Winter Mission Trips: Peru and the Puerto Rican Earthquakes

This January, fourteen AMU students volunteered the last week of their Christmas break to serve alongside the Missionaries of Charity at locations domestic and abroad. While assisting Mother Teresa’s congregation of sisters, students at each location were given the opportunity to experience the transforming power of service, realize the dignity of every person, and deepen their faith life. In addition to offering the annual winter mission trips to Washington D.C., Brazil, and Puerto Rico, for the first time this year, the Mother Teresa Project sent a group of students to Cuzco, Peru.


Monica Williams, a senior history major, was one of the four girls who served in Cuzco, a town located in the Peruvian Andes at an elevation of 11,200ft. The Incan culture is deeply rooted in Cuzco, with the elderly still speaking Quechua, an Incan derived language. While most of the week the girls served the elderly and disabled who lived the MC’s walled-in compound, one day, they drove two hours up the mountain to a secluded village. Monica described the town as untouched by time, recalling the thatched roofs, adobe looking mud walls, and distinctive colorful garb of the Peruvian people. As they drove into the town, children congregated at the church where the Missionaries of Charity and AMU students handed out donated clothing. Monica recalled that among the donated items, the Peruvian boys found a batman costume. “They were all holding it up — just glowing. It was one of those costumes that’s padded with muscles and everything. We were all like, ‘oh my gosh, now there is some five-year-old boy in Peru running around the mountains in a batman costume.’” Monica expressed how important the mission trip was for her, especially while in college, where the faith can easily become very intellectual. Through mission work, she was given the opportunity to step outside herself and put her faith into action. 

Puerto Rico

During their mission trip to Puerto Rico, AMU students Therese Brown, Irene Defelice, and Maria Halecky also experienced the challenge of living out their Catholic faith. Three days into the mission trip, they woke up to an earthquake of 5.8 magnitude, one of the biggest earthquakes to have struck Puerto Rico in over a hundred years. This earthquake soon caused the city to lose power. Maria Halecky shared her fears following the earthquake and how she strongly considered leaving Puerto Rico early. “I had the choice to go home the next day, but I also had the choice to stay there and do what I was supposed to do. I chose to stay because I was meant to be there. I feel like that was a big thing for me spiritually.” On the morning of January seventh, a 6.6 magnitude earthquake shook the town of Yauco, stranding the three girls and chaperone in Puerto Rico until the ninth. During these days of uncertainty and changing plans, the girls experienced a sense of peace. “I feel like I really grew in my trust in God,” Therese remarked. “Knowing that no matter what happens, even if your plans change a hundred times, He’s still there. He’s still leading, and you just got to trust Him because He’s good.” After the earthquakes, the girls spent their time praying and simply being present to the locals. 


Ave Maria University strongly encourages students to give of themselves through service. In addition to the mission trips organized through the Mother Teresa Project, the MTP also provides occasions for service throughout the whole year. To learn more about local service opportunities and upcoming mission trips visit

Written by: Madeleine O’Rourke

Ave Maria University Scholarship Dinner: A Salute to Our Past, Present, and Future

         The ninth annual Scholarship Dinner unfolded in the evening hours of February 13th, 2020, right on the ocean at the beautiful Ritz Carlton Beach Resort in Naples, Florida. Beginning with a cocktail hour and followed by a dinner program emceed by Andrea Serrani, class of 2012, and Colin Stroud, class of 2022, the theme of the night was  “A Salute to Our Past, Present, and Future.” This was beautifully conveyed through the performances and presence of many current students and alumni. Additionally, all three of Ave’s presidents — Nick Healy, James Towey, and current president, Christopher Ice — were in attendance. Founder and Chancellor Tom Monaghan also attended the evening.

         The night featured an invocation from board member Bishop Kevin Rhoades, from the diocese of Fort Wayne – South Bend, and remarks from Mr. Monaghan, Mr. Towey, and President Ice about their own Ave experience.

         Monaghan spoke on the founding of Ave Maria and the transition to the current campus, addressing some of the challenges that have taken place over the years. He recalled that when Jim Towey came to Ave, “He was looking at everything with fresh eyes. He added a lot of new majors and many good projects, especially the fantastic Mother Teresa Project.” Monaghan stated that after Towey’s nine-year term, “God sent us a man by the name of Chris Ice. I think he is just what the doctor ordered for this university at this time.” Monaghan concluded by asking those present to “think of Ave Maria in your prayers, and say an ‘Ave’ every day for Ave.”

         Towey began his remarks by thanking Monaghan and the Board of Trustees for the transformational privilege of serving the University for nine years. He said, “When I look back, I take a great deal of satisfaction in what we did in the Blessed Mother’s name on this campus.” He went on to speak of the growth of Ave over those nine years, saying that, “All of the success is not mine to claim because it owes to the foundational efforts of all who joined Tom at the beginning and all those who joined since then, and most, of all, by God’s grace.”

         President Ice shared stories about his experiences with students, remarking how impressed he is by the maturity of their Catholic faith and the genuine joy they have expressed to him and various visitors to campus over the past weeks. He spoke about vocations to the priesthood, religious life, and marriage blossoming at Ave. Leading up to the Feast of the Annunciation and his inauguration, he invited the entirety of the Ave Maria family to join him in Marian consecration, using Fr. Gaitley’s “33 Days to Morning Glory.” He said, “As I stated in my acceptance remarks in November concerning the state of affairs at numerous Catholic universities today; I commit to you again here tonight at Ave Maria University, we’re going to run to our Catholic faith, not away from it. Please pray for me, that I will lead with wisdom, prudence, and clear vision.”

         “Everything about who I am today has been shaped by Mary’s little nudge that got me to Ave,” Andrea said in her alumna testimony, as she talked about how Ave taught her how to really love. Colin Stroud talked about how the scholarships are what originally piqued his interest in Ave. The theme of generosity characterized Ave for him, from the original scholarships he received, to going to Uganda with the Mother Theresa Project and preaching the truth of God’s love to prisoners. He said, “My education prepared me for my mission. So, whether it be summer camps, mission trips, parishes, nonprofits, radio stations, in Andrea’s case, Fortune Five Hundred companies, or just the domestic church at home, Ave students, current and alumni, are all over the world during exceptional things thanks to generosity.”

         In addition to these profound remarks and testimonials, the evening featured incredible student performances, from the AMU Chamber Choir to a beautiful rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by freshman Teresa Thompkins, as well as student-led Irish folk band called Jimmy and the Spud Guns. Matthew Resin, class of 2019, concluded the night in grandeur, singing Ave Maria as a parting gift to Mr. Towey.

         It was a night filled with tributes to Ave’s past, excitement for all of the goodness presently happening at Ave, and hopeful anticipation for all that is to come. The scholarship dinner attendees generously gave a total of $585,000, which will be used to enable future Ave students to attend the university with financial aid.

Written by: Anne-Marie Schlueter
Edited by: Madeleine O’Rourke

*Postponed: New Date to be Determined* The Inauguration of Christopher P. Ice as 3rd President of Ave Maria University

POSTPONED: New Date to be Determined



AVE MARIA, FL (February 3, 2020) – The Inauguration of Mr. Christopher P. Ice as the third president of Ave Maria University will take place on Saturday, March 28, 2020.

The occasion will be marked by four major events open to the general public:

Friday, March 27th:

Opening Presentation

Ex Corde Ecclesiae at Thirty: A Call for Renewal in Catholic Universities – Dr. Michael Dauphinais

6:30pm ·   O’Bryan Performance Hall, Thomas and Selby Prince Bldg.

Saturday, March 28th:

Inauguration Mass

Mass with Most Reverend Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice

10:00am · Ave Maria Catholic Church

Inauguration Ceremony

11:30am · Ave Maria Catholic Church

Inauguration Keynote Address

Ego Sapientia: Our Lady and Catholic Higher Education – Fr. Romanus Cessario, O.P.

2:30pm · O’Bryan Performance Hall, Thomas and Selby Prince Bldg.

Annunciation Celebration

6:00pm · Ave Maria University Academic Mall

President Ice comes to Ave Maria University after serving as the Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

“I am excited to begin my presidency at Ave Maria University and lead this authentic, orthodox Catholic university into the future,” President Ice, said. “As our motto of Veritatis Splendor suggests, students at Ave Maria will continue to develop the critical thinking and reasoning skills necessary to distinguishing truth from falsehoods, especially in a culture that blurs the lines of truth. ­­We have outstanding faculty, who are dedicated to academic excellence and preparing our students for the rigors of life after college.”

President Ice continued, “My main goal as the President of Ave Maria is to help form joyful, intentional followers of Jesus Christ through Word and Sacrament, scholarship and service. My desire is for our students to become great leaders in our society and ultimately, saints.  At Ave Maria University, we won’t run away from our Catholic faith, we will continue to run to it.”

The public is invited to all the inaugural events and tickets are not required*. The Mass and inauguration ceremony will be livestreamed for those who are unable to attend.

*Tickets will be required for the dinner portion of the Annunciation Celebration.


Bryant Morin
Director of Marketing and Communications

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

President-Elect Christopher P. Ice

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

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

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

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

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

President Jim Towey and President-Elect Christopher P. Ice

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

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

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

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

President-Elect Christopher P. Ice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By: Madeleine O’Rourke

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

Ave Maria University Board of Trustees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

at 239-280-2513 or by email at:


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

The announcement ceremony details are as follows: 

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

Time: 11AM 

Participants: Chairman of the Board of Trustees Patrick Rainey 

Chancellor and Founder Thomas S. Monaghan 

President Jim Towey 

Special Guest 

Media release will be available at 11AM. 

Students are encouraged to attend. All are welcome.

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

Hurricane Dorian Updates

#4 – 9/1/2019 – 12:45 pm – Classes Begin Tomorrow

The University continues to monitor Hurricane Dorian.  All current forecasts, including those of the National Weather Service, predict that the storm will pass a safe distance from our campus.  Should these forecasts change, the University will be in immediate contact with you.  

Classes begin tomorrow.  All area airports have been open all week, and all ground transportation to and from campus is operating as normal.  The University is not aware of any gas availability issues that would impede travel to or from Ave Maria.  Therefore, all registered students are expected to attend their regularly-scheduled classes.  Any student with extraordinary circumstances preventing his or her timely arrival on campus should contact the University’s Office of Academic Affairs to secure an excused absence from classes on Monday and Tuesday.

We look forward to a great semester!  Please keep in your prayers all of those living in the path of Hurricane Dorian.  

#3 – 8/31/2019 – 2:00 pm – Hurricane Dorian Update

Good Afternoon,

At this time with the change of course which the storm has taken, classes will begin as scheduled on Monday. Have a wonderful Saturday!

#2 – 8/30/2019 – 12:30 pm – Hurricane Dorian Update

Good afternoon!

The University continues to monitor Hurricane Dorian.  Because the storm’s forward speed has lessened, Dorian is not expected to make landfall on the east coast of Florida until early Tuesday.  In the meantime, the University is taking all necessary precautions to ensure the safety and well-being of students housed on campus.

Classes are expected to begin as scheduled on Monday. 

Please continue to monitor the AMU web site, your email, or LiveSafe app for all University communications related to Dorian.  The next Dorian update will be on Saturday at 6PM. 

AMU administrative offices will be open tomorrow from 9AM-1PM.  Take advantage of these hours to get parking passes, IT passwords, mailbox keys, bills paid, financial aid issues resolved, and other outstanding matters settled prior to the commencement of classes.  Returning students are asked to check-in at the Bob Thomas Student Union during these hours.  Please let your Residence Hall Director know when you have arrived on campus so that the University can maintain an accurate census. 

The University community remains united in prayer and resolved to deal with any Dorian-related issues in the days ahead. Have a great weekend!

#1 – 8/29/2019 – 12:00 pm – Special Message Regarding Hurricane Dorian

Ave Maria University is monitoring Hurricane Dorian’s projected path and remains confident that the threat of a significant weather event on our campus remains unlikely.  The University is fortunate that Dorian is not approaching Florida on its Gulf coast side, and that the storm’s projected landfall appears to be over 200 hundreds miles away.

However, the University is concerned about the travel challenges students and their families may face in getting to and from our campus this weekend as congestion on Florida’s interstates and roads (and the availability of gasoline to refuel) become issues.  Flight schedules, too, may change as airports prepare for Dorian’s approach. 

Current forecasts tell us that Dorian is not expected to make landfall in Florida until Monday morning.  However, mandatory evacuation orders are expected along the Southeastern coast in the near future which will affect transportation routes and gas availability.  Travelers are urged to monitor traffic radar and exercise prudence in mapping and timing their travel.

Because of Dorian’s approach, the University is altering its check-in schedule to accommodate upper-class students who may wish to return to campus early.  Any student who wishes to come ahead of schedule may do so at any time after 3PM today.  Upon arrival on campus, please report to the Bob Thomas Student Union and follow check-in procedures.  Returning students arriving after business hours on Thursday or Friday should report to their residence halls.

Classes are expected to begin as scheduled on Monday.  For those whose arrival on campus may be delayed by Dorian, the AMU faculty will work to ensure that they are not disadvantaged because of class absence necessitated by this weather event. 

Please monitor the AMU web site or LiveSafe app for all University communications related to Dorian.  The next update will be on Friday at noon.  And please pray for our students, their families, and all those who will be affected by Dorian. 

Thank you. 

2019 President’s Dinner and Award Ceremony

Ave Maria University students, parents, faculty, staff, and trustees gathered on the Friday evening prior to the Class of 2019 commencement in the Student Union for the annual President’s Dinner.  Event attendees enjoyed a wonderful meal along with formal addresses from AMU President, Jim Towey and Dr. James Patterson who was nominated by this year’s graduates to close the event.  

President Towey addressed the crowd with highlights from the most recent academic year and finished with an overview of this year’s President’s Award finalists and the winner.  The President’s Award is the highest honor Ave Maria University confers upon a graduate every academic year.  Each of this year’s finalists demonstrated amazing leadership skills, academic and extracurricular achievements, and embodiment of the AMU Catholic ideals and mission. 

There were 26 students nominated by faculty, administration, and fellow student for this year’s award which was not surprising given the outstanding graduating seniors.  The GPA’s of our five finalists range from 3.78 to 3.99 which demonstrates an extremely high level of academic achievement on top on the numerous and diverse extracurricular activities in which each participated. 

In alphabetical order, the first finalist was Stephen Akers, B.A. in Accounting and a former President of the Student Government Association (also a former Treasurer).  In his SGA roles, Stephen streamlined accounting processes, added accountability, and developed a national network of student government leaders. Stephen was on the AMU President’s Council and worked in both Marketing and Career Services this past year.

Stephen has participated in Mother Teresa Project local service work and mission trips. Outside the University, he worked hard to expand his resume with internships including consulting for an NGO in Madrid and working for the London Stock Exchange Group in New York. A fellow student described Stephen as “hard-working, driven, ambitious, efficient, kind, compassionate, bright and loving.” Those attributes are certainly the fruit of his love of the Eucharist, of which he frequently ministers at Mass.

Stephen is now off to Washington, DC to start his career with Gartner, Inc., a global research and advisory group.

The second finalist was Bernadette Hartney a double major in Biochemistry and Health Sciences and a member of the Honors Program and Pre-Med Club. She played four years of intercollegiate soccer and was a team captain. She was a Mother Teresa Scholar who skipped sleep regularly to drive to Miami and help in the Missionaries of Charity soup kitchen, and she spent time in Haiti on a mission trip with classmates.

On campus, Bernadette served on the Student Activities Board and served on the Athletics Advisory Board Executive Committee. She was active in her Talitha Koum household, Bible study, and the Pro-life Club where she marched for life in Washington, D.C. nearly every year. Despite all of the demands on her schedule, she often showed others how to put God first.

Before she starts her career in medicine, Bernadette will spend the upcoming academic year helping Coach Rosser further develop the AMU women’s soccer program.

The third finalist was Brooke Pierron with a near perfect GPA as a Theology major. She was President of the Breakfast Club that took surplus food to farmworker families in nearby Immokalee and volunteered with Habitat for Humanity.

Brooke spent four years at AMU as an intercollegiate athlete, primarily as a star pitcher for softball and captain who won a Coach’s Award. She also played on the women’s basketball team. Those who know her will tell you that Brooke is a team player who doesn’t seek the spotlight. She is the co-founder and co-leader of a campus women’s household; she helped lead bible study for softball players; she served on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee; and she wrote for the Campus Ministry blog promoting the Genuine Feminine Conference.

Brooke’s classmates love her kindness and quick wit, and non-pretentious faith. Her resume shows that for the last four summers she worked as a missionary for the Catholic Youth Summer Camp organization counseling high school students. Brooke is now moving on to work at the Damascus Catholic Mission Campus in Ohio.

The fourth finalist was Mary Rexroat who majored in Biochemistry and minored in Biology. She was also the most recent President of the Student Government Association where she made sure students voices were heard by the administration. 

During her time at AMU, Mary consistently proved her servant leadership abilities. She was a two-term leader of the Mary Magdalene household, a Resident Assistant, a Mother Teresa Scholar, a volunteer driver for local service work, and a regular with Habitat for Humanity. In addition, Mary was one of Ave’s top cross country runners.

Throughout her busy AMU life, Mary demonstrated her fearless faith. As her roommate noted, “From our first weekend here at Ave, Mary was inviting me to Mass, Oremus, and Holy Hour…Her prayer life has inspired me to make mine a priority.” Mary will marry Andrew Nussbaum (’18) this summer and start her career as a Manager of Regulatory Affairs at a medical technology company. She then plans to begin work on a Master’s degree as a Physician’s Assistant.

This year’s last finalist and the 2019 President’s Award winner was James Wesley!  James long list of credentials includes Music Ministry, being a Residence Assistant, leading the men’s household Ardens Virtus, and being both an Alpha team leader and a Mother Teresa Scholar.

James talents have also allowed him to perform on stage in cabarets, one musical, and “Ave’s Got Talent,” and to perform at AMU events in a band with his fellow students.  He was also a JV basketball player for a couple of years.  Most notably, James is a humble, unassuming follower of Jesus, always thinking of others as better than himself.

Through his years at Ave, James’ hard work paid off as he graduated summa cum laude with a Biochemistry degree and will attend the University of Toledo College of Medicine in the fall.  Congratulations James!

Vice President of the United States Mike Pence Speaks at Ave Maria University and Visits Mother Teresa Museum on Campus

Ave Maria, Florida (March 28, 2019) – The Vice President of the United States, the Honorable Mike Pence, visited and addressed the University community on Thursday, March 28. The Vice Preisdent toured the Mother Teresa Museum and gave a speech to students, faculty, and staff.

It was an honor for our University to welcome Vice President Pence to our campus.  In September 2017, he met many AMU students when visiting the area during the aftermath of hurricane Irma.

Prior to addressing the University community in the O’Bryan Performance Hall of the Thomas and Selby Prince Building, Vice President Pence toured the new Mother Teresa Museum that was officially dedicated in that building last month.

Vice President Pence’s record of public service and how he seeks to live his Christian faith in the public square is admirable, and his remarks to our students were both thoughtful and inspiring. Watch his address here.

Last May the University hosted the Honorable Betsy DeVos, United States Secretary of the Department of Education, during Ave Maria’s 14th commencement exercises.  This year’s commencement speaker is the Honorable Dan Lipinski (D-Illinois) who is Co-Chair of the Congressional Pro-life Caucus and an eight-term Congressman.  “Ave Maria University has an exemplary record of bringing public servants and other high-profile leaders who have distinguished themselves as promoters of the sanctity of life, religious freedom, and other principles and values which we as a Catholic institution hold dear,” said Michael Timmis, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Ave Maria University. 

For more information on Ave Maria University, visit

Ave Maria University Rated #1 Private University In Florida in Best College and University Rankings

AVE MARIA, Fla. (December 12, 2018) — Ave Maria University announced today that it has been ranked 1st among Private Florida Universities by the personal-finance website WalletHub, which released its 2019’s Best College & University Rankings. The criteria used by WalletHub in evaluating nearly 1,000 colleges and universities nationally included 30 key measures grouped into seven categories: Student Selectivity, Costs and Financing, Faculty Resources, Campus Safety, Campus Experience, Educational Outcomes, and Career Outcomes. The rankings also place Ave Maria University 6th in Florida, 42nd in the Southern United States, and 188th nationally. In regards to Catholic universities, Ave ranks 1st in Florida, 2nd in the Southern United States, and 17th Nationally.

“This confirms that Ave Maria University is a high value, high quality choice for parents and students who want the best ‘bang for the buck’,” AMU President Jim Towey said.  “We have incredible faculty and staff, students who are highly capable and motivated, and a board of trustees that is fully invested in the University,” he added.

Ave Maria University established its permanent campus near Naples, FL in 2007, and has since expanded the number of majors offered from 11 to 33, including programs in business, nursing, education, and the arts and sciences.  The University this year has an enrollment of 1,100 that includes students from 45 states and 20 countries, and a student body that is approximately 82% Catholic, 25% minority, and evenly-divided between men and women.  Ave Maria’s state-of-the-art campus offers six residence halls with a capacity for 1,300 students and rests on a tract of over 300 acres in Southwest Florida.  “Our rapid rise in the rankings proves that you can have small class sizes and first-rate professors and still be affordable,” Towey said.  Tuition, room and board at the University ranked among the lowest of the private schools evaluated by WalletHub, and the average debt of an Ave Maria graduate, too, is well below the national average.

Ave Maria University is a Catholic, liberal arts institution of higher learning devoted to Mary the Mother of God, inspired by St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Calcutta, and dedicated to the formation of joyful, intentional followers of Jesus Christ through Word and Sacrament, scholarship and service.  For more information on Ave Maria University, visit

CONTACT:  Katy Thoele
Program Manager, Advancement
(239) 280-1565