Friday, April 18, 2008

Do the Monaghan Shuffle

Just when one thought the saga at Ave Maria University in southwestern Florida couldn't get any more interesting, a new bombshell came about yesterday. Tom Monaghan, ex a certain pizza chain, announced that due to the "housing slump" the law school (presently in Michigan) will not relocate to the instant town (Ave Maria) that Monaghan built as a monument to himself (or rather his alleged "Catholic" sense of himself), 35 miles (60 km) away from Naples. No. It will go to the former "temporary" campus in Naples itself.

This not only has developers in the town up in arms -- they were counting on a potential doubling of the town's population as well as the large salaries the law school professors make compared to the other profs at the university -- it also calls into question the legitimacy of the whole university itself. One analyst (at Fumare) asks whether this could cost the law school its accreditation from the American Bar Association; because among the ABA rules is a stipulation that a law school's classrooms cannot be used exclusively for law training, they must be made available to all faculties that may need surplus space at any time. Not easy to do when you have two campuses 35 miles apart. Constantly moving facilities is also another reason to review accreditation.

One also has to wonder if the whole Ave Maria enterprise may be on the verge of collapse. There is a difference between being charitable, and squandering ones' wealth with little or no material gain in the end. Like some ex-braumeisters. This is stark contrast to families who truly understand philanthropy is meant to be for all time and not for a period. The Carnegies, the Fords, the Rockefellers -- and the Gates'.

When is someone going to stand up to Monaghan and say the B.S. has gone on for far too long? He has $12 million to build a sports stadium, finally got his way (kind of) on the issue of consecration of the campus chapel (formerly the "oratory") -- but he can't come up with the money to build the new law school as originally planned? No. Something's fishy here. The SEC might want to look at Ave Maria Mutual Funds (no, I did not make that up) to find out if there's been malfeasance there as well.

"Where your heart is, there your treasure will be also."

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