AMU Presidential Update

22 July 2021

Dear Ave Maria University Community,

In early July, the Chairman of Ave Maria University’s Board of Trustees shared the following news with the University community: “[Due to various circumstances, President Christopher P. Ice] has made the decision to step down from his position as President. He has offered his resignation and will serve as a special consultant over the next several months to the Board and the Administration of Ave Maria University. We appreciate Chris’ service to the University and his faithful devotion to Our Blessed Mother, and wish him and his family the very best. I am grateful to share that Dr. Roger Nutt will be serving as interim President.”

Since that time, the University has received many questions about the Board’s plans to replace President Ice. Chairman Rainey anticipates an announcement about the next president before the end of 2021. “The Board is actively pursuing the fourth president of Ave Maria University,” Rainey confirmed, “I am extremely excited about the future of the University, and we look forward to sharing the news at the earliest possible date.” Rainey added that the next president will be “unwaveringly committed to the University’s Catholic identity and mission, and passionate about fulfilling Tom Monaghan’s founding vision.” Rainey went on to cite the University’s record incoming freshmen class, record number of transfer students, record fundraising, and major building initiatives throughout the campus as solid evidence of the University’s growth and optimistic outlook.

In the short-term, Rainey expressed that the Board has the highest confidence in Dr. Roger Nutt as interim president. “Dr. Nutt has served the University with distinction for over 15 years. He’s been a popular theology professor, accomplished researcher and author, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dean of Faculty, and most recently, has served as our Provost.” Dr. Nutt has also previously stepped into the role of interim president, providing much needed leadership during times of transition.

“I am honored to serve in this capacity to ensure Ave Maria University maintains its positive trajectory, but I am not alone. I am blessed and supported by a stellar team of senior administrators, staff and faculty that is the envy of Catholic higher education,” said Nutt.

The Board of Ave Maria University invites all friends and constituencies to stay tuned for future updates and announcements and to consider praying an Ave Maria for Ave Maria University.  

Three Endowed Faculty Chairs Established

12 May 2021

Dear Ave Maria University Community,

I am pleased to announce the University has received a generous donation for the establishment of three endowed faculty chairs. The benefactor, who wishes to remain anonymous, asked that three current members of the faculty who exemplify a commitment to the University’s mission, scholarly excellence, and superlative teaching, be the first appointees to the chairs. The donor also requested the chairs be distributed across disciplines at the University. The names of the chairs memorialize the contributions of three deceased individuals integral to the founding of the University.

The Fr. Matthew L. Lamb Chair of Catholic Theology honors the role of the late Fr. Matthew L. Lamb in the founding of the Patrick F. Taylor Graduate Programs in Theology at Ave Maria University. In 2004, Fr. Lamb left his tenured full professorship at Boston College to join the University as the founding chair of the Theology Department. Dr. Michael Dauphinais, who is currently the chair of the Theology Department and Co-Director of the Aquinas Center for Theological Renewal, has been appointed first holder of the chair. Dr. Dauphinais is an accomplished and widely published Catholic theologian, popular professor, and he served the University sacrificially for over a decade as Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs. He and Fr. Lamb were close friends and colleagues.

The Ambassador Michael Novak Chair of Politics honors the contributions to the University made by the late Michael Novak as a founding trustee of the University, member of the faculty, and great friend and supporter of the students and faculty. Dr. Seana Sugrue, who currently serves as chair of Politics and director of Pre-Law, has been appointed first holder of the chair. She is an accomplished constitutional scholar, served the University sacrificially as Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and one of the highest rated professors at the University. Dr. Sugrue was a dear friend and colleague of Ambassador Novak’s.

Dr. Paula Ines Castagnet Chair of Biological Sciences honors the contributions of the late Paula Castagnet to the founding of the University and the development of its science programs. A Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Dr. Castagnet was among the first members of the faculty at Ave Maria University. While still a member of the faculty, she passed away from cancer in 2011. Dr. Nicholas Curtis has been appointed the first holder of the chair. Dr. Curtis is the chair of the Biology department, which oversees the majors in Exercise Physiology, Health Science, Marine Biology, Biology, and Environmental Science. The Biology department has enjoyed significant growth under Dr. Curtis’s leadership. He is widely published in the fields of cell and molecular biology.

The establishment of these three academic chairs marks a significant moment in the maturation of Ave Maria University. The University has long enjoyed a reputation for strong academics and a renowned faculty. It was these attributes—the strength of the academics and the faculty—that inspired the donor to make this generous gift. The establishment of these three chairs accentuates the University’s commitment to academic excellence and the cultivation of an academically accomplished, mission-driven, faculty.

Please join me in congratulating Drs. Dauphinais, Sugrue, and Curtis for this remarkable honor.

God Bless,

Christopher P. Ice

Ave Maria University Nursing Program Receives Full Accreditation

28 April 2021

Ave Maria University is pleased to announce its Nursing Program has received full accreditation from the Board of Commissioners at Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

ACEN is one of the leading accreditation bodies in nursing education in the United States, and is devoted to strengthening the quality of nursing education through its review process and rigorous standards.

The successful completion of the process concludes a thorough multi-year evaluation that included a major self-study and site visit to the University. ACEN assesses nursing programs in light of the following six criteria:

  1. Mission and governance
  2. Faculty and staff
  3. Student policies and support structure
  4. Curriculum
  5. Fiscal, physical, and learning resources on the campus
  6. End of Program outcomes and student achievement

In addition, the accreditation is retroactive to the fall of 2019, meaning it not only benefits current and future students, but positively impacts the career of past AMU Nursing program alumni.

Many of the finest graduate programs in Nursing require applicants to have graduated from an ACEN accredited school to be considered for admission, and ACEN accreditation is often necessary for obtaining employment at the strongest health care facilities.

“The successful completion of the accreditation process is not only a major step for our Nursing Program at Ave Maria University,” the University’s Provost, Dr. Roger W. Nutt noted, “it also confirms the excellence and quality of the formation our students receive.”

Ave Maria University’s Nursing program boasts a 100% job placement among alumni and being accredited by one of the most respected national organizations in nursing accreditation lifts the program and University to new heights.

The study of nursing was introduced at Ave Maria University as an extension of its mission to draw upon the resources of a Catholic, liberal arts education to meet societal needs. The formation of professionally excellent healthcare providers trained in Catholic bioethics is most certainly an area of pressing need.

The number of students studying nursing at AMU has grown every year since the program’s inception and AMU is enjoying a growth spurt with spring enrollment reaching a record high despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, which undoubtedly bolstered the attractiveness and quality of the program.

If you’d like more information on Ave Maria University’s Nursing Program contact Katy Thoele @ 239-280-2500 or

President Ice Speaks at Jesuit High School, Tampa, FL

26 April 2021

President Christopher P. Ice spoke at Jesuit High School in Tampa Florida  on Friday, April 16.

Ice offered the daily convocation, a 10-minute pep talk in their chapel which they use to start each school day. There were 450 young men in attendance and another 450 livestreaming from their homerooms.

Check out his message below:

AMU Announces Deanne R. Gipson, Ph.D. as New Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management

14 January 2021

Ave Maria University is pleased to announce the addition of Deanne R. Gipson, Ph.D. as the new associate vice president of enrollment management. Gipson brings a wealth of experience in higher education teaching and staff experience, corporate management, mission-based consulting, as well as, Catholic teaching and evangelization.

“We are excited to have Dr. Gipson become a part of our team at Ave Maria University,” said President Christopher P. Ice. “With her corporate skills and experience in higher education, she’s a wonderful fit and will be a catalyst in moving our enrollment initiatives forward.”

Before joining Ave Maria University, Gipson was a staff member at the University of Notre Dame in the graduate school enrollment management division serving as recruitment strategies program director. Through use of research and data analysis, Gipson helped target recruiting efforts for both virtual and in-person learning. It is these skills Gipson seeks to bring to Ave Maria University to help attract and guide families through the various stages of enrollment.

“My ultimate goal is to help mission-minded students find and fulfill their vocational call,” said Gipson.

When Gipson is not interacting with prospective students and their families, she enjoys a rosary run around campus, attending daily Mass, or spending time in the adoration chapel. She is thrilled to be returning to Florida where she attended college (Rollins College in Winter Park, FL) and worked professionally for over 10 years. Gipson has a strong commitment to family and is one of five siblings. She has one son, a recent graduate of Notre Dame, who is currently performing a year of service before starting his Ph.D. studies in Chemistry at Stanford University.  

Ave Maria University Announces New Building Plans

18 November 2020

The Ave Maria University Board of Directors has approved three new, major building projects designed to enhance and enrich the student experience. These projects include:

  1. An overhaul and reconstruction of Golisano Field House
  2. A new 6,500 square-foot locker room facility
  3. A new outdoor, open-air, multi-court covered basketball facility called Judi’s Gym

The Golisano Field House originally built in 2011 will be replaced by an updated and remodeled facility. It will continue to serve as the home for the basketball and volleyball teams but will also feature a new weight room open to all students as well as serving AMU’s 18 varsity and six junior varsity sports.

“The Golisano Field House has served us well over the past decade. It has been the center of so many activities for our students and great memories for our alumni,” said President Christopher Ice. “The new facility will offer additional features and benefits, and undoubtedly be a place current and future student athletes will be proud to call their home.”

The second major project, slated for an August 2021 occupancy, is a 6,500 square-foot locker room facility for football, baseball, softball, women’s soccer, men’s soccer, and lacrosse. It will be located directly across Kelleher Street from the athletic fields.

“These new buildings will transform the student-athletes’ experience at Ave Maria University,” said Director of Athletics Joe Patterson. “The generosity shown by Ave Maria leadership demonstrates a clear commitment to the AMU student-athlete.”

The third major project, also slated for an August 2021 occupancy, is a multi-court covered basketball facility, made possible by a $2 million donation. Judi’s Gym, as it will be known, will be located south of the dormitories, directly across Dolan Street. The final product will eventually house six full-length courts, with the initial donation allowing for three of those courts to be completed by fall 2021.

The new facility will greatly enhance the recreational space for all students, especially those involved in intramural sports. Additional benefits of having a covered space will enable the university to hold outdoor events at the facility.

The three building projects capture the growth and momentum of Ave Maria University.

In the fall of 2020, AMU welcomed a record number of varsity and junior-varsity athletes to campus. These athletes have produced an unprecedented grade point average (GPA) statistically identical to the rest of the student body. Athletics has had a similar improvement in on-field and on-court performance as 10 of the current 14 varsity sports have achieved a winning record in at least one of the past two years.

Building on this success, Ave Maria University will expand the number of varsity sports offered. Varsity men’s and women’s swimming and diving will be launched immediately with varsity competition slated for fall 2021. Men’s and women’s golf, both of which had been suspended last semester due to budget concerns related to COVID-19, will be reestablished and compete at the varsity level beginning in fall 2021. 

AMU will also formally introduce junior varsity programs in women’s basketball, softball, and men’s soccer, joining the already-established JV programs in men’s basketball, baseball, and women’s soccer.

“Ave Maria University will be coming out of the pandemic stronger than ever,” said Ice. “It’s a testimony to the resiliency of the AMU athletes, coaches, students, and donors.”

New Provost and Other Administrative Updates Announced

Ave Maria University President Christopher Ice has appointed Roger W. Nutt. S.T.L., S.T.D. to the position of Provost effective October 1, 2020. In his new role, Dr. Nutt will work more closely with the president to move the University’s strategic initiatives forward while continuing to absorb the duties of vice president of academic affairs.

“During my leave of absence, Dr. Nutt stepped in as the acting president and did a terrific job handling the day-to-day University affairs,” said Ice. “This solidified my desire to instill the position of Provost. I am excited to have Dr. Nutt work alongside me to progress the many aggressive initiatives we have planned for Ave Maria University.”

Dr. Nutt earned his Bachelor’s of Elective Studies from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota and after a conversion to the Catholic faith, he completed his Masters of Arts in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio. In 1999, Nutt was accepted in the doctoral program at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, Italy, where he earned his Bachelor of Sacred Theology (S.T.B.) in 2000 and his Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) in 2002. After successfully defending his Dissertation: “Christus Sacerdos et Mediator: Thomistic Christology and Vatican II’s Call for Theological Renewal,” he earned his Doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.) in 2005.

Dr. Nutt began his career in 2002 as an instructor of Theology at Aquinas College in Nashville, TN. In 2006, he accepted a position at Ave Maria University as an assistant professor of Theology and was promoted to Associate Professor of Theology in 2009 and later served as the Director of the M.A. Theology program from 2011-17. In addition to his undergraduate teaching, he regularly taught courses in the M.A. and Ph.D. Programs on Thomas Aquinas, Christology, and Sacramental Theology. In 2017, Dr. Nutt was appointed to the position of vice-president of academic affairs.

President Ice also announced other updates in his administration, including appointing Brent Johnson to the new position of executive director of capital projects and facilities operations. Johnson will oversee physical plant and the numerous building projects planned at the University along with handling emergency management while reporting to Chief Financial Officer, Eugene Munin.

The campus bookstore will now be under the leadership of Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Kevin Murphy.

Fr. Rick Martignetti, OFM, will continue as chaplain but now oversee the Mother Teresa Project. He will report directly to President Ice. Michael O’Donnell will continue as the Director of the Mother Teresa Project reporting to Fr. Martignetti.

Ave Maria University is in the process of hiring a new Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management

Largest Estate Gift in Ave Maria University’s History

Ave Maria University President Christopher Ice is pleased to announce the University has received its largest estate gift in its short 13-year history. The Mary M. Ullen Revocable Trust has gifted the University $3.9 million to use for scholarships for future students.

“We are extremely grateful for the generosity of benefactors and great friends. Mary & Robert Ullen loved Ave Maria University and our students. The Ullen’s saw the positive impact this University is having on our culture and wanted to help Ave Maria University remain affordable.

I am grateful to our Director of Advancement, Pat O’Connell, for his great work on navigating this gift and for our new Vice-President of Advancement, Tim Dockery, and his team for their hard work in making this a reality. What a blessing to our students! Please join me in lifting up Mary & Robert Ullen in a prayer of thanksgiving for the impact their gift will have on generations to come.”

Ave Maria University has approximately 1,100 students and offers a liberal arts curriculum featuring 31 majors thus answering the call of Ex Corde Ecclesiae to bring the various disciplines together for mutual enhancement.

President Christopher P. Ice makes Profession of Faith and takes Oath of Fidelity

The Catholicity of Ave Maria University was on center stage yesterday, as President Christopher Ice promised faithfulness to the Catholic Church, and all of her teachings.  Our university family gathered outside the Prince Building to participate in Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank Dewane, of the Diocese of Venice. In the context of the Mass, President Ice made a Profession of Faith and took the Oath of Fidelity.

What does that mean, and why did he do it? The Code of Canon Law 833 states, “the rector of an ecclesiastical or Catholic university” is “obliged personally to make a profession of faith according to the formula approved by the Apostolic See”. In making this profession and taking this oath, President Ice is declaring his full allegiance to the Catholic Church as the leader of Ave Maria University. In an age where it’s common for institutions to run away from their Catholic faith by picking and choosing what they want to believe, President Ice is promising, at the helm of AMU to never to go against the Church and to be forever faithful to her.

After communion, President Ice, with “firm faith” declared belief and profession of all “contained in the Symbol of the faith”. He recited the Creed, followed by a statement of assent to the Word of God, all definitively taught by the Catholic Church, and “religious submission of will and intellect” to the Pope or the College of Bishops, in their exercise of authentic Magisterium.

In taking the Oath of Fidelity, he declared: “in assuming the office of President of Ave Maria University, [I] promise that in my words and in my actions, I shall always preserve communion with the Catholic Church.” The rest of the Oath fleshed out the particulars of this promise, from being faithful to his duties to avoiding teachings contrary to the Church.  

Afterwards, President Ice signed the two documents he had read from, and briefly spoke to those present. He remarked how many people in this world do not have God in their lives, evidenced by how many are completely paralyzed by fear right now. Speaking on the sanctity coming from suffering, he once again made known his desire to lead the Ave Maria University community to sainthood: “I desire for all of you to be saints.”

President Ice talked about the stark contrast of AMU versus many other places in the country; so many churches are still closed, and yet we find ourselves pressed to schedule another daily mass because of the demand. Joyfully, he announced 85% of Ave Maria University’s Class of 2020 reported to still be practicing their Catholic faith at the end of four years. He challenged the Class of 2024 to continue the trend of faithfulness by going even higher to 100%.

With great excitement, and devotion to Our Lady, President Ice concluded, saying, “The Church and the world needs Ave Maria University, and they need each of you.”

To read the Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity in their entirety, visit 

by: Anne-Marie Schlueter, ’20

Romanus Cessario, O.P., to occupy the Adam Cardinal Maida Chair of Theology

Ave Maria University awarded the Adam Cardinal Maida Chair of Theology to the Reverend Romanus Cessario, O.P. and he will be teaching graduate theology courses for the University starting this fall.

A specialist in Thomist theology, Rev. Cessario is an author or editor of more than a hundred scholarly articles and over twenty books.