Ave Maria University is a Catholic, liberal arts institution of higher learning devoted to Mary, the Mother of God, inspired by St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Calcutta, and dedicated to the formation of joyful, intentional followers of Jesus Christ through Word and Sacrament, scholarship, and service. The university provides academic excellence through its affordable on-campus and online bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Committed to providing a quality, faith-based education, the university’s extraordinary faculty are dedicated to student success as they teach areas from business to theology. In addition, the university’s strong focus on service opportunities provides additional tools for student success as they grow in their Catholic faith and acquire the career skills necessary to pursue their calling.

Ave Maria University has been recommended in the 2016-2017 edition of The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College by The Cardinal Newman Society. The resource recommends colleges and universities with strong higher education programs and a strong Catholic identity.

Catholic Identity

Ave Maria University is proud of its Catholic identity. The Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice in Florida, established Ave Maria University as a Catholic University according to the guidelines of the Code of Canon Law. The recognition of Ave Maria University as a Catholic University is granted upon the University’s commitment to continue to be guided by the teachings of the Catholic Church and faithfulness to the apostolic constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae.

“The University provides such a clear expression of the mission of Catholic education.” (William Cardinal Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith)

“And today, here at Ave Maria, here in Southwest Florida, the Church is alive and young.” (Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami)

“If ever there was an institution that exemplified the spirit of the John Paul II Generation, it’s Ave Maria University.” (Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of The Knights of Columbus)

Mission Statement

Founded in fidelity to Christ and His Church in response to the call of Vatican II for greater lay witness in contemporary society, Ave Maria University exists to further teaching, research, and learning at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the abiding tradition of Catholic thought in both national and international settings. The University takes as its mission the sponsorship of a liberal arts education curriculum dedicated, as articulated in the apostolic constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae, to the advancement of human culture, the promotion of dialogue between faith and reason, the formation of men and women in the intellectual and moral virtues of the Catholic faith, and to the development of professional and pre-professional programs in response to local and societal needs. As an institution committed to Catholic principles, the University recognizes the importance of creating and maintaining an environment in which faith informs the life of the community and takes expression in all its programs. The University recognizes the central and indispensable role of the Ordinary of the Diocese of Venice in promoting and assisting in the preservation and strengthening of the University’s Catholic identity.

Our History

Ave Maria University began as Thomas S. Monaghan’s dream to build an institution of Catholic higher education that would be faithful to the Magisterium and could produce the future faithful educators, leaders, and mentors that our challenged society needs. Through his initial financial donation of $250 million, in partnership with a generous donation of land from the Barron Collier Family in Southwest Florida, the dream began to take shape.

The United States leads the world in higher education, with more than 4,000 institutions of the most diverse kind — State, private, secular, and religious. The Catholic Church in America came late to the table in establishing colleges and universities, but by 1960, there were some 230 institutions, mainly founded by religious orders. Since then, the total number has hardly changed. The growth of older Catholic colleges and universities has often been accompanied by a degree of secularization. In a number of these institutions, the Catholic identity has become quite attenuated, with many (and in some cases most) of the faculty non-Catholic or hostile to the Church.

In the 40-plus years since the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic population has increased by some 50 percent. Much of that growth has occurred outside the traditional Catholic enclaves in the cities of the northeast and midwest, as Catholics followed the burgeoning economies of the southeast and the west. Yet the religious orders, many suffering a drastic fall-off in vocations, did not respond to these demographic changes with new institutions in areas of growing Catholic population. Indeed, the last Catholic institution inaugurated as a university was in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1963.

By the time Mr. Monaghan began his dream, it was evident that higher education needed a fresh, faithful voice. It can well be argued that, if for no other reason, a Catholic university is essential to the transmittal of the faith to successive generations. “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” —Proverbs 22:5-7 The role Ave Maria University intends to fill is not merely catechesis (although that has been woefully deficient in other institutions), but rather the ongoing reflection of theologians and philosophers on the integration of the truths of the faith with the social, cultural, economic, and political developments in society. This is perhaps the single most vital task for Catholic academicians: to explicate the truths of the faith and measure against them the evolving societal propositions or practices in politics, the arts, the economy, etc. Two hundred or more years ago, those practices included slavery, laissez faire capitalism, and child labor. Fifty or more years ago, they included Marxism, Nazism, and Freudianism. Today they include abortion, fetal research, cloning, same-sex “marriage,” moral relativism, and world terrorism. It is the graduates of Ave Maria University who will become the Catholic intellectuals needed to bring the truths of the faith to bear on these issues.

Board of Trustees

Mr. Michael T. O. Timmis – Chairman
Mr. Patrick T. Rainey – Vice Chairman
Dr. Louis C. Argenta, MD
Mrs. Donna Bradt
Dr. Arthur C. Brooks, Ph.D.
Mr. Emilio Burillo
Ms. Mary Demetree
Most Reverend Frank J. Dewane
Mr. Edward W. Easton
Ms. Patricia A. Flatley
Deacon John Jarvis
Ms. Jennifer Kastroll
Ms. Leigh-Anne Kazma
Dr. Walter Knysz, Jr., D.D.S.
Mrs. Bernadette Luca
Mr. Thomas S. Monaghan – Chancellor
His Eminence Seán Patrick Cardinal O’Malley
Mr. Thomas P. Prince
Most Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades
Mr. Paul R. Roney
Mr. Denzil Samuels
Mr. Michael Schwartz
Mr. Guy Smith
Mr. John V. Tippmann, Sr.

Trustees Emeriti

Mr. Joseph C. Canizaro
Mrs. Barbara B. Henkels
Mr. Daniel N. Mezzalingua
Mrs. Gloria L. Sullivan

Benefits of Learning Online

Earning your degree online with Ave Maria University comes with many perks.

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