Thursday, June 03, 2004

The Ave Maria Chronicles: Let The Pizza-Throwing Contest Begin!

There has been an upsurge in the exchange of views on the Ave Maria saga. We have a letter dated yesterday from AMU Chancellor Father Joseph Fessio: "A number of emails have been circulating regarding the future plans for Ave Maria College in Michigan.  Some contain serious misinformation and harsh and even slanderous criticism of Mr Tom Monaghan.  For the sake of both justice and charity, we believe it important that the salient facts be known..."

He's not alone. Seems that a number of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and/or parents are not above citing the need for "salient facts." Trouble is, they're not matching up. Criticism can be harsh without being "slanderous." Either that, or everyone else associated with the institution in question couldn't possibly have a grip on reality. Still, as Cruxnews reports, there are a lot of them with an opinion: "A former theology professor claims that St Mary's College in Orchard Lake was mistreated by Ave Maria as its 'stepchild'... a recent Ave Maria graduate summarizes the series of broken promises that characterized his four years at Ave Maria College... a university librarian suggests that perhaps Tom Monaghan doesn't understand academia..."

So... the plot thickens.


Anonymous said...

Hello all,

Please, consider sending a letter expressing your hope that both AMU and AMC continue and prosper. That's all any of us want - to be given a chance to find alternate funding for AMC/Newman College, and see AMU show more integrity in the future than the Ave Maria leadership have in the past.

Mr. Thomas Monaghan
Chairman, Ave Maria Foundation
One Ave Maria Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48105

Father Joseph Fessio, S.J.
Chancellor, Ave Maria University
1025 Commons Circle
Naples, FL 34119

Mr. Nicholas Healy, Jr.
President, Ave Maria University
1025 Commons
Circle Naples, FL 34119

Dr. Ronald Muller
President, Ave Maria College
302 West Forest Ave.
Ypsilanti, MI 48197

Mr. Paul Roney
Ex. Director, Ave Maria Foundation
One Ave Maria Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48105


Anonymous said...

Michael Rose's and the Ave Maria College parents' website ( are posting more testimony from various people including faculty and staff currently or formerly affiliated in one way or another with one or another of Tom Monaghan's educational “enterprises”: Ave Maria College, the former Saint Mary's College of Ave Maria University, and the Institute for Pastoral Theology.

Both Cruxnews and Ave Parents have released an open letter from Edward Peters:
He is a civil and canon lawyer, who resigned a position as a canon lawyer for a California diocese to teach canon law at the Institute for Pastoral Ministry in Michigan, which Tom Monaghan "acquired" from the University of Dallas. Mr. Peters is also the parent of a son at Ave Maria College. He sent his letter to the trustees of Ave Maria College and Ave Maria University; both educational institutions are separate entities with separate boards, separate staff and administrations, and separate charterings and accreditation (or application for it) in their respective states/regions. In his letter Mr. Peter relates his experiences and those of his family with the adminstrations of the Institute and the College (although more with the College). Based on his experience and knowledge as a civil lawyer that lawsuits are difficult, expensive, and uncertain of outcome, he reluctantly concludes, "If my son is not allowed to graduate from Ave Maria College, with a degree from Ave Maria College, based on courses taken at a functional Ave Maria College, we will sue. Period."

Cruxnews also has some letters ( responding to its earlier article "Is Tom Monaghan dismantling another Catholic college?" ( One of the letters is from a former theology professor of the former Saint Mary’s College at Orchard Lake, Michigan, with which Tom Monaghan “contracted” to provide financial support in return for Saint Mary’s degree-granting power to “cover” Ave Maria’s degrees. After the town of Ann Arbor, Michigan, refused Tom Monaghan’s request for a zoning variance to more Ave Maria College from Ypsilanti to Ann Arbor and expand it into a university, and after he got the land in Florida to “move” (actually to establish) the university there and get degree-granting power from that state, he “terminated” the agreement with Saint Mary’s (at the earliest possible convenience under its terms, resulting in that college’s “merger” (actually absorption) by Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan, and leaving a number of faculty and staff members without jobs, including the letter writer, who has a wife and six children but has been unable to find a new teaching position in a “tight market” for theology professors.

Cruxnews article relates how John Dr. Hittinger gave up a tenured position as a full professor of philosophy at the Air Force Academy (the first civilian to hold such a position) to become the Academic Dean of Saint Mary’s College. He was also a victim of the “downsizing of staff” with the merger of Saint Mary’s with Madonna University. Fortunately Dr. Hittinger was able to find a position of teaching theology at Sacred Heart Seminary in Michigan.

The Ave Maria College parents’ website has a letter of concern from a faculty member of professor of Ave Maria College
( on some of the problems surrounding any proposed merger between Ave Maria College and Madonna University—especially the status of degrees granted by the College prior to any such merger. (No one has raised the issue of whether or not Madonna University would want to “bail out” another of Tom Monaghan’s educational enterprises—especially since Madonna University is still operating a “franchise” or campus at the former Saint Mary’s College in Orchard Lake—not far from Ave Maria College in Ypsilanti.) The faculty member laments that if the College “goes out of business,” he is not only without a job, but, he, his wife, and four children are without a home, because his current residence is owned by the College. He also relates the attempt of Nicholas Healy (as president of Ave Maria University College and also as a member of the board of trustees of Ave Maria College) to “transfer assets” from Ave Maria College in Michigan to Ave Maria University in Florida—especially the library’s computerized system and book collection. The faculty member has “inside information,” because his wife is the librarian at the Michigan College. The Ave Parents website includes a series of e-mails ( to and from the librarian--especially involving Nicholas Healy. At first she seems amenable with his request (or order?) to transfer the computerized system and many books (except for a small basic collection) from Michigan to Florida, but after seeking legal advice (not from Mr. Healy, who is also a lawyer), she sends him a long e-mail with much “legalese,” resisting his request on the grounds of his own legal setup of separate corporations for the College and University (as related above). While he may be the University’s president, he is only a trustee of the College and not its president, to whom she reports and from whom she gets her orders. The library’s computerized system was purchased for (and hence is only licensed to) the College in Michigan and not the University in Florida; to transfer the system from Michigan to Florida would be illegal. The same for much of the library’s book collection: To transfer such College property would amount to an immediate merger of the College and the University without the authorization of the College’s board, which previously agreed to delay any such merger until 2007. The librarian is willing to send to Florida those library books (not too many) purchased for use by the University when originally envisioned to be in Ann Arbor or in anticipation of the preparation of adequate facilities in Florida. In a terse reply Mr. Healy abandons his previous request.

Anonymous said...

Two recent point-by-point responses to Ave Maria’s response:

1. Dr. Edward Peters, a professor of canon law at the Institute for Pastoral Theology and father of a son at Ave Maria College:

2. The Ave [Maria College] Parents group: