Friday, November 18, 2005

Prayer Requests for AMSL alumni families

The following letter was sent to the AMSL community yesterday:

Dear Friends:

As Thanksgiving approaches, most of us take a moment to reflect upon our abundance of blessings. We thank God for our faith, family, friends, health, and frequently the well being of loved ones. This year, we write to ask your prayers for the health and well being of two beloved members of the Ave Maria School of Law extended family.

As many of you know, Megan Boever, the wife of Matt Boever (AMSL Class of 2003) continues to battle breast cancer. Earlier this week she finished a second round of radiation to her brain and pelvis. While the fight is difficult at times, Megan, Matt and their four children are looking forward to Thanksgiving and the Christmas Season, and are ever grateful and most appreciative of your continued prayers.

Additionally, we wish to ask you to consider joining us in presenting a “Spiritual Bouquet” to the Lapas family, as nine year old Emilija begins treatment for a malignant brain tumor. Emilija is the daughter of Vilius (AMSL Class of 2003) and Paulette Lapas of Fort Wayne, Indiana. On Friday, November 18, 2005, Emilija will have surgery to have her thyroid removed in Chicago. Approximately one week later, she will begin a treatment of radiation and chemotherapy.

The Lapas family has just returned from a pilgrimage to Italy where they called upon St. Philomena to intercede and join their prayer for Emilija’s health and recovery. While in Rome, Emilija had the opportunity to shake hands with the Holy Father, while younger brother John Paul was kissed by the Pope.

At this time, we are asking all members of the Ave Maria community to consider joining us in committing to a specific regimen of prayer as part of a Spiritual Bouquet for Emilija and her family. Whether you can offer a daily “Hail Mary,” a rosary, offer a Novena, or attend Mass (perhaps several of these) we would like to send this Bouquet to the family next week leading up to Thanksgiving.

So please consider your prayer, and e-mail it to one of the individuals below, and we will see that the Lapas family receives a comprehensive listing of all of our prayers just before Thanksgiving.

Thank you again for your continued prayers for the Boever and Lapas families, and please feel free to forward this e-mail. We look forward to your responses by noon on Tuesday, November 22, 2005.


Mark Rohlena (AMSL Class of 2003)
Matt Boever (AMSL Class of 2003)
Chris McGowan (AMSL Class of 2003)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Ave Maria Law School wins Michigan Moot Court Competition for Third Straight Year!

The following memo came from the Dean's office yesterday. Congratulations to all involved!

It is my pleasure to announce that for the third straight year, Ave Maria School of Law has won the Annual State of Michigan Moot Court Competition. Ave Maria was also the host for this year's competition. Please congratulate the following students for their exceptional work as representatives of Ave Maria School of Law.

Competition Champions
Allison Clements
Judith Gallagher
Kevin O'Neill

Best Oralist
Meghan Greerty

Best Oralist - First Runner Up
Judith Gallagher

Best Brief - First Runners Up
Allison Clements
Judith Gallagher
Kevin O'Neill

A special thanks to the faculty coaches for their assistance in preparing this year's competitors:
Associate Professor Eugene Milhizer and Assistant Professor Vanessa Pierce

Commendation to the following Moot Court Board Members for their tireless commitment to the success of this effort:
President, Heather Dent
Team Manager, Justin Phelps
to the entire Moot Court Board, and Clinic Office Manager, Brigid Ann Kowalczyk for their help administering the competition.

Ave Maria School of Law is especially thankful to our competition sponsor
Butzel Long Attorneys and Counselors
under the leadership of
Mr. Carey DeWitt
Mr. Ian Northon, Class of 2004

We also thank and congratulate
Professor Howard Bromberg
as the Director of the Fifth Annual State of Michigan Moot Court Competition
held at Ave Maria School of Law

Monday, November 14, 2005

Upcoming Law Review article that discusses Ave Maria Town issues

I have to put out a disclaimer for the following post: I don't quite see how the Law Review author connects the following issues, but he does, and since Ave Maria Town is involved, I thought it was relevant to this blog.

The original post can be found here.

Here is the law professor's article, with the relevant excerpts to Ave Maria below:

The residential golf course is not the only possible manifestation of the exclusionary amenities strategy. On the contrary, real estate developers seeking to create a "Catholic Gated Community" have noticed how placing a new Catholic school – Ave Maria University – at the center of their planned residential community can help promote the overwhelmingly Catholic character of their new development.88 Virginia real estate developers interested in minimizing the number of families with school-aged children in their condominium building invested heavily in an attractive bar and billiards room, but consciously avoided putting a playroom anywhere in the structure.89 And, by the same token, many communities forego investing in public transportation hubs or basketball courts that their residents would very much like to use, because of a fear that such inclusionary amenities might attract the wrong kinds of people to the community.90

It is an expensive proposition, of course, to construct a golf course or religious university at the center of a residential development. So why would someone seeking to achieve residential homogeneity go to all that trouble? Precisely because an exclusionary amenities strategy may prove more effective than exclusionary vibes alone. After all, an exclusionary amenity may be as successful in establishing a focal point as an exclusionary vibe, allowing people with similar preferences or attributes to find each other and live as neighbors. And the exclusionary amenity will provide added punch: a tax that falls most heavily on people who lack those similar preferences or attributes. So, let us assume that the Ave Maria Township residents subsidize the adjacent university by picking up the costs of its police protection, utilities, and land acquisition costs. As a result, homeowners in Ave Maria Township will face higher monthly assessments than homeowners in a neighboring homeowners association that is not affiliated with an institution of higher learning. A devout, traditionalist Catholic homeowner might be happy to pay this extra assessment, perhaps because he plans to make use of the theological books in the university’s library and values proximity to it, or because he wants to live near the sorts of neighbors who would value proximity to such a library. But a non-Catholic Ave Maria homeowner who did not particularly want to live in an overwhelmingly Catholic neighborhood would get nothing of value in exchange for his higher monthly assessment: He would not use the library himself, and would not particularly care about whether his neighbors used the library or not. If there are otherwise similar neighborhoods surrounding Ave Maria, we should expect to see Ave Maria Township take on an overwhelmingly Catholic character and other neighborhoods take on a relatively non-Catholic character. The result will be religious residential segregation, achieved with no overt discrimination and an advertising campaign that need not include blatant exclusionary vibes. The differential tax on non-Catholic homeowners in Ave Maria will serve the same focal points purpose as the exclusionary vibe, and will further exclude third parties who might have been impervious to, or oblivious of, exclusionary vibes. Furthermore, unlike a one-time advertising campaign, the presence of the university will directly affect the purchasing decisions of several generations of owners.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Today's Wall Street Journal article on AMSL

Bringing a Law School Down
Should Ave Maria be part of a "Catholic Jonestown"?

BY NAOMI SCHAEFER RILEY Friday, November 11, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST

Last Saturday, members of the alumni association of the Ave Maria School of Law met in Ann Arbor, Mich. They had learned, in the weeks before, that one of the school's most beloved professors was being kicked off the board of trustees and that the school might relocate to rural Florida. They weren't happy about it. In fact, they were angry.

And little wonder. Why, after all, quibble with success? In September, only five years after the school's founding, the American Bar Association granted full accreditation to Ave Maria, whose mission is to offer "an outstanding legal education in fidelity to the Catholic Faith." Last year a higher percentage of the school's graduates passed the bar exam than the University of Michigan's. But there is more at stake than one school's record. The controversy playing out at Ave Maria echoes a larger debate within Catholic conservatism--over how much to engage with the secular world.

The story began on Sept. 28, when the school's board of trustees voted 12-2 to establish term limits on its members. Among the members affected by the decision, only one had expressed an interest in staying on the board--Prof. Charles Rice, a respected figure on campus. Many alumni, students and faculty members believe that Prof. Rice is being pushed out because of his views. He had voiced strong opposition to an apparent effort by the chairman of the board, Tom Monaghan, to move Ave Maria to Florida.

Mr. Monaghan, the founder of Domino's Pizza and the school's principal benefactor, has announced plans to build a large Catholic university outside Naples, Fla., along with a residential community. (The ground-breaking ceremony for Ave Maria Town, as it will be called, was delayed indefinitely by the recent hurricane.) Will the law school move to Naples too, from Ann Arbor? The school's dean, Bernard Dobranski, acknowledges that the board is "open to consideration of the idea." He denies, though, that Mr. Rice is being persecuted for his views.

Mr. Monaghan certainly has every legal right to move the law school he pays for. But that doesn't mean it's a good idea. "We understood \[that\] the mission of the law school," says Terence McKeegan, a member of the school's alumni association, was "to create attorneys who were well versed in Catholic social teaching and the law, who would engage the world and not retreat from it." Ave Maria Town seems at odds with such a mission. "It sounds like this town and the university in Florida is going to be a self-contained little Catholic enclave."

A May 2004 speech by Mr. Monaghan, given at a conference on business ethics, would seem to confirm this speculation. "We'll own all commercial real estate," Mr. Monaghan declared, describing his vision. "That means we will be able to control what goes on there. You won't be able to buy a Playboy or Hustler magazine in Ave Maria Town. We're going to control the cable television that comes in the area. There is not going to be any pornographic television in Ave Maria Town. If you go to the drug store and you want to buy the pill or the condoms or contraception, you won't be able to get that in Ave Maria Town."

Oddly, Paul Marinelli, Mr. Monaghan's development partner for the town's 11,000 residential units, is unaware of these plans. All he will say, in an interview, is that his company, Barron Collier, is planning a "town based on traditional family values." He doesn't believe that "adult bookstores or pornography" are "aligned with traditional family values," but he has no plans to restrict them.

There is reason to suspect, though, that Mr. Monaghan will get his way and create what one Ave Maria faculty member, hyperbolically, referred to as a "Catholic Jonestown." Mr. Monaghan is not a timid man. He has owned, at various times, a large corporation, a major-league baseball team and an island resort. "There are not many out there who are really authentic Catholics," he said in the same speech. Creating them "is what I plan to do in the rest of my life."

Where does that leave the faculty, students and alumni of the law school? Most consider themselves authentic Catholics, despite their desire to live in secular communities. David Krause, for instance, was in the law school's first graduating class in 2003, having left his job as a mechanical engineer in Louisiana and moved with his wife and three children to Michigan to attend Ave Maria. He laments that the school's graduates, at the moment, "don't have the financial means to affect the school." But he does want the alumni to take a strong stand and even consider officially dissociating themselves from Ave Maria Law School to protest the insularity of the Florida move. "I'm not willing to see something that we have invested in and taken risks for implode because of one man's desires."

It looks, then, as though Mr. Monaghan has a fight on his hands. But he should not be surprised. If you create smart, ethical lawyers, you may find that they practice due diligence.

Ms. Riley is the deputy Taste-page editor and the author of "God on the Quad."

Full article on the WSJ website can be found here.

The WSJ article is generating considerable feedback on many different blogs:

The Volokh Conspiracy:

Ann Althouse:


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Alumni Resolution to Board of Governors

UPDATE: The following email and alumni resolution was sent to Dean Dobranski yesterday (Wednesday).

Dear Dean Dobranski,

Attached is a resolution addressed to the Ave Maria School of Law Board of Governors signed by many of the AMSL alumni. Briefly, I would like to present a little background concerning this resolution.

1. This was a grassroots alumni effort.
2. This was sent out to a few alumni late last week, and all alumni early Tuesday morning
3. It was sent mainly only to alumni email accounts, which many alumni do not check on a regular basis
4. Alumni were only given less than 36 hours to respond
5. Of the responses received, there was a ratio of 7-1 in favor vs. against. (49 for and 7 against overall)
6. The number represents about 27% of the approximately 185 alumni of the law school
7. The signatories will be supplemented at the alumni meeting on Saturday with additional names.

On behalf of the signatories, I look forward to your response and for a productive discussion at the alumni meeting this Saturday.

Respectfully Submitted,
Terrence McKeegan
Class of 2003

Dean Bernard Dobranski and the Board of Governors of Ave Maria School of Law
From: Undersigned Alumni of Ave Maria School of Law
Subject: Recent and Upcoming Decisions by the Board of Governors; Annual Alumni Meeting
Date: 11/1/2005

In the light of the recent memos from respected members of the Ave Maria School of Law administration and respected members of the law school's Board of Governors, many of alumni have been compelled to proactively address what we perceive as divisive issues within our law school community.

There have been two very different views concerning recent votes by our Board of Governors, as well as concerns regarding potential votes anticipated in the near future. In the spirit of Catholic charity, and recognizing our roles as lawyers, we wish to approach these issues in a civil, open, and thorough manner. To that end, we offer the following resolution, with specific requests of the Board of Governors to ensure a judicious process and full disclosure of the relevant information so that each individual person can determine what is in the best interest of the long-term viability of our beloved Alma Mater based upon the facts, and not upon conjecture and hearsay.


1. All of the undersigned have concerns about the direction of the law school and the prospect of moving the school from Michigan to Florida. As alumni, we are directly impacted by a move of the law school as it could seriously compromise the value of our law school degrees and our ability to obtain future employment. We recognize that these same concerns apply to current students.

2. We ask for all relevant documents and information concerning the recent Board votes in relation to term limits, as well as all any future vote on moving the law school to Florida. To meet this standard of full disclosure, we ask that the Board, through the Dean, provide the following information at or before the November 5th Alumni meeting:
  • The Minutes and the Agendas of all Board, Committee, and/or Sub-Committee meetings for 2005.
  • The Minutes and the Agenda of any Board, Committee, and/or Sub-Committee meeting where a move to Florida was discussed, including the September 2003 meeting of the Board.
  • The most recent ABA Feasibility Study for Florida. Included with this request we wish to see the most recent internal reports from the administration and faculty regarding such a proposed move.
  • The most recent five-year financial plan for the law school created by the Financial Affairs and Endowment Committees of the Board. Further, if the information is not found in the five year financial plan, a detailed statement of the law school's finances, including how much money our primary benefactor has pledged to the school, what percentage of the school's operating expenses are presently covered by his contributions, and what conditions and or restrictions may apply to this financial support.
  • We also request detailed and specific reasons why the law school is considering a move from Michigan. Specifically, what are the details of the proposal for moving the school from Michigan, with respect to the proposed site and whether the law school would be incorporated into Ave Maria University? We presently assume that financial considerations are the primary motive for relocation. If there are other valid reasons, we respectfully ask that they be shared with all alumni.
  • If the law school has obtained an opinion from the ABA regarding a move from Michigan to Florida, does the ABA consider this a "major change" under ABA Standard 105, or a transfer of assets under Standard 101?
  • As an alternative to moving the school from Michigan, has the Board of Governors considered opening a satellite campus in Florida, independent of, but in cooperation with Ave Maria University, while keeping the Michigan campus fully operational? If so, have they rejected such a possibility?
  • We respectfully call for a delay of the implementation of term limits to any current Board members until a final vote on the potential relocation of the law school is recorded. We call for the recusal of members of the Board who serve on both the Ave Maria School of Law and Ave Maria University Board of Governors, as membership on both Boards, when a question of vital importance to both institutions is under consideration, constitutes a de facto, and quite possibly, a de jure conflict of interest. In the event that an AMSL Board seat becomes open, we recommend that the replacement be as close a professional match as possible to the person leaving the board.

3. We call on the Board to add two ex-officio seats with all voting privileges and responsibilities to be filled by a founding law school faculty member and by a graduate of the Ave Maria School of Law. We further suggest an ex-officio, non-voting student representative be added to the Board.

4. We call on the Dean, the administration and the Board of Governors to promote a full, frank and open process in any decision concerning a potential relocation of our Alma Mater. This includes the right and responsibility of free and open student, faculty, and alumni comment, without fear of disciplinary measures, both collectively and individually, on issues of import to the law school.