Christopher Ice became the third President of Ave Maria University on January 1, 2020.
President Ice comes to Ave Maria University after serving as the Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph.
President Ice is a native of Lawrence, Kansas and attended high school at St. Henry’s Preparatory Seminary in Belleville, IL. He played college baseball and graduated from St. Mary of the Plains College in Dodge City, KS. He set numerous baseball records at St. Mary’s including, the NAIA baseball career batting average at .480 and was inducted into the college’s inaugural athletics hall of fame. President Ice later earned his M.B.A. at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
President Ice began his career as an assistant college baseball coach and admissions counselor at St. Mary of the Plains. He then launched a very successful 23-year commercial insurance career in 1989, where he earned over 25 top company awards as a marketing professional. His business acumen helped him lead multiple complex organizations with revenues up to $100 million and assets over $50 million. He has also provided consulting services to numerous private equity firms with revenues ranging from $15-20 billion. It was during these years that President Ice had a deepening of and growth in love for his Catholic faith.
President Ice’s commitment to his family, Catholic orthodoxy, and academic excellence motivated a switch from his corporate and private business career to Catholic higher education. He established a new major gift division for Franciscan University of Steubenville and worked as an adjunct professor in the business department. A lifelong lover of Catholic education and an avid fundraiser while he was at Franciscan University, President Ice was the Chair of the Baron Athletic Fund and the co-founder of the Baron Athletics Advisory Board in 2014. In 2016, President Ice co-founded Franciscan’s Business Advisory Board by placing numerous C-level executives from major corporations across the country on the board. The board exists to help develop numerous new initiatives for the business department. One such major accomplishment of the newly created board: in 2019, Franciscan University’s business department was granted accreditation by the Board of Commissioners of the International Assembly for Collegiate for Business Education (IACBE).
In 2017, President Ice accepted the position as the Chief Executive Officer for Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph. He was charged with restoring the Catholic identity in the 138-year-old organization and saving it from numerous financial challenges. In 2018, he reduced substantial debt and completed a total rebrand of the organization, reinforcing the Catholic identity by which they were founded and emphasizing the core principles of Catholic social teaching. He was elected to serve on the Executive Committee for Catholic Charities USA representing over 170 independent Catholic Charities organizations across the United States.
In the last year as CEO, President Ice led numerous new initiatives that brought in over $10 million in new revenue for education, low income senior housing, and other services to serve the poor and vulnerable in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. During his tenure, the agency completed a record number of adoptions over the previous 10 years. Prior to his departure, he successfully navigated the largest financial transaction in the history of the organization while creating a new strategic plan to place Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph in a position to become one of the leading non-profit organizations in Western Missouri.
President Ice has a lifelong passion for Catholic education and believes it should help provide the essential formation of students to evangelize the culture. He is a firm believer in St. John Paul II’s Ex Corde Ecclesiae and is committed to assuring an authentic Catholic education for all students at Ave Maria University.
President Ice has a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Holy Family with St. Joseph as his role model. He and his wife Mary have been married since 1988. They have 10 children, seven of whom are living, and as of 2019, one grandchild.