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Crisis at Ave Maria University

Ave Maria University has had its share of of troubles (including with the federal government over its student loan program, and troubles with faculty and students about the move to Florida). Apparently, it's having financial problems as well.
(HT: Whispers in the Loggia)

I wonder whether there is a snowball effect. As a student, or a parent of a student, I'm not sure I'd want to spend a lot of money to go to a college that might not be there twenty years from now.

About the Author

Cathleen Kaveny is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor in the Theology Department and Law School at Boston College.



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The skills that make for success in the pizza business are not readily transferable to founding a university.

Tom Monaghan could have tossed his dough at an already-successful "conservative" enterprise. Note some figures from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio:Link:

I wonder why he didn't. .. that would have made sense from a business perspective, I would think.A billion dollars could have transformed Steubenville , or Dallas, or (pick a school) into quite a force in Catholic higher education

The Ave Maria operation has been plagued by inept administration and scandal for some time now. I still wonder why nobody has made a bigger deal of the fact that Fr. Joseph Fessio, AMU's resident Jesuit, has been credibly accused of transferring a couple hundred thousand dollars out of the country, possibly through his own personal bank account. See: action was certainly a violation of canonical norms, and was possibly illegal as well. In any case, does the Jesuit Order approve of its members shuffling money around like Columbian drug lords? One wonders why there has been no censure.Oh, and for what it's worth, when the former CFO mentioned in the website complained of these and other financial irregularities in the Ave Maria operation, he was subjected to a protracted program of character assassination, fired, and then denied his lawful severance package unless he agreed to a draconic gag order. I know. I saw it happen. And I was one of the few who tried, unsuccessfully, to come to his aid.There is *much* that is rotten at Ave Maria, and the news story that Cathleen mentioned above is just a sign of the rot beginning to fester into full, horrid bloom. Expect worse to come.To paraphrase Shaw, "Ave Maria has gone from inspiration to corruption without a single intervening period of achievement."

I suspect that Monaghan decided to found his own institution rather than to support an existing one because he wanted it to be his own creation just as his pizza business was his won creation. If I am right, his ego got in the way of his inspiration.As for Father Fessio, was he not a favorite pupil of a certain professor, whose books he dutifully publishes?

Lots of existing institutions have agreed to rename themselves for large infusions of cash. . .Stanford and Duke, for two.

Far be it from me to defend Stanford, but it's simply not true that Leland Stanford renamed an existing insitution for a large infusion of cash. He founded the place, and, given the usual exclusions of the time (from Catholics on up) on surprisingly enlightened and humane terms. Many of which were subsequently reversed by mainstream American academics.And Jane Stanford, a surprisingly impressive person, gave a hell of lot more than "a large infusion of cash."

Gene, oops! I stand corrected about Stanford. think I had some version of the urban myth in my head.Now I'm not sure about Duke. . .

Duke was renamed. I can't remember which Duke, but the robber baron Duke offered at least one other institution (Princeton) a princely sum to change its name and was refused. He then went to Trinity College in Durham, NC and made it the same offer, which it accepted. There's more about how the campus ended up three or four blocks away from the original, but it definitely was an existing institution. And then there were people like John D. Rockefeller, who funded the University of Chicago or A.H. Robins, who funded the University of Richmond, with no expectation of naming or renaming rights.

I really do have highly ambiguous feelings about my associations with Stanford, but I think it's fair to point out that Leland and Jane Stanford really did name the university after their only child, born after fifteen years of marriage, who died as a teenager on the Grand Tour. People have criticized Leland (quite fairly I suspect) for his business practices, and Jane (in a quite unappealing manner) for her physical appearance, but I don't think anyone has ever claimed that the name of the university represented egotism rather than a generous response to extreme grief. Believe it or not the original intention was to offer free tuition; I don't think that lasted more than ten years.Now if you want the real scandal you can look into the recent claims that Jane Stanford was poisoned by David Starr Jordan to prevent her from dismissing him as president of the university.

Rockefeller University in New York, from the beginning a prestigious bio-medical institution, was founded by John D. Rockefeller.For a tart observation on naming practices in other fields see Stigler's law of eponymy:'s_law_of_eponymy

Thanks for the Stigler link.That explains why that guy Einstein got all the credit for my theory of relativity.

William Collier,As compensation for the injustice done you in the scientific realm you may want to pursue immortality in the hamburger domain:

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