Christopher P. Ice Elected as the Third President of Ave Maria University

President-Elect Christopher P. Ice

Students, faculty, and staff gathered in front of the Bob Thomas Student Union on Friday, the eighth of November, for the announcement of Mr. Christopher P. Ice’s election as the third president of Ave Maria University. 

Patrick Rainey, the new Chairman of the Board of Trustees, introduced Ave’s Founder and Chancellor Thomas S. Monaghan. 

Monaghan first thanked Michael Timmis for his hard work, generosity, and strong leadership during his more than ten years serving as Chairman of the Board. He then took a moment to personally highlight President Towey’s accomplishments over the last eight years. Under Towey’s leadership, the University tripled its number of majors, started the Mother Teresa program, conducted a highly successful sixty-million dollar capital campaign, and received the official designation as a Catholic university. 

“Leaders rise to the occasion in times of crisis. Hurricane Irma was one such example that showed the mettle of Jim’s leadership. He cared not only for our students during this time but took this potential crisis and showed all of Collier County what Ave Maria was really about.”

Ave’s Founder concluded his remarks by warmly thanking President Towey for his eight and a half years of faithful service at Ave Maria. The crowd loudly applauded as Monaghan paused to show his gratitude. Once the students and faculty quieted, Monaghan expressed his excitement for the future and his confidence that Ave would be in good hands as they look to the future. 

President Jim Towey and President-Elect Christopher P. Ice

Patrick Rainey returned to the podium to introduce Mr. Christopher P. Ice. Ice currently serves as chief executive officer of Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph (Missouri), a position he has held since 2017. He brings many years of experience as an executive in the corporate and private sectors as well as Catholic non-profit organizations. He possesses an impressive background in fundraising for Catholic higher education at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Christopher Ice began by thanking Patrick Rainey, Tom Monaghan, Nick Healey, and the presidential search committee. 

“Ultimately, I really thank Jim Towey and his wife Mary for their great leadership.”

President-elect Ice and his wife, Mary Ice, have been married for thirty-one years. They are blessed with ten children, seven living and three in heaven, and one grandchild. Ice shared that his wife could not be present that day, due to family commitments. Last summer, she survived her second bout with breast cancer. Ice paused to collect himself as he choked-up over her illness. “She’s a warrior, I’ll tell you that.” The crowd cheered and Ice remarked, “The good news is you don’t have to worry about changing the first lady’s name, it’s still Mary.” 

President-Elect Christopher P. Ice

Ice continued by thanking the students for coming out to show their support in the ninety-degree weather, along with the faculty who had welcomed him so warmly. “I believe it’s our Lady’s intercession that I’m standing here today as the president-elect of Ave Maria University, and I’m honored.”

Asserting that his top priority as president is to help every one of the students to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and ultimately, to get to heaven, Ice said, “I think everyone would agree that the world needs more saints.”

Ice reflected on the experiment of secularism that has enveloped many Catholic institutions and corrupted the truths of the Catholic faith, all under the guise of academic freedom. Among the two-hundred and forty-seven Catholic higher education institutions, only fifteen residential Catholic colleges and universities are on the Newman guide for Catholic schools.

“In the marketing world that I came from, these colleges that call themselves Catholic would be accused of false advertising.”

He emphasized Ave Maria’s critical role in the future of the Catholic Church, “At Ave Maria, I commit to you, we are going to run to our Catholic faith and not away from our Catholic faith.”

Ice, who has a strong Marian devotion, said that he firmly believes that Mary has commissioned Ave Maria University. 

“We may be small, we may be new, but we are going to have great impact and continue to have great impact on the world today.” 

President-elect Ice looks forward to serving the University in January and asked for prayers for himself and his family as they transition to Ave Maria University.

L-R: President Jim Towey; President-Elect Christopher P. Ice; Chancellor and Founder Thomas S. Monaghan; Chairman of the Board Pat Rainey

By: Madeleine O’Rourke

Announces Christopher P. Ice to be 3rd President of Ave Maria University

Ave Maria University Board of Trustees

Announces Christopher P. Ice to be 3rd President of Ave Maria University

Ave Maria, Florida. (November 8, 2019) – Today the Board of Trustees announced the election of Mr. Christopher P. Ice as the third president of Ave Maria University. Mr. Ice will begin his presidency on January 1, 2020.

Ice comes to the university with a deep passion for Catholic, liberal arts education, many years of experience as an executive in the corporate and private sectors as well as Catholic non-profit organizations, with an impressive background of fundraising in Catholic higher education at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He currently serves as chief executive officer of Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph (Missouri), a position he has held since 2017.  Ice and his wife, Mary, are parents of seven children ages 10 to 29, and grandparents of one.

“Ave Maria University is fortunate to have a leader of Chris Ice’s caliber who is wholeheartedly committed to our Catholic mission,” said Patrick Rainey, Chairman of the Board.  “We are fully confident he will build on the fine foundation that our founder, Tom Monaghan, and President Jim Towey have put in place, and take the University to new heights,” he said.

Towey is in his ninth year as president of Ave Maria University.  Upon his announcement to step down in 2020, the University conducted a national search for his successor, attracting dozens of highly qualified applicants.  After a search committee of the Board interviewed the finest of these individuals, the Board met on Thursday to elect Ice. 

“It is an honor to be chosen to lead this great Catholic university,” said Ice.  “I look forward to immersing myself in campus life and within the town of Ave Maria,” he added. 

Monaghan praised Ice’s selection at the announcement ceremony this morning.  “I am excited about Chris’ selection, and believe his experience is well-suited for leading the university,” said Monaghan.  “He is clearly a man of great character and deep faith.  His knowledge gained from working in both Catholic higher education as well as a corporate executive will serve him well as he leads Ave Maria.”

Monaghan went on to honor President Jim Towey for his service to Ave Maria, “As our second president, Jim took over what was still a relatively young institution and made many decisive decisions, which helped advance the university at an important time in our history.  Under his leadership the university tripled the number of majors to more than 30, established the Mother Teresa Program and Museum, and he guided an incredibly successful $60 million capital campaign,” said Thomas S. Monaghan, Founder and Chancellor.  “Jim, along with his wife Mary, have worked tirelessly over the last nearly nine years to advance the university, and I am grateful for his leadership and service to Ave Maria and in particular to the students under his care.”

Ave Maria University was founded in 2003 on a temporary campus in Naples, Florida.  The University moved to its permanent campus in the fall of 2007.  Enrollment has nearly tripled since that time, with the current undergraduate population numbering 1,082 students, as have the number of majors offered to students, which now stands at 32 and includes nursing, biochemistry, biology, theology, business administration and education. In addition, there are 44 students presently pursuing graduate degrees in theology at the university.

Ice’s formal inauguration as president will take place later this academic year on a date to be determined.  Ice will preside over Ave Maria’s commencement exercises on May 9, 2020, where future NFL Hall of Famer Philip Rivers, quarterback of the Los Angeles Chargers, will be the commencement speaker.  Ice, Monaghan and Towey will join hundreds of alumni, donors and guests on February 13, 2020 for the university’s annual scholarship dinner.


Media inquiries: Please contact Bryant Morin, Director of Marketing and Communications,

at 239-280-2513 or by email at:


 Ave Maria University will have a major announcement today, November 8, 2019.

The announcement ceremony details are as follows: 

 Location: Front of the Bob Thomas Student Union, Ave Maria University, Ave Maria, Florida 

Time: 11AM 

Participants: Chairman of the Board of Trustees Patrick Rainey 

Chancellor and Founder Thomas S. Monaghan 

President Jim Towey 

Special Guest 

Media release will be available at 11AM. 

Students are encouraged to attend. All are welcome.

Media inquiries: Please contact Bryant Morin, Director of Marketing and Communications, at 239-280-2513 or by email at: