Haiti Mission Trip 2018

Earlier this month eight AMU students set out to the airport for a 5-day mission trip to Haiti with the Missionaries of Charity. Over the course of a week, they had an intense service experience focused on prayer. The students in Haiti worked alongside Mother Teresa’s congregation of sisters at their compound in Port-au-Prince, served in the Children’s Home, and accompanied the sisters as they traveled to other cities and attended to men, women and children in need.  

Mrs. Mary Towey, wife to President Towey, led the annual mission trip to Haiti, which was just one among the many places where our students have the opportunity to serve. Other mission trips offered this year through the Mother Teresa Project (MTP) include Calcutta, Washington, D.C., Dominican Republic, New Mexico, Mexico City, and Uganda.

As with all the MTP mission trips, our students in Haiti attended daily Mass and adoration. They journaled about and shared with one another the transforming power of the experience of service. AMU alumnus Ethan Bertrand (‘16) says that his time in Haiti was incredible. “It was really inspiring to spend time with the Sisters who dedicate their entire lives to serving the poorest of the poor and still manage to let the Joy of Christ radiate from them constantly,” he shares. Going on: “It changes your perspective on poverty to see it all firsthand, and I think the experience did just as much, if not more, to help me grow in faith as it helped the people there.”

The MTP mission trips are an opportunity for students to broaden their horizons, grow in self-knowledge, discover the dignity of each and every person, and encounter the loving face of Jesus in the poor. Through the Mother Teresa Project, Ave Maria University students have opportunities to serve at home as well as abroad. Some of the local agencies AMU students volunteer with include Habitat for Humanity, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee, Immokalee Soccer School, Immokalee Housing and Family Services, and Harbor Chase Memory Care Center. To learn more, visit MotherTeresaProject.org.



Join the March for Life Rally

The March for Life Rally will take place in Washington D.C. on Friday, January 19th. Join us, from 11:30 AM to 12:45 PM EST at the National Mall. The March for Life will begin at 1:00 PM EST. Ave Maria University students, alumni, family and friends will be meeting up at the Rally at 11:30 AM EST at the corner of 14th and Constitution. Keep an eye out for the Ave Maria University banners and our new blue and green striped winter hats. We would love to have you March with Ave. Immediately following the March for Life, alumni and friends will head to The Dubliner  (4 F St NW, Washington, DC 20001) for fellowship and celebration.

For additional information, contact Sophia Mick at sophia.mick@avemaria.edu or (760) 908-2414.

If you are unable to join us in Washington D.C., show your support of Ave Maria’s ProLife initiatives by giving a gift, click here to Donate Now.

Additional Information:









ADOPTION IS THE ANSWER                                                                                    A MARCH FOR LIFE STORY


Fr. Matthew Lamb’s Funeral Information

Fr. Matthew Lamb’s funeral Mass will take place on Wednesday at 10am in the Ave Maria Parish Church. 60-90 minutes prior to the start of the Mass the casket will be present in the Church for those who wish to pray with Father’s mortal remains or say a final farewell.

Classes are officially in session on Wednesday, but anyone who wishes to attend the funeral has permission to do so. The expectation for both students and faculty is that those who wish to attend the funeral will attend (or hold) as much class as possible prior to the funeral and return to class as soon as possible after it has ended.

Our beloved priest and graduate theology professor, Fr. Matthew Lamb passed away at 3am on Friday, the 12th of January. He passed after a rapid decline due to complications from blood clotting in his lungs and underlying pulmonary fibrosis. He was well-informed about the gravity of his situation, had received Anointing of the Sick and Holy Communion several times, and spoke peacefully and openly about his desire to meet Jesus.




Inside Women’s Basketball

Ave Maria University is interested in cultivating every aspect of a student: spiritually, academically and physically. It takes a dedicated, talented, driven person to succeed both in the classroom and on the court, and sophomore women’s basketball player Emily Acosta can attest to that. She was originally drawn to Ave’s basketball program because she saw an ideal opportunity to pursue her “dream of becoming a college basketball player,” and to join as part of the “most successful program on campus.” Acosta’s love of the game, her teammates, and her coach all contribute to an overall incredible experience that she considers a blessing.  Basketball is her “go-to therapy,” that serves to clear the mind and help her become the best version of herself. The sport itself, and the community it fosters, is a gift that Emily is grateful for every single day. She praises the team’s “good chemistry on and off the court,” believing that their repeated success is attributed to a positive group dynamic. Acosta also accredits the team’s success to their devoted coach: Bob Batson. “Not only does he guide us in basketball, but also with school and even life,” Emily explains. She describes Batson as an “outstanding mentor who wants nothing but the best for us.” Knowing the difficulties student-athletes face in an effort to maintain grades and keep up with a demanding training schedule, Emily notes that Batson “emphasizes school first to keep us in check.” Although it is difficult to strike a balance between sports, school, and other extra-curricular activities, Emily knows that a commitment to her education is what will secure her future. As she and her teammates continue reinforcing their winning streak while training and studying, the aim for Ave’s women’s basketball team remains clear: “our goal is to get to Sioux City, Iowa to compete in the national tournament.” The Ave Maria women’s basketball team is comprised of hardworking, passionate individuals like Emily, who are committed to receiving an authentically Catholic education, growing in skill, and earning a spot at nationals.


Ave Maria University’s March for Life Story

Every January, the staff, faculty and, most especially, the students of Ave Maria University become the voice for the University community at the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. This past year was no exception as over 200 members of our University joined the ranks of Marchers, despite the cold of a record breaking winter. These 200 students, faculty, and staff were part of a peaceful protest that drew nearly half a million people from all over the United States looking to lend their voices to urge our government to abolish abortion from this country.

As usual, The March for Life was an excused absence from class for all Ave Maria University’s students attending with the University group. The University chooses to allow for this two-day absence to emphasize how important the fight for a Culture of Life is to the very mission of the University. In the spirit of Pope St. John Paull II and St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Ave Maria University seeks to promote a Culture of Life which cares for the most vulnerable of our society from conception to natural death.

As can be heard in the resounding chants of her students at the March, Ave Maria University believes that the dignity of each person should be upheld not just by the Church, but all of society. Since life is a gift from God, every human is sacred and must be treated as such in any condition. By attending this March, Ave Maria University takes a stand to always defend the rights of those threatened by the culture of death, whether it’s the unborn, the disabled, the infirmed, or those at the end of their lives.

Like previous years, this mass pilgrimage to the U.S. capital from Ave Maria, Florida was entirely organized by the students of Ave Maria University, specifically Ave for Life; the University’s pro-life initiative and largest student organization.  Ave for Life organized for three buses to transport these 200 students (almost 20% of the student population) over 1,000 miles to Washington D.C. This dynamic group of students was able to raise enough funds to cover all food and lodging costs for all the students traveling to Washington.

As is evident, everyone at Ave Maria University who was involved in the 2017 March for Life spent a great amount of energy to bring this event about. However, as usual, the established media chose to treat this large scale demonstration very minimally, or in some cases, pay no attention to it at all. One may ask why Ave Maria continues to be a part of an event that receives little attention due to biased reporting. What good can come of it?

In fact, a great deal of good has already come of it. According to the Washington Post, 53% of Americans ages 18-34 believe that abortion should be illegal in most or all cases. This is a staggering number compared to the generation that was this age when Roe vs. Wade was passed. The students of Ave Maria University belong to a generation that believes it is becoming more and more likely that abortion will be abolished in this generation’s lifetime. This is why Ave marches. As AMU Junior Blair Harbison put it, “We believe that one day abortion will be seen as the evil that it truly is, and we hope to be remembered as the generation that stood for what they believed in and became the voice for the voiceless.”



Ave Receives Florida Department of Health Grant To Research Alzheimer’s Disease

AVE MARIA, Fla. (January 10, 2018) — Approximately 480,000 Floridians are currently affected by Alzheimer’s disease, and researchers around the world are studying new methods of diagnosis and treatment. While significant research progress has been made, it is still unclear why some individuals develop Alzheimer’s disease.

To solve this question, the Florida Department of Health has awarded a $100,000 pilot grant from the Ed and Ethel Moore Alzheimer’s Disease Research Fund to Ave Maria University chemists and biologists. Increasing evidence suggests that Alzheimer’s is linked to changes in the metabolic profiles of patients that diminish neuron survival.

Four Ave Maria University professors propose to investigate how the nicotinamide metabolites affect the aging-related protein sirtuin-1 (SIRT1) to promote neuron survival. The multi-investigator team includes Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Antonio Barbosa (principal investigator), and co-investigators Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Stephen Cronin, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Diana West, and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. James Vranish. With expertise in biochemistry, medicinal chemistry, and biology, this research team will work alongside Ave Maria University undergraduates to better understand how SIRT1 can be harnessed to prevent the formation of Tau tangles and amyloid beta plaque build-up in Alzheimer’s.

A portion of the grant award will initiate scholarships for undergraduates to conduct biomedical research in the summer. The Ave Maria University research team anticipates that this research will be beneficial for the discovery of new therapies for Alzheimer’s. For more information on this research project, please contact Dr. Tony Barbosa at tony.barbosa@avemaria.edu.

Ave Maria University established its permanent campus near Naples in 2007, and has since expanded the number of majors offered from 11 to 34, 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 85% 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.

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 https://www.avemaria.edu.

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

Download the Press Release


As we get ready to welcome our students back in the new year and for a new semester, we thought you’d enjoy taking a stroll through everything that 2017 brought us. 2018 has a lot to live up to!

2017 was filled with milestones and growth at Ave Maria University. Nine professors joined the faculty, four new majors were announced. In March, the University’s annual Annunciation Feast coincided with the 80th birthday of AMU’s founder, Tom Monaghan. 2017 also marked the University’s 10th year on its permanent campus. The graduating class of 2017 made AMU history by being the largest graduating class to date, counting among its number the first graduates of the nursing program. 2017 saw the conclusion of AMU’s “Year for Mother,” and, in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, the beginning of a new phase in the AMU story: #AveStrong.

This remarkable year didn’t dwindle down and die. It went out with a bang. In October, WalletHub ranked Ave Maria University 3rd among Florida universities in its 2018’s Best College & University Rankings. November saw the blessing of the new Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel by Bishop Frank J. Dewane. And December saw the announcement of our participation in SARA, a partnership that will enable AMU to expand its high school distance-learning program, JumpStart, nationwide.

Here’s a look at some of the events that marked 2017 as a year to go down in AMU history.


AMU’s largest club on campus, Students For Life, was named 2017 National College Group of the Year Runner-Up at the annual Students for Life National East Coast Conference.


In honor of the canonization of AMU’s patron, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the University declared the Academic Year of 2016-2017 as a “Year for Mother.” This year-long celebration of the life and works of St. Teresa culminated in February with a duo of conferences inspired St. Teresa’s spirituality and service. The Theology Department hosted “Mother Teresa and the Mystics,” a conference honoring the legacy of Mother’s life and writings in the context of the great mystics of the Catholic tradition. Two weekends later, the Mother Teresa Project hosted “Welcoming the Child: Mother Teresa’s Care for the Most Vulnerable,” a conference focused on adoption and foster care.


For the annual celebration of its patronal feast, the Annunciation (March 25th), AMU held an all-out town and gown event, complete with fireworks. The day’s festivities also marked Founder Tom Monaghan’s 80th birthday and the celebration of AMU’s 10th year on its permanent campus.


On April 26, 2017, site preparation work began for the new Academic Building. Named in honor of Mother Teresa, the new building will promote both Nursing and the Arts. Take a look at how these things are interconnected in the Ground-Breaking Story.


Saturday, May 6th, marked the closure of yet another momentous academic year at AMU. Catch a review of the 2016-2017 academic year here, and read all about how Commencement Speaker Dan D’Aniello concluded his address by urging the Class of 2017 to use their talents in pursuing their dreams, but to do so with humility and faith.


In the last week of June, AMU announced plans for a new artificial turf multi-purpose field. The field is now up and running, home to the Gyrenes football, soccer and lacrosse teams.


Construction of the new Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel began over the summer, and the doors were opened for Bishop Frank J. Dewane of the Diocese of Venice to come celebrate Mass and bless the chapel in early November. The Chapel, inspired by the simplicity found in the chapels of the Missionaries of Charity around the world, will begin offering students daily sacraments Spring 2018. Watch a video from the Opening Mass.


As the summer came to a close and students prepared to return to campus, Ave Maria University was proud to be one of the twenty-nine institutions recommended in the 2017-2018 10th Anniversary edition of The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College.


Hurricane Irma hit Florida with a vengeance with the town of Ave Maria directly in the storm’s path. In the aftermath of Irma, AMU compiled insights into how the University community came together during this natural disaster in the book Ave Strong: Stories of Hurricane Irma (available for purchase online from the campus bookstore).


Ave Maria University was ranked 3rd among Florida universities by the personal-finance website WalletHub, which released its 2018’s Best College & University Rankings on October 23rd. Ave Maria was also identified as the best Catholic university in the southern United States, and among the top five nationally!


November saw the announcement of yet another major that will be added to Ave Maria’s offerings: Marine Biology. “We’re in a very unique location,” says Dr. Nicholas Curtis, Assistant Professor of Biology and chair of the department. “We have access to unique marine and ecological environments which can really only be experienced in Southwest Florida,” Dr. Curtis explains. “We decided to take advantage of our location.” Earlier in 2017, AMU rolled out programs in Communications, Marketing and Chemistry as well.


August 2017 saw the launch of AMU’s JumpStart program, offering high school students the chance to get a head start on their college education. In December, Ave Maria University announced its participation in FL-SARA, which means that high school students nationwide now have access to AMU’s highly affordable, fully accredited college-level courses, taught by Ave Maria University professors and offered entirely online.

On the heels of this news, and with construction of the new academic building well underway, 2018 is already shaping up to be another year of accomplishments!  

Resident Assistant Spotlight

Senior Matt Peterson gives a glimpse into what it’s like to be a Residence Assistant.

Q: First, the details. Where are you from, and what are you studying?

A: I am from Bedford, New Hampshire and I am studying accounting with a minor in Latin.

Q: So, why did you want to be an RA?

A: I wanted to be an RA because I saw the impact my RAs had on me, and I wanted to have the same sort of impact on other students.  Having transferred into Ave halfway through my sophomore year, I understand that the transition to college can be challenging and awkward at times, but the RAs were always there to aid with that transition. I’s satisfying knowing that now I can be that for other students.

Q: What have you learned from being an RA?

A: I’ve learned that every single person truly is unique and comes from a different walk of life. This definitely helps me handle situations with a less judgmental mindset, knowing that when a student is acting out or being unsociable, it has much deeper roots than what I see.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as an RA?
A: Aside from the lack of sleep, the most challenging part of being an RA is stepping outside of my comfort zone, whether it be to connect with a student who wants nothing to do with me, or handling an incident.

Q: What makes Residence Life at Ave so awesome?

A: The people. Not just the residents, but also the other RAs, who are carefully and prayerfully grouped with one another to make the most perfect fit possible for each of the dorms.

At Ave Maria University, each residence hall is served by a Residence Director, a live-in full-time staff member who plays a critical role in the lives of the students in their residence halls. Residence Directors are assisted by a team of Resident Assistants (RAs), students who are hired for their leadership skills and heart of service.

Ave Maria University Now Offers Nationwide Distance-Learning Through SARA

Ave Maria University is excited to announce that it is now a participating institution in State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA), which sets national standards for postsecondary distance-learning programs. SARA works to lower the costs and increase the opportunities associated with students taking college-level online courses from institutions operating in other states.

Approved participation in SARA is good news for Ave Maria University, which launched its first distance-learning program, JumpStart, in August 2017. JumpStart offers high school juniors and seniors the chance to enroll in highly affordable, fully accredited college-level courses, taught by Ave Maria University professors and offered entirely online. When enrollment for JumpStart first opened, its offerings were limited to Florida residents alone, but the expansion of course offerings and extension of the program to students in other states was always part of the long-term plan. With its approved participation in SARA, Ave Maria University is now in a position to move forward and open up the benefits of JumpStart to high school students nationwide. “Ave Maria University’s new Jumpstart program provides a wonderful opportunity for high school and homeschool students to earn college-level course credit from one of the finest classical liberal arts curricula available,” says Director of Admissions Karen Full. “We are thrilled to offer these affordable, online courses to students from all over the country.”

SARA is a voluntary agreement among participating states to a set of national standards for distance-learning programs with the goal of making it easier for students to take courses from institutions that are based in another state. SARA, which is overseen by a National Council, began inviting states to become members in January 2014. States become members through a process overseen by their regional compact. The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), of which Florida is a member, approved Florida to join SARA as the 48th state member in August 2017. Once Florida was established as a member of SARA, the Florida-State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (FL-SARA) opened up the application process in October 2017 for institutions such as Ave Maria University to seek approval to become participants in FL-SARA.

Starting next year, Ave Maria University will be able to offer more distance-learning courses, all available to students nationwide. High school students across the country will soon be able to reap the benefits of AMU’s online program, JumpStart, which is one step closer to the ultimate goal of offering more students access to quality Catholic postsecondary education at an affordable price. Registration for JumpStart is now open online for classes beginning January 8th, 2018.

“Joining SARA is a big step for Ave Maria,” says JumpStart Academic Coordinator Dr. Gabriel Martinez. “Not only does this allow us to serve almost the entire country, but also SARA institutions commit themselves to the highest standards in online education.  By joining SARA, we are committing ourselves to developing high-quality, academically rigorous online programs in a manner that fulfills our mission and serves society.”

A Night on Broadway in Ave Maria, Florida

What’s the next best thing to experiencing a night on Broadway? Experiencing it without traveling to NYC! Broadway’s bright lights and magic came to life on AMU’s campus during the 2017 run of the Drama Club’s annual Night on Broadway performance.

The group of students who performed in this year’s Night on Broadway showcased songs from a variety of musicals, including Mary Poppins and The Drowsy Chaperone, Evita, and Wicked.  Some in the audience were transported back to their childhood by Broadway classics like The Sound of Music and Footloose. Others had the opportunity to hear music from more recent productions, such as Anastasia, or the 2017 Tony Award-Winning musical, Dear Evan Hansen. Throughout it all, the joy and camaraderie of the group of student performers was clearly visible, and the fun they had while sharing their talents overflowed into the audience.

A Night on Broadway was initiated by Ave Maria University students looking to make use of their talents in a joyful experience of the arts on campus. Rachel Wisely, student director of this year’s show comments after the fact, “I was told several times that this was ‘the best Cabaret yet.’” Rachel was joined by students Rebecca Felix (assistant director), Erin Koehler (choreographer), and Zachary Rappley (orchestra director), in addition to the team of singers and dancers who put in hours of rehearsal to pull off the Drama Club’s 2017 Night on Broadway. “I am very proud of the cast and of my work as a director,“ Rachel shares. “It’s amazing how collaborative, artistic work pulls together!”

The AMU Drama Club, which has over 35 active members, is one of the largest clubs on campus. The club organizes and puts on at least one student-run production each semester. If you’re interested in learning more or getting involved, contact the club’s staff advisor, Rachel Flowers.