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Ave Maria University
Motto Ex Corde Ecclesiae (Latin)
Veritatis Splendor (Latin)
Motto in English From the Heart of the Church
The Splendor of Truth
Established 2003
Type Private
Religious affiliation Roman Catholic
President Nicholas J. Healy, Jr.
Undergraduates 450[1]
Postgraduates 150[1]
Location Ave Maria, Florida, USA

Ave Maria University is a private university with a Roman Catholic character and liturgical tradition in southwest Florida, founded in 2003 by Tom Monaghan, Catholic philanthropist and retired founder of Domino's Pizza. Bishop Frank Dewane, the local Catholic ordinary, has endorsed the university.[2] The university moved into its permanent campus, situated in the planned town of Ave Maria, 17 miles (27 km) east of Naples, Florida, in August 2007. Ave Maria University was previously Ave Maria College in Ypsilanti, Michigan until its closure in 2007. [3]Current total enrollment is approximately 600 students.[1] The university also has a satellite campus in Nicaragua called the Ave Maria University-Latin American Campus.

Monaghan calls Ave Maria the first Roman Catholic university established in over 40 years. His goal is to create a Roman Catholic university faithful to the magisterium of the Catholic Church. Monaghan said "We wanted to build a major Catholic university in the southern part of the United States with the highest standards."

The university's founding has generated controversies including Monaghan's vision of creating a town that would encourage beliefs consistent with the Roman Catholic faith, as well as the unexplained March 2007 firing of its first provost, Joseph Fessio.



Former Domino's Pizza owner and founder Tom Monaghan initiated the founding of Ave Maria University with a donation of $250 million.[4] The Barron Collier family donated the land in southwest Florida for the campus. In August 2003, the University opened an interim campus in The Vineyards in Naples, Florida, enrolling some 100 undergraduate students, 75 of whom were freshmen.[4]

Accreditation status

As a new university, Ave Maria is pursuing accreditation with the appropriate collegiate authorities. In 2007, the university applied for accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools after withdrawing an earlier application to the same organization, in order to accommodate the accreditation of its new campus.[5] In December 2008, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools announced that the school had achieved "candidacy status," meaning that it had "established compliance with those core standards." Ave Maria will be reevaluated and considered for full membership no later than December 2010.[6] The university received full accreditation from the American Academy for Liberal Education (AALE) in June 2008.[7]

Academic degrees

Ave Maria University currently offers ten undergraduate and three graduate degrees.[8] Graduate programs include M.A. and Ph.D. studies in Theology and a Master of Theological Studies for non-traditional students.[9] The university also offers an undergraduate Pre-Theologate program, which prepares men for the seminary, paralleled by a religious discernment program for women. Undergraduate students must complete all courses in the core curriculum, with more than 10 required courses, including a full year of Latin, courses in philosophy, theology, literature, science, math, history and political science. The philosophical emphasis of the school is Thomistic.


Undergraduate degrees


The Oratory is the center of the town of Ave Maria.

The new campus is located in the new town of Ave Maria, Florida, which continues to expand 17 miles (27 km) east of Naples.[10] The town site occupies about 5,000 acres (20 km2), of which nearly 20 percent are designated for the campus. The centerpiece of the campus and the town is the Ave Maria Oratory, which is a large gothic-inspired structure that serves as the parish church and university chapel. The area was previously used primarily for farming. Several more master-planned communities are under construction or planned in the immediately surrounding area, north and south of the campus. Managed wetlands lie north and west of the campus. Wildlife preservation and restoration projects have also been instituted on the site, to preserve a degree of its natural state.

Residential life

Dormitories are organized into small, same-gender communities. Quiet hours (9-9 on weekdays, 11-10 on weekends) are enforced by residence assistants and adjusted by residence directors. Members of the opposite sex are not permitted in the dorm rooms at any time (with the exception of "open hall" parties which occur approximately once a semester) and must be escorted through the halls. In each dormitory, there are desinated common areas where members of the opposite sex are allowed during certain hours of the day. Chapels are located in each of the three dorms and contain an altar for Holy Mass and tabernacles housing the Eucharist perpetually. Members of the clergy, who live on campus, assist in maintaining spiritual life. Televisions are only permitted in common areas, though students are allowed to use their computers to play videos in the dorms and common rooms. Social life on campus includes intramural sports, drama productions, talent shows, excursions, dances, and many other events. Students are encouraged to organize and participate in social and recreational activities. Drinking is only permitted in private quarters, or where deemed appropriate by the residence director(s). Men and women are encouraged to dress in modest attire and to avoid sexually suggestive or revealing attire.


Oratory interior at ave.jpg

Mass is offered in the Ave Maria Oratory, the landmark building on campus, which is located in the heart of the new town. The parish serves the town and the university. Traditional liturgical actions are encouraged, including kneeling for communion, the use of Latin, the daily praying of the Angelus (especially at lunch and dinner time, when the Angelus bell is rung at noon and 6pm), the use of incense, and male-only altar servers at Mass. The chaplaincy has issued directives regarding the use of Latin, of the ad orientem posture (the priest facing the altar, the same direction as the congregation), and kneeling for communion. Other Masses are said in English with the priest facing the people.


The Ave Maria University Gyrenes are members of the NAIA. [11] The men's program includes baseball, basketball, golf, and soccer, while the women compete in volleyball, basketball, golf, soccer and softball. [12] Barry Fagan, A Penn State alumni was hired by Ave Maria in spring 2010 to start an Ave Maria Gyrenes football program. The school aims to have a full roster by fall 2010 looking to award 24 scholarships. The team is said to be competing no later than fall 2011 [13]

Study abroad

The village of Gaming, Austria

Ave Maria University has a study abroad program in two locations: the alpine village of Gaming, Austria, about an hour's drive from Vienna, and also in San Marcos, Nicaragua. Classes are in English. The Austria program requires an additional $1,750 beyond regular tuition, along with the added expense of airfare and ground transportation, while the Nicaragua program requires no additional tuition.

To be eligible for the program, students must have spent at least one semester at Ave Maria University, be in good academic standing, and have no major infractions on their student life record.[14]

News publications

Ave Maria University's official publication is The Angelus News.[15] Students independently published Renew, in conjunction with the Ave Maria student government; and Veritas.


The 2008-2009 tution was $16,350, with a total cost of $24,500. Over 80% of the school's students receive financial aid.[16]


Ave Maria University won the 2007 'Digie Award' (Commercial Real Estate Digital Innovation Award).[17][18] The $24-million Oratory won the 2008 TCA Achievement Award[19] as well as an award from the American Institute of Steel Construction.[20]

Dress Code Controversy

In March 2010 it was learned that the university was changing the dress code to require suits, or at least a jacket and tie for men, and skirts and dresses for women.[21] However, after about a week, the university appeared to backtrack from the skirts and dresses only policy for women.[22]


On March 21, 2007, the provost of the university, Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J., was dismissed for undisclosed reasons. In a formal statement, Monaghan, in his role as chancellor, stated only that the dismissal was because of "irreconcilable differences over administrative policies and practices."[23] Fessio was reinstated the next day as theologian in residence.[24] The provost position remains vacant.


  1. ^ a b c Catholic college crosses new ground -
  2. ^ "Bishop dedicates Ave Maria University Oratory", Catholic Online, 2008-Apr-05. Accessed 2008-04-23
  3. ^ "Ave Maria College in Michigan to Have 3 Students Next Year", Naples News, 2006-May-22. Accessed 2009-08-17
  4. ^ a b Ave Maria University
  5. ^ [1], Bonita News
  6. ^ "Ave Maria University moves closer to full accreditation", Naples Daily News (Dec. 10, 2008)
  7. ^ Ave Maria University
  8. ^ Ave Maria University | Academics
  9. ^ Welcome to The Institute for Pastoral Theology :: The Program
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  23. ^ "Top Ave Maria official dismissed", Naples Daily News (Mar. 21, 2007)
  24. ^ "Ave Maria resurrects fired Father Fessio with new job"

External links

Coordinates: 26°20′11″N 81°26′17″W / 26.336336°N 81.438053°W / 26.336336; -81.438053


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