to the contrary by the town’s developers. Mr. Matt acknowledge that covenants in the town of Ave Maria do prohibit abortion and that “we retract and apologize for” statements that suggested otherwise.
The other false statements, Mr. Matt said, were in an August, 2009, article by Mrs. Montesino de Stuart in which she said the “university aggressively recruits non-Catholics and/or seculat students” which the university’s lawyers called “100% false.”
Ave Maria University officials had no immediate comment on The Wanderer’s retraction.
The full text of The Wanderer retraction is available on the web only to subscribers of the publication.
Last Updated on Saturday, 24 April 2010 17:54
The Wanderer henceforth stopped publishing any tripe written by that woman.
I was thinking more of campus life, segregated dorms, dress code, students must refer to each other as Mr and Ms.in class, dry campus, no sports, academic expulsion for a week of unexcused absences in any one course. It appeals to a small segment and excludes many, because they don’t want to abide by such discipline.
That’s not to knock those who don’t go, I don’t really want my daughters to go there. Although not due to most rules.
I wouldn't know. The author gave no citation (that I recall) concerning it.