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!