Ave Maria University began as a dream in the mind of our founder, Tom S. Monaghan, to restore Catholic higher education amid an age of secularism, progressivism and even doctrinal divergence in Catholic institutions. The goal of AMU was simple: to build the foundation of a truly Catholic university that would form future generations of truly Catholic men and women faithful to the Magisterium of the Church.
After an initial $250 million donation from our founder and a generous land donation from the Barron Collier Family in Southwest Florida, the dream began to take shape.
Tom Monaghan’s bond with the Catholic Church dates back to when he was four years old. His father died and his mother was unable to care for Tom and his younger brother for some time. She placed them in an orphanage run by the Felician Sisters. The positive experience led him to consider the priesthood, but eventually Tom decided on a career as an entrepreneur and businessman. His pizzeria, Domino’s, grew from a single store in Ypsilanti, Michigan, to franchises around the country.
In 2003, by decree of the Bishop of the Diocese of Venice in Florida, AMU became the first new Catholic university since 1963. We took the mottos “Ex Corde Ecclesiae” (From the Heart of the Church) and “Veritatis Splendor” (The Splendor of Truth).
Our beautiful Florida campus soon became recognized as an ideal location to obtain a higher education that was faithful to the tenets of the Catholic Church. Whether students focused on theology or marine biology, they could rely on a college experience infused with values that create strong leaders in and out of the classroom.