Thursday, July 22, 2004

Orientation and Upcoming

Dear Visitor,

Thank you for coming here and reading about events surrounding the Ave Maria name used in conjunction with various educational institutions that have been founded by Thomas Monaghan. I hope to share with you some insight as to why these various institutions are drastically different and give you some information regarding events at each.

For the bystander, I hope to explain what is happening and why it means anything. For the insider, I hope to provide a central repository of indexed information and analysis on the mess.

Above all else, my purpose here is to show why the law school does not suffer the ills of the college and explain that law school graduates have not come from an institution that "bends the rules" or otherwise compromises its integrity for expedient gains.

There are now several institutions begun with money from the Ave Maria Foundation. Among these institutions, there is:
the College in Ypsilanti;
the College in Naples;
a College in Nicaragua;
an ephemeral "University" embodying those Colleges; and,
a Law School in Ann Arbor.

There are other non-educational institutions, such as a radio station and a now defunct newspaper.

The Ave Maria Foundation funds organizations that have an uncanny aptitude for adopting similar logos and the same name. Despite these similarities, they are each run by seperate individuals, and each organization has independant administrations.

The fact that each administration is separate, and has unique executives is key to understanding the current events and why the law school should not be considered as part of them.

Over the next few days, this site will include:
1) more information about the separate entities;
2) a background on the foundation of each school with a timeline and "vision" statements made in press releases;
3) more analysis of the current scandals (and some previous ones); and,
4) Delineation of the law school successes and a comparison of methods used by the college versus those of the law school under Dean Dobranski.

While this site does not have the purpose of voicing the college difficulties from within, it is sympathetic with the plight of those in Ypsilanti. There is another site at which you can see their viewpoint:

Over time, I am sure there will be much to discuss because recent news, together with my insight of the management styles of the college administration gives me a hunch that we are seeing the edge of a wide plane.

The LAW SCHOOL, however, will surely continue to make news in positive ways, and you can rely on seeing comparisons and analysis here as to why, and what it means for bystanders and insiders.


An Ave Maria School of Law Graduate and Lawyer

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Maybe the College should have hired Ave Maria Law School Grads...

It's a shame that not all lawyers in the Ave Maria University administration (website) graduated from the Ave Maria School of Law (website) because lawyers who do the right thing avoid press articles like this: Wanderer article, Ave Maria University Official Advises College Admissions Staff: "Bend The Rules". After all, the law school was given the motto "Fides et Ratio" [faith and reason] because the motto "will demonstrate that one can pursue both academic excellence and a strong religious conviction," said Tom Monaghan, who is also the founder and former Chairman of Domino's Pizza (cite is here).

Unfortunately, by choosing to take the expedient path, and "bend the rules", it's apparent that lawyers working at the College needed the purpose of Ave Maria School of Law: "We hope to produce outstanding lawyers who have exceptional analytical and writing abilities, as well as technical competency." Our students will return to their communities with an understanding of the nature of law and Catholic moral teachings. We not only want to set ourselves apart because of our faith commitment, but also because of the fine academic education that students will obtain at our school". Stated by Dean Dobranski at law school inception (cite is here).

Undoubtedly, the law school has done this -- topping the charts for bar exam results its first year, and continuing to astound the legal community with immediate successes. Such successes were obviously built with the foundations of integrity.

So what's the rub? Why the concern here?
Simple. The person on the street assumes Ave Maria is a united institution. I, for one, cannot blame them because they have similar logos and similar names -- however, I quickly explain to people that the schools are separately administered.

To me, such confusion only shows that what is happening at the college confuses the average bystander to think that the Ave Maria School of Law is somehow doing the same. Because the college is now faced with returning educational funds, and quotes like, "bend the rules" are published, the average person thinks Ave Maria lawyers are no different than others. That's a shame... another casualty of the fiasco -- the setback of having a self-imposed hurdle added to the already tortuous path of establishing a clean name in the legal community.

"Did the law school have to reimburse you for student loan money?" asked the metropolitan lawyer. I immediately explained that the law school fully complied with the law. I was fortunate enough to be asked -- most people don't ask questions, but assume.

The bottom line is that despite the defensive tone and spin produced by the Naples-college administration, their shenanigans are rippling out and polluting the integrity of my good reputation. It's sad because it also brings the notion of Catholic schools following a higher law into question. We are supposed to be good because our Father in Heaven, Who sees in secret, will repay us according to our deeds. That's what separates an Ave Maria School of Law grad from any lawyer: we do the right thing even when nobody will notice. Too bad the college administrators didn't practice what they preach, too.
Copyright 2004. All Rights Reserved. May be quoted in part so long as accompanied with hyperlink.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Taking A Page From the Clintons...

The news of the Sandy Berger escapades and the comments being made around it bring to surface the new way of doing things: change history, apologize for whatever has been discovered, and divert interest by talking about other things.

You gotta love Clinton's response to the mess: "I know him. He's a good man. He worked his heart out for this country," Clinton said. A good man for what? So what if he worked hard -- he worked hard to get those documents out of the Archives, too... that has to be a trick worthy of David Blaine's repertoire. the only difference is that everybody knows that David Blaine is pulling a fast one or trying to mesmerize you.

Everybody is entitled to a defense, however. Sometimes, we really want to believe the excuse or explanation because we don't want to believe that somebody would really do what is being covered up.

Other times it's kind of scary to think that people might really believe what they are saying -- you almost hope for their sake that they aren't being sincere. The consequences of sincerity would be too overwhelmingly blunted by the wonderment of how the person attempting to explain the mess away was ever trusted to do the job to begin with.

Nonetheless, everyone deserves their shot at explanations, and lately, those taking the heat about the Ave Maria COLLEGE fiasco have taken out a guest commentary. The article appeared in the Naples Daily News: Guest commentary: Trustees acted properly to move Ave Maria to Fla. The only quote I like from it goes: "To move a college from one state to another is a complicated and daunting undertaking."

That's an understatement.

The article was signed by Nick Healy and Fr. Fessio. Fr. Fessio is taking the typical and honorable Jesuit path of going down with the ship in order to remain an advocate within, at best. At worst, he actually believes what he is saying without ever thinking about the effect these things have on ordinary folks who don't have million dollar bank accounts to finance a family move. I'm sure the usual salary of an AM college employee barely covers Michigan living expenses... not to mention the family and location-selecting done as part of ordering one's life by accepting a job at a typically permanent type of institution located in Ypsilanti.

After all, reading the explanations given by Healy, he'd make you think that the average person expects colleges and universities to move state to state every now and then. Therefore, the people who sent their children to the COLLEGE or signed up to work there must have really been mistaken to think they were settling down in Ypsilanti. Monaghan's own vision was for a world-class school in Ann Arbor. We shouldn't have taken that vision for content.

It's just like Berger's explanation that he was able to slip secret documents out of the National Archives. Given his explanation, you'd think it happened all the time.

Are we supposed to be forgetting or are we supposed to be stupid? It's hard to fathom what the image of us bystanders is estimated to be in either story.

Why is it that the move is now seen as a large martyr-worthy task, when the idea of working with Ann Arbor zoning was impossible? Perhaps Tom Monaghan realized that the 250-foot tall crucifix he envisioned placing on US 23 was a ludicrous idea after all. Nobody really blamed the zoning board for raising an eyebrow, even Harpar's noticed it (look at the third paragraph"Controversy was raging in Michigan over plans by the founder of Domino's Pizza to nail a 40-foot Jesus to a 250-foot crucifix in a suburb of Ann Arbor." March 5, 2002).

The Michigan folks don't like pink flamingos and they don't like tall things (even signs)... they wondered in the Press. 25 stories is tall.

I say I think Monaghan must be saving face from the monolithic bout of godzilla v. Jesus because his Floridian Crystal Cathedral will only have a 60-foot crucifix. See article here at Naples Daily. So it seems that the land of pink flamingos can have some aesthetic balance after all.

Too bad Monaghan never learned to negotiate with the difficult -- instead the Ave Maria college has acted like the worst of American corporations -- no local ties, but flightily leaving for the easiest road.

Let's hope that sugar cane farmers don't take zoning and urban planning classes before the church in Florida gets built.

The moral of the 25 stories covering the move is this: the school is moving because Monaghan abandoned his original vision for Ave Maria: a world-class school in Ann Arbor. But when the task of obtaining zoning approval in Ann Arbor became "complicated and daunting", he pulled his toys off the floor and left. Now the stooges are trying to explain it in a more palatable way.
Copyright 2004. All Rights Reserved. May be quoted in part so long as accompanied with hyperlink.