Nick Healy's Impending Educational Disaster

November 2004By Andrew Messaros

Andrew Messaros was a professor of biology at Ave Maria College in Michigan until September 2004. In November 2004 he became a professor of neuroscience at The Medical College of Ohio in Toledo, Ohio.

I am pleased to respond to the October 2004 NOR article by the President of Ave Maria University (AMU Florida), Nicholas Healy. In it, he defends against charges I brought against Thomas Monaghan, the principal “donor” and Board Chairman of Ave Maria College (AMC Michigan), in my article “Tom Monaghan’s Impending Educational Disaster” (NOR, Sept. 2004).

Unfortunately, Healy basically ignored the central question I posed: Does AMC Michigan’s biggest financial contributor have the moral and legal right to run all aspects of the College, then use his influence to take away the College’s assets, give them to another institution, and shut down the campus? The “impending educational disaster” referred to in my article is the closure of the beloved Ave Maria College in Michigan, not the University in Florida. Arguing the case for the University has no bearing on the issue I pose and certainly does not establish the case for dismantling and forever closing the College.

Healy’s article was simply the usual hackneyed talking-points: The AMC Board unanimously approved relocating to Florida; therefore, their plan must certainly be both moral and legal. The article contained a highly selective account of the historical and financial details leading up to the current “wind down” on the Michigan campus and “wind up” on the Florida campus.

The historical and financial facts surrounding the College are important. But they also obfuscate the central issue. The first principle behind those facts is lost amid details of resolutions, dates, contracts, and licenses. The place to start is to answer bluntly the question I posed.

On the other hand, if one asserts that Tom Monaghan, as the College’s biggest “donor,” has the moral and legal right to run AMC as if it were his personal private investment, then no defense is needed from Healy. If one can view a non-profit Catholic institution of higher learning as Mr. Monaghan’s tax-shelter and “business,” then closing and opening Catholic institutions is on par with closing and opening pizza franchises.

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