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


Jim Towey to step down as president of Ave Maria University in 2020

October 8, 2018 Ave Maria, Florida Michael Timmis, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Ave Maria University, announced that Jim Towey will be stepping down as president on June 30, 2020.  Towey began as AMU’s second president in July 2011.  Timmis also announced that in the summer of 2019 the Board would begin a national search for Towey’s successor.

Timmis praised Towey’s leadership and extolled the University’s many achievements during the last seven years.  “Jim Towey stabilized Ave Maria during a time of crisis, and ushered in an era of stability and growth,” Timmis said.  “Had it ever come to a vote the Board would have extended his term because he’s done such a great job, but Jim thought the time was right to step down when his contract ends, and transition leadership.”

Among the significant accomplishments of Towey’s presidency, Timmis cited:

  • Over 70% increase in total undergraduate enrollment (fall 2018 headcount is 1,071); the entering class prior to Towey’s appointment was 248 and this year’s was 413 (a record high)
  • $80 million raised from donors (none of whom attended AMU); Towey personally cultivated and stewarded over 20 seven-figure gifts
  • Successful completion of $60 million “Building on Faith” capital campaign
  • New $13 million multi-purpose Prince Building that is paid for and houses AMU’s nursing program and America’s only Mother Teresa Museum
  • An increase in the number of majors from 10 to 34
  • Successful 10-year reaccreditation through 2025
  • Official recognition as a Catholic university
  • Faculty-led revision of core curriculum that strengthened AMU’s liberal arts education, and the flourishing of the Honors Program instituted five years ago

Timmis also recognized the difficult but necessary steps Towey took to restructure AMU’s finances and improve campus life, particularly during the early years of his administration when the University faced numerous daunting challenges.  These included:

  • 2011 budget cut of $3.6 million in spending and the elimination of dozens of positions through an urgent streamlining initiative
  • Refinanced AMU’s $57 million debt in 2013 and earned an investment-grade credit rating and “stable outlook” from Standard & Poor’s
  • Sold or discontinued costly and unsustainable programs (Nicaragua campus, Institute for Pastoral Theology, and Foundation for the Arts) that had chronic deficits
  • Transferred ownership of the iconic Ave Maria town church and Rhodora J. Donahue Academy to the Diocese of Venice
  • Reinstituted open door inter-visitation in residence halls to allow more socializing among students without sacrificing Catholic values
  • Modernized campus security with new lighting, emergency alerts, and key card systems

Founder of the University and Chancellor Thomas S. Monaghan joined Timmis in commending Towey for his accomplishments.  “Building on the base that was established, Jim’s leadership took the University to the next level, and I am grateful,” Monaghan said.  “With the capital campaign and the Prince building completed, the curriculum expanded and with record enrollment, it seems like the right time for an orderly transition at the top.”

Towey thanked Timmis, Monaghan and AMU trustees for their unwavering support, and praised the members of the University community for joining him in what he described as “this work of grace that is Ave Maria University.”  Towey added, “This isn’t my university or even Tom’s university.  This is Our Lady’s University.  For the next 20 months I will do all I can to position the next president to raise AMU to new heights.”

Towey pointed to the burnishing of the Catholic identity of Ave Maria as among his most cherished and satisfying achievements.  He cited:

  • AMU’s successful fight in Federal Court against the Obama administration’s attack on religious liberty; AMU was the first organization to file a lawsuit after President Obama announced his controversial contraceptive services plan in February 2012
  • The Mother Teresa service project he founded with a $2 million grant that sends AMU students to her missions in India, Haiti, Mexico, Uganda and other countries, as well as to the poor in Immokalee and care facilities for the elderly in Naples
  • The 6 consecutive years he accompanied 12 AMU students on a mission trip to Calcutta (his wife Mary led trips to Port au Prince, Mexico City, and Puerto Rico)
  • The 24/7 exposition of the Eucharist he instituted four years ago, last year’s opening of the 100-seat campus chapel with two daily Masses, and the Our Lady of Guadalupe garden and footbridge on the east side of the canal

Student Government Association President Mary Rexroat, a senior, thanked him and Mrs. Towey for their service and good example.  “They live their Catholic faith and vocation so beautifully and inspire students to want to imitate them,” she commented.  “I am glad we have them with us for a good while longer.”

Timmis expressed optimism when asked about AMU’s future.  “I am confident that we will identify the right person who can build on the strong foundation that Towey leaves as his legacy,” he added.

Ave Maria University established its permanent campus near Naples, FL in 2007, and offers its students excellent academics in an authentic Catholic environment with a focus on formative learning to grow the spirit, mind and body.  Ave Maria offers a strong liberal arts education with 34 majors, including programs in business, nursing, education, and the arts and sciences.  University enrollment consists of approximately 1,100 students from 45 states and 20 countries, and a student body that is approximately 85% Catholic, 25% minority, and evenly-divided between men and women.  Ave Maria’s state-of-the-art campus resides on 300 acres in Southwest Florida with the facilities to support all aspects of residency, faith and growth for the entire student body.  Tuition and room and board at the University ranks among the most affordable of its peer private schools and is well below the national average.

Ave Maria University Mission: 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

Who Are the Graduates of the Class of 2018?


Ave Maria University’s graduating class of 2018 is a group of 247 devoted scholars, diverse in their passions and hobbies, but united in loyalty to their new alma mater. While most students completed their bachelor’s degree, ten students earned a Masters of Art in Theology, and five received a Doctors of Philosophy in Theology. This was Ave Maria’s largest graduating class to date.  These graduates are capable, inspired, and ready to show the world what an Ave Maria University graduate can do! We are delighted to share a few success stories from the class of 2018.


Valeria’s Story

Valeria Tkacik graduated with her degree in Politics. If that wasn’t enough, she double minored in Environmental Science and Theology. While on campus, Valeria was an accomplished student, both in academics and athletics. Despite being born without a left arm, she was an outstanding member of the women’s lacrosse team, an accomplishment which serves as an incredible testament to her tenacity and drive. She spent her time at Ave Maria training, praying with her sisters in her household, the Sisterhood of Mary Magdalene, and playing an active role in Student Government Association. While Valeria’s plans continue to unfold, she is excited for her next adventure.


Breanna’s Story

Breanna Backstrom double majored in Psychology and Health Science. During her time at Ave Maria, Breanna served as treasurer for the Apologetics club, an on-campus organization that strives to educate students in the art of justifying the multiple aspects of one’s faith. During her junior and senior year, she spent her free time tutoring local high school students in math and science. Ultimately, she discovered her calling through an internship at the Naples Community Pregnancy Clinic. She found her work in the pro-life field to be so fulfilling that she chose to pursue the ministry after graduation. Since graduation, she has relocated to South Bend, Indiana, where she will work as a counselor for the Women’s Care Center.


Nick’s Story

The graduating class of 2018 at Ave Maria University had its first seven students graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing, and Nick Root was one of them. His accomplishments in high school provided him the opportunity to receive the Kazma Leadership Scholarship, a highly competitive scholarship sought after by many students. Having discovered firsthand what a blessing a scholarship could be, he decided to help other students have the same opportunity. For the past two years, Nick worked in the Office of Advancement as a student caller and Lead Philanthropy Specialist in the Phone Center, raising scholarship funds for students in need. Since graduation, Nick has become a full-time Advancement Associate for the University.

By: Johnnie Eagan, ‘19

Hunter Rose (’18) Finds Ave’s Challenge to Say “Yes” Prepared Him Well

Hunter Rose (’18) Finds Ave’s Challenge to Say “Yes” Prepared Him Well

Hunter Rose chose AMU because he was looking for a return on his investment. “The school was and has remained affordable over my four years and has offered exceptional value for the cost incurred,” the senior majoring in Finance and Managerial Economics & Strategic Analysis explains as he prepares for graduation on May 5th. Another motivation for attending AMU was the opportunity to play college ball. “The thought of playing baseball outside in the winter months without a hint of snow…made my decision a rather easy one,” he says.

Hailing from Kalamazoo, Michigan, Hunter decided to add Finance as a second major because of a desire “to be challenged above the norm,” and a chance encounter his Sophomore year. He vividly recalls his first real exposure to investment: “I was sitting down in the Canizaro Library next to [a fellow AMU student] who was trading on Robinhood, a free investment platform solely used on smartphones.” At this point, Hunter wasn’t even familiar with the basics of trading. What is a stock? He asked his friend. Why do the prices change every minute? “Shortly after that experience, I declared Finance as my second major and sought to answer every one of those questions that I had,” he explains.

During his four years at AMU, Hunter was President of the Investment Club, Chairman of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Executive Council, and Co-Chair of the President’s Circle. He is also a CFA Society of Naples Scholarship Recipient, a member of the Sigma Beta Delta Business Honors Society, an Honors College Scholar, and a Dean’s List student. Adding to this list of accomplishments, he was recently nominated as one of the five finalists for the President’s Award, the highest honor bestowed upon a graduating senior of Ave Maria University in recognition of academic accomplishments, involvement in the life of the University, service to others, and exemplification of AMU’s highest Catholic ideals.  

Through his campus involvement, Hunter Rose found his calling, and the tools he needs, to pursue a career in business.

A highlight during his time at AMU was the opportunity for Hunter to attend a meet-and-greet with Dr. Arthur Brooks, President of AEI. “He shared intriguing details of his friendship with the Dalai Lama, above all things,” Hunter recalls. Through his involvement with AEI on campus, Hunter had the opportunity to attend multiple intercollegiate conferences, the high point being the AEI Values & Capitalism Conference on entrepreneurship in Seattle, WA, this past fall. “This unique weekend program provided me with an opportunity to interact with rising Christian business leaders from universities throughout the United States,” he explains, “learning together how business can cultivate the conditions necessary for true human flourishing.” Going on, Hunter says that this experience confirmed in his mind the desire to pursue a career in business.

After graduation, Hunter has accepted a position as a Mutual Funds Analyst at State Farm’s corporate headquarters in Bloomington, IL. There, he explains, he will have the opportunity to help hundreds of thousands of people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams. He expresses a desire to serve his community with his talents beyond work. “Apart from my work at State Farm,” he shares, “I plan on serving as a business plan advisor for the Prison Entrepreneurship Program and participating in my new community by volunteering at my new local parish.”

Ave Maria University challenges its students to say “yes” to new experiences and opportunities.

Reflecting on his time at AMU, how the past four years have served to shape him, both professionally and personally, Hunter muses on the University’s name. “It’s rather fitting that Ave Maria University is named after the woman who said yes to God,” he reflects. “I say this, because this is exactly what Ave Maria University asks of her students: to say yes.” Going on to explain, he says, “Ave has a unique way of helping students to become aware of God’s will and challenging them to say yes to it. This has been my experience at AMU, and I feel all the more equipped for my professional life having cultivated an awareness and willingness to say yes.”

Congratulations on being nominated as a President’s Award finalist, Hunter, and best of luck as you pursue life after graduation!