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:



At 4:52 PM, Blogger mizznicole said...

All right, guys. I'm still trying to understand why you are rending your garments over the move to Florida. Is it, as this editorial claims, because you object mainly to Ave Maria Town and the type of culture they are attempting to form? Don't you think calling Ave Maria Town "Catholic Jonestown" is a bit overblown, if not offensive?


At 5:07 PM, Blogger AveMariaApplicant said...

Oh my gosh! What am I going to do? I plan on applying to Ave Maria in mid-December. This is the PERFECT law school. How can I apply now knowing that they may close the school and reopen another one in Florida? What would happen if I started next Fall and then they moved after I begin? The faculty is the reason Ave Maria is as great as it is and it sounds like they don't support the move. Plus, they could lose accreditation. Also, even if they don't move before I finish, what would happen if they moved AFTERWARD? People would ask me where I went to law school and I'd have to say the school doesn't exist anymore. What do you think this means to the current alumni? The value of their degree is going way down. On the one hand, many probably did not pay much for it because the scholarships were very generous in the beginning. But on the other hand, the school was more "selected" than "selective" (i.e. its students were incredibly qualified in terms of LSATs and GPAs). They could have gone almost anywhere. And now they might be screwed over. I'm so torn and conflicted because I REALLY want to go to Ave Maria, have Justice Bork as a professor, have Thomas & Scalia come to visit and address small audiences, etc. but on the other hand, now I'm really scared to go there. There must be a lot of others in the same boat. I thought this was a great institution, but it appears it is going to marginalize itself.

At 11:23 PM, Blogger all4Him said...


You do what the rest of us have done... You pray about it, and if you feel it is where God wants you... you go, no matter what the cost. Ann Arbor, Florida, or the North Pole. This is what makes the school, the faculty and the alums strong.

The free press would love to see Ave Maria School of Law cannibalize itself. The most likely solution is for a new branch of AMSOL to be developed in the Florida "Catholic Jonestown" (have you ever heard anything so insulting? Comparing the Blood of Christ to poison?)

At 7:38 AM, Blogger mSCIENCE said...

It is incredible that coercion of the highest degree is being used to exert potentially destructive instability on an accomplished fruitful orthodox Catholic institution, and bystanders can only point and say "How uncharitable the phrase 'Catholic Jonestown'."

The AMSL alumni are not the source of the instability, and nobody should let them be painted as the problem for calling Monaghan to task for his insistence that everything be risked, and more sacrifices be made, to serve his whim.

Wake up, folks.

At 7:53 AM, Blogger res_ipsa_loquitur said...

This article isn't an issue of the free press wanting Ave to fail. It's published in the Wall Street Journal, for Pete's sake. This is one of the most conservative daily papers out there.

Read: if the WSJ is picking on Ave, things must be grim.

At 9:08 AM, Blogger res_ipsa_loquitur said...

By the way, who's comparing the blood of Christ to poison? I read the phrase "Catholic Jonestown" as "a cult-like religious community sealing itself off from the outside world." I see no references to Jesus-brand Kool-Aid in there.

At 1:22 PM, Blogger mrbooks said...

You can see for yourself in the WSJ article the coercion Mscience is talking about. Does anyone really want to live in an atmosphere where they're ordered to keep their mouth's shut - even Dr. Riordan, a man of true humility, integrity, and holiness?

Again I remind those unfamiiar with AMC's history of the injustices which have gone on/go on there.

Mscience already mentioned the student buyout. What he didn't mention is that all -students, faculty, & staff- that AMC would operate at full capacity until the end of the final semester, 2007. New enrollees after fall 2003 would be informed that they could not graduate from AMC. None-the-less, we had hundreds of applicants. Admin. response: changed thir minds, no more new applicants except juniors & seniors. Now they complain of the high cost of operation due to the high faculty to student ratio required in order to offer the necessary classes. Solution: offer the buyout.

Some faculty members uprooted large families and took salary cuts as high as $30k in order to join in the building of AMC. All were given a time period in which to move to AMU, if they so intended. They could choose the exact time of the move according to their needs within that period. This yet one of many promises made and broken. Some faculty were told AMU couldn't wait, come now or no job.

One official, who had at the time no authority to do so, put AMC accreditation with the AALA on hold, while the person responsible for (making 6 figures, I've heard), apparently looked the other way. It was only be chance that this was discovered only days, maybe hours, before the AALA was going to close the process for lack of response. Thankfully, accreditation was eventually acquired.

This same individual (6 figures) said we were like a family who's father had to move for a new job or business opportunity. He says get in the car, we go.

Granted, parents cannot govern their choices solely on the wants, perhaps even needs, of their children. They have the reponsibility of making weighty decisions based on what will be best for all.

In this case, and the case of AMC, besides the obvious fact that TM is not not our father, many others have made sacrifices proportionately far greater than his. To coerce them, and I have heard tales of extreme coercion, into sacrificing even more because he changed HIS mind. It seems clear that those who came to him with the vision, and those who joined them in sacrifice for that vision, do not suppport his new direction for AMSL, just as not all those who did so for AMC agreed.

Do any of us wish AMU ill? Of course not, my experience is that all of us here who have had work to do for AMU have put forth our very best efforts. Indeed, most of us have friends there.

Our quarrel is not with AMU. It is, however, with those who seemed determined to scuttle -by any means- any attempts we make, whether AMC or AMSL, to perpetuate our mission here as we we see it.

At 2:42 PM, Blogger mrbooks said...

Sorry, apparently I am suffering from flashbacks. The article I mentioned in the previous posting is not from WSJ, but from an earlier article found at this address: top/features/documents/04761831.asp

Here are the paragraphs I refer to.

"Keeping the faith
When the first homes in Ave Maria go on the market early in 2007, the students and faculty of Ave Maria University will be among the most likely buyers. So it’s possible, by taking stock of the way current members of the Ave Maria University community talk and think, to gauge what the town’s atmosphere might be like once it becomes a reality.
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."

At 3:43 PM, Blogger Mariano said...

Dear Mr. Books and mscience,
I think that if you truely want to persuade people to the nature of the injustices at AMC, you have to provide more then anonymous allegations, which do not have names or records attached to them. For example, you claim that many faculty gave up much to come to AMC, including taking salary cuts up to 30k. I would like to know details here. I, and many others, want to believe you, but its hard to make rational judgements based on unattributed and undocumented statements. I find it hard to believe that most AMC faculty gave up much to come to Ave...for most AMC faculty, this is their first full time positions, I know several faculty members got raises, and some faculty members were rescued from non-tenure postions at other Universities. Here is the conundrum: I have now claimed one thing and you another. So who is right? The burden of proof lies with you. If you so desire I can back up each of my claims regarding AMC faculty, however I will refrain from doing so, to avoid potentially embarassing those involved.
If you are AMC faculty or staff member, why don't you freely speak your mind...after all the school is closing down and you will no longer be subject to AMC for your wages.

At 7:33 PM, Blogger mSCIENCE said...


I am Andrew Messaros, PhD. I documented parts of my story last year in New Oxford Review. See below. All of the faculty comprising the AMC sciences left great positions, with graduate students, at secular universities. I'd like to think that we were each salt and light, in addition to scientists, in those positions. Leaving for Ave was, for all practical purposes, a death sentence on the prospect of returning to secular job. Who would ever hire someone who left a solid position behind for an unaccredited no-name Catholic school?

With their research derailed, two accomplished scientists recently left AMU after being there only one year; one individual came from a Nobel-prize-winning lab. The hidden damage of Monaghan's dysfunctional management and broken promises is this - that outstanding Catholic students and faculty who are salt and light in secular schools are having their careers derailed.

You say "why don't you freely speak your mind... after all the school is closing down and you will no longer be subject to AMC for your wages."

In October 2004, Mr. Monaghan sent a memo to all faculty stating that an addendum was added to everyone's contract - to voice public disagreement of a Board resolution is to risk termination. Speak today, fired next week, no home this winter. For staff, who might be given 1-3 days notice, any type of severance pay is tied to their signing a non-disparagement gag clause. Feed my kids, or complain about my treatment. What would you pick?

Many tragic stories could be told, so why the silence? (a) People rightfully fear retribution. (b) Who can win against a billionaire? (c) People would rather not put their family through more stress. (d) Non-disparagement gags.

Monaghan and his administration have repeatedly taken advantage of the virtue and willingness of very dedicated Catholics to tolerate dysfunction for the cause of education. It is not for you, or the public, to decide whether the faculty bled sufficiently for the $40,000/yr that some of our PhDs made. Rather, the injustice to be evaluated is whether one person should be able to demand, through financial coercion, that duty to his desires always be served above all other duties to all other founders, governors, faculty, alumni, students, and even the mission of a Catholic academic community collectively built by the love and sacrifices of these very same people.


NOR, November, 2004

My wife teared up when I told her, only days after unpacking our moving van to start work in Michigan, that I was asked rather unapologetically by AMC's administration to leave for Florida within the year. Just eight weeks earlier, before signing my contract, I was told repeatedly by the administration and my department chairman that I'd be in Michigan for three years - "on the last train to Naples, Florida."

Susan and I had already given up so much in a short time to get to AMC Michigan. I abandoned my grant-writing and publication progress in a tenure-stream faculty position at a large medical school, leaving a group of colleagues whom I treasured, and an $80,000 research laboratory under my direction. I accepted a $16,000 pay cut along with a large reduction in benefits. We sold our house and four beautiful acres, had our first child, bought and repaired a small house before the move, moved to another state, all in the seven weeks between when my AMC contract was offered and our moving date. During that time, our son had a string of health problems and I had emergency abdominal surgery.

I was fully committed to moving to Florida in three years, but not within a year - and I told that to the administration prior to signing my contract. Ten days after submitting my decision not to put my family through a second move within one year, an advertisement appeared on the Internet for my position in Florida. So much for Healy's commitment to my family and me. The teaching position I was offered in Florida was unilaterally yanked. Soon I learned that I had no position in Florida at all.

At 8:28 PM, Blogger AgensIntellectus said...

So what if you lost your job and had major upheavals in your professional and personal life, and big deal if you gave up a lot of money to move and be part of a devout Catholic educational effort. The bottom line is did Tom make any binding legal promises to you. If he didn't, what are you yammering about. Everybody makes promises they can't keep.

You've got a lot of nerve to even think about criticising (T)hat (S)aintly (M)an after all he has done and the $ he has spent on his abandoned projects. He's a billionaire for Goodness sake. Remember: Veritatem in Caritate.

At 8:52 PM, Blogger res_ipsa_loquitur said...

Agens, I honestly can't tell if that's sarcasm or not. If it is, please say so.

If it's not, I have a few points. One, we are largely bound to our promises. To go back on one's word is a horrific violation of the natural law and man's relationship with those around him. Trust and love cannot develop in a relationship where one is free to go back on his word. I refer you to section 2410 of the Catechism: "Promises must be kept and contracts strictly observed to the extent that the commitments made in them are morally just."

Second, elementary contract law says that you can't modify a contract without additional consideration between the parties. I agree to do x, you agree to give me y. If you want to change that agreement, you need to offer me something in exchange for modification. I don't really know what the legal justification for an addendum is. My gut reaction is that it was simply stuck on the faculty of AMU, and Mr. Messaros and the rest of the faculty aren't in an economic position to combat the Monaghan juggernaut. At the first sign of a suit, they could have easily been censured, silenced, or had their offices relocated to an asbestos-laden building.

Third, this treatment is essentially mistreating the human dignity of the faculty. You heard me. Human dignity isn't reserved for aborted fetuses or euthanized elderly. The concept of human dignity refers to the concept of treating human beings as God's creatures, not as a means to an end. Most sins can be traced to some form of human dignity violation. If I insult you, I violate your dignity by turning you into an object for my amusement. If I ogle you, I violate your dignity by turning you into an object of sexual satisfaction. If I hire you away from your prestigious job on the pretense that you'll work at my Catholic school in Michigan for 3 years, and then go back on my word and tell you to move your butt to Florida and not complain about it, I'm violating your dignity by treating you as a commodity for my dream school.

At 10:32 AM, Blogger AgensIntellectus said...

Res Ipsa,

Yes I am being sarcastic. But the argument I articulated seems to actually be what many of our brothers and sisters see as the issue. I thinks its blatantly unjust and unreasonable. But you did a nice job of laying it out. Thanks.

At 1:04 PM, Blogger res_ipsa_loquitur said...


No offens intended--you did such a nice job parodying some of the arguments out there that I really couldn't tell the difference!

At 10:56 PM, Blogger mrbooks said...

Agens is right, Res - I discussed earlier, I got that kind of response, but meant seriously.

Sorry to be so slow, Mariano, I've been gone for a couple of days. Suffice it to say, mscience explaind my perfectly why I can't divulge my true identity. I don't know everyone's story, but I know enough, and of some at St. Mary's Orchard Lake who fared no better.

In fairness to TM, a number of people lay the blame directly with Nick Healy, and think something may have been worked out with TM were it not for his interference. I'm not sure what I think of that, although there appears to be some evidence to support it.

Thank you, Andrew, for your comments, and for all of your other articles. I am very grateful for your courage in steadfastly supporting us. I know it is still a professionally risky thing for you do do.

It was never my intention to throw around accusations, wild or otherwise. I only brought up the things I did since some had already been alluded to, and primarily even then, to show that the concerns of some at AMSOL are not the cries of Chicken Little.

There are very real reasons for you to be watchful. I wish it were not so. I say again, Eustace and Jill Pole chose to ignore Puddleglum. They just couldn't believe things could be as bad as he said.

They were wrong.

At 11:36 AM, Blogger thematrix said...

Obviously andrew's situation is a worst case scenario. As noted above, he seems to have displayed an unwillingness to move at the precise moment that a final commitment was needed, and his position was quickly filled in FL.

Tragic as the situation is for him and others at AMC, the situation at AMSL is different. Like a younger brother, we can learn from the actions of our older brother(AMC). We understand that if the decision to move is made by the BoG, we either move or find other work/school.

Hopefully a compromise can be reached and a satelite school can be started in FL. If not, it's not like we didn't see it coming, like a hurricane... We have time to adapt.

Though we can learn from Andrew and others, we also must keep in mind that since AMSL's situation is different, his (Andrew's) opinion is not likely to be objective. We must avoid feeling as angry as him by facing the situation with a level head.

We can solve this problem. And if a move is forced upon us, we have time to develop a personal contingency plan.

As for the heaps of praise laid at the feet of the WSJ above... get real. Being a financial newspaper does not automatically qualify you as theologically conservative. It's quite likely that people blogging here are journalists attempting to stir things up just to get first dibs on a story of Catholic destruction.

Whether you found satisfaction in the article or not, if you are Catholic, you must realize that it is highly insulting to refer to a Catholic City as a "Catholic Jonestown," and I urge Catholics to not participate in this destructive analogy. Keep praying.

Now I fully expect a relentless attack from Andrew and a few others. This seems to be the M.O.D. on this blog whenever someone tries to say something positive. Go ahead... tell me how wrong I am and how horrible things are... or just make a condescending remark.

At 4:15 PM, Blogger mrbooks said...

OK, Matrix, I covered this before, but "once more into the breach:" with the exception of single faculty and staff, who were asked to be the first wave down, AMC folk asked to submit their timetable for moving to Naples, withing a given time structure, and promised a position. Only later, without any regard for individual circumstances and/or harships, some were told they had to report immediately or there would be no job - not just their current position, but any position.

This and other promises were made at multiple meetings and in writing. And, no, Dr. Messaros story is not a worst case scenario, it's an indicative scenario. Individual details may vary, but his is representative of a number of situations, even of some who actually went down (one of those is even worse).

I certainly hope you are right, and AMSOL is not headed in the same direction. Just keep your heads out of the sand and stay alert, and you may avoid AMC's fate.

At 5:18 PM, Blogger mSCIENCE said...

thematrix - Those who refer to self as "us/we" should state their affiliation with AMSL. Lawyers and law students from the best Moot Court in Michigan would not leave the facts and events I've described unchallenged and, instead, show thin-skin with nebulous talk of my anger, hatred, attacks, etc.

You (matrix) are, in fact, wrong... so yes, I will correct you.

My position (anatomy/neuroscience) was not "quickly filled in FL". Anatomy was only recently offered at AMU by a local podiatrist who, according to the Naples News (10/12/05), was dismissed from nearby Edison College for not being qualified to teach anatomy.

The main issue for AMSL is not different than AMC - when one person uses financial leverage to coerce service to his desires above all other duties, then dysfunction is bred

Your flippant challenge "Go ahead tell me... how horrible things are" is disrespectful of the sacrifices made by AMC's dedicated orthodox Catholics. Many stories can't be told. Severance after a 1- or 3-day termination notice was tied to a non-disparagement gag clause that allowed Monaghan to charge signers for fees incurred by his investigation of suspected complaints against Ave. Monaghan himself also added an institution-wide contract clause that made any public disagreement with a Board decision cause for termination. Feed the kids or never complain about Monaghan's treatment... what to choose?

If you can't see through my hate, then listen to Professor Rice:

"In my view, the continuing speculation as to a move to Florida has significantly destabilized the AMSL community. The decisive issue, however, is not Florida but AMSL’s mode of governance. On several occasions I have raised the question of whether there is a tendency for AMSL to be governed, in effect, as a sole proprietorship, with the interests of AMSL and its community potentially subordinated to another agenda, in which case the Board could be reduced to a merely decorative role inconsistent with its fiduciary duty to AMSL and its community."

The destabilizing source of AMSL is:
(a) Dr. Messaros' brainwashing hatred
(b) * TM's push to Florida

The decisive issue is:
(a) TM's push to Florida
(b) * AMSL's mode of governance

The issue with the mode of governance is:
(a) ingratitude for TM's contribution
(b) * subordination of all other duties to TM's desires

At 3:38 PM, Blogger gulfside said...

Ann Arbor forcast for today.
cloudy, light snow, high of 30

Naples forcast for today.
sunny, evening showers, high of 80. Low tonight of 62.

A lot of anger and anti-Catholic sentiment out there. Get the other side of the story at:

"Catholic Jonestown" don't look all that bad about now...

Oh, but I forgot... that's not the issue... it's mean old Monaghan.

At 7:59 PM, Blogger L. von Shtupp said...

well, that settles it!

good thing the weather is so awesome there - i'm sure that there's alot of work to do after the strongest hurricane on record in the Atlantic basin hits, with $1 billion of the $6 billion of costs from Wilma in Collier County alone

thanks for reminding us

keep prayin' & surfin'

At 8:53 PM, Blogger gulfside said...

Ann Arbor forcast for today.
cloudy, light snow, high of 30

Naples forcast for today.
sunny, evening showers, high of 80. Low tonight of 62.

A lot of anger and anti-Catholic sentiment out there. Get the other side of the story at:

"Catholic Jonestown" don't look all that bad about now...

Oh, but I forgot... that's not the issue... it's mean old Monaghan.
Almost all cleaned up from the hurrican and STILL spent less than Michigan spends each winter on road salt.

At 9:11 AM, Blogger L. von Shtupp said...

... but maybe not as much as Tom Monaghan spent on that interim campus in Naples, or on really necessary things like a $30,000 dog house for AMU's mascot (true) and flying the entire Vatican choir to Florida (true)

then, just a few weeks ago, Mr. Monaghan has the audacity to send a fundraising letter saying:
"The [main campus] construction increases, and resulting reallocation of funds has one particularly troubling result: we cannot acquire new library books in a way we had hoped to make AMU's Library one of the nation's most complete..."

nice priorities

At 11:04 AM, Blogger gulfside said...

ooooooooooo that that bad bad bad man. The nerve of him spending his money the way he wants. Note the words, "nations most complete." If you want the library to be better than "great," kick in your own bucks. As for me, I wish I could have been there to hear the vatican choir in Florida. It was 22 degrees here in balmy Ann Arbor this morning.

At 7:14 PM, Blogger res_ipsa_loquitur said...

We're supposed to blindly trust in a man who wants to build a model university by prioritizing choir money over library books?

Your attitude makes me think of a person sitting in first class on a flight driven by a drunken pilot: as it spirals out of the sky, he thinks "Man, these are great seats!"

At 3:28 PM, Blogger gulfside said...

Ridiculous. Your obsession with not allowing single, solitary positive thing to be said about Monaghan makes you contrive rather strange comments. My post pointed out that the libray fell short of being "one of the nation's most complete..." Again, if you want the library to be THE nation's most complete, kick in your own bucks. I could just as easily make the twisted inference that you oppose all music and culture at AMU, and only want more books.

At 4:26 PM, Blogger mSCIENCE said...

The quote from Monaghan says "one of the nation's most complete", not "THE nation's most complete". Big difference. A complete library is an expectation, and a higher priority for spending development funds in a startup institution than flying-in an entire choir from Italy. It's called "being a good steward".

If "Tom's money" is synonymous with "AMU money", then (a) explain where "donor money" fits (ie. did my year of AMU donations go toward the $30K doghouse, or was that Tom "spending his money as he wants"?), (b) you admit that Tom is donating to himself (ie. his wallet -> his Foundation (tax break) -> his non-profit (tax break)).

While on the subject of books - In November 2004, Monaghan sent an AMU fundraising letter that said "We [AMU] have been offered 50,000 books for $500,000. Unfortunately, we don't have much time to mull over the purchase. We must act now or the books may be offered to another college or university. I'd hate to miss what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But since our funds are limited right now, we may not be able to make a commitment unless friends like you join us in this worthy effort."

I and others called the AMU library and development offices, as well as the University's professional book buyer. Nobody heard of this offer. They said, however, that Monaghan could only be referring to the Wadhams Hall Seminary Library that had been purchased at that price with Michigan College money back in 2002, nearly 2 years earlier.

How can you characterize this as anything but a fraudulent fundraising tactic meant to deceive the public into thinking that some opportunity that existed in the past still exists in the present? If I'm wrong, it would still be shameful for Monaghan to say that "funds are limited right now" and that he "may not be able" to buy the books, when in fact there was enough money available to do frivolous things like fly-in the Vatican choir.

At 6:42 PM, Blogger gulfside said...

I am truly concerned for your state of mind. For you to twist Monaghan's donation which allowed the Vatican Choir to be heard by AMU faculty, students and the community as a bad thing truly boarders on madness.

At 10:14 PM, Blogger Justin said...

I don't believe mscience is saying that flying in the Vatican Choir was a bad thing. He is just questioning TM's priorities. After all, a complete library is a necessity. Flying the Vatican Choir in is a luxury.

At 6:17 AM, Blogger gulfside said...

By arbitrarily weighing a concert in Florida of the Vatican choir with buying books, he not only implies that it was "a bad thing," but insults Monaghan by saying he is "not being a good steward" and charges him with a "fraudulent fundraising tactic."

This is faulty logic at best. It infers that donating funds for anything other than books is not being a good steward. It also presumes fraud upon AMU's greatest benefactor. Only a person bent on destroying AMU would take this stand.

At 8:32 AM, Blogger res_ipsa_loquitur said...

"Only a person bent on destroying AMU would take this stand."

NOW who's using faulty logic? You need to take a college refresher course on basic logic, Gulfy...

Here's a basic question for you to answer before you dive into your snarky replies: your family is starving. You have five dollars. You can buy either a) a loaf of bread or b) tickets to the Vatican choir. There are no other options. "C" is not acceptable. I won't accept alternative answers. Now, which do you choose?

(I guarantee a snarky answer is coming.)

At 9:25 AM, Blogger gulfside said...

What are you talking about???????

At 10:41 AM, Blogger mSCIENCE said...

Acts must be placed in context. Praying the Divine Mercy is good. Praying it when the babies need my help is not. Spending $5 on Vatican choir tickets is not good if the family has other essential needs. It is not arbitrary (as gulfside claims) to look at spending donor development money on luxuries (ie. flying-in an entire choir, or building a $30K doghouse which gulfside conveniently ignored) instead of necessities (ie. a complete library).

You've also ignored my questions:

Is Tom "spending his money as he wants" when he spends donor money?

How can you characterize Mr. Monaghan's November 2004 letter as anything other than fraudulent? Even as a bitter hate-mongering madman, I would gladly recant, apologize, and ask for forgiveness if the facts I've laid out about that letter, and the conclusions that follow, are proven inaccurate.

At 3:13 PM, Blogger gulfside said...

Why not place Monaghan's golf time (if he plays) "in context." Is he not being a "good steward" when he's on the golf course instead of watching the earthmovers and plumbers? He's a billionare! If he wants to fly in the Vatican choir, cool! If we want to have the nations best library at AMU, we can pay for it... He doesn't have to.

If Monaghan does the school a favor and loans them the money to capitalize on a timely book purchase deal before the money is raised, this is fraud?????

Dude, your anger and resentment is making you irrational.

At 1:40 PM, Blogger hoosier said...

It strikes me that the standard line coming from some on this forum is "Tom Monaghan can do whatever he wants wth his money." That's really nice. So he puts money into a law school, lures applicants with top rate LSAT scores to his school, and then risks it all. You expect alumni not to be upset. Do you really expect a law school to flourish in the middle of the everglades?

I think alumni have every right to protest this move, especially when most of their legal careers are on the line. I know if I poured 100k + into a legal education and then had my diploma rendered worthless by an egomaniac, I'd be prett ticked off too.

I doubt I'll be attending Ave Maria in 2006, despite the fact that I love the school mission (just not the person who runs it like Nero ran Rome).

At 6:27 PM, Blogger gulfside said...


Well, I would have to say that you are making a mistake. The education you receive at AMSL is second(read the profiles of the faculty) to none with a strong focus on ethics. If you honestly think that the potential of the Board of Gov.'s voting to move to Florida is adequate reason for you to go to an inferior law school, then good luck.

As an AMSL student, I would go to the end of the earth to attend this law school. I understand that not everyone can share my level of committment. You will do fine going elsewhere... some school without a billionare philanthropist securing its future.

At 12:26 PM, Blogger mSCIENCE said...

Oh please - your "level of commitment". Your arguments have centered around the weather forecast.

I staked my entire career, a great job, my family's stability, and a $16K salary cut on AMC. I even gave away the two family dogs in the move to AMC, en route to Florida in 2006 (try doing that with kids). Others gave much much more than I. The AMSL alumni are out there now and *need* the stability and prestige of their alma mater to help enable them to do the work they've been well-trained to do.

When you've walked-the-walk gulfside, then you can talk-the-talk about commitment. You will not be so flippant. Then again, I've seen incredibly well-educated men act like teenagers around Brittany Spears when near Fr. Fessio & Mr. Monaghan. Enamor (along with a very narrow job market for orthodox Catholic professors) can trump logic and breed sycophants (servile flatters). Get beyond the celebrity.

There comes a point where "level of commitment" ceases to be about commitment to the betterment of the institution (which is a community) and its mission... and more about commitment to placating Mr. Monaghan's desires. You mistakenly confuse the two.

You also confuse what will secure AMSL's future. It's her people, not the money of a billionare philanthropist.

Again, however, I don't want to be drawn into a series of arguments that are not relevant to the main problem - the resultant destabilization and dysfunctional governance that occurs when all duties are subordinated to the primary benefactor's desires.

Please answer 2 questions for me gulfside - Yes or No only:

a) Are you a current AMSOL student?

b) Would you support the move to Florida even if it meant that a majority of the AMSL professors would not go?

yes or no

At 2:20 PM, Blogger gulfside said...


My family and I have made even greater sacrifices to be here. That said, I would answer:
a) yes
b) no (but it wouldn't matter because the law school would not survive)

Now, please answer me a question yes or no only:

Do you recognize that your anger and resentment have prevented you from viewing AMSL's potential move objectively?

At 5:18 PM, Blogger mSCIENCE said...

To answer your question: no.

The way that you rationalize or ignore Monaghan's dysfunctional governance, and instead perseverate on your wrong perceptions of "anger", "resentment", "hate", and "madness" is surprising for a student of law. Then again, non-disparagment clauses, $30K dog houses, and telling employees to move to Florida only days after arriving in Michigan are indefensible behaviors.

To say "I (gulfside) would not support an institutional move to Florida if a majority of the faculty refused Florida" contradicts your earlier argument that, as a billionare, Monaghan should be able to do what he wishes. It supports the contention that duty to Mr. Monaghan does not supercede all other duties, and that consideration for the community's reaction should trump Monaghan's assurance of financial nirvana. You go so far as to say that "the law school would not survive" if a majority of faculty refused to go to Florida. So, thanks for coming around.

I can only say it so many ways - "viewing AMSL's potential move objectively" is not the issue.

At 7:28 PM, Blogger Coker said...

I would like to add my voice to the suggestion that mrscience recuse himself from commenting further on this topic, for at least three reasons... 1.) His vitriol is unbecoming in a Christian conversation, 2.) He is not part of the problem or the solution to the issues at AMSL, ergo he is engaging in gossip, which, under the broad view of offenses of speech in the 8th commandment section of the Catechism, may have spiritual consequences for him, 3.) His point has been made (repeatedly, ad nauseum)--we get it already.

At 10:41 PM, Blogger mSCIENCE said...

I'm open to specific examples of "vitriol" to complete your fraternal correction, coker. Email me: andrew at messaros dot org. Please. Just remember that public accusation of grave sin like "hate", "anger", "resentment", and being "anti-Catholic" brings you under judgement too. And as critical as I've been of Mr. Monghan's behavior, I've not accused him of the aforementioned.


Section II (2) of the AMSL Bylaws states that the Chairman of the Ave Maria Foundation is an ex officio member of the Board. Change this and apply the Rice term-limits to the Chairman of the Ave Maria Foundation, making him a Life Governor with no voting privilege, just as Professor Rice was forced into.

That's it.

The Ave Maria Foundation was one of the founders of AMSL, just as Professor Rice was a founder. The AMF makes on-going contributions to the success of AMSL just as Professor Rice continues to make key contributions. If term-limits were deemed virtuous, then they should be equitably applied. This seems fair.

What happens as a result will be of Mr. Monaghan's choosing. He can demonstrate his genuine level of commitment to AMSL and her mission by continuing to offer support without having to be in charge, just as Professor Rice has demonstrated his commitment by continuing to make his contributions in the classroom even as a non-voting Life Governor.

Prediction? Mr. Monaghan walks away & pulls AMF support with him. That's his free choice; his only obligation is to fulfill commitments already declared. The AMSL Board will need to hustle to replace that income. But, I think you'd see an outpouring of generosity to honor the integrity shown by the institution. It would return stability and morale to the institution's community.

At 6:37 AM, Blogger gulfside said...


the school and library are donated to Notre Dame to create a conditionally accredited satelite campus and Ave Maria's full accreditation goes to florida to create a brand new AMSL in Ave Maria Town. Faculty are given a choice of moving down to paradise or staying here and working for their alma matre.

Now mscience, take your anger and animosity and channel it elsewhere.

At 6:03 PM, Blogger littleleaguer said...

I take it from your post that you are a fellow AMSOLer. I also attend here. I think that the temptation is for people on both sides to vent their legitimate frustration in sarcasm or (refuge of lawyers!) sophistry. I am going to exercise a Herculean effort not to do that now, because I don't want to mortgage my credibility too early. It is a fact that Tom Monaghan has a legal right to spend his money as he wishes. It is also true, morally, that he may commit all his worldly resources where he believes they ought to go. If God is calling him to build a university in Florida (and I will say that the plans as they have unfolding look like the dreams of men rather than God, in the judgment of my small wisdom), then that is what he should do. However, as Catholic social teaching (taught so often and so well within AMSOL's hallowed halls) points out, COMMUNITIES as communities are entitled to respect and support. What was his dream on paper has become the home of a community, here in Michigan. All over the nation, there are those whose lives - the security of their careers and their families - are tied to this community, of which they will forever be part. These people are invested in this community in a way more personal than Mr. Monaghan's significant financial commitment (even recognizing that this school is part of a dream dear to him, which obviously it is), and their commitments deserve respect. If it ends by being most feasible and most sound for the law school to go to Florida, it will go. Those of us who came here expecting a strong school in Michigan and are trying to get our first or next jobs will struggle with an alma mater in Florida demoted to provisional accreditation again. We will survive. I believe that what truly horrifies most of us so loyal to Ave is not the Everglades, but the idea that instead of being what we were promised - a community dedicated to Christ, His Church, and to a truly virtuous way of life in the legal profession - we are going to become a place where human dignity will be disregarded when convenient for the service of others' self-interest. None has refuted mscience's explanations of the contracts and termination threats at AMC. Such practices are gravely in conflict with the professors' human dignity and cannot be endorsed or accepted by people who wish to live lives of Christian virtue. Our dean recently admitted to the student body at a school meeting that faculty would not be fired here IF no one caused a stir (not his exact words). I respect my professors incredibly, and the community I came here to find - and like so many, I invested a significant part of my life here and could have gone elsewhere - is not one in which they could be threatened with being unable to feed their families if they voice their convictions honestly (as Professor Rice has done with such undeniable retribution). This was our Ave Maria, once we decided to come - and THAT is not our Ave Maria.

At 12:56 PM, Blogger gulfside said...


I very much appreciate your civil tone, and I'm sorry that my writings grew increasingly frustrated with mscience's responses. I am in agreement with all you have said. I also feel that if moving to Florida does more harm than good for Ave Maria faculty, students and alums, then it is a bad idea. I doubt anyone involved in the law school would feel differently. I began playing devil's advocate because I saw a repeated pattern of attacks on Tom Monaghan, a good Catholic man who is largely responsible for the creation of AMSL.

Indeed, an injustice has been done to faculty at AMC, and I would like to know more about how that came about. You see, the largest amount of information regarding this injustice that I have received is from mscience. He has not been a productive voice for the facutly ill treated at AMC, because his constant rants have led me to conclude that I wouldn't want him working for me either. His unreasonableness has led me to conclude that it is quite possible that the injustice that occured to him was largely his own doing by "fightin the man."

As I mentioned, I feel that a compromise is already in the works. I believe based on Dean Kenney's move to Notre Dame as head of gift receiving (or some other such title), and the move of Notre Dame's admission director to AMSL, it is quite likely that the BoG will vote to "give" this school and many of its resources to Notre Dame to create a satelite school. Professor Rice is a facutly member at Notre Dame, thus for him to be a part of the BoG when this decision is made could create a confict of interest. A large number of the professors at AMSL went to Notre Dame's law school and would probably not see this move as a bad thing if a certain amount of orthodox autonomy could continue here, but I don't know for sure.

I believe that AMSL, here in Ann Arbor, will be much stronger under the umbrella of Notre Dame (without the backing of T. Monaghan), and Ave Maria School of Law could then takes its accreditation to Florida, along with any faculty who wish to go and a huge financial backing and brand new facility.

Again, this is purely speculation, but it sure looks like things are going in that direction. If this is an acceptable compromise for most of the faculty, then the only truly contentions issue is why Professor Rice was treated unfairly. Is there something there that we don't know about? Quite likely.

At 12:22 PM, Blogger mrbooks said...

Gulfside, you don't know mscience, but I do. If he did "rant" as you accuse, it was only in an effort to get you to see - just see, not necessarly agree - to an obvious point you and some others could not seem to grasp. Having witnessed what he went through, among others, talked personally with him, and read his Oxford Review articles (and the responses to them, including the financially punitive ones to OR), it seems to me no-one has made more clear and erudite arguments. It amazes me that you took so long to get it - as you seem to indicate in your response to coker.

At 10:24 AM, Blogger NO man said...


I hope your pure "speculation" is just a joke or a random stream of consciousness exercise, because I don't quite follow it.

The BoG wanted Rice off the board b/c they knew Dean Kenney would move to Notre Dame and be replaced by a ND official after the votes on term limits went down? ABSURD.

I'm concerned about the attitude that we should just let Monaghan take AMSL's accreditation to FL and leave the remaining faculty and staff to pick up the pieces and become a satellite school of another institution. Did we all just waster the last 5+ years building up this law school to become a satellite for ND?


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