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 https://www.avemaria.edu.

Vice President of the United States Mike Pence to Speak at Ave Maria University and Visit Mother Teresa Museum on Campus


Ave Maria, Florida (March 22, 2019) – Ave Maria University announced today that the Vice President of the United States, the Honorable Mike Pence, will visit and address the University community on Thursday, March 28th.

“It is truly an honor for our young University to have the privilege of welcoming Vice President Pence to our campus to share his thoughts with our students,” said Jim Towey, Ave Maria University president.  “He met many of our students when he visited the area in the aftermath of hurricane Irma, and it will be wonderful to have the chance to more formally introduce the Vice President to what makes Ave Maria University so special.”

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

“I have long admired Vice President Pence’s record of public service and how he seeks to live his Christian faith in the public square,” Towey said.  “I am sure that his remarks to our students will be both thoughtful and inspiring.”

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.  “Vice President Pence will find himself among friends when he comes to our campus next week.”

For more information on Ave Maria University, visit https://www.avemaria.edu.

University’s Statement on InsideHigherEd Article and Raiger/Gruber Lawsuit


AVE MARIA, FL (January 30, 2019) Statement on Insidehighered.com Article and Michael Raiger Lawsuit

The recent insidehighered.com story “Foreclosing on Faculty Critic” is biased and misleading. The author, Doug Lederman, is a longstanding advocate for disgraced Catholic priest Mark Gruber and wrote extensively a decade ago in defense of him. President Towey suspended Gruber in 2009 when Towey was president of Saint Vincent College. The cruxnow.com story – https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-americas/2018/10/24/ave-maria-president-wants-church-to-come-clean-on-abuse-crisis/ – recounts the depravity of Mark Gruber’s conduct as a priest and explains why His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI himself signed the decrees removing Gruber from the priesthood and monastic life (excerpts of story are reprinted below).

Unfortunately, Gruber apparently has joined forces with former Ave Maria University faculty member Michael Raiger and his wife Caitlin in what appears to be a determined effort to undermine Ave Maria University and discredit its president. At a time when the Church reels from the scandal of clerical abuse, it is sad that Lederman and the Raigers would provide Gruber with a platform to manipulate the truth. Caitlin Raiger acknowledged in a 2018 email to one of her former dental patients that she and her husband were collaborating with Gruber. The deceptive insidehighered.com hit piece followed.

It is disappointing that the Raigers would choose to be in league with a defrocked priest who so gravely dishonored his vows. The Raigers’ lawsuit has striking similarities to the one which Gruber filed in 2010 when he, too, personally sued President Towey (Gruber abruptly abandoned his lawsuit after his past was revealed in the deposition). The University has in its possession the entire court file on Gruber, including the four DVD’s and transcript of his videotaped deposition; keystroke tracking logs definitively placing Gruber at his computer viewing youth-oriented pornography, thus refuting his claims that a student was responsible; and the photos and other exhibits that led to his laicization by the Holy Father.

On Friday Michael Raiger filed yet another (third) version of his lawsuit against the University. In an age of “fake news,” the University now faces a “fake lawsuit.” His efforts to malign the good names of AMU faculty will not go unchallenged. It is indeed unfortunate that money which could be spent on Ave Maria students must instead be diverted toward legal fees as the University defends itself and its faculty against the preposterous charges contained in the Raiger lawsuit.

With respect to the Raiger home, when Michael Raiger’s employment with the University ended in June 2017, he did not approach the University to make arrangements to repay the $150,000 interest-free loan which he and his wife received from AMU in 2007. Instead, he sued the University. Earlier this month the Collier County Circuit Court judge presiding over this lawsuit ruled in favor of Ave Maria University’s counter-claim. The judge’s final order requires the Raigers to pay back the amount they borrowed. At the direction of the Board of Trustees, the University is also pursuing repayment from other former employees who similarly borrowed funds and maintain delinquent loans.

The University will prevail in this litigation and continue to protect its reputation and that of those administrators, faculty and staff who labor to fulfill Ave Maria’s Catholic mission “to form joyful, intentional followers of Jesus Christ through Word and Sacrament, scholarship and service.”

Excerpts of October 24, 2018 article published on cruxnow.com by writer Christopher White:

“In June 2009, Towey informed the archabbot of Saint Vincent College in Pennsylvania, where he was then serving as president, that a member of the faculty, Father Mark Gruber, had downloaded pornographic images onto a university computer. Towey subsequently informed the diocese of Greensburg and the local police and suspended Gruber immediately.
Gruber, who taught anthropology, purportedly enjoyed wide public support on campus and fought back, claiming a student had downloaded the images and reported it to him in the confessional.”
****
“As the investigation ensued, a campus IT official discovered that Gruber had made efforts to delete files remotely from his computer that had been confiscated by the police. The investigation yielded even more damning evidence against Gruber, including nude photos of himself he shared with students on campus, a log of visits to other pornographic youth-oriented sites, and personal writings detailing the priest’s sexual fantasies involving naked children, including acts between a 5-year-old and a 16-year-old. Along with the criminal investigation, Gruber’s case was sent to the Vatican for investigation and the diocese suspended his priestly faculties.”
****
“In June 2012, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sentenced Gruber to a life of payer and penance after finding him guilty of “possession of child pornography, the crime of production of materials which gravely injure good morals, abuse of the Sacrament of Confession with the aggravating factor of manipulation of conscience, and the defamation of a legitimate superior.” Less than a month later, after resisting the Vatican sentence, he was formally dismissed from the clerical state and monastery by signature of Pope Benedict XVI.”

#####

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 https://www.avemaria.edu.

Ave’s Annual Annunciation Feast is Beyond Compare!


 

Sunday’s Annunciation Feast was celebrated with an abundance of joy by the staff and students at AMU! 

What better way to observe Divine Mercy Sunday than to honor Mary’s “yes” to God’s will for her life?

Simple flower arrangements on the tables and lights strung above the academic lawn, set the scene for students and staff to enjoy the beauty of our campus while feasting, visiting, and dancing along to live music. Everyone was treated to a juggling show, music from AMU students, and the festive sounds of Irish-inspired folk music from Scythian.

With the sun going down, music filling the air and a plethora of joyful, smiling students, the trusting “yes” of Mary was beautifully celebrated.

Thanks to the thoughtful efforts of SGA for another successful Annunciation Feast at AMU!

 

Saint Patrick’s Day Makes for an Extra Festive Battle of the Bands Competition


Thanks to the collaborative efforts of our SAB and SGA, the annual Battle of the Bands competition was extra festive! Sunset on the canal, live music, themed food, a selection of drinks, and Saint Patrick’s Day all made for an evening to remember. 

The crowd gathered to sing along, enjoy the food and drinks and find out which of the four student-bands would be named this year’s winner by the panel of AMU Staff judges. Using a point system of scoring, the judges listened to each song and gauged the audience’s responses.

Four bands playing four songs each made for a diverse and eclectic evening of fantastic music. This year’s bands and their set lists were:

Tom Monaband, this year’s Runner Up: 

Whose members are –

Daniel Zoumaya, Nicholas Cummins, Aaron Ockenfels, Casey Knox, Joe Schoenle, and Sean Hanley.

1. Joker & the Thief by Wolfmother

2. Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi

3. Don’t stop Believing by Journey

4. (Encore) Long time by Boston

The Upstate: 

Whose members are –

Francesco D’Agostino, Michael Davy, Daniel Zoumaya, Nick Cummons, and Joseph Blaso.

1. You Know It – Colony House

2. Am I Pretty – The Maine

3. Talk Too Much – COIN

4. All the Small Things – Blink 182

The Black Velvet Band:

Whose members are –

Jacob Kessler, Gabe Kessler, Luke Johanni, Luke Bisceglio, Michel Shahid, and Zack Johanni

1. Rocky Road To Dublin

2. Galway Girl

3. Star of The County Down 

4. Rorin Mary

And last, but certainly not least, taking the crowd by storm and being awarded as this year’s WINNING BAND,

(S)cool Kids:

Who’s members are –

Jon Babineau, Joe Free, Jon Larochelle, Carter Chell, Michaela Flynn

1. Do You Wanna Do Nothing With Me – Lawrence

2. Are You Gonna Be My Girl – Jet

3. The Wolf – Mumford and Sons

4. Mama’s Broken Heart – Miranda Lambert

 

Thanks to all of these great musicians for coming out to entertain us for another year of the Battle of the Bands competition!

Learn more about SAB and SGA events by visiting their webpages.

An Evening with Bishop Dewane: Advice on Faith and Life


We are midway through the season of Lent, a time of greater sacrifice, almsgiving, and prayer. Before Lent began, long-time friend of Ave Maria University, Bishop Dewane, visited AMU students on campus in the Gyrene Cafe to provide valuable advice on what the Church wants from them, especially during the season of Lent. Our students took advantage of the Bishop’s presence at their University and asked a variety of questions concerning his vocation to the religious life, the Church’s expectations of the students, advice for entering into society after college, and their Lenten duties.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane serves in the Diocese of Venice, Florida. He grew up on a farm in Wisconsin with loving parents, one brother and two sisters. Prior to entering seminary, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences from the University of Wisconsin. He went on to earn a Master’s Degree in International Administration from The American University in Washington, D.C. He also holds degrees from Pontifical Gregorian University and Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, both in Rome.

Sometimes, you have to wait on the Lord’s timing.

Bishop Dewane shared hat he did not enter seminary until he was 33 years old. The students, intrigued, wondered what else he did before entering the seminary. Bishop Frank Dewane traveled to Russia, learned the language, and worked for the National Broadcasting Association (NBC) in Moscow. After some time, he traveled to New York City and worked for a subsidiary of PepsiCo. When the time came for him to enter the seminary, he just knew. Bishop Dewane explained that he learned we must “be open to what the Lord is asking us to do, we must turn ourselves over to the Lord. At times in my life, I knew I just had to wait on the Lord.”

Throughout all of Bishop Dewane’s education experience and work experience, his father had repeatedly asked him, “When are you going to get a real job?” When the Bishop finally entered the seminary, his parents were happy and proud.

During his time at seminary, the Bishop explained that there were some seminarians whom everyone knew would most likely become bishops someday. Bishop Dewane told the AMU students: “No one in the seminary ever said to me, ‘You’re going to be a Bishop.’” And yet here he stands today, installed as Bishop of the Diocese of Venice by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006, and even serving on several committees at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Go out into the world and be Ave Maria strong, he said, particularly Our Lady strong.

Ave Maria University students crowded together in the Gyrene Cafe to hear from Bishop Dewane on the Monday before Ash Wednesday because they knew how valuable his advice would be. Senior Katie Ligday, student host for the event, asked: “What do you and the Church want from AMU as a young Catholic institution?” In reply, Bishop Dewane said, “Be the yeast in society, make a difference wherever it is you go.” Continuing, he urged: “You’ll all leave this nice place… Be Ave Maria strong, particularly Our Lady strong. At Ave Maria University, you get a unique education, in education but also in faith and morals. Be that yeast, that leaven in the world. Yeast can go bad sometimes. So, be the yeast in a good way. You know what is good, now set out and do it.”

When posed with the question, “How can we live in the world and not be consumed by the world?” the Bishop responded, “It’s not easy. You need a good conscience. You need to make those right choices. You need to be strong enough to tell a person that they aren’t being yeast.” More concretely, he warned about the distraction of technology and encouraged students to develop real connections, real relationships, with others. “Look at people in the eye, not at your device, and understand where their heart is. People are the gift the Lord has given us. Don’t let technology enslave you. Computers, iphones, all of it are great. But, they can be destructive.” Bishop Dewane expanded upon his answer to add that all are called to live holy lives. “That universal call for holiness is out there for you,” he said. “It’s not just for Bishops or nuns, but laity too. Keep in mind the call to holiness. Once we hear the call, it’s our responsibility to respond. That’s important. Find what the call is for you. It’s different for everyone.”

This year, Lent began on February 14th, which was both Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday. Bishop Dewane suggested that students celebrate Valentine’s Day on the day before, and live out the prayer and fasting of Ash Wednesday as a Valentine’s gift to the Lord. “Lent is no great secret,” he said. The entire season of Lent is a time set aside in a special way as a “gift” for God, to help us prepare our hearts to receive the far greater gift of participation in Christ’s suffering, death and Resurrection.

Bishop Dewane serves as an example of faith and love for the students at Ave Maria University. It was a great privilege for our students to receive advice from him during this formative time in their lives. AMU students ended the evening pondering the Bishop’s advice and inspired to go out in the world and be Ave Maria strong.

Grace Project Event Fosters Discussions on Female Friendship


At a recent Grace Project event,  Resident Director Amanda Morin and McKenzie Ligowski, wife of Resident Director Daniel Ligowski, shared their thoughts on female friendship. “If it wasn’t for the women I was with in nursing school, there’s no way I would have made it!” McKenzie exclaimed. She went on to talk about the temptation to “close off to the world when you fall in love,” but how maintaining your female friendships is important. Women “help you see a reflection of yourself,” she explained. “And they bring out the best in you!” Amanda, in agreement, shared: “The Lord sent me all these amazing girlfriends, and I spent a lot of time in college nourishing those relationships.”

The Grace Project brought a cozy evening of tea, biscotti and dialogue between women in the University community on the importance of cultivating strong female friendships

The Grace Project is a series sponsored by Student Life that offers undergraduate women on campus an opportunity to connect with and learn from female mentors in the University community.  While sipping on tea and snacking on biscotti, the students at the latest Grace Project event learned from McKenzie and Amanda about fostering deep female friendships during and after college, balancing relationships and priorities, and entrusting their dreams to the Lord while keeping a practical focus.   

On the topic of balancing female friendships while dating, both McKenzie and Amanda agreed that a romantic relationship should not take away from female friendships. But they also emphasized the importance of being realistic and setting clear boundaries with their friends.  According to McKenzie, “You have to make realistic expectations, and just be honest with them when you’re saying no.” Amanda added that it’s all about intentionality: “If you’re going to call them, do it. If you can’t, just be honest with your reasons.”

Amanda and McKenzie concluded the Grace Project event in answer to a question on being at peace in the present. “ Get to know yourself,” McKenzie urged. “You can’t be present if you don’t even know who you are!” Amanda followed up with  “God is in the present. Remember that. If you’re not there, you’re going to miss out.”

The Grace Project is just one of the over 250 events Student Life sponsors annually, including concerts, feasts, dances, talent shows, sports competitions and more. If you’re interested in learning more about the vibrant student culture at Ave Maria University, visit the website!

 

 

Club Spotlight: Biochemistry


With the Biochemistry Club, enthusiasm for science extends well beyond the classroom at Ave Maria University! In this interview, Lizzy Cox, AMU senior and Vice President of the Biochemistry Club, shares details on what this student organization is all about.

Q: What would you say is the Biochemistry Club’s mission?

Lizzy: The club’s goal is to expose students to novel biochemical discoveries, and to prepare them for future post-graduate endeavors in the biochemical sciences.

Q: How did you get involved?

Lizzy: I got involved when a friend convinced me to help lead the club. She told me that I would have a chance to help other students gain a greater and more practical understanding of biochemical studies that have an impact on human health.

Q: What sort of things do you do as a club?

Lizzy: Roughly once a month, we host journal article discussions on a new publication, and we provide talks on resume building, interview preparation, obtaining letters of recommendation, etc. Our Journal Club Meetings are normally led by both students and professors, and they lead to thought-provoking conversations that encourage critical thinking and practical application!

Q: Speaking of professors, tell us a little bit about your club advisor.

Lizzy: Dr. Diana West (Assistant Professor of Chemistry) is our advisor and she’s helped us by speaking at our events and reviewing our presentations for accuracy prior to the events.

Q: Scenario: I’m a freshman on the fence about majoring in Biochemistry. Why should I join the Biochem Club?

Lizzy: The club can help students learn more about ways they can use a degree in biochemistry. Perhaps it will foster a greater interest in this subject, and help them realize the many life-changing opportunities available in the field of biochemistry.

Q: I’m sold! How do I get involved?

Lizzy: If you would like to become involved with the biochemistry club, contact Rachel Flowers, Assistant Director of Student Life. Let her know you’re interested, and she’ll direct you from there.

Q: What has been the response to the club around campus?

Lizzy: We have a prominent presence among the biochemistry students here, and the chemistry, biochemistry, and biology professors frequently encourage students to attend our events and become involved in our club.

Q: Do you have any fun club events coming up?

Lizzy: We are hoping to have more Journal Club Discussions in the next few months, and we would like to host a talk on personal statements in the near future as well!

Lizzy Cox, Vice President of the Biochemistry Club, hails from Miami, Florida. She is a senior at Ave Maria University majoring in Biochemistry. She has plans to enter medical school after she graduates in May 2018.  

AMU’s 7th Annual Scholarship Dinner: A Night to Remember In the Renaissance


 

With over 300 guests in attendance, including the Board of Trustees, President Jim Towey, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of the Diocese of Venice, various faculty, administration, staff, students, and friends of the University, Ave Maria’s 7th Annual Scholarship Dinner, “Welcome to the Renaissance,” was truly a night to remember.

Candle-lit tables, stacks of books, and themed decor transported guests to an evening in the Renaissance

The Scholarship Dinner on Thursday, February 15th, opened with a cocktail hour accompanied by a student juggling act, after which guests streamed into the ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton Resort in Naples, Florida. Bishop Dewane offered an opening prayer to the bless the evening’s food and happenings. Festivities were sprinkled throughout the night in the form of a performance of the National Anthem by the AMU Chamber Choir, a special show from the Shakespeare in Performance Troupe, student testimonies, an operatic solo by AMU junior Matheus Bressan, and, of course, great company, fantastic food, and good cheer.

President Towey offered introductory remarks, including an announcement of the official naming of the new academic building as it nears completion of phase one. In honor of one of AMU’s trustees and his wife, who together made a major gift to the University, it will be called The Thomas and Selby Prince Building.

Keynote Speaker Arthur Brooks urged Scholarship Dinner guests to “disrupt” the culture

There were numerous unforgettable moments at AMU’s 7th Scholarship Dinner, but for many the highlight was hearing from keynote speaker Dr. Arthur C. Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute and Trustee of the University. In his address, Dr. Brooks called upon those gathered to “disrupt” the current culture’s destructive tendencies. Among the three ways Dr. Brooks identified in which we can disrupt the current culture was the answering of the world’s contempt with love. “Our culture is destructive, and we need people to disrupt it,” he said. “We need to create and support institutions that teach disruptive practices,” Dr. Brooks went on. “And that’s why I’m here tonight. That’s why I’m involved with Ave Maria University.”

“Welcome to the Renaissance” was a fitting theme for this year’s annual Scholarship Dinner, particularly in light of Dr. Arthur Brooks’ keynote address. The Renaissance (from the French, re, meaning “again,” and naissance, meaning “birth”) was a time of revival, a time of bringing back the culture and life of an earlier time. Similarly, Dr. Brooks was calling upon the evening’s guests to adopt an attitude, a way of life which we, as a culture, once had, but have now lost. Our world is in desperate need of a Catholic Renaissance, a revival of communities living out joy and peace, faith, hope, and love.

Students at AMU are filled with joy and being formed to “disrupt” the culture

Ave Maria University, with its commitment to the Church’s teachings and guided by the apostolic constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae, is undertaking just such a Catholic Renaissance. AMU works to foster these virtues among its members, forming them to be disciples of Jesus, equipped and eager to go out and disrupt the world. The evening concluded with closing remarks from Brian Couch, Vice President of Advancement, and a prayer from Fr. John Ludden.

Judging from the talent, wit, and faith on display at the 7th Annual Scholarship Dinner, the community of Ave Maria University is well on its way towards achieving a Catholic Renaissance. Watch the highlight video from this year’s Scholarship Dinner to see for yourself, and be sure to mark your calendars for AMU’s 8th annual Scholarship Dinner on February 14th, 2019!