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.
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.”
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.
By: Madeleine O’Rourke