Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Ave Maria Law Alumni Letter to Wall Street Journal

The following letter appears in today's WSJ:

We read with interest Naomi Schaefer Riley’s illuminating Nov. 11 Houses of Worship column “Bringing a Law School Down,” (Taste Page, Weekend Journal) about the Ave Maria School of Law in Ann Arbor, Mich. We also read the rather puzzling response from Ave Maria’s top officials (Letters, Nov. 28). Their reply seemed to be no more than an apologia for the establishment of Ave Maria Town.

Ms. Riley’s column accurately captured the essence of the present discord at Ave Maria.
The disquiet at our law school stems from a misguided desire to move this flourishing new educational institution from an academic epicenter in Ann Arbor to an isolated, rural community without any established scholastic or legal infrastructure whatsoever. Although we are mindful of the benevolence of the school’s primary benefactor, Tom Monaghan, this law school is not a sole proprietorship.

The Ave Maria School of Law is an independent academic institution and should not be relocated over the thoughtful objections of the school’s many stakeholders. This is especially true given that relocation appears aimed at buttressing a questionable financial investment in the already controversial Ave Maria Town. Furthermore, with multiple governing boards comprised of several individuals with potential conflicts of interest, real or perceived, this matter will remain dubious and divisive.

Countless people have contributed to the school’s initial success, including the professors, inaugural classes, staff, and other donors. Students, faculty, and alumni have spoken with a clear and collective voice opposing recent developments and proposals affecting our school but thus far have been largely ignored.

As Ms. Riley perceptively observed, should the school’s present leadership attempt to move the school they will undoubtedly have a fight on their hands. Any relocation of our alma mater will require the approval of the American Bar Association, and we believe the ABA will be more receptive to the legitimate concerns of the most important constituencies of the law school.

Chris McGowan (Class of 2003) – Sioux City, Iowa
John M. DeJak (Class of 2004) – Watertown, N.Y.


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