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Andrew Messaros Saw It Coming

According to Naples Daily News (March 21), Fr. Joseph Fessio, Provost of Ave Maria University (AMU), said in an e-mail: “I have been asked to resign my position as provost and leave the campus immediately.” Wow, run out of town!

In a New Oxford Note (March) we reported: “According to Naples Daily News (Dec. 4, 2006), things are not going well for [Tom] Monaghan [founder of AMU]. In a recent letter to Ave Maria University supporters, Provost Joseph Fessio, S.J., said the enrollment, recruitment, and retention are low. Indeed, Fessio referred to it as a ‘crisis.'” Fr. Fessio is responsible for enrollment, recruitment, and retention. Fr. Fessio had been touting his relationship with his “friend, Pope Benedict,” but apparently that didn’t work. Maybe AMU had to fire Fr. Fessio because AMU is in “crisis,” and AMU needs a replacement immediately.

Fr. Fessio recruited or allured students and many faculty, and he was the leading fundraiser. Didn’t AMU realize that there would be protests from the students and faculty whom Fr. Fessio recruited? Maybe that’s why AMU demanded that Fr. Fessio “clear his office and leave campus by the end of the day” (www.catholicnewsagency.com, March 22). But the stratagem backfired. Of the 390 students, 200 students and a majority of the faculty protested the firing of Fr. Fessio in public.

According to the Washington Post (March 25): “The outpouring of support — which he [Fessio] said included donors threatening to stop giving and parents inquiring about pulling their children out of the university — ‘was very gratifying,’ he [Fessio] said.” Very gratifying: Fr. Fessio did not object, so was he planning to take AMU down with him — like Samson? Apparently, Fr. Fessio was going to fight back. You definitely don’t want to humiliate Fr. Fessio.

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