Ave Maria Fallout
BY Jim Cosgrove
July 20-26, 2003 Issue | Posted 7/20/03 at 1:00 PM
I served as the academic dean at St Mary's College of Ave Maria University, the college whose closing you reported in your recent issue (“Ave Maria Pulls Out of St. Mary's in Michigan,” June 22-28). Please permit me to offer a few corrections and observations:
1. Ave Maria University came into existence as a legal entity sponsored by Orchard Lake Schools and Ave Maria College; St. Mary's College is its only campus and its only accredited entity. When St. Mary's College closed on June 30, Ave Maria University will have no accredited educational entities. It is but an empty, legal shell.
2. The money pledged by Thomas Monaghan for the continuation of the core curriculum is not for “technology or library,” as the article states; the original grant made in 2000 was so designated. Although the technology was upgraded, the library promise was not kept by Mr. Monaghan.
3. The majority of excellent teachers with their hearts in the core program remain with it.
4. The reason given for the closing of the college, the deficits, is very misleading. The whole financial plan was made by Monaghan and his team, and monitored by them. The expenses were never over budget, but the college failed to bring in sufficient revenue. The greatest failure to raise revenue came from the development department — and it was Ave Maria that agreed to build up this department and did not do so. No college can run on tuition money alone, but the Ave Maria team expected St. Mary's College to run without development income.
5. Patrick Reilly's concerns are misplaced. No one will “gut” the core program and there is no reason to monitor the situation. The new Integrated Catholic Core needs additional funding; perhaps more people will come to support it.
6. David Twellman describes the Mona-ghan vision as something good — but it has a dark side to it — and it excludes some key Catholic features. The dark side is the dependence upon Monaghan's arbitrary focus or level of interest and its idiosyncratic definitions of Catholic faith. Mr. Monaghan seems oblivious to Church doctrine on social justice in his treatment of faculty and staff as “at will” employees. He also spurns centuries-old academic customs and protocols, especially those pertaining to faculty status and governance.
Unfortunately, the quest for authentic renewal of Catholic higher education has taken some wrong turns under the Ave Maria auspices.
JOHN HITTINGER Pontiac, Michigan
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