Message from the President



Office of the President


9 June 2020

Dear Ave Maria University Community,

As many of you know, yesterday was my first day back in the office at Ave Maria University since the death of my beautiful wife, Mary.

During my time of mourning, I spent time with my children and have been working through the reality of life without my wife and my children’s mother.

Watching the national news over the past ten days has struck me in a profound way.

We are all made in the image and likeness of God, and having witnessed the senseless death of a man and the pain and suffering inflicted on his family and our society, it reminds me of St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians where he shares that we are all members of the Body of Christ, and when one suffers, we all suffer. (1 Cor. 12:12-27)

Racism or discrimination in any form is incompatible with God’s call to unity and love.

We need to pray for healing in our country.

In light of these events, I would like to invite the Ave Maria University family to join me in praying one of two novenas beginning this Thursday, June 11.

The first novena is for racial healing and reconciliation. 

The second is a novena to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who personally experienced the unjust death of her own son.

I have included the links below:

We lift up our novena prayers to end racism and for the restoration of dignity for all people.

I am praying daily for each of you. Please keep me in prayer as well.

God bless you,

Christopher P. Ice
President


29 May 2020

Dear Members of the University Community,
 
On May 13th, 2020, I announced Ave Maria University will be open for classes and residential life on campus in August. In fact, the campus of Ave Maria University never closed during the pandemic.
In the same communication, I detailed numerous steps the University is taking to make sure our campus is prepared to welcome students and faculty to the fall semester in a responsible fashion. Since this announcement, we have continued to develop our plans for the fall semester and further specify our Coronavirus (COVID-19) readiness.
 
While no one can predict the future, there is some concern among the scientific and medical community that high COVID-19 infection rates could return in the late-fall. If this happens, one of the things that would place the campus at risk of a virus outbreak is the en masse travel of students, faculty, and staff across the country for fall break and Thanksgiving, and then return to campus. After a careful consideration of various ways to mitigate exposing the campus, we have decided to make the following modest adjustments to the fall schedule:

  • Fall break, which was scheduled to take place on October 15 and 16 (Thursday and Friday) will be canceled and classes will be held on these days.
  • Classes on Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week will be canceled.
  • The last day of in-person classes for the fall semester will take place on the Friday before Thanksgiving week (November 20).
  • Classes will resume exclusively online the Monday after Thanksgiving (November 30) for one week and final exams will take place online the week of December 7-11.

Any student who wishes to leave campus after Friday, November 20th, and continues the semester online will be free to do so, and they will not be required to return until classes resume after the new year.

Students who leave campus for Thanksgiving will not be allowed to return until the start of the new semester.

This schedule avoids the possibility of students, faculty, and staff traveling home for fall break and Thanksgiving, potentially contracting the virus, and returning to campus with unknown or asymptomatic cases. Faculty will have plenty of time to adjust their syllabi and assignments accordingly. The faculty are mindful that some types of online exams are unduly stressful. Course schedules will be adjusted so that assignments better suited for online learning will be used after Thanksgiving.
 
The University does not anticipate closing the campus after Thanksgiving. Students who do not travel for Thanksgiving will be welcome to stay through the final portion of the semester and use all campus facilities. Likewise, athletes whose teams have games and practices scheduled after Thanksgiving will be asked to remain on campus so that they are able to reside in the dorms and participate in team-related activities through the end of the semester.

God Bless,

Christopher P. Ice
President


13 May 2020

Greetings on the blessed memorial of Our Lady of Fatima!

I am pleased to announce that Ave Maria University campus will be open for the Fall, 2020 semester. To date, we have been blessed to have no reported cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on our campus even though over 20% of our students remained on campus through the end of the Spring semester. We were able to accommodate all students who felt safer here than returning home or traveling.  We are eager to have you return to our year-round warm sunshine and a campus that is distant from large populations.

We seamlessly made the switch to online courses without missing a single day of instruction.

Sacramentally, after only a six-day hiatus, our community returned to receiving our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. We live-streamed Mass daily out of our St. Sebastian Hall Chapel and distributed communion outside using hand sanitizing stations, social distancing cones, and receiving in the hand, which has made for a successful and safe distribution. I am not aware of any other university able to make these claims!

Weathering the storm is nothing new for Ave Maria University. We follow the Blessed Mother’s example of prevailing in faith through trial and adversity. Recall that just three years ago, during Hurricane Irma, Ave Maria University sheltered in place and returned to classes quicker than anyone else in Florida. These facts should comfort fears. We are certainly not overlooking the threat or health implications derived from this pandemic, but we share in the resolve of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who said, “The only thing we have to fear is letting fear overwhelm our sense of purpose and determination.” The students love Ave Maria University, and it is because of them we are determined to return to a vibrant campus life.

We have learned to turn our setbacks into greater preparation. For example, while we were disappointed in our inability to host summer conferences (FOCUS, Marian Eucharistic, etc.), we plan to use the extra time to ensure a smooth fall transition. This will demand we apply different approaches and precautions when students return.

Here are just a few of the precautions we are taking in preparation for opening the campus this fall:

Academics:

  • To reduce traffic in traditional academic halls, we will multiply the number of class locations
  • All classrooms will have hand sanitizers which must be used before entering and upon departure
  • We will seek to use technology to facilitate student access to faculty
  • Fall break, which was scheduled to take place on October 15 and 16 (Thursday and Friday) will be canceled and classes will be held on these days.
  • Classes on Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week will be canceled.
  • The last day of in-person classes for the fall semester will take place on the Friday before Thanksgiving week (November 20).
  • Classes will resume exclusively online the Monday after Thanksgiving (November 30) for one week and final exams will take place online the week of December 7-11.

Faith:

  • We will make use of a larger space such as the ballroom for campus liturgies
  • We will expand the number of outdoor liturgies
  • Adoration will have safe, limited capacity
  • All adjustments will be in coordination with diocesan regulations

Sanitization:

  • We have purchased a professional electrostatic backpack sprayer to disinfect all surfaces. It has a virus kill time of less than three minutes. Collier county schools systems (48,000 students) just purchased this same unit
  • We will continue the process of pressure-washing bathrooms using a disinfectant. We have done this since the outbreak of COVID-19
  • We hired a private cleaning company to wipe all door handles nightly
  • We will steam-clean and sterilize the dorm hallway carpets, dorm rooms, classrooms, common areas and stairwells

Health:

  • We have formed a Health Care Advisory Board comprised of medical personnel to advise President Ice on all safety and logistical measures
  • We will arrange ongoing COVID-19 testing
  • Every student will be provided a return to campus wellness check
  • Personalized plans will be developed for students with underlying health conditions
  • There will be a dedicated space and protocols for quarantine should the need arise
  • We will follow Florida state guidelines regarding the use of masks. If no direction is forthcoming, masks will be optional

Housing and Meals:

  • We will continue the protocol of adapting space in the dining hall by separating tables and chairs
  • Dining hall staff will continue to serve students
  • Fortunately, every dorm room at Ave Maria University has a private shared bathroom negating some of the issues encountered with communal bathrooms
  • Any student who wishes to leave campus after Friday, November 20th, and continues the semester online will be free to do so, and they will not be required to return until classes resume after the new year.
  • Students who leave campus for Thanksgiving will not be allowed to return until the start of the new semester.

Student Activities:

  • Student events and activities will abide by physical distancing recommendations meaning smaller groups and/or larger venues.
  • Student life will take advantage of the beautiful Southwest Florida weather to host more outdoor events

Athletics:

  • The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has informed its members it will make a decision about fall competition by July 1, 2020. It is a delicate balancing act but we have no doubt they will do what’s best for all
  • As of now, Ave Maria University athletic teams are scheduled to practice their sport, participate in strength and conditioning training in full anticipation of fall competition
  • Traffic to our weight room will be monitored and cyclical with disinfectant applied in-between use
  • Whenever possible, practices will be moved to one of our outdoor spaces for effective separation

Security:

  • There will be enhanced security precautions including new building access hours combined with public restrictions
  • We will increase patrols to monitor non-university interaction
  • We will implement sensible travel restrictions in accord with state policies

Buildings & Spacing:

  • We will stagger August move-in and orientation in order to space-out arrivals
  • We will have dedicated space and protocols for quarantine should the need arise including, meal, health care and other support services
  • Only students, employees and approved guests can have access to the campus and campus facilities

Communications:

  • We will make a renewed effort to update contact information upon check-in to ensure students and parents are easily reachable through multiple mediums (mobile phone, email address, physical address) providing updates in the manner in which you wish to receive them

While it seems a lifetime ago, it’s only been eight weeks since Ave Maria University was forced to switch to online courses. We continue to refine our response to this crisis and will use the above bullet-point format for updates and post them to our web site. As new updates come in, it will appear in red letters within the list above. It will remain in red until a new update supersedes it. All of our updates will be in lock step with diocesan and state authorities.

Each day we walk by faith asking our Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary for guidance. Our students thrive on personal relationships on campus and we want to foster and nurture these life-long relationships. Our campus is most vibrant when we are together as a community of faith. We look forward to seeing all of you in the fall.

God Bless,

Christopher P. Ice
President


6 May 2020

The following message contains information on how you can receive up to $1,500 through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. Simplyfill out the form at the bottom of the letter and submit before May 22. Grants will be distributed by June 30. This message was originally sent on 5/1/20, and again on 5/5/20.  If you have already submitted your form, there is no need to submit again. Thank you!

Dear Ave Maria University Parents and Students,

On March 23, in response to the threat of Coronavirus (COVID-19), Ave Maria University moved all classes to online instruction. However, many students chose to stay on campus feeling Ave Maria University offered a safer environment than traveling or returning home, and we continued to offer cafeteria services while implementing social distancing requirements.

As of the writing of this letter, I am still able to report we have had no cases of COVID-19 on campus – thanks be to God! In addition, after only a six-day hiatus, our community returned to receiving our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. It was appropriately the Feast of the Annunciation! Daily Mass is live-streamed out of our St. Sebastian Hall Chapel and communion is then distributed outside using hand sanitizing stations, social distancing cones, and receiving in the hand, as part of making this a successful and safe distribution.

Despite these abundant graces, the University has not escaped the financial impact of this virus.

Like many of you, we continue to manage our expenses and pray for an end to this pandemic. This is why we were thrilled to hear of the passage of the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The CARES Act has a specific section called the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

It provides funds to institutions of higher education while requiring at least 50 percent of those funds be paid directly to students as emergency financial aid to help cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations.  

I am proud to share Ave Maria University’s executive team voted unanimously to pass all of these funds through to our students. In addition, we will add the negotiated savings we received from our foodservice vendors to these funds. This enables us to disperse up to $1,500 per student for those students who checked out of the dormitories early and retracted from campus services. Amounts will be prorated based on your check-out date. The first announcement of our intent to move to online courses was shared on March 16, 2020 and it will serve as our baseline.

Thank you for your patience and support during these difficult times. I would ask each of you to please fill out and return the attached form by email to: AMUBursar@avemaria.edu

Or by regular mail to:

Ave Maria University
Attn: Bursar
5050 Ave Maria Blvd
Ave Maria, FL 34142

The form is due May 22, 2020. Grants will be distributed by June 30, 2020.

If you have any questions, please contact the Bursar’s office at 239-280-1673.

God Bless,

Christopher P. Ice
President


25 April 2020

Dear Soon-to-Be Graduates of Ave Maria University,

I hope this communication finds you well. I cannot thank you enough for your response and feedback about graduation. The survey that so many of you completed indicates a strong preference for an on-campus commencement ceremony during the fall semester. We intend to honor this preference. As a result, our postponed commencement ceremony will take place on December 5, 2020. We will communicate with you about the details of this in the future through your AMU e-mail addresses, so please keep your accounts active. 

Because the official date of your degree conferral is May 9, 2020, and because some of you will not be able to return to campus for the commencement in December, we are going to also hold a short online “conferral ceremony” on May 9. This will allow each of you to have the satisfaction of knowing that your degree has been officially awarded, and it will enable you to celebrate the completion of your studies at home with your friends and family.

The Office of the Registrar intends to mail your diplomas to you at your home shortly after the end of the semester. If your current address of record is inaccurate or if you wish to pick up your diploma in person, please notify the registrar at AMURegistrar@avemaria.edu.

The entire University community is so proud of what your class has overcome to get to this point. We miss you and we lament not being able to celebrate with you in person this May, but we couldn’t be more impressed with the amazing character that you have demonstrated during your time at AMU.

God bless,

Christopher P. Ice
President


8 April 2020

As of today, there still have been no Coronavirus cases (COVID-19) reported on the Ave Maria University campus – thanks be to God! Although we have transitioned to an online curriculum, a number of students remain on campus making use of the university’s facilities.

Some have chosen to stay because Ave Maria has fewer COVID-19 cases than their home town. Others do not feel comfortable flying at this time, or are unable to do so, based on international travel restrictions. Still others, simply love the Ave Maria University community they have helped create. 

While COVID-19 has not made its way onto our campus, its negative economic ripple has already been felt, and will continue to be felt. For example, returning and prospective students may suddenly find themselves in a much more challenging economic environment as they pursue fall enrollment. For families who are NOT in this predicament, I humbly ask you to consider donating to Ave Maria University’s emergency assistance fund for the fall https://donate.avemaria.edu/

This type of gift would be tax-deductible and benefit students who encounter a wide range of personal hardships. I certainly understand the timing of this ask, but if you are able to make such a gift, your generosity would immediately be felt.

All of us at Ave Maria University wish you a blessed Triduum and a Happy Easter. You remain in our prayers. May the Blessed Virgin Mary intercede for all of us.

God Bless,

Christopher P. Ice
President


25 March 2020

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

Happy Feast of the Annunciation of Our Lord! The day Our Lord was immaculately conceived in the Blessed Mother’s womb.

Today, immediately following Fr. Rick’s 11AM Mass, please join my wife Mary and me as we pray the Marian Consecration prayer to renew the University’s consecration and, to consecrate my presidency to Jesus through his mother, Mary. You can join us via live stream through our facebook page.

As Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, states in his book, 33 Days to Morning Glory, “The act of consecrating oneself (or our University), to Jesus through Mary marks the beginning of a gloriously new day, a new dawn, a brand new morning in one’s spiritual journey. It’s a fresh start, and it changes everything.” St. John Paul II described Marian consecration as the “turning point” in his life. In fact, his papal motto was “Totus Tuus” (“Totally Yours”) which are St. Louis de Montfort’s words for consecration to Jesus through Mary.

As we began this 33-Day Marian Consecration on February 21, I had no idea the challenges that would lie ahead of us. I don’t believe it was fortuitous, I believe is was inspired. The Ave Maria University community prayed this consecration asking for Our Lady’s intercession and protection and the Holy Spirit’s wisdom. I can assure you that these prayers from our faithful community have given us calm in the midst of the storm. Your prayers have helped guide us through the turmoil so far. 

Thank you for all of you who joined me each day in praying this Consecration. If you were not able to participate, it is not too late. You can still join us today and pray the consecration prayer with us. 

God bless you! Totus Tuus!

President Ice


23 March 2020

Dear Ave Maria University Community,

Thank you for joining with me in praying the 33-Days to Morning Glory consecration prayers. We had no idea on February 21st when we began this consecration that we would be faced with some of the most challenging decisions in Ave Maria University’s history. This pandemic will be forever etched in our memories, but through our perseverance with this consecration, I believe we will be stronger when the unrest subsides.

I am excited to celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord on March 25th by praying the Morning Glory Consecration Prayer with you. Due to restrictions placed on us due to the COVID-19 virus, we will not hold our planned gathering at sunrise on this day. Immediately after Fr. Rick’s 11:00AM Mass (around 11:30AM), I will join you with a special guest, to pray the final consecration prayer for Ave Maria University and the protection of all that work and study here. This coronavirus may take away our ability to congregate, but it will not take away our ability to pray as a community. This will be an opportunity for us to ask for the Blessed Virgin Mary’s special protection now and in the time to come.

God bless!

Christopher P. Ice
President


18 March 2020

Dear students, faculty & staff,

I just received the attached letter from the Bishop of Venice, FL, Frank Dewane. It is with heartfelt sadness that I have to inform you that all Masses are canceled for our diocese as of Friday, March 20, 2020, through Easter Sunday.

As your President, I want to encourage you to continue to double down on your prayers, fasting, and sacrifices. I know that the Blessed Virgin Mary is watching over this University. I firmly believe that we will endure this trial and you must not lose hope. We are living in extraordinary times and when things that we love are seemingly taken away, we must be steadfast in our faith and trust in the Lord. Our prayers and sacrifices and our yearning for our Eucharistic Lord will be heard into the highest heaven.

Please keep Bishop Dewane, Fr. Rick and all of our beloved priests in your prayers as we gather tomorrow on the Feast of St. Joseph to give God thanks for all the blessings bestowed on us.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, pray for us.

Christopher P. Ice
President 


16 March 2020

During this time of trial, suffering and a great fear of the unknown, I recall St. John Paul II in his welcome address as the new pontiff in 1978 where he said, “Do not be afraid.” Jesus himself said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and meek in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:29-30) Numerous times in Jesus’ earthly life, we are quite confident that he turned to his mother, Mary, for comfort and peace. She was there for him even to the point of his death on the cross, at the foot of the cross. We need to learn from Jesus and tum to Mary in time of trial. 

Ave Maria University is dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God. On March 25th, I invite you to join me as we will consecrate the University to Jesus through Mary on the lawn near the Bob Thomas Student Union while watching the sunrise over the Ave Maria church. Mary will protect us from harm and we need to trust in her intercession, just as she consoled Jesus as a mother to her child before and after his public ministry. 

I want to strongly encourage all of you to take this time to commit more time in prayer to help us endure this trial. Fr. Rick Martignetti, O.F.M. will do everything in his power to make sure that the sacraments will remain available for all those on campus. We need to take advantage of daily Mass, take advantage of confession, spend time before the Blessed Sacrament and pray the rosary each day. The rosary is one of the greatest weapons in your possession to combat the great evil that is being unleashed on our world. If we go to daily Mass, attend frequent confession, pray the rosary each day, spend time in adoration, fast and offer up our sufferings, we will defeat the Coronavirus.

In February 1986, there was political unrest in the Philippines to the point where hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to pray the rosary and confront the military who had brought in tanks and soldiers with guns to disperse the crowds. As the crowd prayed the rosary, blocking the tanks from advancing, the soldiers were ordered to begin firing their guns into the crowds. All of a sudden, the soldiers were awestruck as a “beautiful woman encased in an immense bright light” appeared before them standing in front of the people between the tanks and soldiers. According to these soldiers, this beautiful woman was dressed in blue with heavenly eyes, appeared in front of them and spoke in a voice audible to everyone, “Dear soldiers stop! Do not proceed. Do not harm my children. I am the queen of this land.” The soldiers immediately dropped their weapons and joined the people in prayer. The soldiers later claimed that the woman was the Blessed Virgin Mary. Disaster was avoided and the Marcos regime was overthrown without a single shot being fired. 

We have the same weapons on our campus, the weapons of the sacraments and the sacramentals (i.e. rosaries). I am inviting all of you to join me for a day of fasting and prayer on Wednesday, March 18 to preserve our campus from harm from the Coronavirus. 

I would ask that you pray the following prayer each day for the protection of our campus and community from the vicious attacks of this virus. 

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, send now your Spirit over the earth and Ave Maria. Let the Holy Spirit live in the hearts of all nations, that they may be preserved from degeneration, disasters, and war. May the Lady of all Nations, the Blessed Virgin Mary, be our Advocate.” Amen. 

God bless each of you! We will endure this battle. You are in my prayers. 

Christopher P. Ice
President 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Updated 9/4/20



Office of the President

4 September 2020

Dear Ave Maria University Community,

Our comprehensive Ave Maria University Health Safety Plan is working! We are two weeks into our new school year and I am proud to share we are doing a fantastic job managing COVID-19. Prior to the start of the academic year, I openly shared how confident I was that our students, faculty, and staff would adhere to the guidelines, and you are proving me right. Thank you! Your discipline with masks, physical distancing, and the use of hand sanitizing stations have no doubt played a huge role in our success.

Here are the results as of September 4, 2020:

  • Number of tests: 287
  • Number of positive results: 4
  • Number hospitalized: 0
  • Percentage Positive: 1.4%

With all that said, now is not the time to relax.  As we head into the Labor Day weekend, some of you may be traveling or just want to get off-campus. I ask each of you to take extra precautions in order to avoid bringing the virus back to campus. Please continue to be vigilant as the next few months will still be a critical time.

As reminder, the Collier County commissioners voted to extend the mask mandate through October 22.

May you have a blessed Feast of St. Teresa of Calcutta and may the Lord keep us safe.

God bless.

Chris Ice


23 July 2020

Dear AMU Community,

The start of the new semester is just a few weeks away, and we are excited to welcome our students back to campus for in-person classes. We are moving forward in faith and asking for Our Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary’s intercession to protect our University from this pandemic.

Since March, the town of Ave Maria has experienced only 54 cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19), which is less than one-half of one percent of the total population. To our knowledge, there have been no positive cases with our faculty, staff, or students who have remained on campus through the spring and summer sessions. In order to have in-person classes, we have consulted with our local and state health departments, extensively reviewed the Center for Disease Control guidelines, and worked in collaboration with multiple health professionals to protect our AMU family. We have developed best practice policies, procedures, and protocols for the classroom, residence life, athletics, liturgies, and on-campus meetings. In order to keep our campus open, it will be important for everyone to adhere to these protocols so as to minimize risk.

Every student will receive a packet with details of the protocols once they arrive on campus. (We have included a link here for your review) Due to a new local county ordinance, masks will be required in some public areas of the campus that are “under roof.” For example, masks will be required in the Paul Henkels Academic Building hallways.

I would ask that everyone work hard to respect others and take personal responsibility to protect those who may be vulnerable to this virus. We have endured a lot of suffering these past few months, and I know all of us are ready to get back to the campus and enjoy the interpersonal relationships for which we are accustomed. I am confident in our AMU community’s ability to work through these difficult times in a responsible way.

Finally, I would ask all of you to join me for three days of fasting and prayer from Wednesday, July 29 to Friday, July 31, asking for Our Lord’s protection of our campus and community from COVID-19 and all other illnesses for the upcoming semester. On August 1, please join me in prayer by asking for the Blessed Virgin Mary’s intercession and as an act of reparation for all the sins in our world today.

God bless,

Christopher P. Ice
President


13 May 2020

Greetings on the blessed memorial of Our Lady of Fatima!

I am pleased to announce that Ave Maria University campus will be open for the Fall, 2020 semester. To date, we have been blessed to have no reported cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on our campus even though over 20% of our students remained on campus through the end of the Spring semester. We were able to accommodate all students who felt safer here than returning home or traveling.  We are eager to have you return to our year-round warm sunshine and a campus that is distant from large populations.

We seamlessly made the switch to online courses without missing a single day of instruction.

Sacramentally, after only a six-day hiatus, our community returned to receiving our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. We live-streamed Mass daily out of our St. Sebastian Hall Chapel and distributed communion outside using hand sanitizing stations, social distancing cones, and receiving in the hand, which has made for a successful and safe distribution. I am not aware of any other university able to make these claims!

Weathering the storm is nothing new for Ave Maria University. We follow the Blessed Mother’s example of prevailing in faith through trial and adversity. Recall that just three years ago, during Hurricane Irma, Ave Maria University sheltered in place and returned to classes quicker than anyone else in Florida. These facts should comfort fears. We are certainly not overlooking the threat or health implications derived from this pandemic, but we share in the resolve of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who said, “The only thing we have to fear is letting fear overwhelm our sense of purpose and determination.” The students love Ave Maria University, and it is because of them we are determined to return to a vibrant campus life.

We have learned to turn our setbacks into greater preparation. For example, while we were disappointed in our inability to host summer conferences (FOCUS, Marian Eucharistic, etc.), we plan to use the extra time to ensure a smooth fall transition. This will demand we apply different approaches and precautions when students return.

Here are just a few of the precautions we are taking in preparation for opening the campus this fall:

Academics:

  • To reduce traffic in traditional academic halls, we will multiply the number of class locations
  • All classrooms will have hand sanitizers which must be used before entering and upon departure
  • We will seek to use technology to facilitate student access to faculty
  • Fall break, which was scheduled to take place on October 15 and 16 (Thursday and Friday) will be canceled and classes will be held on these days.
  • Classes on Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week will be canceled.
  • The last day of in-person classes for the fall semester will take place on the Friday before Thanksgiving week (November 20).
  • Classes will resume exclusively online the Monday after Thanksgiving (November 30) for one week and final exams will take place online the week of December 7-11.

Faith:

  • We will make use of a larger space such as the ballroom for campus liturgies
  • We will expand the number of outdoor liturgies
  • Adoration will have safe, limited capacity
  • All adjustments will be in coordination with diocesan regulations

Sanitization:

  • We have purchased a professional electrostatic backpack sprayer to disinfect all surfaces. It has a virus kill time of less than three minutes. Collier county schools systems (48,000 students) just purchased this same unit
  • We will continue the process of pressure-washing bathrooms using a disinfectant. We have done this since the outbreak of COVID-19
  • We hired a private cleaning company to wipe all door handles nightly
  • We will steam-clean and sterilize the dorm hallway carpets, dorm rooms, classrooms, common areas and stairwells

Health:

  • We have formed a Health Care Advisory Board comprised of medical personnel to advise President Ice on all safety and logistical measures
  • We will arrange ongoing COVID-19 testing
  • Every student will be provided a return to campus wellness check
  • Personalized plans will be developed for students with underlying health conditions
  • There will be a dedicated space and protocols for quarantine should the need arise
  • We will follow Florida state guidelines regarding the use of masks. If no direction is forthcoming, masks will be optional

Housing and Meals:

  • We will continue the protocol of adapting space in the dining hall by separating tables and chairs
  • Dining hall staff will continue to serve students
  • Fortunately, every dorm room at Ave Maria University has a private shared bathroom negating some of the issues encountered with communal bathrooms
  • Any student who wishes to leave campus after Friday, November 20th, and continues the semester online will be free to do so, and they will not be required to return until classes resume after the new year.
  • Students who leave campus for Thanksgiving will not be allowed to return until the start of the new semester.

Student Activities:

  • Student events and activities will abide by physical distancing recommendations meaning smaller groups and/or larger venues.
  • Student life will take advantage of the beautiful Southwest Florida weather to host more outdoor events

Athletics:

  • The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has informed its members it will make a decision about fall competition by July 1, 2020. It is a delicate balancing act but we have no doubt they will do what’s best for all
  • As of now, Ave Maria University athletic teams are scheduled to practice their sport, participate in strength and conditioning training in full anticipation of fall competition
  • Traffic to our weight room will be monitored and cyclical with disinfectant applied in-between use
  • Whenever possible, practices will be moved to one of our outdoor spaces for effective separation

Security:

  • There will be enhanced security precautions including new building access hours combined with public restrictions
  • We will increase patrols to monitor non-university interaction
  • We will implement sensible travel restrictions in accord with state policies

Buildings & Spacing:

  • We will stagger August move-in and orientation in order to space-out arrivals
  • We will have dedicated space and protocols for quarantine should the need arise including, meal, health care and other support services
  • Only students, employees and approved guests can have access to the campus and campus facilities

Communications:

  • We will make a renewed effort to update contact information upon check-in to ensure students and parents are easily reachable through multiple mediums (mobile phone, email address, physical address) providing updates in the manner in which you wish to receive them

While it seems a lifetime ago, it’s only been eight weeks since Ave Maria University was forced to switch to online courses. We continue to refine our response to this crisis and will use the above bullet-point format for updates and post them to our web site. As new updates come in, it will appear in red letters within the list above. It will remain in red until a new update supersedes it. All of our updates will be in lock step with diocesan and state authorities.

Each day we walk by faith asking our Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary for guidance. Our students thrive on personal relationships on campus and we want to foster and nurture these life-long relationships. Our campus is most vibrant when we are together as a community of faith. We look forward to seeing all of you in the fall.

God Bless,

Christopher P. Ice
President


Office of the President

6 May 2020

The following message contains information on how you can receive up to $1,500 through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. Simply fill out the form at the bottom of the letter and submit before May 22. Grants will be distributed by June 30. This message was originally sent on 5/1/20, and again on 5/5/20.  If you have already submitted your form, there is no need to submit again. Thank you!

Dear Ave Maria University Parents and Students,

On March 23, in response to the threat of Coronavirus (COVID-19), Ave Maria University moved all classes to online instruction. However, many students chose to stay on campus feeling Ave Maria University offered a safer environment than traveling or returning home, and we continued to offer cafeteria services while implementing social distancing requirements.

As of the writing of this letter, I am still able to report we have had no cases of COVID-19 on campus – thanks be to God! In addition, after only a six-day hiatus, our community returned to receiving our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. It was appropriately the Feast of the Annunciation! Daily Mass is live-streamed out of our St. Sebastian Hall Chapel and communion is then distributed outside using hand sanitizing stations, social distancing cones, and receiving in the hand, as part of making this a successful and safe distribution.

Despite these abundant graces, the University has not escaped the financial impact of this virus.

Like many of you, we continue to manage our expenses and pray for an end to this pandemic. This is why we were thrilled to hear of the passage of the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The CARES Act has a specific section called the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

It provides funds to institutions of higher education while requiring at least 50 percent of those funds be paid directly to students as emergency financial aid to help cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations.  

I am proud to share Ave Maria University’s executive team voted unanimously to pass all of these funds through to our students. In addition, we will add the negotiated savings we received from our foodservice vendors to these funds. This enables us to disperse up to $1,500 per student for those students who checked out of the dormitories early and retracted from campus services. Amounts will be prorated based on your check-out date. The first announcement of our intent to move to online courses was shared on March 16, 2020 and it will serve as our baseline.

Thank you for your patience and support during these difficult times. I would ask each of you to please fill out and return the attached form by email to: AMUBursar@avemaria.edu

Or by regular mail to:

Ave Maria University
Attn: Bursar
5050 Ave Maria Blvd
Ave Maria, FL 34142

The form is due May 22, 2020. Grants will be distributed by June 30, 2020.

If you have any questions, please contact the Bursar’s office at 239-280-1673.

God Bless,

Christopher P. Ice
President


23 April 2020

Dear Students,

We hope that you and your families are doing well and are healthy and safe. Please be assured of our prayers for you while you are away.

I know many of you have been anxious (and others not so much) about when you will be able to come to campus to get your things. Below is an update about when and how you should retrieve your belongings. The procedures outlined below take into mind recommendations from local and national officials regarding how best to ensure the safety of students and staff.

  • Students with belongings in the Residence Halls may return to campus to retrieve their belongings and check out of their university housing Monday, May 11, through Friday, May 15 (restrictions apply). 
  • Students in hardship situations who need to return to pick up their belongings prior to May 11 should use Option #3 (see more on Option #3 below) and wait for email confirmation that their selected date will work prior to arriving on-campus
  • If you have been exposed to or are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 (such as fever, dry cough, etc.), please refrain from coming to campus. 
  • Students will generally not be permitted to stay overnight in the residence halls. 
  • The University is not able to pack up student belongings. 
  • All students are required to remove their belongings and officially check out of their university housing by Friday, May 15, 2020. 
  • For the safety of everyone, the move-out process will be structured in a way that limits the number of people in the Residence Halls at any given time. 
  • Returning students are required to complete the “COVID-19 Return to Move-Out Form” located here: in the Housing Web Portal by 5:00 pm EST, Wednesday, April 29. 
  • Students who fail to sign up to return or notify Residence Life of their plans will be fined. 

Options for Move-Out: 

When completing the “COVID-19 Return to Move-Out Form,” you will be prompted to indicate how you plan to retrieve your belongings and checkout of your university housing. There are three approved options for move-out, outlined below; when completing the form, please specify which option you plan to pursue:

Option #1: Students are first strongly encouraged to have a friend who is currently on campus pack their belongings and either a) store them in a storage unit, or b) ship their belongings back to them. Logistics should be worked out among the students themselves. 

Option #2: If option #1 is not possible, then students will be allowed to return to campus the week of May 11-May 15. Please plan ahead and reserve a storage unit if you need it, as you must remove all of your belongings during your assigned timeslot. 

In adherence to social distancing recommendations, we are limiting the number of students who may move out of a residence hall on a given day. Students will be able to return during ONE timeslot only, using the first letter of your last name, to give everyone proper spacing (see the online form for your options. Your timeslots will be made available to you when you fill out the form by clicking on the highlighted link above). 

Option #3: If you need an exception to return to campus other than the week of May 11-15, please select a date on the online form (no earlier than Friday, May 1st) to be considered on a case-by-case basis. We will reach out to you by email to let you know if the return date you selected is possible.  ** If none of the options on the form are feasible, please email Ryan.Welch@avemaria.edu to let us know. ** 

When you return to campus, the following rules must be followed:

  1. You must select a time between Monday, May 11th, and Friday, May 15th to pack up your things via the online form. 
  2. Any student returning to the University must have written (email) authorization from Residence Life indicating that their selected timeslot has been approved. This authorization will be sent to your AMU email account after your request has been received. 
  3. Any student who returns to university housing without written authorization is subject to a fine of $500. 
  4. Students must bring their AMU Student ID. Students will not be allowed to enter the residence hall or their room without it. (If your ID card access is not working, you will have to go to Security in Student Union to have your card reprogrammed in-person). 
  5. Only two people other than the student may enter university housing to help a student move out their things. 
  6. If you the student are unable to return yourself, and you have authorized another person to remove your belongings, you and your roommate(s) must all consent to this and you must each send an email to your Residence Director via your student email accounts. 
  7. Students and their moving helpers will not be allowed to stay in their rooms overnight when they return to move out their belongings. 
  8. To observe social distancing, we are limiting the number of students who may move out of a residence hall on a given day. Students will be spaced as outlined above under “Options for Move-Out.” 
  9. Roommates are normally not allowed to move out at the same time. 
  10. It is important that you recognize this as a time to come get your things and not a time to come socialize with your friends. Students are not to congregate and “hang out” while they are on campus. 
  11. All other social distancing norms established in the email from Student Affairs on March 20 shall remain in place. 
  12. Failure to comply with the above rules while on-campus will result in immediate removal from campus. 

For the safety of our community, if you and/or your guests have been exposed to or are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, dry cough, etc., please refrain from coming to campus. 

Further instructions on parking, cleaning requirements, and checking out will be sent in early May. 

Please contact your Residence Director with any questions. 

God love you and bless you, 

Ryan Welch
Director of Residence Life 

Residence Directors: 
Sebastian Hall: Brady Fehringer – Brady.Fehringer@avemaria.edu 
Xavier & Goretti Halls: John Gargano – John.P.Gargano@avemaria.edu 
St. Joseph Hall: Jarvis McGarrah –  Jarvis.McGarrah@avemaria.edu 
John Paul II Hall: Rebekah Koehler – Rebekah.Koehler@avemaria.edu 
Mother Teresa Hall: Lauren Holm – Lauren.Holm@avemaria.edu 

Either we learn to find our Lord in ordinary, everyday life, or else we shall never find Him. – St. Josemaría Escrivá


Office of the President

1 April 2020

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we all strive to cope with the worldwide devastating effects of Coronavirus (COVID-19). We are fortunate at Ave Maria University there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 on campus. We thank God for protecting the university and community while continuing to plead for the Blessed Mother’s intercession.

While some students have returned home, others remain on campus continuing their education online while taking advantage of the university’s facilities. I am grateful to our professors who have seamlessly transitioned to an online platform. In addition, our food service vendor has nimbly adjusted schedules, menus, and services in order to meet the needs of the students who remain.

Since the federal government has stated that the protective measures designed to prevent the spread of the virus will continue until at least April 30, 2020, and subsequently, Governor Ron DeSantis has issued a state-wide, 30-day, stay-at-home order, we can reaffirm previously announced decisions:

  • We will remain online through the end of this semester
  • There will be no on-campus commencement (originally scheduled for May 9, 2020)  
  • We are waiting on a final decision about commencement to see if a short delay would make it possible to host a ceremony on campus later this spring. If this is not possible due to gathering bans and travels restrictions, we may have a virtual ceremony this spring with plans for a Class of 2020 event early in the fall semester

Some students and parents have inquired about refunds for room and board. Please understand our costs did not decrease or dissolve with the potential of the virus’ impact on our community. We are still making the same payments for utilities, insurance, employee expenses and other operational costs. Having said that, we are in continuing dialogue with our vendors and are also cognizant of the recent passage of federal legislation which could provide some relief to the university and our students. We will review the guidance to be issued by the Department of Education and we will communicate with you further when we have any additional information regarding the possibility of refunds or credits.

Thank you again for your patience. May God bless our students and their families, keeping them free from this virus while accompanying those who suffer from its effect worldwide.

Christopher P. Ice
President


31 March 2020

Ave Maria University continues to have no known cases of COVID-19 on campus.

While all students have been given the option to return home, a number have chosen to remain on-campus, either because they are unable to return home, or because they have determined it is better for them to remain here for the time being. We are pleased to be able to offer a way for students to continue their online coursework on-campus if they feel this is in their best interest in achieving their educational goals. For now, we will continue to allow any student who has already chosen to remain on-campus to stay and will continue to monitor and reevaluate this ever-changing situation as necessary.

On Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued a stay-at-home order for Southeast Florida as the number of positive coronavirus cases in the region continues to grow. At this time, the order does not apply to Collier County, which is where Ave Maria is located.

Additionally, over 30 states and localities across the country have issued some version of a stay-at-home order in recent weeks. It is expected that more will follow suit in the coming days and weeks.

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to our campus and within the surrounding town, from now until May 1, the University will no longer allow students who leave Collier County for any reason to return to campus. The situation will be re-evaluated by May 1, and we will determine by then whether or not it is safe to allow students back on campus.

This temporary ban includes students who returned home temporarily without taking all of their belongings. It also includes anyone who chooses to visit friends or family outside of Collier County moving forward, including during Easter break.

Students who are already here on campus are welcome to stay. For the protection of these students, as well as for the protection of the Ave Maria community as a whole, these are considered reasonable safety measures to prevent someone from returning to campus and inadvertently spreading the virus among our population.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation in this continued effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

–Student Affairs


Office of the President

24 March 2020

We have moved all classes to online instruction effective Monday, March 23 and everyone has worked hard to make this transition as smooth as possible. We have discovered in this process that we are nimble, agile and resilient to the challenges being presented before us each day. Our faculty and staff were ready for this unexpected turn of events and are doing outstanding work to provide a first-class education to all our students. In this transition, we did not miss any days of instruction.

Our Executive Team and Coronavirus Response Team (CRT) are meeting daily to review any changes implemented by these authorities, give updates on our campus and to make changes as needed. On Monday, our campus instituted a number of new protocols to protect the remaining students on campus who cannot leave due to travel restrictions or other personal reasons. We continue to follow all local, state and federal health requirements and are constantly updating our processes per CDC guidelines. Our physical plant crews are thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing the campus each day. We have plenty of food and supplies.

On top of these measures we have placed a 10 PM curfew on all dormitories and there are no visitors allowed 24/7. The swimming pool and weight room are closed and all meals in the cafeteria are being served (vs. self-served) to the students. Our post office and library are now limited to student use only. In obedience to our local Bishop, we closed the Martha Burke Eucharistic Adoration chapel and Fr. Rick Martignetti has placed the Blessed Sacrament under his care. We are live streaming all Masses and invite you to join our priests at 11 AM for daily Mass. At this time, there are no known reported positive cases of the COVID-19 on the campus at Ave Maria University. We pray for God’s continued protection and the Blessed Virgin Mary’s intercession for all our students, faculty and staff.

Thank you for your prayers for Ave Maria University. Tomorrow, on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of Our Lord, we will virtually pray the Marian Consecration together as a community with Fr. Rick Martignetti live after the 11 AM Mass. Please join us online as we ask Jesus and his Blessed Mother to protect Ave Maria University from all illness, including all fears from this illness and the wisdom to guide our University into the future.

May God bless you and thank you for all your prayers and support.

Christopher P. Ice
President


18 March 2020

Dear students, faculty, staff and parents,

We have been doing our best to try to be as accommodating as possible for our students to allow everyone the option to remain on campus or return home. We feel that we have come up with some innovative solutions by offering a synchronistic academic setting online and in-person. So far, this has worked well and we have not missed a day of instruction.

The students have now been back on campus from Spring break for at least 10 days. At this time, we do not have any reported positive cases of COVID-19 at Ave Maria University or in the town of Ave Maria.

Unfortunately, we are faced with a new reality and there are a lot of unanswered questions and you need clarity. We will continue to communicate as best we can. You have been patient with us and we greatly appreciate everyone’s prayers and support during this trying time.

Given that we are in the midst of a national quarantine that includes avoiding congregating in public places, social distancing, and a ban on gatherings of ten or more people, the University has decided to suspend in-person instruction to students, effective Monday, March 23. Online instruction will be the exclusive mode of delivery for the remainder of the semester.

At this time, the campus will remain open to accommodate students who choose not to return home or who are unable to return home due to travel restrictions. Residence life will be sending further communication later today or tomorrow that will address new protocols for students who remain on campus, as well as students who need to return to retrieve their belongings.

We have been holding out hope that we would be able to enjoy our commencement ceremony on May 9th. Unfortunately, it does not appear that a gathering of this magnitude will be possible as soon as May, and therefore, the ceremony has been postponed. The Executive Team will develop an alternative schedule or delivery method in the coming weeks.

As the University brings its day of prayer and fasting to an end, let us join together in praying for our campus community and all those impacted by the COVID-19 virus.

God bless.
Christopher P. Ice
President


17 March 2020

Dear Ave Maria University Community,

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! We hope you put on your Irish today. Wear your green with pride!

Yesterday, President Trump issued the “15 Days to Slow the Spread” guidelines for Coronavirus. I would like everyone to review these here. Our Executive Team and our Coronavirus Response Team (CRT) is meeting on a daily basis to review the seemingly endless stream of information that is coming out each day. To keep the risk of spreading the virus as low as possible, we would ask that all students residing on campus refrain from non-essential travel. For the same reason, if you have chosen the temporary check out, we ask that you do not return to the residence halls until further notice.

I want to assure you that our team of faculty and staff were well prepared for this turn of events. Classes have continued without interruption and without a loss of a single instructional period. This is a great testimony to our faculty’s commitment to our students and academic mission, and our students’ commitment to their studies. In the midst of the uncertainty of this virus, it is consoling to know that the fullness of truth is continuing to be disseminated through the learning and scholarship that takes place on our campus under Our Lady’s mantle.

The campus is well stocked with sanitary supplies and food. Our residence halls, library, and cafeteria will remain open for those who choose to remain on campus. There is no shortage of food from our vendors. The food service is following CDC guidelines to ensure that the cafeteria is sanitized.

Please join us for a day of fasting and prayer tomorrow, March 18th for the safety and protection of our community from the Coronavirus.

God bless.
Christopher P. Ice
President


15 March 2020

Dear Parents of Current Ave Maria Students,

In light of the recent announcement that the University will be moving all course instruction to the fully online mode of instruction, effective Monday, I am writing to seek your assistance in supporting and encouraging all of our students to continue with their studies. The faculty had been preparing for the possibility of going online all week. This preparation and quick action, which has continued through the weekend, gives us confidence that the University is well-prepared to make this switch. After meeting with the faculty on Friday evening, our Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Roger Nutt, sent an e-mail to students updating them on some academic-specific points that will be relevant in the upcoming days. We thought that it might be helpful to share some of this communication with you to keep you informed and to enlist your support for our students in the coming weeks. Here are some key points from that message to the students:

“It is important that you [student] understand that there will be no interruption in the University’s offering of your courses. There may be a few bugs to work out the first few days, so please be patient with us. We have been actively preparing for this possibility for the entire week, and we are confident that the faculty is very well prepared to make this switch.”

“Whether or not you are staying here on campus, you need to be prepared to continue your studies and to attend your classes, at least virtually, at the regular meeting times starting on Monday. You should be in touch with your professors and following your classes in Canvas so that you know what will be expected of you.”

“It is important to note that while we have moved to an online mode of instruction, the campus is not closed. The University facilities, including the library, will remain open for your use. Many of your professors will continue to work on campus from their offices, and many will conduct their online instruction from the classroom at the regular meeting time. You are welcome to seek out your professors or attend their teaching sessions in person, if they are working from campus.

“To continue to progress in your classes and to work towards a successful completion of the semester, you will need to be very focused and disciplined with your approach to your classes.”

This is not a vacation for you or the University faculty and staff; the coursework is going to be steady. The faculty have been asked to be patient and accommodating during this stressful time, but we need to keep in mind that classes remain in session online and you will be expected to participate and complete the work that is assigned.”

“We will be tracking your engagement in the classes through Canvas and we are committed to providing you with all necessary support to succeed as students.”

We are making every effort to provide all of our students with the instruction that they need to successfully complete the semester. Any support and encouragement that you parents can provide to your children during this period of online instruction will be most appreciated.

Also, students who are choosing not to stay on campus must complete a temporary checkout with residential life.  A communication with detailed instructions about the temporary checkout process was sent directly to students on Friday.

Be assured of our prayers for you and yours during this time of uncertainty!

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Christopher P. Ice
President


13 March 2020

Ave Maria University has been closely following public health recommendations surrounding the outbreak and spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff is a top priority at AMU, as is our mission as an educational institution. As we watch and observe information about Coronavirus the statistics and data seem to change by the hour.

The number of confirmed cases in the state of Florida continues to rise and even though Ave Maria University and the town of Ave Maria do not have any confirmed cases as of this writing, we continue to be vigilant in how we approach this novel virus.

A number of students and parents have expressed concerns about the implications of the University continuing to hold in-person classes. In light of these concerns, the Coronavirus Response Team (CRT) has decided to take the following actions:

  • All classes will move to the online format effective Monday, March 16th. On April 3rd, we will announce whether in-person classes will resume after Easter Break.
  • Residence halls, dining halls, and other campus facilities and buildings will remain open.
  • Students may choose to stay on campus or may choose to go home.
  • Credit-bearing clinical rotations, student teaching, and other internships will continue.
  • Faculty will be expected to teach their courses online, with necessary adjustments as needed, and remain available and accessible to their students.  Further information from faculty will be forthcoming.
  • Students will be expected to follow their courses without interruption, and to take all necessary steps to stay engaged with their courses and professors.
  • Florida Governor DeSantis has strongly advised that we consider limiting large gatherings as this poses an increased risk. Following this directive, we are postponing all public events including the Inauguration, Annunciation Celebration, and Battle of the Bands.
  • Seminars and conferences will be canceled or postponed effective immediately. Updates will be provided in the Daily Bulletin.
  • Further updates on Commencement will be announced on or before April 3rd.
  • Off-campus community outreach and service will be discontinued until further notice.
  • Athletic activities will follow the Sun Conference guidelines; the Sun Conference has postponed athletic competitions through March 27th with updates to follow.
  • Campus Ministry will continue to meet the sacramental needs of the AMU community. Schedule updates will be forthcoming.
  • All non-essential University business travel is suspended.
  • Students with existing health problems or compromised immune systems should limit their exposure to the general campus population.
  • AMU will continue to take extra precautions on cleaning and sanitizing the campus.
  • Students should continue to practice good hygiene as recommended by the CDC.
For general updates and information on COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
A page that is particularly helpful is the CDC’s website on preventing the spread of the virus: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html.
The U.S. Department of Education link is: https://www.ed.gov/coronavirus?src=feature

We continue to plan, prepare and pray. I ask all of you who have joined in our Marian Consecration to continue in earnest. We will also be asking the AMU community to join us in a day of fasting and prayer for all those impacted by COVID-19. More information will be forthcoming on this event.

May God bless you,
Christopher P. Ice
President


12 March 2020

Dear Ave Maria University students, faculty, and staff: 

I pray you all are doing well and settling into your classes following the Spring Break. I realize that with the recent outbreak of coronavirus around the globe, you all have many concerns regarding what the University is planning to do. I would like for us to look at the facts together and try to dispel any fears.

The Ave Maria University Coronavirus Response Team (CRT) has been meeting for the past two weeks and met again this morning to review the current status of the virus and best practices moving forward. The CRT is comprised of experts from several departments and fields of experience, and they are working extremely hard to navigate all concerns. The CRT has been in constant contact with local, state, and federal health departments, along with reviewing all updates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).

There has been a lot of inaccurate and unreliable information spreading throughout our AMU community. I would like to share with you some of the facts: 

1.       Unlike many other universities, AMU students have been back from Spring Break and mission trips for several days now.

2.       AMU students who visited or were studying abroad in Italy have returned to the United States, but are not allowed to return to campus until after their 14-day period of self-quarantine is up, and only then if they remain symptom-free.

3.       Florida has had 30-some positive cases of coronavirus; of these cases, there are no known cases in the state of Florida for people of our student’s age demographic.

4. There are no known cases of coronavirus on the AMU campus, and we are not aware of any positive cases in the town of Ave Maria.

At this time, the CRT views that keeping AMU open and keeping students on campus is the best approach for the safety of our students, and for their academic success.   

Online coursework can be difficult for some students, as it robs them of the freedom to take part in regular office hours and one-on-one meetings with faculty and peers, so moving to “online-only” classes could present a different set of challenges. In light of this, we have chosen to continue to hold in-person classes in the classroom.

We would ask that you adhere to the below instructions and practices as per CDC guidelines; The guidelines which informed these decisions are posted on our website, and include practicing standard safe hygiene precautions.

1.       The University has added cleaning crews who have been tasked with additional cleaning rotations; this will continue indefinitely.

2.       Please limit all unnecessary trips to and from campus as a precaution.

3.       We are reviewing activities, such as guest speakers and other visitors from outside of the community, on a daily basis. All on campus events will continue as planned for now.

4.       Decisions will be forthcoming about large events like the Inauguration, the Annunciation Celebration, and Commencement.

We have planned, we have prepared, and now I am asking you to pray. I would ask that you join me in prayer for Ave Maria University’s CRT as we continue to discern the appropriate decisions each day. Please pray our local, state, and federal government leaders, along with healthcare workers who are responding to this virus. And finally, I would ask Our Blessed Mother to spread her mantle of protection across the Ave Maria University campus and the residents in the town of Ave Maria from the fear of this virus. 

We will continue to update you frequently on our website. 

Thank you for your time and may God bless each of you.

–President Christopher P. Ice


11 March 2020

We want to assure you that the Ave Maria University Coronavirus Response Team has been meeting regularly to discuss COVID-19, receive updates on the latest developments, and review the actions that need to be implemented. At this time, there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 within the University Community. To our benefit, our campus is located in a fairly isolated area in the warm sunshine of SW Florida and away from the larger population areas, which has allowed us to continue to keep our campus open.

We have received another shipment of sanitizer stands that will be placed strategically throughout the campus. Physical Plant employees are conducting extra cleaning of doorknobs and table surfaces every night, and, beginning today, cleaning solution will be left in each classroom for faculty and students to wipe down desks and chairs after each class. We are in touch with the local health authorities and have plans that will be implemented if the virus breaks out on our campus.

All Ave Maria University students who were studying at the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts campus in Rome have officially departed from Rome and are either en route or have arrived to their respective homes. Students were screened prior to departing Italy. Study Abroad students will complete their semester online through Thomas More College and will not return to the Ave Maria campus. 

We urge all students, faculty, staff and their families to follow CDC directives to help safeguard the public health of the campus; a link to these directives may be found here

We want to confirm that we are aware of two students who traveled to Italy during Spring Break; these students are currently in self-quarantine at their homes. Neither student has shown symptoms related to COVID-19, but as a precautionary measure, they will not return until after the quarantine period ends, and even then, only if they are symptom-free. 

Our Coronavirus Response Team will continue to meet on a regular basis, and will continue to receive frequent updates each day from local and state health authorities, the CDC, WHO, and other resources. We will continue to post relevant updates as the situation unfolds. 

Finally, President Ice asks everyone to adopt this motto, “Plan, prepare and pray, but don’t panic.” 

Let us join in prayer as a University community for all those suffering from this illness and ask for the protection of Our Lady:

O Most Holy Virgin, Mother of God and my Mother Mary, I thank you for all the graces you grant here to those who turn to you. Nobody ever prayed to you in vain. I, too, resort to you and beg you for the Passion and Death of Jesus and for your pains: welcome me, o’ merciful Mother, under your mantle, which is a maternal mantle; grant me the particular grace that I ask of You to protect Ave Maria University students, faculty, and staff from the Coronavirus and protect me from all evil and especially from sin, which is the greatest evil.

Oh make, oh Mary, my Mother, that I always enjoy your loving protection in life and even more in death and then come to see you in heaven and to thank and bless you forever. Amen.

Sweet Madonna, pray for us.

O sweet Virgin, pious mother of love,
Like this Ave rising from the heart.
Ave, ave, ave, Maria
Ave, ave, ave, Maria

O Virgin, shine as a star in the sky,
Motherly defend your faithful children.
Ave, ave, ave Maria
Ave, ave, ave, Maria


9 March 2020

In light of Prime Minister of Italy, Guiseppe Conte’s unexpected announcement this afternoon (March 9) that he has put the entire country of Italy under “stay at home” rules due to the outbreak of COVID-19, it is with great sadness and dismay that Dr. William Fahey, President of Thomas More College of Liberal Arts and our study abroad partner, has chosen to shut down the program in Rome effective immediately. Dr. Fahey and I have been conversing multiple times a day over the last week and I support his decision.  We both feel this is the best decision for our students studying in Rome.

I want to be clear that we do not feel that there is any health risk to our students, but the Italian Prime Minister’s decision severely limits the program’s effectiveness in Italy and we believe our students will be better served by studying online at home in the United States. Thomas More College is committed to allowing students to finish their semester online at their homes. These students will not return to the Ave Maria University campus.

The Thomas More College staff in Rome is working with students to schedule departure travel over the next 72 hours. Their staff will stay in Rome until every student has departed. The “stay at home” rules do not affect essential travel or travel of foreign nationals to their homes.  

Please join me in prayer for my colleague Dr. Fahey and his wonderful staff at Thomas More College. We appreciate all of their due diligence during this unfortunate turn of events. I would ask for prayers for all the Rome students and for their safe travels back home.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Alex Bartsch at alexandrea.bartsch@avemaria.edu or 239-280-2540.

-President Christopher P. Ice


8 March 2020

The following communication was sent out to students on todat, March 8, 2020.

Dear Students:

We hope that this e-mail finds you well-rested after Spring Break. We are writing to give you an update on the University’s current response to the coronavirus.

Classes will resume on campus tomorrow, as planned. There are currently no known cases of the virus among the University community (students, faculty, and staff) or in the town of Ave Maria. During Spring Break the University took careful measures to safeguard the public health of the campus-based on directives from the CDC, the Florida Department of Health, and local authorities. These measures included the installation of hand sanitizing stations in high-traffic areas around campus and the (extra) cleansing of all surfaces. These extra precautions will continue after classes resume. Updates are available on the landing page of the University’s website. The most recent update includes the following CDC recommendation for students (or faculty and staff) who have traveled to high-risk areas or who may be experiencing symptoms: “The University is restricting University-affiliated travel outside of the United States to locations where a level 3 travel warning has been issued related to COVID-19 and coronavirus. In addition, we strongly discourage personal travel to these areas. Given the rapidly changing nature of the virus, if you traveled to these affected areas you may be asked to do a 14-day self-quarantine off-campus upon return. Please see [below] for CDC resources regarding travel.” 

ALL students and employees returning from China, Italy, South Korea, Iran or Japan – and/or – who have had close contact with a lab-confirmed Coronavirus (COVID-19) patient – are directed to self-quarantine for 14 days.  During this time, those students or staff should not come to any part of the campus, including the student residence halls or offices. Also, students needing to self-quarantine must notify the office of residential life of their circumstances by emailing the Director of Residence life at: Ryan.Welch@avemaria.edu.

The best way to prevent the spread of the virus for all students and employees is to frequently wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and stay home if they are sick.  Students who develop flu-like symptoms or are concerned that they may have COVID-19 can contact the local health department regarding COVID-19 testing or to make an appointment.  If you are severely ill, you should call an urgent care, emergency department at a local hospital, or call 911 before going in person.  They will direct you on the steps to take to get help without infecting others.  Keep in mind that this is the cold and flu season, so you should not assume you have the Coronavirus even if you have similar symptoms.  If cases of COVID-19 are identified among residents of on-campus community housing, the University will work with local health officials to take additional precautions and determine next steps, which when possible, may include having them return home to recover. Students can get answers to frequently asked questions on the CDC website:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html.

As the COVID-19 virus circumstances continue to change, updates will be provided on the University website. Students who believe that they need to self-quarantine for any reason should contact Ryan.welch@avemaria.edu to discuss their situation so that the office of residential life is aware and can also verify the status with faculty. Again, please do not attend class or the dining hall if you are sick and notify your professors if you will need course accommodations.

We look forward to seeing students back in class this week.

-Coronavirus Response Team


6 March 2020

The University is restricting University-affiliated travel outside of the United States to locations where a level 3 travel warning has been issued related to COVID-19 and coronavirus. In addition, we strongly discourage personal travel to these areas.

Given the rapidly changing nature of the virus, if you choose to travel to these affected areas you may be asked to do a 14-day self-quarantine off-campus upon return. Please see below for CDC resources regarding travel.


4 March 2020 

Our Ave Maria University Emergency Preparedness Committee is closely monitoring the latest information related to the evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This page will continue to be updated if information changes.

Regarding Classes: 

  • Class will be in session on Monday, March 9, after spring break. While there are two confirmed and one presumptive positive case of coronavirus in the state of Florida, none of these cases are connected with Ave Maria University. Currently, there are no cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) among the University faculty, staff, or student body. Furthermore, there are also no known cases of COVID-19 in the town of Ave Maria adjacent to the University. 
  • University officials have been and will continue to be in regular contact with the Florida Health Department. There are currently no public health directives from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), Florida Department of Health, or local county authorities that recommend against holding classes. The public school system in Collier County and other local universities are currently in session.

Advice for Travelers: 

  • Students who are traveling during the Spring break should follow CDC guidelines regarding good hygiene and regular handwashing. Any student who feels they may have been exposed to the coronavirus or is displaying symptoms should see a physician and remain home until they are clear of any threat of spreading the disease. More advice for travelers may be found on the Florida Department of Health & CDC websites

University Response: 

  • The University is taking advantage of the spring break week to follow public health recommendations related to the prevention of COVID-19. These measures include the acquisition of additional hand sanitizing stations for high traffic areas around campus, extra cleaning of potentially at-risk areas with disinfectant agents, the posting of public health directives regarding proper handwashing and cough/sneeze etiquette, and the sanitization of surfaces around campus that are prone to contact (door handles, desks, and tables). These measures will continue after students have returned from break.

Resources: