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


At 9:14 AM, July 23, 2004, Blogger AMSOL Pioneer said...

This sorry situation has affected the lives of many good people associated with the college(s), and threatens to affect many more of us by association. As a member of the Class of '03, I was critical of certain decisions of the AMSOL administration, but never once did I believe any administrators to be acting out of dishonesty, or out of caprice. What concerns me is apparently what concerns others in my class - the ongoing link between the institutions, the negative PR with which all Ave Maria entities are tainted, and the possibility that AMSOL might be headed to FL to join them, despite every argument in the world not to.

Frankly, Mr. Monaghan's reputation for capriciousness was the main reason I almost did not join the inaugural class. I was not too keen on uprooting my family and leaving my stable life in another state to take a chance on a school whose purse was inextricably tied to a man who is known for "picking up his toys and leaving" after others had joined his play table.

It is patently frustrating for those of us who made the sacrifices to establish AMSOL's place in the Michigan legal community, to now have to face an additional PR battle: that of explaining to everyone why a successful institution like the law school is even considering abandoning everything we have built here. And while I understand the need for continued funding, I do hope we all can find a way to keep the school in Michigan.

I would hope the Board and administration of AMSOL can see the dangers inherent in being beholden to one man and his money alone. And while this may have been necessary to get off the ground, we are perhaps to the point where we can say "thank you, but we're not coming with you".

At 11:01 AM, July 23, 2004, Blogger Torgo said...

Those of use from the Inaugural Class may have underestimated the amount of plow sharing we'd need to do to make a great name for the school, but nobody can say we haven't done our best to put our shoulders to the yoke and work at it.

In 1999 and early 2000, I had reservations about the school, but it was the placement of Dean Dobranski and certain members of the Board, as well as the faculty, that put my mind more at ease on the risk side. Thankfully, the types of risks the COLLEGE has fallen into are exactly the things the LAW SCHOOL administration has avoided. Thanks to that base, up until now, we've only had the work of being the best and letting others now it that they could have confidence in our grads. The later classes are certainly benefitting as I hear about better placements coming to them from sources we didn't have available to us. That's what we wanted as pioneers and we did it.

Unfortunately, due to the mess created by the college admin, our efforts now include cleaning up after COLLEGE administration blunders. I wonder if they realize the effects they've had on us, who now need to explain to others that our LAW SCHOOL did not get to the level it is at by cheating or expedience. Nor did we do it by sleight of hand. We worked.

That's the point of this blog, and I hope it becomes an aid to us in making the point that our school got to where it is by following the plan of Dean Dobranski, a hard working administration and faculty, and hard working students.

I look forward to your contributions here over time and suggestions. I hope God continues to bless our efforts.



At 11:05 AM, July 24, 2004, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I appreciate your efforts to keep the AMSOL name unblemished, it is somewhat deceptive to talk about the Ave Maria Foundation organizations as being "run by seperate individuals, and each organization has independent administrations." You even go so far as to say that their "adopting similar logos and the same name" was "uncanny", as if these wholly autonomous organizations arrived at the name and logo by mere chance; that is absurd. Whether you like to admit it or not, the reason why the names and logos are the same is because Tom Monaghan ultimately runs these organizations. Period. I understand that AMSOL has, thanks to the leadership and foresight of Dr. Dobranski, paid back the Foundation (through endowments) for initial start-up costs... and because of this, AMSOL has more latitude than Mr. Monaghan's other organizations. However, Dr. Dobranski and AMSOL are still beholden to Mr. Monaghan. The tension at AMSOL concerning the prospect of a future move to Naples (al biet after 2008) underscores my point.

The tone of your blog is a shouting "WE'RE NOT THOSE GUYS!" No, I suppose not. But how do you think the faculty, staff, students, and parents of the College feel watching a handful of administrators destroy their work and good names. AMC is part of YOUR family; the elder sibling in the family that has the most knowledge about justice and the law (YOU and AMSOL) does its AMC brother no good by merely standing there while daddy kicks him. I, for one, am deeply disappointed at the lack of support from AMSOL, Dean Dobranski, and you AMSOL alums for not jumping-in to help AMC with their moral and legal battles, let alone your blog, designed to distance AMC from you. I propose that Dean Dobranski and your AMSOL faculty have not been vocal opponents precisely because they are not the autonomous institution that your blog suggests, and are beholden to Mr. Monaghan to keep a tight lip while brother is whipped.

If you're content to just tell the public why you're not AMC, I suppose that is your choice. But don't complain when AMSOL is next on the Monaghan/Healy/Fessio agenda. The same sink hole that runs under AMC runs under AMSOL. So take your own advice and "do the right thing" rather than just whine about the drop of AMC blood splattered on your Doc Martens. You may have courage to fight-the-fight outside the family, but the public sure doesn't see it when comes to Ave family matters. We'll see if you even have the courage to post this little note.

At 12:24 PM, July 24, 2004, Blogger Torgo said...

Hi Anonymous,

Your comment is within the scope of the blog, and therefore, I am not deleting it. Of the two comments I've deleted, one was deleted by the commenter's request, and the other because it had information not pertinent to the purpose of this blog. Now, let's address some of the incorrect assumptions you've made.

First, I've never worn Doc Martens... I actually find it a little telling of you that you'd say that. But let's go on from there.

The LAW SCHOOL departed from the absolute control of Monaghan from the get go. Through its time, it was painfully clear that the tension of the LAW SCHOOL would be between Monaghan and the Board, or Monaghan and the Dean. While Monaghan dutifully appointed Dobranski and sought him out to found the school, Dobranski set the negotiations early by refusing to open the school on Monaghan's schedule, but rather on a schedule that best placed the foundation of an administration ready for the school.

Compare this to the COLLEGE. The tension between the COLLEGE and Monaghan has been shifted down to the lowest level possible. In other words, those running the top end do not disagree or have much bargaining power to do anything other than what Monaghan says. The dislocation of the bargaining strength is part of the cause of the problems being encountered. The last external sign of the administration sell-out occurred when Dominic Acquila stepped away from the Provost position. However, the integrity of the COLLEGE administration was compromised earlier. While the formation of bargaining groups helps ... from my vantage point, such groups needed leverage back in 2001 when there were unexplainable shake-ups in COLLEGE administration.

Now, regarding my purpose. I am here to point out that the LAW SCHOOL administration has not behaved the way the COLLEGE administration has. My purpose may be several-fold. Among those purposes, perhaps I've chosen the best way I can to get a point across the Mr. Monaghan. He has great ideas, and God has given him great means to accomplish those things. But compare the results of the two institutions: one in which he's been limited in his micro-managing and had a stand-up administrator; and, the other in which in-fighting and yes-men took over... There is a complete difference between the two. I hope somebody besides me notices that the yes-men cause the trouble because they were too afraid to disagree with Mr. Monaghan.

That's the source of the trouble now. Monaghan probably asked for results, and those underneath him produced them in ways that avoided set-backs without explanation. The after-effect was a pizza house that could make one kind of pizza, well sort-of. Forcing the move showed the foundational weaknesses of the COLLEGE administration.

So, yes, I am very happy that I never perceived such problems at the LAW SCHOOL. I began sniffing for them before I accepted my admission to the Inaugural class, and I kept sniffing for them later. Had I seen things happen at the LAW SCHOOL similar to those that happened at the COLLEGE, I might have left as part of damage control.

You are very correct to show that the blood spilt at the COLLEGE is affecting the LAW SCHOOL. Again, that's the purpose of this blog is to show that the LAW SCHOOL does not suffer the management integrity problems. It's therefore, important to show the differences in administrations lest anyone think the successes of the LAW SCHOOL were made in a way similar to those of the COLLEGE.

One very clear difference, from the start, is that the LAW SCHOOL did not buy it's accreditation, it earned it -- and it earned it at the first opportunity available to it. That achievement in its own needs to be placed on the shoulders of Dean Dobranski and the faculty that listened and did what he said, as well as Mr. Monaghan who let him do what he needed to do. I am sure there was plenty of tension between Monaghan and Dobranski as that happened -- but I'm glad it weathered out the way it did -- that is, without any management shake-downs or internal political wars.

I don't think you understand the differences in the way each institution works, though. The students of a college that broke the rules can survive easily. The lawyers of a school that broke the rules are suspect. Thank goodness the Dean knew that well and avoided expedient paths.



p.s. - I did turn off anonymous posting -- just make your own account to post more... I'd rather that anonymous posters not be confused with each other in the future.

At 7:25 PM, July 24, 2004, Blogger AMSOL Alum said...

The LAW SCHOOL was envisioned by our core tenured faculty independent from Mr. Monaghan, although Mr. Monaghan may also have conceived of the general idea. That vision and that core faculty and administration has remained constant to this day, growth and development aside.

In addition, I share the fear that Mr. Monaghan might influence the LAW SCHOOL Board to merge with the UNIVERSITY. Nonetheless, the fact that our Board has NOT resolved to move, despite tremendous pressure to do so in order to bolster the UNIVERSITY'S prestige (to the detriment of the LAW SCHOOL, in my view) is substantial evidence that the LAW SCHOOL is NOT under the sway of those who have damaged the COLLEGE.

Finally, I am of the understanding that the logo was developed by the core faculty of the LAW SCHOOL, and was only thereafter used by other Ave Maria entities.

I don't know what anonymous expects the LAW SCHOOL to do to help the COLLEGE, other than voice moral support. Sympathy for the COLLEGE certainly exists in the LAW SCHOOL community, and Anonymous does not give such persons credit for help offered behind the scenes. I agree, however, that apprehension of Mr. Monaghan has prevented such open support from being voiced, and is the same reason that all of us posting on this blog thusfar have done so anonymously.

At 10:47 PM, July 26, 2004, Blogger Devil's Advocate said...

Catholics seem to have a penchant for these Balkanesque wars where they beat up each other rather than attack some real enemies. Wouldn't all of the efforts expended here and elsewhere be put to better use in fighting Planned Parenthood, Muslims, and modern Constitutional jurisprudence?

At 9:15 PM, July 28, 2004, Blogger Torgo said...

Misdirection.You have apparently read some things to know enough about various infights that have occurred. Personally, had I taken the persuasive stance you chose, I would have mentioned the infighting occurring between the various liturgical sects that have risen in the cultural void of American. But I wouldn't have taken the stance you took because you missed the point at hand -- whether the law school administration has achieved the success it has by doing things similar to those things being reported in the news about the college administration.

This isn't a matter of Catholic v. Catholic. If it were, I'd have beaten you to the punch. This matter concerns rebutting the inference that the law school has "bent the rules" or things similar in order to obtain accreditation and US Dept. of Ed. Approval.

You may be able to distinguish the two in your mind, however, the average person not familiar with the working of the college and the law school thinks they have similar methods and tactics. While discretion may warrant being silent on the topic for familial harmony, the gravity of the news that the college must returns federal funds for failure to comply with regulations deserves public comment when the good name of the law school is confused to be the same as the college.

If this were a Balkanesque Infight...Had you been correct in assessing the issue, then perhaps the fight would have been over the manner of the school of the educational model or the idea of the school. Sadly, that's not the case...




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