Skip to comments.Major Catholic university, college town set for Florida (Jeb Bush quoted as well)
Posted on 11/20/2002 9:45:39 AM PST by patent
It will be the first major new Catholic university to be founded in the United States in 40 years. Officials at Ave Maria said they expect to draw outstanding students from all 50 states as well as from other countries.
The new town, also named Ave Maria, will have an integrated town-university center and will be developed in phases in conjunction with the school. The campus will cover approximately 750 acres, including a world class golf course, in eastern Collier County. The new campus is targeted to open as soon as possible and not later than the fall of 2006.
Construction has already begun on a seven-acre interim campus in Naples, with classroom buildings, student and faculty residences, a campus chapel and an indoor-outdoor recreational facility, that will be ready for the fall of 2003.
The new university will be seeded with approximately $200 million from Thomas S. Monaghan, Domino's Pizza Founder and former owner of the Detroit Tigers, who is also chairman of the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Ave Maria Foundation.
The development of the town, including comprehensive residential areas, will be undertaken through a 50/50 joint venture between Ave Maria University and the Barron Collier Companies, a major southwest Florida real estate and agricultural company that currently owns the property. The partners plan to invest more than $100 million to create phase I of the town. The land for the university campus will be donated by the Barron Collier Companies to serve as a catalyst for the compact rural development.
We wanted to build a major Catholic university in the southern part of the United States with the highest standards," Monaghan said. "I can't think of a better place than one of the fastest-growing areas in the country, which is centered around Naples, Fla.This location will be very attractive to students who want the finest Catholic education. It will offer the best of both worlds -- the great quality of life of Naples and a new dynamic Catholic and educational community.
The donation of the land to build the university by the partners of the Barron Collier Companies should be publicly acknowledged and is greatly appreciated by everyone at Ave Maria," Monaghan added.
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush congratulated all those responsible for their dedication to making a new major Catholic university in Florida a reality. "As a Catholic, I am very proud that students will be able to obtain an education with the highest academic standards and with a firm grounding in religious and moral values," Gov. Bush said.
The university is targeting an initial enrollment of 650 students at the new campus and has plans to grow to approximately 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The school will have a full curriculum of traditional liberal arts, sciences and engineering programs and a comprehensive graduate program offering master's and doctoral degrees.
Simultaneously with work on the campus, construction will commence on the town center and residential district of the new community planned to grow in support of the university. Barron Collier Companies President Paul J. Marinelli noted that plans for the town include single- and multi-family housing in a wide range of styles and prices, along with commercial and office facilities to accommodate businesses and organizations supporting this major academic institution.
"It's a truly unique approach to educational and land planning," Marinelli said. "Developing both academic and community features at the same time allows us to create an environment where living and learning form an integrated whole. The campus will be an intrinsic part of the town, and participating in town life will be an enriching aspect of the university experience. Town residents will also benefit from the cultural and academic resources provided by the university."
Officials at Ave Maria had announced last spring that they were seeking a location and that the Naples area was of particular interest. Aware of that interest, Barron Collier Companies contacted Ave Maria to explore the possibility of locating the university on a site within its extensive land holdings in eastern Collier County, where new development guidelines were under consideration by state and county planning authorities.
We thought this was the ideal concept for the area's recently approved 'Rural Stewardship' program, which is designed to protect both the environment and agriculture while promoting economic prosperity," Marinelli said.
Marinelli noted that the partnership has worked very closely with environmental groups to ensure that the area will be developed responsibly, with a strong commitment to preserving the significant environmental resources and the area's rural and agriculture environment. "It's our hope that this project can become a model of environmentally sensitive development for the entire state," he continued.
His Excellency John J. Nevins, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Venice, which includes the Naples area, said the new university presents an opportunity for a fruitful lay-clergy partnership that can enhance the spiritual and cultural life while more fully meeting the educational needs of the entire state. "It is exciting to think that our diocese will include what may some day become the Notre Dame of the South," said Bishop Nevins, who is on the university's Board of Ecclesial Advisors along with Cardinals Christoph Schönborn and J. Francis Stafford.
In conjunction with the announcement, Monaghan formally announced the new school's leadership team, which includes Nicholas J. Healy as president; Michael J. Healy (no relation), provost; and Fr. Joseph D. Fessio, S.J., chancellor.
President Healy pointed out that there are relatively few Catholic institutions of higher learning in the southern United States. Florida has only three, making the state an excellent source of potential local students.
There's only one Catholic college for about every 800,000 Florida Catholics," Healy said. "Across the nation, the average is closer to one for every 300,000 Catholics. Combining the under-served Catholic educational market with the attractiveness of going to school in southwest Florida allows Ave Maria tremendous growth potential. And I think our being here will raise the visibility of Catholic higher education in ways that can benefit all Catholic colleges and universities in the South."
Fr. Fessio added that the school would have convenient access to Central America, where Ave Maria operates an international campus in Nicaragua. "In addition to our international outreach to Central America we look forward to drawing on the rich cultural heritage of the huge and rapidly growing Hispanic Catholic population in the United States. Ave Maria University will be positioned to help prepare these Catholics for future leadership roles," Fr. Fessio said.
The first phase of the permanent campus construction will include a university plaza, academic buildings and a library, along with student residences, dining and recreation facilities, offices, a campus chapel and housing for senior administrators and faculty members.
In discussing the corresponding development of the first phase of the town, Marinelli said the partnership would focus on infrastructure and utilities and would emphasize construction of the integrated campus-town center, on which the university will depend for supportive businesses such as restaurants, financial services, general retail and entertainment. Close-in residential neighborhoods, including schools, will also be addressed early, to meet the immediate requirements of students, faculty and staff families.
"We see the university as the catalyst for the growth of the town," Marinelli said, "but we realize that a considerable portion of the town will have to be in place in order to attract students and faculty. So this plan is being approached as an organic whole. I'm not aware of any other community development effort that has attempted to meet both human and institutional needs in such a balanced, comprehensive manner."
Monaghan said the new university is committed to developing a great sports program. "This means football, baseball, basketball, golf, tennis, equestrian sports, swimming and other team and individual sports," he said. "We are committed to being competitive on a national level within the first 20 years of opening our doors."
"And who knows? In a few years we could have another nationally ranked football team here in Florida," added Gov. Bush.
Editor's Note: Images of Ave Maria University, the town of Ave Maria and key personnel are available on CD or downloadable at www.avemaria.edu/University.
Hope in God, bump.
Glad to know all that Domino's Pizza money is going to good use.Yep. Monaghan sold out a while back, though he stayed on to help for a time. I think he is entirely severed from Dominos at this point, and is focusing on charity full time.
Hopefully it will be ready by the time my kids are ready for college. I'm a bit jealous... wish Ave was being built in Massachusetts were we have tons of CINO Colleges, but none are Catholic.
I read the article but didn't catch specifics. Is this going to be out near Imoklee?
We've already contributed, and are hoping to send one or more of the offspring there when the day for that arrives.Yeah, I would strongly consider sending my kids there. Of course, I have a few years (or decades) to think about it.