Thursday, December 01, 2005

AMSL alumnus letter to New Oxford Review

This letter appears in the December issue of the New Oxford Review:

Turmoil Spreads to Ave Maria School of Law

In his letter (Oct.), John F. Barrett says in regard to Tom Monaghan/Ave Maria: "Enough already!!!" However, I wish you would cover more of the Tom Monaghan/Ave Maria story. Especially now that Ave Maria School of Law (AMSoL) in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is getting dragged into the quagmire, as evidenced by the recent ousting of Prof. Charles Rice, a champion of the Culture of Life, from AMSoL's Board of Governors. Alumni and students are outraged at the ousting of Rice. The rumors about the motivation for booting Rice include his public opposition to moving AMSoL to Naples, Florida [see the March NOR, p. 31]. About a week after the ousting of Rice, Associate Dean Michael Kenney, one of the founders, announced he was leaving in December to take a position at the University of Notre Dame (whether by coincidence or not). It is hoped that this will not start a mass exodus from AMSoL.

You mentioned in an Editor's Reply (Oct., p. 11) that the higher educational institutions bearing the Ave Maria name were symbols of hope within the orthodox Catholic community. In order to advance that hope, some of us left great jobs, and rearranged our lives to invest in the future of those institutions. I myself left a good career at the Eternal World Television Network in order to be in the inaugural class of AMSoL. Others have pledged money or sent their children.

Realistically, most of my class could have gone to some other top-tier law school. At this point in our lives, we would have had significantly different career options based on the ease with which law school reputations lend to job opportunities. Thus, many of us are still investing in AMSoL.

Educational institutions are not pizza parlors. Law schools, in particular, rely heavily on intangible qualities such as public trust in the institution and prestige caused by faculty appointments and perceived alumni accomplishments. Thus, if AMSoL encounters the same issues that have been reported about Ave Maria College/University, the alumni in particular will take the greatest loss, because difficulty in finding jobs and clients would be immediately noticed.

Creating a population of lawyers on which an orthodox Catholic can rely was and is a promise of AMSoL. You, your readers, and all of us have a real interest in the preservation of what AMSoL has become. It's not some rich guy's toy anymore; it's a place that makes something no one else does but all of us need.

The central issue at Ave Maria University is whether the Administration is comprised of individuals who are free to make the best administrative decisions possible without fear of being perceived as in opposition to the powers that be. The ousting of Prof. Rice from the Law School Board could mean that an environment of fear is being installed in the Law School. Can you imagine how differently the Law School would be perceived if it faced the same ethical charges from the U.S. Department of Education as has Ave Maria University?

Pope John Paul II encouraged us to do things in the light, so that it may be plainly seen. Accordingly, the entire Ave Maria educational complex should be in the light. The NOR's job as part of the Catholic media is to be the place where events and opinions on matters affecting us Catholics can be examined in the light. Cover it, get into it, and be good journalists -- and bring it all out into the light.

John B. Manos, Esq.
Alumnus, Inaugural Class of Ave Maria School of Law
Cincinnati, Ohio


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