Monday, October 31, 2005

Professor Rice Memo offers his recollection of recent BoG events

Read Full Memo

Development coming to Plymouth and Green corner?

David Kwan, principal in Kwan & Moore Commercial, is proposing to build a residential and commercial complex - Plymouth Green Crossings - on the northwest corner of Plymouth and Green roads. He and several partners, whom he declined to name, hope to build about 81,000 square feet of commercial and condominium space south of Ave Maria Law School. They'll seek rezoning approval from city council on Nov. 10.

Link to story

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Ave Maria Groundbreaking Postponed

Focus Turned Toward Hurricane Relief Effort

NAPLES, Fla., Oct. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- The leadership of Ave Maria University and the Barron Collier Companies has postponed the official groundbreaking ceremonies for Ave Maria University and Town that was to beheld, Tuesday, November 1, 2005. We ask the media to print and broadcast thisannouncement to help us inform the community and others around the state and country.
The following is a joint statement:

"Hurricane Wilma has brought destruction and hardships to the people of Southern Florida. We have decided to postpone the event so that government, public services, law enforcement and residents can give their full attentionto recovery at this time. Our prayers are with everyone who is suffering because of this storm and the damage it has done."

Lamar Gable, Chairman, Barron Collier Companies
Paul Marinelli, President, Barron Collier Companies
Thomas S. Monaghan, Chancellor, Ave Maria University
Nicholas J. Healy Jr., President, Ave Maria University

Furthermore, Barron Collier Companies and Ave Maria Development Corp. are donating the $50,000 that was to be spent on the groundbreaking event to the Guadalupe Center in Immokalee, Florida for food and hurricane relief for the people of Immokalee and the other affected areas of Collier County.

SOURCE Ave Maria University

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Dean Dobranski's law review article on founding of AMSOL

Dean Dobranski wrote an excellent article on the founding of AMSOL in the Fall 2004 edition of the University of Toledo Law Review. The Dean lays out in a very clear and engaging manner the unique mission and character of AMSOL that would make it stand out from other law schools. He also lists the many outstanding accomplishments the law school had achieved in such a short time. The Dean recognized the critical role the faculty, in particular the founding faculty, had in creating and building the school. Another point of interest is the discussion of AMSOL as employing the engagement model rather then the insular model. I've highlighted a few critical areas below, with my discussion following.

As regards faculty, we have also been blessed from the beginning with an extremely talented group of academic leaders with distinguished careers in academia and the practice of law. In our first year, among those on the faculty were four of the original five founding faculty who suggested the creation of a new Catholic law school to Mr. Monaghan in 1998, nationally renowned Judge Robert Bork, one of the nation’s leading legal scholars and practitioners, and Professor Howard Bromberg, who joined us from the clinical faculty of the University of Michigan Law School. We were also graced that first year with the presence of Professor John Dolan, a visiting professor from Wayne State University Law School and one of the nation’s most distinguished commercial law teachers and scholars.

The model we developed for the law school during the discussions is one of engagement and is best described as follows: In this time of great challenges to legal education, there is much debate over how best to train men and women for the practice of law. We believe that our approach has much to offer legal education and we want to participate in that debate. We are confident that what we have to say is important for the future of legal education and fully expect that it will be received in a respectful manner, even by those who do not agree with it. At the same time, we do not wish to be defensive or apologetic about what we have to offer, nor do we wish to present it in a strident fashion. We expect to engage in the discussion with civility and respect for the views of others and expect the same in return.[iii]

[iii] The basic idea for the engagement model was first articulated by Professor Robert George, who holds the McCormick Chair of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and directs its James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. Professor George is also a member of the Ave Maria School of Law Board of Governors and participated in most of our discussions about the shape and direction of the law school.
Before selecting the engagement model, we rejected two other possible models for the law school. One was termed the insular model where the law school, in essence, would pursue its religious mission in an inward looking fashion and seek not to sully itself by engaging the outside, secular world.

Dean Dobranski's article clearly confirms Professor Safranek's talk on the founding of AMSOL earlier this year in regards to the fact that it was the founding faculty who came up with the idea of the law school and presented it to Tom Monaghan.

I also noticed that in that first year, the Dean highlights the contributions of two faculty, Professor Bromberg (visiting from U-M) and Professor Dolan (visiting from Wayne State). Both of these professors were at law schools that were within a forty minute drive of AMSOL in Ann Arbor. Unfortunately, there are no law schools within even an hours drive of the new AMU campus in Immokalee.
And continuing with that point, the Dean emphasizes that AMSOL was built on the engagement model rather than the insular model. This was a wise choice, and a necessary one, as Ann Arbor and U-M are very liberal institutions. However, AMSOL has repeatedly engaged these institutions in a way that they have earned respect and have even collaborated on several fronts, even including a joint hockey team with U-M!
Unfortunately, if AMSOL were to move to the AMU campus near Immokalee, it would be transformed into the insular model, by the mere fact that there would be no nearby secular community to engage! Ave Maria town will be an almost exclusively orthodox Catholic community which will be completely isolated from the secular, academic and legal worlds.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

AMSOL Bylaws

Because there have been numerous questions raised about how the proposed term limits would affect various existing board members, I am posting Section II of the AMSOL bylaws that deal with such matters.


1. All powers for the governance of the Ave Maria School of Law shall be vested in a Board of Governors which shall consist of such number of Governors not less than thirteen (13) nor more than twenty five (25) as shall from time to time be fixed by resolution of the Governors. The Board of Governors shall exercise all rights and shall be subject to all obligations required of directors or Governors under the Michigan educational and/or non-profit corporation acts.

2. The following persons shall be ex officio Governors of the Ave Maria School of Law: the Dean and, unless such person is serving as a Governor of the School of Law upon election by the Board of Governors, the Chairman of the Board of the Ave Maria Foundation or its successor. The term of office of such ex officio Governors shall be coextensive with their incumbency in their other respective offices.

3. The Governors, other than ex officio Governors, shall be elected at the annual meeting of the Board of Governors. With the exception of those Governors that are elected to the position of
Governor at the commencement of the School of Law, the term of Governor shall be three (3) years. The initial Governors shall be appointed to initial terms of three, four or five years, with one third of such Governors having an initial term of three years, one third having an initial term of four years and the remaining Governors having a term of five years. Governors may be reappointed as Governor upon the expiration of their expiring term.

4. The Governors may grant a leave to a Governor, provided however, that no more than three (3) Governors may be serving as Governor under a leave of absence. When a vacancy occurs among the Governors (other than ex officio Governors), the Nominating Committee of the Board of Governors (as hereinafter constituted) shall nominate a candidate or candidates to fill such vacancy and shall report its nominations to the Board of Governors who shall determine if such nomination shall be confirmed by election.

5. The Board of Governors by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of all of its members may remove any Governor from office, after giving the Governor an opportunity to be heard, if in the opinion of the Board the welfare of the Ave Maria School of Law requires such action.

6. A retired Governor shall have the status of Life Governor and by virtue thereof shall receive notice of all meetings of the Board of Governors may attend all of its meetings and meetings of any Committee of the Board of his or her choice, and may participate in the discussions and deliberations of the Board and of any such Committee, but shall have no right to vote. Governors who shall reach the retirement age before the expiration of the term for which they are nominated may be elected to a shorter term, coincident with their retirement date.
Any Governor who has not reached retirement age, but who shall have served at least four full terms, may request that he or she become a Life Governor and shall assume such status upon the approval of the Board of Governors.
A retired Dean of the Ave Maria School of Law may, by resolution of the Board, be designated, respectively, Dean Emeritus and having been a Governor of the Ave Maria School of Law, by reason of his respective prior office, may be designated a Life Governor and as such shall be privileged to attend all meetings of the Board, serve on one or more committees of the Board and perform such other functions as the Chairperson of the Board or the Dean of the Ave Maria School of Law may from time to time request.

7. The Board shall hold at least two (2) regular meetings in each academic year, one in the Spring and the other in the Fall of the year. Special meetings may be called by the Chairperson of the Board, the Chairperson of the Executive Committee, or by any four (4) or more
Governors. The Secretary of the Board shall give at least thirty (30) days prior written notice of all meetings of the Board. Meetings of the Board may be held, within or without the State of Michigan.

8. A majority of the Board shall constitute a quorum competent for the transaction of business at meetings of the Board.

9. The Board shall elect from its own members a Chairperson and a Secretary. The Board may appoint an Assistant Secretary who need not be a Governor.

10. The Chairperson of the Board shall preside at all meetings of the Board, shall, subject to the qualifications set forth in these Bylaws, execute all legal documents, instruments and communications on behalf of the Board, shall appoint members to ad hoc committees of the Board not otherwise provided for in these Bylaws, and shall perform such other dudes as may be directed from time to time by the Board. The Chairperson shall be elected for a two (2) year term and may, from time to time, be reelected to such office.
The Board may elect from its lay membership a Vice Chairperson whose term of office shall be coterminous with that of the Chairperson. The Vice Chairperson shall have such responsibilities as the Board or the Chairperson may from time to time prescribe. In the absence or disability of the Chairperson, the Vice Chairperson shall be Acting Chairperson and shall perform the various functions of the Chairperson as set forth in the first paragraph of Article 10 of this Section 1. The Vice Chairperson shall be elected for a two (2) year term (unless elected during the term of the Chairperson) and may from time to time be reelected to such office. A retired Chairperson of the Board of Governors may be designated Chairperson Emeritus by resolution of the Board, and such person shall be privileged to attend all meetings of the Board, to serve on one or more committees of the Board, and to perform such other functions, consistent with these Bylaws, as the Chairperson of the Board or the Dean of the Ave Maria School of Law may from time to time request.
The Chairperson Emeritus, who has been appointed a Life Governor, may participate in all discussions at Board and Committee meetings but shall not have the right to vote.

11. The Secretary of the Board shall keep a record of all votes and minutes of the proceedings of the Board, shall perform such other duties as are conferred by these Bylaws, and have such other powers and duties as may be conferred from time to time by the Board. By appropriate resolution the Board may designate the Assistant Secretary to perform any of such functions.

12. The Chairperson may designate a Governor to act as liaison for any advisory or faculty committees of the Ave Maria School of Law for the purpose of attending meetings of the committee involved and reporting to the Board of Governors any recommendations of such committee that merit or require consideration by the Board of Governors.

Professor Rice letter to the AMSOL Board of Governors

Professor Rice has given permission to publish his letter to the AMSOL Board of Governors, which follows.




FROM: Prof. Emeritus Charles E. Rice
TO: Board of Governors, Ave Maria School of Law
SUBJ.: Board resolution, Sept, 28, 2005
DATE: October 20, 2005

I voted against the sense of the Board resolution adopted on Sept. 28th.

If the Bylaws are amended as proposed in that resolution, I will be involuntarily removed from the position I now hold on the Board. I oppose that removal.

I recused myself from the September 28th discussion by the Board of my status. I understand that the Board discussed Section 11(5) of the Bylaws which states:

A retired Governor who has served a minimum of six (6) yearsas Governor shall have the status of Life Governor and by virtue thereof shall receive notice of all meetings of the Board of Governors, may attend all of its meetings and meetings of any Committee of the Board of his choice, and may participate in the discussions and deliberations of the Board and of any such Committee, but shall have no right to vote.

To avoid any misunderstanding, please be advised that if I am removed from the position I now hold on the Board, I will thereupon have a vested right to membership on the Board as a Life Governor as provided in Section 11(5). My affirmation of this reality does not imply any consent on my part to any removal of me from the position I now hold on the Board.

I write this memo not in any spirit of contention but rather to avoid any possible misunderstanding of my interpretation of this matter.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Memo from Dean Dobranski on Recent Board of Governors' Resolution

DATE: 10/22/2005

As most of you know, controversy has surrounded the decision of the Board of Governors to adopt term limits at its September 28 meeting, and the effect this decision had on Professor Charlie Rice’s continuation on the Board. Most of the information circulated about that decision - both before and after it was made - was inaccurate, misleading, and distorted, and I now write to the alumni and alumnae to correct the impressions created by these distortions and to clarify what actually did and did not happen at the September 28 meeting. To be blunt, there was an intentional, deliberate, and organized campaign to undermine the Board of Governors and the leadership of the law school.
Our Board includes some of the most significant leaders of the legal profession and the Church whose commitment to the law school’s mission and its excellence has been unswerving. Without their dedication and leadership, for example, we would not have the highest tuition discount rate (i.e. scholarships and grants) among American law schools, as well as the many other endeavors which have contributed to our extraordinary and unprecedented success in our first five years.
Let me explain what did and did not happen at both the Nominating Committee discussion which preceded the September Board meeting, and at the September Board meeting itself. Normally, discussions in a board and its committees are private and not made public. However, because of the distortions, I have decided that I should address this issue with you directly. Contrary to the impression many have, the Nominating Committee did, in fact, recommend, without any negative votes, the reappointment of all Board members whose term expired on June 30, 2005, including Professor Rice. During this discussion, however, one member of the committee argued that the law school had reached a point in its development that limits on board terms should now be adopted and, after lengthy discussion and debate, indicated that he would prepare a substitute resolution to that effect for the Board to adopt at the September 28 meeting. During the Nominating Committee discussions (and at the subsequent Board discussion, as well), he provided a detailed explanation and analysis, based on his extensive experience on both corporate and academic boards, why he believed this is a desirable governance feature. In essence, such change would provide an infusion of new talent and ideas into the Board on a regular basis, and the rotation proposed would provide for a orderly transition which would enable the Board to retain the benefit of the experience and wisdom of the remaining members yet to be rotated off the Board. The one indispensable requirement for Board members, both new and old, would be a firm commitment to the law school’s mission. He also pointed out that term limits, or term fulfillment as it is sometimes called, is the increasingly common practice for both profit and not-for-profit boards. Finally, it was argued that this was the appropriate time for the law school to adopt such a procedure because for the first time in its short history, it had members who had completed two full three year terms.
This resolution was presented to the Board for its consideration and approved at the September 28 meeting and, after over four hours of discussion and debate, a modified version of it was adopted by a vote of 12 – 2. Professor Rice, although repeatedly invited by Board members to participate in the discussion of the merits of the proposal, chose not to do so, although he did return to the meeting to speak against and cast his vote against it. (The other dissenting vote was cast by Judge Ryan). Professor Rice also asserted that the purpose of the term limits proposal was to prevent his reappointment to the Board. They were not proposed as a subterfuge, however, and every board member in the discussion rejected the suggestion that they were. Nevertheless, some supporters of the school, not present at the meeting, seem to share that view. As indicated above, however, term limits were not adopted for that reason. Rather, the proposal was discussed, debated and approved solely on its merits. I say this with certainty. Not only was I was present throughout the Nominating Committee and Board discussions, but I also voted in the Nominating Committee to recommend the reappointment of Professor Rice and was initially opposed to the term limits idea (although I was ultimately persuaded of its merit).
In trying to understand what did, in fact, happen, a number of points should be kept in mind. The first is that Professor Rice was not the only board member whose term had expired but who wished to continue on it. Two of the other three whose second term had expired, including the one who proposed the term limits idea, would have liked to remain on the Board, but they also believed that the worth of the idea for the long term health and viability of the law school outweighed their personal desire to continue serving. Moreover, the twelve who voted for the proposal are some of the most distinguished Catholic men and women in the country, known for their commitment to the Church and for their outstanding public service. To refresh your recollection, our Board membership consists of the following individuals:

Professor Helen Álvare ...... .... .... ...Professor Gerard Bradley
Professor of Law, Catholic University . ... Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame

The Honorable James Buckley ...... .... . ..... The Honorable William Clark
U.S. Court of Appeals for District of Columbia ... Chief Exec. Officer, Clark Company

Dean Bernard Dobranski .... ..... His Eminence Edward Cardinal Egan
President and Founding Dean ... ... ..... Archbishop of New York

Fr. Joseph Fessio ..... ... .... ..... Professor Robert George
Publisher, Ignatius Press .. ..... McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University
Provost, Ave Maria University

William F. Harrington ..... ... .... .... ..... Congressman Henry Hyde
Chairman of Bleakley, Platt & Schmidt . .. ..... U.S. House of Representatives

His Eminence Adam Cardinal Maida ... ..... Mr. Thomas Monaghan
Archbishop of Detroit .. ....... ..... ... ..... Chairman of the Board, Ave Maria Foundation

Ms. Kate O’Beirne ..... ... ..... ....... ........ Professor Charles Rice
Washington Editor, The National Review .. .. ... Professor Emeritus, University of Notre Dame

The Honorable James Ryan .. .... ..... ..... Fr. Michael Scanlan
U.S. Court of Appeals, sixth Circuit .. ... Chancellor, Franciscan University

All but two participated in the September 28 meeting. These are men and women recognized and applauded for their personal integrity, honesty, independence, and strength of character, and who regularly make decisions based on the best interests of the institutions with which they are involved. One, of course, participated in the Conclave which elected Pope Benedict XVI. A final point about the Board decision: To believe that it was a subterfuge to rid the Board of Professor Rice, you must believe that every Board member present during the discussion - but one - was prepared to vote himself or herself off the Board within two years to accomplish that end. To even articulate the idea reveals its absurdity.
I am aware that underlying much of the controversy surrounding this issue is occasioned by the possibility of the law school’s relocation to Naples, Florida. Although the Board in September 2003 put that issue aside because it believed that it was premature at the time, the issue remains open and will be revisited by the Board. I can assure you, however, that when the Board revisits the issue, it will do so only after a full and thorough consideration of all relevant factors, those that are unfavorable as well as those favorable. For the Board to even reconsider the issue, it must, at a minimum, update the earlier feasibility study and obtain input from the various constituencies. The ABA must also be consulted and its acquiescence obtained for any major change in the law school program or structure that falls within its Standards and Rules. You can be assured that when the Board reopens the relocation idea, it will do so in the thorough and thoughtful manner described above, and will make a decision based only on what is in the best interests of the law school.
As you know, the law school’s motto is “Fides et Ratio,” combining faith and reason in the study of law. Another Latin phrase, “Veritatem in Caritate”, has developed into a secondary motto. It means that in our studies and in our practice, we seek or pursue truth with charity and love. In recent weeks, we have seen gross distortions of truth and a fundamental lack of charity.
I apologize for the length of this letter, but it was necessary to give you better picture of the events that have unfolded in recent weeks. If any of you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to call me at (734) xxx-xxxx.
We keep you – our alumni and alumnae sons and daughters – in our prayers always, and ask that you keep the law school in yours.

Bernard Dobranski
Dean and President

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Bloch now under investigation for being Catholic and hiring AMSOL graduates

It was just a matter of time before this happened. As many organizations and publications noted earlier this year, there has been a concerted campaign by liberals and gay-rights groups to oust Scott Bloch, the head of the Office of Special Counsel (OSC). What has Mr. Bloch done to deserve such treatment? Well, he is a devout Catholic who has hired several AMSOL graduates. This is a double whammy to these radicals. Below you can follow the progression of events, beginning with a Catholic League press release in March, followed by an American Spectator article in April, and finishing with the story just released today that Bloch is being investigated by the Office of Personnel Management. Let's not let another good Catholic in public service be destroyed by character assasination. Perhaps our friends at OSC could let us know what the best way to show support for Bloch would be.
To be specific, PEER director Jeffrey Ruch has persistently charged in public that it is improper for Bloch to hire graduates of Ave Maria law school; he did this most recently on National Public Radio on March 25. “Scott Bloch’s personnel practices,” Ruch previously said, “are taken straight from The Da Vinci Code rather than the civil service manual.”
The PEER press release also said Bloch "is a religious conservative who had served as deputy director in the Justice Department's Office of Faith-Based Initiatives." PEER cited Bloch's hires of graduates from "ultra-conservative" Ave Maria Law School as Schedule A attorneys, who can be hired non-competitively, ignoring that he has also hired attorneys from George Washington, Georgetown, and the University of Virginia. And what exactly is Ruch's objection to Ave Maria? It is an accredited law school in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and its first class of graduates performed better on the bar exam than any other Michigan school. Are graduates there prohibited from government service in his view?
While Bloch was supposed to enforce merit-based hiring across federal agencies, he converted several OSC positions to at-will appointments, Ruch said. This included hiring recent graduates from the conservative, Catholic law school Ave Maria, as well as hiring his child’s former headmaster from boarding school, the complaint details.

"I'm not an academic or an intellectual", but I play one in my philanthropy

No one questions Tom Monaghan's great contributions to Catholic education. However, Mr. Monaghan should recognize that he is first and foremost a philanthropist, and not an expert in academia. Well, actually he has acknowledged this in the past, but he seems to keep forgetting it. In this story from the Chronicle of Higher Education, Monaghan admits:

"I'm not an academic or an intellectual, but my early pizza stores were in college towns around the country," said Mr. Monaghan, who founded Ave Maria College, in Ypsilanti, Mich., in 1998, and Ave Maria School of Law, in Ann Arbor, a year later. "This will be the finest Catholic university we can build."

Well... We wish Ave Maria University the best in the swamplands of Florida, which is all we can do now that the decision has been made to build that school there. But we are more interested in the plight of the law school, as its fate is still hanging in the balance. So, once again we will try to show why moving the school from Ann Arbor to Florida would be such a disaster for the law school, leaving all other institutions and questions aside.

Not only does the AMSOL have 5 plus years of blood, sweat, and tears built up in Michigan, but it also competes with a top ten law school (U-M) and beats it on the MI bar each year. In addition, you have all of the academic and legal resources of Ann Arbor, as well as the legal community in nearby Detroit, which is responsible for a good deal of the internships, clerkships, and jobs for students and alumni of the school. Also, Ann Arbor provides the opportunity for guest lecturers and visiting professors from U-M and Notre Dame.

As for Florida? The AMU campus will be in the town of Ave Maria, which is currently located in the middle of nowhere. Contrary to popular conceptions, the town will not be in Naples or nearby, but 5 miles south of the closest town of Immokalee, which is a solid 1 hour drive from Naples. The nearest federal courts are in Miami, 2 hours away. Because we have no data for what type of community Ave Maria will be, we will compare Ann Arbor and Immokalee, with data from :

For population 25 years and over in Ann Arbor
High school or higher: 95.7%
Bachelor's degree or higher: 69.3%
Graduate or professional degree: 39.4%
Unemployed: 4.2%

For population 25 years and over in Immokalee
High school or higher: 24.0%
Bachelor's degree or higher: 2.5%
Graduate or professional degree: 0.4%
Unemployed: 12.0%

By my calculations, Ann Arbor has a far higher percentage of persons with graduate or professional degrees than Immokalee has high school graduates, bachelor's degrees, and graduate and professional degrees combined. Mr. Monaghan might be building what he believes to be the finest Catholic university, but what good are the most beautiful buildings and facilities a law school can have if it doesn't have any academic or legal community to support it? Yes, Mr. Monaghan, while you were a very successful businessman, you are no academic or intellectual. Please leave decisions on what is in the best interests of an academic institution to those who have actually been working in academia.

Tom Monaghan's plea for more money to cover rapidly escalating costs of AMU construction

1025Commons Circle
Naples, FL 34119
October 20, 2005

Mr. & Mrs. X
Dear Mr. & Mrs. X
I am enclosing bookplates especially designed with your name inscribed on them, which I would like you to envision affixed permanently to their side front cover of one of our books we need to acquire for student and faculty use at the Ave Maria University Library.
This traditional bookplate will state that the book has been donated to Ave Maria University's Library by you or in the name of someone you admire. I have also enclosed two blank ookplates, in case you wish to memorialize one or more members of your family, a beloved friend, or perhaps an admired priest or religious.
You can fill in whatever you wish on the blank plates. We have found that Ave Maria University bookplates can be a very important source of funding, freeing up dollars for our building program.

Please let me explain.

Several months have past since you last heard from me, and much good has been accomplished at AMU, in fact largely due to both your financial support and prayers.
At the same time, I have to say that these months have not been kind to our carefully planned budget.
Therefore, I am writing to solicit your further prayer support, as we face significant new challenges in the building of our new campus.
Construction costs, already up 50% since the project's inception, are poised to go up even further in the next two years, in the aftermath of the catastrophic hurricanes that have caused a new spike in demand for raw materials in our region.
This hampers our ability to take on new students as quickly as hoped. We added over 100 new students this year, and with rising construction costs, we may not be able to build as many new dorms on the new campus as we need. Remarkably, such is the popularity of what we are offering at AMU among young Catholics that the new dormitories will be completely full when, God willing, they open in August 2007, less than two years from today!
The construction increases, and resulting reallocation of funds has one particularly troubling result: we cannot acquire new library books in the way we had hoped to make AMU's Library one of the nation's most complete-one that would serve as a magnet to draw the best Catholic faculty and young graduate students, and nourish our undergraduates in the Faith. We are actively seeking donors to help us construct all the buildings desired for Phase I of the new campus, as my personal funding is not sufficient, due to the increase in construction costs mentioned earlier. Thus, we are turning to you for help with our library acquisitions.
If something isn't done to overcome this cash crunch, we may have to pass up the opportunity to purchase additional volumes, which would significantly enhance our collection and reputation among Catholic universities.
You can see, then, how vital it is to further improve our University Library. And yet, the most important reason is its value to the academic quality of our University.
For this reason, I am hoping and praying that we can continue to count on you as a regular financial supporter, if possible even this very day.
I am suggesting a donation of anywhere from $50 per book plate for one volume, to perhaps, if your finances allow, up to $5,000 for a matching set of books (for example, collections of literary works or multi-volume historical books of value to the Church).
With the bookplate or bookplates that your gift would purchase, for generations to come students at Ave Maria University will know that you helped make their vibrantly Catholic education possible. What a lasting testament this would be to your unwavering dedication to the Church.
As I have said to you before, AMU was founded as a direct response to the crisis of faith that threatens to undermine the Church you and I both hold dear. Far too many Catholics have rejected the Truth to embrace of our post-Christian culture.
In a completely unique way, Library collections of the greatest books and texts enable us to act urgently to retain the rich intellectual tradition of the Church. If we don't have a great Library, but settle only for an adequate one, we are not doing our best, as I see things, to protect our beloved Church.

People say that the Church has always withstood the challenges and crises of previous centuries and that is very true, but the Church has done so primarily through the workings of God's grace in human beings who understand His holy will.
I believe God is working through AMU to help our marvelous but troubled nation, Mr. & Mrs. X.
While we have had the enthusiastic support of notables like Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who singled out Ave Maria University for its high academic standards and "firm grounding in religious and moral values," we need you, we need your family and we need your good friends if we are to make this University a success.
Would you please prayerfully consider a special gift, which would enable us to purchase new books for the University Library? '
Please keep in mind that the very best way to integrate faith and learning is by studying the classics of theology, philosophy, literature, history and the sciences from a Catholic perspective, wherever that is possible.
It is Catholic scholars who largely preserved the written word during the Dark Ages, including Sacred Scripture itself. In our new threatening Dark Age, which our new Holy Father has said in no uncertain terms is one of the greatest challenges in the Church's history, you and I must not shrink from the task God has put before us.
And, let me assure you, if we stay faithful, God will not abandon us. He will bless the work of Ave Maria University and if you could observe any number of our 430 students on any given day or evening studying in our Library, you would be convinced anew of this truth!
Please help if you possibly can. Without the best resources, it will be difficult to provide our students with the best education they so richly deserve and so urgently require before they face the world, which is so often at odds with the teachings of our Faith.
Although I am suggesting a book plate (or plates) and suggesting gifts ranging from $50 on up to $5,000 and beyond, of course any gift you can spare, larger or smaller according to your means, is a gift that will be gratefully welcomed.
If you find you are able to send $250 or more in response to my appeal, your name will be inscribed on a plaque, which will be on permanent display in the Ave Maria University Library.

We can recognize you, or remember your loved ones, with plaques and book plates that will be a fixture in our Library for generations to come, but St. Paul tells us that we cannot describe how God will recognize you for your fidelity to Christ and His Church.
Thank you very much for all your past support.
God bless you,
Thomas S. Monaghan
Founder and Chancellor
P.S. Our Provost, Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ, is recently back from Rome, where he was privileged to spend time with the Pope. When he saw the Holy Father, Benedict's first words to him were, "Ah, Fr. Fessio, and how is Ave Maria doing?" It is only thanks to you and those like you that Father could give him a positive answer. May his answer, the next time he sees the Pope, include the news that the Ave Maria University Library has already distinguished itself due to its wonderful collection. With your help today, it will be so.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Founding Faculty in the Spotlight: Richard Myers

Richard S. Myers, Professor of Law
Professor Myers began his legal career clerking for Judge John F. Kilkenny of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He then worked for Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue in Washington, D.C., focusing on antitrust law and appellate litigation. He began his teaching career at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, and then taught at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. Professor Myers teaches courses in Civil Procedure, Conflict of Laws, Constitutional Law, and Antitrust. Professor Myers is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Kenyon College and earned his law degree at Notre Dame, where he graduated first in his class.

Professor Myers testified earlier this year before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on the constitutionality of the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act. His full testimony can be read here and an excerpt is provided below:

It is quite clear that the real objection is not to a proper understanding of the constitutional principles underlying our system of federalism but, rather, to the substantive policy implicated. So, critics of the standard view that states are permitted to refuse to recognize marriages that violate the strong public policy of the couples’ home state are, it seems safe to say, primarily driven by their opposition to the substantive policies of the states with a traditional view of marriage, even if that traditional view enjoys widespread public support, perhaps evidenced by the policy having been adopted by wide majorities of the voting populations in these states. In the context presented here today, the same dynamic seems at work. The real opposition to the Act is not to its understanding of federalism but to the substantive policy (promoting parental involvement in the decision by a minor whether to have an abortion) that the legislation seems designed to permit states to pursue.

Professor Myers is the President of University Faculty For Life and Executive Secretary of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Founding Faculty in the Spotlight: Stephen Safranek

We thought it would be a good idea to pay homage to the founding faculty at AMSOL here at the blog by briefly putting them under the spotlight. First in a series.

Stephen J. Safranek, Professor of Law
Professor Safranek began his law career as a clerk for Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He then worked for Latham & Watkins in its Chicago office before beginning his teaching career. Professor Safranek has been inter-viewed on national television regarding constitutional law issues and has appeared on local and national radio programs. He teaches Contracts, Sales, State and Local Government, and Law, Ethics, and Public Policy. Professor Safranek holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of San Francisco, a Master of Arts from the University of Dallas, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Notre Dame.

Safranek's project invites couples to sign written agreements in which they explicitly choose to use church tribunals and other dispute mechanisms to resolve marriage disputes. He is also interested in representing persons who entered a holy marriage and who now seek to have the civil courts recognize that marriage.

Here is a Story on Safranek's latest case with an excerpt below:

Ohio resident Marie Macfarlane, a University of Notre Dame Mechanical Engineer, gave up her career to be a stay-at-home mom and is now challenging the divorce court's jurisdiction over her family. Though no one accused her of being a bad mother, a court ordered that her husband get full custody of her four young children even though it placed her three year old into day care. Her lawyer, Stephen Safranek a constitutional law professor at Ave Maria School of Law, is arguing that the civil courts do not have full jurisdiction over her religious marriage as the Catholic Church's canon law limits divorce options. Macfarlane is awaiting a decision from the church court in Rome, the Apostolic Tribunal of the Roman Rota.

Please Pray for Southwest Florida

Hurricane Wilma is now projected to strike SW Florida this weekend. Let's all pray that this storm may be diverted and die a quiet death in the Gulf.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Panthers and ators and bears, oh my!


I'm still trying to figure out why it is only now that federal wildlife officials are publicly wondering how to deal with the success of the Florida panther recovery effort.

I recently read about a plan to ship extra cats elsewhere in their historic range -- Arkansas was mentioned -- because there's too much development in South Florida.

Ironically, some of the major intrusions on panther habitat -- Ave Maria University near Naples comes immediately to mind -- were approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency charged with protecting the panthers.

What part of AMSOL's "autonomy" and "independence" did we not understand?

As a member of the inaugural AMSOL class, NO man entered the law school in the fall of 2000 with the understanding that this was a completely separate and autonomous institution, and was not connected to anything else, particularly Ave Maria College. Our class was repeatedly told that our law school was independent of its principal donor and his other institutions.

But let's suppose I imagined all of these things -- is there any proof that the founding players were under similar impressions?

Well, of course there is. In September of 2000, this story appeared in the Notre Dame student newspaper, and quoted Professor Gerry Bradley (then and now a member of the AMSOL Board of Govnernors) at length concerning AMSOL. Turns out he had the same exact understanding of the law school as I did at the time:

It is solely a school for law students (without other undergraduate or graduate programs of study) and it is also Catholic.

With a fresh start, Ave Maria "has autonomy to be the kind of Catholic school it wants to be," said Bradley.

Because Ave Maria is not attached to a larger university, it has freedom in terms of curriculum and protecting its objectives as an institution, said Bradley. "It has a lot of independence to pursue its mission vigorously," he added.

(My emphasis added)

Friday, October 14, 2005

The article that started it all?

Naples News ran a story last year that suggested that AMSOL was seriously considering a move to Florida to join Ave Maria University. It was this story that Professor Rice responded to in his letter to the editor, in which he clarified several inaccuracies in the article (the full text of his letter can be found in this Wanderer story. Aside from questions of who pushed this story on Naples News, there are three parts of the story that should be examined more closely.

1.The Ave Maria move to Florida prompted officials at the Ann Arbor law school to discuss following suit. Some law school faculty members already have visited Collier County for a tour of the area, said Bernard Dobranski, president and dean of Ave Maria College.

2. Moving is a consideration, but a decision has not been made, he stressed, and one likely will not be made until the school receives full accreditation from the American Bar Association.

3. "The issue of moving a law school from one location to another is considered a major change, which requires their approval," he said.

1. As Professor Rice noted in his letter, he had talked to most of the faculty who visited the Florida site, and their "their reaction was overwhelmingly negative with respect to any move of AMSL to Collier County".

2. Dean Dobranski appears to give the impression that a decision on a move could be made as soon as the school received full accreditation, which means the announcement of such a board decision could be very soon in coming.

3. Dean Dobranski uses the technical term of a "major change" in relation to how the ABA would view such a move. Please refer to post and corresponding comments on the ABA standards. The more proper understanding of such a move to Florida would fall under Interpretation 101-2, which deals with the transfer of all, or substantially all of the academic assets of a law school. If AMSOL were to move from Michigan and set up in another state, it would have to dissolve its MI corporation and incorporate in a different state, or transfer its assets to another institution. Either way, this would fall under 101-2, and not be considered a "major change" (which is Standard 105).

***ABA Standards clearly show that AMSOL move to Florida would not include transfer of accreditation status***

As there has been endless speculation as to whether an AMSOL move to Florida would affect the accreditation status of the law school, sometimes it helps to just look at the ABA rules, which are very clear on this point. Even if the law school is lobbying the ABA heavily to amend this interpretation of the Standard, it should have been more forthcoming in response to questions on this subject. Students and alumni have a right to know what the ABA standards state today, and not just what they might say in the future.

A law school approved by the Association or seeking approval by the Association shall demonstrate that its program is consistent with sound legal education principles. It does so by establishing that it is being operated in compliance with the Standards.

Interpretation 101-2: Accreditation or approval of a law school by the American Bar Association is not transferable. A transfer of all, or substantially all, of the academic programs or assets of (1)a law school or (2) a university or college of which the law school is a part does not include the transfer of the law school’s accreditation status.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

AMSOL again receives glowing praise; #1 in the nation in federal clerkships per capita!

In the midst of the current issues surrounding the law school, let us not forget how far the school has come in just five years. The intent of this blog was never to disparage the law school in any way- for we all recognize how successful and unique it is. Rather, our primary goal is keeping the first-rate excellence of the school, which of course is due to all of the people who built it up, but also due to its location in Ann Arbor. This is often overlooked, for in Michigan we developed a healthy rivalry with the University of Michigan, and have an amazing amount of legal resources at our fingertips, not to mention the legal community nearby in Detroit, which provides numerous clerkships and valuable hands-on experience for our students and alumni. Here is a recent story by the BYU News Net that highlights the positive experience LDS students have had at AMSOL. Near the end, we see that AMSOL is #1 in a very significant area:

"Ave Maria boasts the largest per capita number of federal clerkships, the most prestigious a law graduate can go into, than any other law school in the nation, which is particularly impressive as the school opened only five years ago. They also exceed the nation in BAR pass rates — last year the graduating class had a 100 percent pass rate for the Michigan BAR."

Thanks to all of the faculty, staff, alumni, and students who continue to make AMSOL thrive in Michigan!

Just so no one can keep using the refrain that AMSOL's Michigan bar rates are an anomaly or from a very small sampling, AMSOL is ranked #15 nationally in bar passage rates:

National Rankings: First-Time Bar Passage Percentages

15. ---- Ave Maria School of Law ---- 93%

Alumnus demands explanation from Board of Governors regarding recent actions and intentions

The following submission was sent in from a member of AMSOL Class of 2004.
With all due respect to AMSOL's excellent and courageous professors, our invaluable Dean Dobranski, and the superlative financial support of Mr. Thomas Monaghan: the alumni and students of AMSOL arguably have as (or more) legitimate an interest in AMSOL's record setting full accreditation from the ABA as any of the above-mentioned pioneers. In the view of this alumnus, the alumni and student property interest in AMSOL's accreditation demands--at a minimum--frank and sincere explanations from the board as to their recent actions and their intentions. As far as I understand it, the Board of Governors is about to steal my and my fellow alumni's law school accreditation and give it to a new institution that will have no resemblence to the institution I enrolled in as one of 75 students in the second class. I and--by far--the majority of my fellow enrollees passed up well-established institutions for the purpose of establishing THE premiere Catholic and legal institution in the nation: not its precursor. In the last year I have had no reassurances from Dean Dobranski, the Board of Governors or Mr. Monaghan that the institution that he (apparently) hopes to build in Florida is not a newly founded one, but the one I and my fellow alumni co-founded with Mr. Monaghan, Dean Dobranski, the Board of Governors and the faculty. I frankly would prefer AMSOL to remain in Michigan, but if it must move to Florida then AMSOL's co-founders--its alumni--must be assured that there will be no "new" AMSOL. There are more than a few alumni who have mortgaged their futures for AMSOL. The BOGs are acting as though the accreditation has been paid for, and is theirs to dispose of as they see fit. The alumni are left to "trust them." However, is trust allowing a group of people--most of whom we've never met--to take our institution thousands of miles from where we've left it when they have never explained why or what's in it for us?
Contributed by Extraneus on 8/12/05

Deja Vu, All Over Again?

For those doubters out there who still refuse to see the writing on the wall, you need to read the following article published last year in the New Oxford Review. It details the same scorched earth policy in dismantling AMC that Mr. Monaghan is now using to try to take down AMSOL and move it down to Florida with all of the other entities he gives money to. Below the link to the article are excerpts that illustrate the lack of independence of the AMC board (which is again becoming evident in the AMSOL board), the questionable transfers of assets from one educational entity to another, and Mr. Monaghan's wish to run the very institution that he is supposedly "donating" to.

Tom Monaghan's Impending Educational Disaster
Big Bucks Aren't Enough
By Andrew Messaros, PhD

Board members have told me plainly that "We [the Board] are just here to help Tom spend his money," and "We all need to remember that this [AMC] is Tom's enterprise." One Board member said recently, "We just do what Tom asks, and Nick [Healy, President of AMU Florida] runs all the meetings [for AMC Michigan]." Thus, every Board member must weigh the independence and objectivity of his vote against the prospect of offending or standing against the institution's principle "donor," risking offense and possible withdrawal.
Is such an arrangement ethical? It's one thing to serve Monaghan's wishes and another to serve the established charter of the College, which is a moral and legal commitment to many parties, including the State of Michigan and the College's parents and students.
Can a donor require that his money serve his every whim after he bestows it?
In a recent Naples Daily News article, Nick Healy and Fr. Fessio defended Monaghan's decision to cash in AMC for the prospect of AMU.
But The Michigan Nonprofit Management Manual states that (emphasis added):
· Asset transfers to another organization are to occur as "the last transaction prior to dissolution," not when the organization to be dissolved is still trying to meet its obligations. That is, AMC Michigan cannot be a living organ donor to AMU Florida.
· The Boards of each organization "must independently determine that the merger is in the best interests of its clients and service recipients." Further, "board members who have ties to the organization" should "be excluded from the deliberations and from voting on the merger." Given the shared Board officers between AMC and AMU, any argument suggesting that the Boards are independent of each other is absurd.

· Services offered by the institution to be dissolved (AMC Michigan) cannot be "cut off abruptly or arbitrarily"; also, "staff members are treated with dignity." The recent wave of asset transfers, one-day dismissal notices, last-minute decisions, undisclosed Board resolutions, lack of adequate student/parent access to vital campus services (i.e., financial aid officers), and the rescinding of faculty contracts all violate this principle. The dignity of the entire College community was violated when Monaghan and his Board recently appointed an AMU Florida administrator as the new Provost of the Michigan College. It is scandalous that this individual is reported to be a twice-divorced Episcopalian. And this is Monaghan's chief academic officer at an institution seeking to renew orthodox Catholic higher education! The hypocrisy is evident, as AMU is advertising for a Vice President of Academic Affairs who "must be a practicing Catholic with proven fidelity to the full teachings of the Church."

From this same article, we find out that Mr. Monaghan tried to become the top administrator of one of the institutions he was funding before (and see how he finally got his wish as Chancellor of AMU in previous post):

The resolutions of AMC's Board cannot be interpreted as actions consistent with their fiduciary responsibility to protect the interests of the Michigan institution and its stakeholders. It is reported that, at the most recent Board meeting, Monaghan even made a bid to assume the presidency of the Michigan College! According to The Wanderer (July 22), attorney John Kruse, a member of the AMC Board, was overheard in the hallway outside the conference room (by two people, one a reporter) as saying, "With all due respect, Tom, if you became president, it would be a major PR disaster." Why? Perhaps because Monaghan does not have a college degree, much less a Ph.D., and because he has no experience in educational administration.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Questions arise about AMU land partner in Florida

Kudos to Trucido for his excellent research on this submission:

Are TM, Ave Maria-Land and potentially AMSOL getting in bed with shady business and land dealers in swampville? Naples is in Collier County, which is known to be owned and operated by the Collier family and its businesses. One of those businesses is Collier Resources Company, which was named in a federal investigation of an Interior Department land deal that nearly bilked the taxpayers out of $120 million. Give credit where credit is due: the company was merely trying to enrich itself, and incompetent/spineless bureaucrats fell for the scheme. The scheme fell through because investigators caught wind of it. Here are the results:
A search of "collier resources company" in the Lexis business directory yields three results. One, "US Business Directory" says the address for Collier Resources Co. is 2600 Golden Gate Pkwy, #112, Naples, FL, 34105. Interestingly, that is the same address for Barron Collier Company (, which is the developer for Ave Maria, according to this article
It seems developer Barron Collier is a partner in Collier Resources Co, according to the "Minerals" section of Barron Collier Co.. The Barron Collier Co. website also has a link to It's unclear which company calls the shots, and who runs each or both of them.
So the pot of gold for AMSOL at the end of the rainbow in Florida supposedly is permanent funding. It's still not clear what will actually produce revenue so the law school is set for life. But if the Ave Maria-Land is being built by these Collier guys, the Board of Governors should be asking questions: What guarantees for revenue are there? And who is fleecing whom?

- Contributed by Trucido on 8/11/05

Monaghan names self "Supreme Head" of Ave Maria University; Announces he is spearheading consolidation of several academic institutions into AMU

Here's a little known fact you won't find on the AMU website. Tom Monaghan, invoking shades of Henry VIII, named himself Chancellor of Ave Maria University, despite the fact that he doesn't even have a college degree. This has privately caused severe headaches for officials in Florida who are put in a tough position with accreditation boards, as they tend to frown upon top college administrators not having advanced degrees, let alone a bachelor's.

Below is the link to the bio that Monaghan supplied to a June 2005 event in Atlanta. Note also that Mr. Monaghan highlights the fact that he is currently managing the consolidation of several educational entities into Ave Maria University.

Questions: Aside from AMC and AM of the Americas (which are seperate entities from AMU), what other academic institution is being consolidated into AMU? Usually 'several' means more than two, doesn't it? And by what right does Mr. Monaghan claim to have the power to consolidate these several institutions?

"Tom Monaghan - Although best known as the founder of Domino’s Pizza and former owner of the Detroit Tigers baseball franchise, Thomas S. Monaghan is currently devoting his attention full time to non-profit endeavors. This includes the Ave Maria Foundation, for which he serves as Chairman of the Board. Monaghan established the private foundation in 1983 to focus on a variety of Catholic charities, with now has a special focus on Catholic higher education.

In 1998, Monaghan provided the impetus for a major initiative in Catholic higher education with the founding of Ave Maria Institute in Ypsilanti, Michigan, the first step toward what would become Ave Maria College, and is currently managing the consolidation of several educational entities into Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida .

Ave Maria College was founded in May of 1998 to offer a liberal arts curriculum and prepare students for leadership in academics, professional occupations and service to the greater community. Monaghan serves as chairman of the board of trustees for the college and as Chancellor of Ave Maria University, which currently has an interim campus in Naples, FL."

AMSOL corporate documents: Do they reveal need for unanimous vote in some cases?

The following link has all of the AMSOL corporate documents on file with the State of Michigan. It is not entirely clear what sort of process or vote would be required to move the school from Michigan, as the by-laws are not public (which is common). However, Article XI of the Articles of Incorporation states that:
"any amendment altering, supplementing or otherwise affecting or modifying the purposes of the Corporation as set forth in Article II, or the dipostition of assets upon liquidation or dissolution of the Corporation as set forth in Article VII(c), shall, in either case, require the unanimous approval and consent of all of the Governors hereto; provided further, that any provision altering, amending, adopting any provision with, or repealing the provisions contained in Article VIII or Article IX shall, in either case, require the affirmative vote of at least 80 percent of the Governors"

This needs some further review, but raises some immediate questions, as it is very unusual for super-majority or unanimous votes to be required for action by any board.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Build another castle in the swamp?

"Listen, lad. I built this kingdom up from nothing. When I started here, all there was was swamp. Other kings said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built it all the same, just to show 'em. It sank into the swamp. So, I built a second one. That sank into the swamp. So I built a third one. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp. But the fourth one... stayed up! And that's what you're gonna get, lad: the strongest castle in these islands."

From Monty Python's Flying Circus
Posted by Picasa

Only the AMU Party Head can speak the AMU Party Line

The article linked below is a surprisingly thorough attempt by a liberal paper to understand what is being created in Naples. What I found to be most interesting and disturbing is the gag order prohibiting all students and faculty from openly speaking about the university, as this is reserved solely to the PR department.

From Boston Phoenix article,
City of God, Tom Monaghan's Coming Catholic Utopia

The promotional materials used to market Ave Maria University exude institutional swagger. The students and faculty are "pioneers" who will "win the hearts and minds of a new generation"; the university is "destined to be a mighty work of the Holy Spirit, a bulwark of Catholic truth against the windstorms of secularism and apostasy which seem to overwhelm our nation and our church." But this cocksureness is oddly lacking on an individual level. As he welcomed me into a study group he was leading on Ratzinger’s Spirit of the Liturgy, Fessio urged me to act as a dissenting voice: "Feel free to criticize him," Fessio said, "even though he is the pope." The students’ laughter was reassuring — a sign, perhaps, that their faith could comfortably coexist with the outside world. But later, when I asked two recent graduates to discuss their experience at Ave Maria, they turned to Fessio with stricken looks. He quickly explained that all interviews needed to be arranged through the school’s PR office.]

This policy arose again after Latin Mass one morning, when I asked a middle-aged couple what had brought them to Ave Maria. As the wife began answering, the husband quickly stopped her; what I needed to do, he explained anxiously, was talk to the university spokesman. As it turned out, this wasn’t just a local Catholic couple in search of a traditional service: the man was William Riordan, a theology professor and Ave Maria’s dean of faculty. Vetting questions directed at students is one thing. But it seems odd —and slightly ominous — for a senior faculty member to shy away from freely speaking his mind.

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You....

Thomas Monaghan Features
A Tom Monaghan Production
Of a Tom Monaghan Play
Written by Tom Monaghan
Directed by Tom Monaghan
Produced by Tom Monaghan
A Tom Monaghan Adaptation
Of a Tom Monaghan Idea
(No, Really, He Thought of This First. I'm Serious)
Tom Monaghan proudly presents

A Man for All Seasons

Fr. Joseph Woolsey
Bernard Dobranski Duke of Norfolk
Naples, ............ Anne Boleyn
Board of Bishops
Judge James St. John Fisher
Founding of Aragon
And introducing
Charlie Rice Sir Thomas More

King Henry cannot be faithful to the promises he made to his Queen, Catherine, and is consumed by lust for Anne Boleyn. More, the most respected scholar in the land, is urged by Henry's henchmen to support his divorce from Catherine, but More refuses. When all the bishops but one go along with Henry, More is put to the test to protect Catherine's honor. Surrounded and pressured by powerful, self-interested, and deceitful men, More must be loyal to his conscience, even at the cost of his own head.

Memorable Quotes:
Henry VIII: I'll have no opposition. We're moving to Naples and I'll have NO OPPOSITION!
Henry VIII: I chose the right man for AMU chancellor!
Duke of Norfolk: I don't know whether the term limits were lawful or not but dammit, Thomas look at these names! Why can't you do as I did and come with us, for fellowship!
Thomas More: I think that when Board Members forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties, they lead their law school by a short route to chaos.
Thomas More: Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... but for Naples?

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Ave Maria lawsuit dismissed

Update (10/11/05): A more in-depth story on the dismissal of the lawsuit can be found at:,2071,NPDN_14940_4148286,00.html

Ave Maria moving suit dismissed
Saturday, October 8, 2005
News Staff Reporter

A lawsuit aimed at slowing or preventing Ave Maria College's move from Ypsilanti to Florida has been dismissed by a Washtenaw County judge. Rev. Neil J. Roy, then-academic dean but now a professor at the college, sued the school and its board of trustees in September 2004, alleging that transferring money and assets from the college to Ave Maria University in Florida would imperil the college's accreditation and its students' abilities to receive government financial aid.

"We are obviously very pleased with Judge Connors' decision. From the beginning of this case, we have maintained that it was without merit and that we would prevail,'' said Paul R. Fransway, a lawyer for the college. Roy could not be reached for comment.

In an order issued Sept. 8, Judge Timothy P. Connors ruled that both the college and the university have received sufficient accreditation that students may receive both financial aid and academic degrees. Also, said Connors, the university and the college have almost identical mission statements.Transferring operations to the university would give the school a permanent home, thus furthering its mission, said Connors.Connors concluded Roy provided no evidence that the board wanted to injure the college or committed willful abuse.

Groundbreaking for Ave Maria University is scheduled for November, said spokesman Branden Blackmur. Founded and largely funded by Catholic philanthropist Tom Monaghan, the school will be built about 50 miles northeast of Naples, Fla. According to Blackmur, initial classes at the new campus will be held in fall semester 2007. This past year, Monaghan said Ave Maria College will remain open until spring 2007. Ave Maria University has 445 students; Ave Maria College, 49.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Follow-up Wanderer story on AMSOL

Thursday, October 06, 2005

AMSOL Alumni Board Letter concerning Florida feasibility study

April 5, 2006

Dear Dean Dobranski, Board of Governors of Ave Maria School of Law, and Professors Read and White:

We are pleased that Ave Maria School of Law (“AMSOL” or “Law School”) has expressed interest in obtaining the opinions of its alumni in compiling and presenting materials for preparing a feasibility report on a proposed move of the location of AMSOL to Florida.

AMSOL has achieved great success in the past five years. We can all agree that any major change to the Law School, including a move to another state, has the potential to affect that success and should be carefully considered. No doubt the feasibility study is the first step in that careful consideration. We hope that the decision on the potential move to Florida, about which the feasibility study is one part, will be approached in such a way as to compare and contrast the benefits and potential risks associated with both options currently on the table: staying in Ann Arbor and relocation to Florida. We are confident data will be collected in such a way that does not merely consider the feasibility of a move, but also whether there is an added value to moving the Law School to Florida instead of remaining in AMSOL's current location where it has thrived.

The Alumni Association, as the formal body designated by AMSOL to represent its alumni, on behalf of its members, wishes to present certain considerations that we think will be of particular interest to the alumni in the feasibility report. Additionally, we request a copy of the prior feasibility study to assist the alumni in providing meaningful feedback to your request. Finally, we address the procedures outlined in your March 24, 2006 email.

We appreciate your invitation to suggest items for Profs. Read and White to consider in updating the feasibility report. The AMSOL Alumni Association Committee on Florida Relocation trusts that you are receiving many responses to your email. To respond to your request, we believe that an adequate Feasibility Study of AMSOL’s potential move to Florida must take into account the following considerations:

1. Continuity of operations in a single location/stability of the institution: AMSOL has expended a great deal of effort and financial resources to convince students, faculty, the ABA, employers, and the legal community at-large that AMSOL, while a new institution, is not a fly-by-night endeavor. Indeed, many if not most, alumni based their decisions to attend AMSOL at least in part on these representations. The Feasibility Report Committee (“Committee”) should address to what degree the proposed move would undermine the stability of the institution by leaving its founding locale so soon after opening operations.

2. Ties to the local communities in Michigan and Florida: The presence of AMSOL in Michigan has created ties to various legal, religious, civic, cultural, and financial communities. The Committee should address the existence of such ties in Michigan and Florida, the importance of such ties to the short-term and long-term success of the Law School, and the prognosis for continuation and growth of such ties in light of the proposed move. The Committee should also take into account the proximity of major legal markets in and around Florida as compared to those in and around Michigan, as both impact recruiting and placement.

3. The timing of this move: As recent national-media coverage indicates, the Florida project is far from reaching a “mature” level, but, rather, is still very much in its infancy. The Committee should consider the benefits of delaying consideration of an AMSOL move until such time as Ave Maria Town and Ave Maria University are established and the campus is fully completed.

4. Press, publicity, and internet: Positive media and press coverage has assisted AMSOL in establishing its reputation as a first-rate Catholic law school. Positive press coverage has spanned from the inception of the Law School to the recent successes of alumni on bar exams. The Committee should address to what degree negative or positive press and publicity could be expected in relation to the proposed move and the impact of such press and publicity on the short-term and long-term success of AMSOL.

5 Word-of-mouth publicity: Many people are aware of AMSOL through religious communities, undergraduate universities, and church groups. The Committee should address to what degree positive or negative word of mouth could be expected in relation to the proposed move and the impact of such word of mouth – including from benefactors, current students, and alumni – on the short-term and long-term success of AMSOL.

6. Impact on existing students and faculty: The prior move of Ave Maria College from Ypsilanti, Michigan to Naples, Florida undoubtedly had an impact on existing faculty and students. This impact, in turn, contributed to a fair amount of press and word of mouth (whether accurate or not) regarding the move. See infra ## 4-5. The Committee should address the impact of the proposed move on existing students and faculty with specific reference to attrition. Members of this subcommittee of the Alumni Association have already received emails from current students seeking advice as to whether they should transfer schools because they are concerned that a possible move could leave them “unemployable.” Further, special consideration should be given to impact on relations with founding faculty and other individuals of influence who were instrumental to starting the school.

7. Recruitment of faculty and students: Already members of the Alumni Association are receiving inquiries from potential students about how the move will impact them, and whether they will be able to graduate from the Michigan campus. AMSOL has advertised itself as a tier-one quality law school. As retention and recruitment of the best faculty and students are hallmarks of tier-one quality law schools, the Committee should address the impact of the proposed move on the current and future recruitment of the most qualified faculty and students.

8. ABA accreditation issues: The ABA’s grant of full accreditation to AMSOL in the shortest amount of time possible is a tribute to AMSOL’s success thus far. The Committee should address to what degree the proposed move would place accreditation at risk. As a related point, the Committee should also address the ABA’s likely response and opinion regarding the proposed move and feelings regarding Ave Maria Town, irrespective of accreditation issues.

9. Potential litigation surrounding Ave Maria Town: The Committee should assess the likelihood of litigation against Ave Maria Town, as well as the potential cost to AMSOL’s reputation and financial stability (including impact to recruiting and donations) of associating with a community likely to be involved in First Amendment and other litigation. Again, the Study should evaluate the merits of delaying discussion on a potential move to see if litigation issues actually arise and how they are resolved.

10. Governance questions: Certain individuals have voiced a concern that the proposed move to Florida evinces the operation of AMSOL as a commercial sole proprietorship, rather than an educational institution operated by a Board of Governors. The Committee should address to what degree the proposed move would formally or informally alter and/or undermine the intended structure of governance for AMSOL. There is also concern that the two institutions have several common Board members. The Committee should assess the impact of this fact on decisions relating to the move, particularly whether the move is strictly considered to be in the best interests of AMSOL, as a separate entity, and not merely the best interests of Ave Maria University, Ave Maria Town, or some combined entity that may be in mind for the future.

11. Financial issues: It is no secret that AMSOL’s largest donor is also a board member. The Committee should address to what degree a refusal of the proposed move would impact the continued receipt of funding from AMSOL’s primary donor, including, but not limited to whether an alternate financial plan could be devised to keep the Law School viable. A related issue for the Committee is to what degree the proposed move would impact alumni and other donors’ continued financial support of AMSOL. The Committee should also ascertain the potential financial interests and gains of any/all Board of Governors in the move to Florida, in the interest of full disclosure.

12. Alumni employment: Most alumni have encountered employers’ hesitation regarding a new and unknown law school. The Committee should address to what degree the proposed move would impact the employment options for current and future alumni. Again, proximity to major out-of-state legal markets as well as potential competition with an increased number of law schools should be considered as well.

13. Reputation in the legal community: AMSOL has advertised itself as a school comparable with other first-tier law schools. Unfortunately, the recent U.S. News and World Report rankings--national rankings of widespread acceptance--have ranked AMSOL as a fourth-tier law school. Law school reputation is a factor in such rankings and the Committee should address to what degree the proposed move would enhance or detract from the Law School’s reputation in the legal community – public, private, and academic. The Committee should also evaluate the prospect that a move to Florida will delay AMSOL’s ability to obtain higher rankings in the near-term (e.g., reduction of AMSOL by the ABA to provisional accreditation status precludes ranking at all by U.S. News and World Report).

14. Affiliation with an undergraduate institution: AMSOL has always been independent and unaffiliated with an undergraduate institution. Presumably, AMSOL’s proposed move to Florida would entail an eventual union, whether formal or informal, with the undergraduate institution with a similar name in Florida, Ave Maria University. The Committee should address to what degree AMSOL’s union with Ave Maria University would aid or hinder the short-term and long-term success of the Law School.

15. Impact of AMSOL’s potential move on the local Florida community and local safety issues: Ave Maria University’s campus in Immokalee is now under construction. The Committee should consider whether AMSOL will be part of an enterprise at Ave Maria Town that impacts the community surrounding the proposed campus. Included in this inquiry should be an analysis of: potential impact on housing prices in Immokalee and the surrounding area; employment opportunities for any current residents of Immokalee at Ave Maria Town; possible displacement of any significant members of the current community (by direct construction or infrastructure improvements in the area); and, if applicable, proposed methods of integration of Ave Maria Town with the local community. Further, the Committee should investigate any plans for security, police, and fire departments to ensure adequate safety of Ave Maria Town residents.

16. The option of dual campuses: If AMSOL were to move to Florida, there is a separate issue as to whether AMSOL’s Michigan campus would be closed and, if so, when this would take place. The Committee should explore the feasibility of the continued operation of the Michigan campus both as a short-term and long-term complement to proposed operations in Florida.

The aforementioned are the initial considerations that the Alumni Association wishes to present to Professors Read and White for inclusion in the Feasibility Study. In order to most effectively participate in this process, we request the release of the Law School’s 2003 Feasibility Study by April 12, 2006. We think that the release of this study would assist alumni in formulating issues that we would like included in Profs. Read and White’s report. The long-term success of AMSOL is foremost in all of our minds and, after discussing how we can best assist our alma mater, we think that the release of the original Feasibility Study would be invaluable to us in that endeavor.

Regarding procedure, your March 24, 2006 email stated that once suggestions for information to be included in the feasibility study were submitted, “and information has been gathered and the pros and cons of a possible relocation have been developed, the consultants will then be able to seek better informed input from the various constituencies.” While we appreciate that the opinions of the alumni (and other constituencies) will be sought by Profs. Read and White, we respectfully request that such opinions be sought before the “pros and cons of a possible relocation have been developed.” Perhaps this is simply a misunderstanding of your email, but we expect that alumni will be allowed to express their desires, concerns, and questions with Profs. Read and White well in advance of their formulation of the pros and cons of a possible relocation. We will be establishing forums and other methods for this purpose shortly.

It is our position that a strong opinion, whether positive or negative, of the alumni, faculty, staff, and current students would be considered in the pros and cons of a possible relocation. Indeed, such opinion and support or opposition to the move are quite possibly the most important factors in this decision. Thus, we hope that the alumni and the other constituencies will be involved early in the process to allow Profs. Read and White the opportunity to include such groups’ views into their report as an integral part of developing the pros and cons of the proposed move.

Additionally, if it has been established, we would appreciate receiving a copy of the proposed timeline of events that will be involved in this undertaking.

Thank you, again, for inviting the alumni to participate in this decision of paramount importance to our Law School. Please do not hesitate to contact any member of our subcommittee with any additional questions.

While we await your reply, the Alumni Association is submitting its own, informal, survey to all AMSOL alumni in order to ascertain the big-picture feelings of alumni on this matter. We will certainly pass along our findings to you, the Board of Governors, and Profs. Read and White upon compilation of alumni responses to this survey. Also, for the longer-term, the Alumni Association will be preparing a report detailing specific alumni concerns and feelings on the merits of the potential move that we hope will be included in the feasibility study. Certainly, such a report will be an invaluable aid to you as you make decisions relating to this critical subject.

We join you in prayer to Our Lady for wisdom regarding this decision and for the continued success of our alma mater.


AMSOL Alumni Association Committee on Florida Relocation
Justin Berger, ‘03 –
Thomas Flickinger ‘03 –
Peter Mansfield ’03 –
Angela Pfister ’04 –
Mark Rohlena ’03 –

cc: All Alumni