Friday, June 11, 2004

Ave Maria University Criticized

IMMOKALEE, Fl. -- Under criticism by students and parents at the Ave Maria College in Michigan which is slated to be closed down while Tom Monaghan's new Ave Maria "University" builds its proposed campus south of Immokalee, school officials wrote an "open letter" to a parents group.

Joseph Fessio, S.J., a Jesuit priest and Chancellor of Ave Maria University and Nicholas J. Healy, Jr., President, of Ave Maria University wrote to  parents about the criticism being received:

"And AMU is by now no mere dream. By this fall there should be 300 undergraduate students, four masters level programs, and a new doctoral program in theology. Outstanding faculty have been recruited from Boston College, Duke, Notre Dame and Princeton. At least seven priests will be in residence and serving as faculty, in chaplaincy or in the Pre-Theologate. 

A new "center for discernment" for women considering a vocation to the religious life will be operated by four sisters of a new order from Spain. In short, there is much reality to AMU, and much more promise."

The group concerned about promises of college accreditation said "AMU has no accreditation whatsoever. Only last month AMU withdrew its application for accreditation through the Southern Association of Schools," and claims that Fessio and Healy's promises are hollow since the students will not graduate from an accredited university.

The Ave Maria parents group responded with allegations that Domino "Pizza King" Tom Monaghan has not kept promises in the past: "In 2002 Chairman of the Board Tom Monaghan wrote a note to the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) promising to give "a minimum of $25 million" for the support of Ave Maria College, through the next four years. 

It was on this basis that NCA gave AMC provisional accreditation. In short, Mr. Monaghan promised at least $25 million - in written documents, without equivocation- in order to get accreditation. Parent, faculty and staff have relied on this promise. Parents, faculty, and staff merely want that promise and similar promises to be kept."

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