Monday, October 03, 2005

Thom Monaghan Fires Warning Shot across the Bow...

Indeed, Thom wants to make everyone know that he intends to flex his termination clauses in the Ave contracts.

By Paul Likoudis
(print date September 29, 2005)
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - When the Board of Governors of the Ave Maria School of Law meets this week, one of the major issues on the table is the reappointment of the longtime board member Dr. Charles E. Rice.

As this issue of The Wanderer goes to press, rumors are swirling around Ann Arbor that Dr. Rice will not be reappointed - rumors that the law school dean, Dr. Bernard Dobranski, says "are not accurate."

From Lynchburg, Va., where he was on his way to the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars meeting in Charlotte, N.C., Dr. Dobranski told The Wanderer in a telephone interview that he does not know what recommendation the nominating committee of the board will make with regard to reappointing Dr. Rice, adding: "why the confidential deliberations of the board are even being discussed is very strange to me."

"I simply do not know what will happen, " he reiterated, concerning Rice's appointment.

But others at the law school, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary this week - as well as its full accreditation in early August by the American Bar Association in the shortest time frame possible - say the board intends to drop Rice, who has opposed the law school's founder, Thomas Monaghan, by voicing opposition to his plan to move the school to Florida, where it would join Ave Maria University.

Monaghan was in Rome and unavailable for comment: Rice declined to speak to The Wanderer.

Dr. Rice, professor emeritus at the University of Notre Dame, is a visiting professor at Ave Maria and an original member since the Board of Governors' inception. At the meeting of the nominating committee of the board, Rice was not renominated to his position.

The type of controversy that has dogged Ave Maria College and Monaghan's actions now threatens to engulf Ave Maria School of Law in similar chaos.

Dropping Rice from the board, however it occurs - either by imposing term limits for all board members or by some other means - would be, say sources in Ann Arbor, a public relations disaster for the school.

As one source said: "Charlie Rice is an icon in conservative Catholic circles. His bona fides go back 40 years, and dropping him would send up a lot of red flags for that community."

Rice as a member of the board is opposed to the move to Florida, a position shared by many of the faculty.

In fact, Ave Maria School of Law's origins go back to Rice's vision. For nearly 40 years, Rice has been teaching his students at Notre Dame that the American legal system, the teaching of law in American law schools, and contemporary legal practice were in crisis, and that Catholics in the legal profession have a moral obligation to change the culture. Indeed, eight of the 25 members of an extraordinary faculty are Notre Dame graduates, several of whom graduated first in their law school class.

"So removing Charlie is really a drastic move. It makes no sense," said this source.

Members of the Ave Maria Board of Governors are:
[see list here but note that as of this posting, Charlie Rice still appears]

Most, if not all of the members, are expected in Ann Arbor this week for the school's fifth anniversary celebrations. How they will react to Rice's rumored removal is yet to be seen.


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