Friday, July 23, 2004

Ave Maria University In Trouble With Feds

The new Ave Maria University founded by Domimo Pizza founder Tom Monaghan is
in some trouble with the U.S. Department of Education. Department of
Education investigations have resulted in refund payments of about $300,000
from the Ave Maria College in Michigan campus "because it failed to properly
document student financial aid applications" between the years 2000 and
2002, during which time the college was under the administration of
President Nicholas Healy, who left Michigan in 2003 to become president of
Ave Maria University in Florida. The Florida campus is in similar trouble,
as they allegedly took government student aid money illegally.
Meanwhile, founder Monaghan is enduring a public relations nightmare over
his winding down of operations at his Ave Maria College in Michigan, with
parents and students protesting Monaghan's heavy handed overseeing of the
school and broken promises.
Attorney Jack Sites recently moved from Florida's AMU to the AMC Michigan
campus as the new provost, or chief academic officer, where the
twice-divorced Episcopalian has been vice president of academic affairs.
Meeting with the Michigan school's Admissions staff, Sites said he is taking
a leave of absence from AMU Florida and was brought to the Michigan campus
to implement its immediate "wind-down," even though the school's closure is
not slated to occur until 2007, the date Monaghan is telling parents will be
the closing date in order to allow current students to graduate from the
Chairman of the AMC Board Thomas Monaghan called a June 28 special hoping
that current AMC President Ronald Muller could be removed from office, and
replaced with Monaghan himself as interim president. The proposal that
Monaghan become AMC's president was met with strong objection by some board
members, including attorney John Kruse, who said, "with all due respect,
Tom, if you become president, it would be a major PR disaster." Monaghan,
although a multi-millionaire and major religious organization benefacto, has
no college degree.
An article in the Ann Arbor News says "Ave Maria's problems with the DOE
were further compounded when Ave Maria University in Naples, Fla., which is
legally separate from the college in Ypsilanti, drew DOE financial aid for
its students based on the Ypsilanti college's accreditation. That action is
against Education Department rules, so it is requesting return of all funds
awarded to students at the Florida school last year."
The Department of Education is continuing its investigation of the Florida
campus because it did not have a proper license from the state of Florida.
Criminal prosecution is a reported possibility. Nicholas Healy, president of
the Florida campus, confirmed that the school will have to repay about
$380,000 to the federal government. The Florida campus only has about 100
students with temporary classrooms in a former retirement home.


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