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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

More From AM's Mailbag: Letter From David Krause '03

To: Mr. Monaghan and the Board of Governors
From: David Krause, Class of 2003

The following letter contains nothing but my personal opinion. It has no affiliation with my position as Alumni Association Chair, other than the fact that I have been privy to what transpires during our monthly public meetings, as well as to the sordid hearsay regarding what you(Mr. Monaghan) and the Board have done or failed to do in regard to moving our school and jeopardizing our accreditation. Again, these are my opinions.

There are two "sections" to this email; the first is addressed to you,the Board, and the second to Mr. Monaghan. Frankly, I'm writing this letter to assuage my own conscience more than anything else, because I do not expect anything positive to come of it.

To the Board of Governors, and particularly, any of you who have referred to our School as a "failed experiment":

You who have voted to move the School without any accountability for your vote to those of us who have a real interest in the School have failed. To those (allegedly two) of you who have referred to the School as a failed experiment, you disgrace yourselves by remaining on the Board and should resign immediately. You have no place voting on the future of a "failed experiment."

As to the Board as a whole, justify your voting to move the School to Florida. I should hope that your reasoning is not so blunt as "Tom Monaghan's money." If that is it, as your silence ostensibly indicates, then you all have demonstrated a severe lapse in judgment, a lack of faith in our Lord who has graced favor on our school, and a blindness to the faculty whose dedication can inspire other donors and create a successful school again if you would let them. It is your refusal to stop Mr. Monaghan's crippling efforts over the last four years that has caused any failures in the School, such as in student scores, faculty recruiting, and an administration that spends its time crushing disagreement with Mr. Monaghan instead of working to cultivate a respectable law school ranking.

To Mr. Monaghan:

I decided to become a lawyer for one reason: I read about you years ago, about your childhood rise and Catholic identity, and I believed that you were beginning something incredibly important in benefacting a law school. I claim to be the first person to inquire about the School; I was sitting in my office in New August, Mississippi (I was a mechanical engineer in a pulp mill) when I read in USA Today that you were benefacting a law school. I called the Foundation that day to inquire, and the Dean and founding faculty were attending Mass. A year later I was committed to attending. That was a long time ago, and my belief in you has dwindled.

Before I further opine, let me say to you (and to the Board), that although I have given no more than the "widow's pence" in relation to your financial capacity, my contribution it is equal to or greater than your own. I have incurred over $130,000.00 in debt in attending, and I have given up a salary of over $220,000.00. That makes my financial contribution, in a round about way, $350,000.00. If I include my three years of attending, which equates to approximately 10 hours a day, my time commitment has been equally substantial. Mr. Monaghan, my contributions required a hell of a sacrifice for and by my family in addition to my own. Nor am I alone among my fellow graduates. Thus, I am reasonably able to assert my right to address you without concern for your reaction of feelings.

In my opinion, Mr. Monaghan, you are not told what you should hear. A law school is not a toy for asserting one's ego. Frankly, sir, you are not qualified to run our school, or make decisions in its regard. You are not a lawyer, you have never administrated any academic institution, not even an elementary school, nor were you educated as an administrator. You are a benefactor. That word is defined as a "kindly
helper," or one who "makes a bequest or endowment." But you have shown to not be so altruistic. You and our founding faculty together put forth a commendable "vision" for what our school was to be, and at least for the first few years that I attended, you appeared to step back and help promote Ave Maria as an independent law school. But you apparently had ulterior, grandiose plans. Several factors altered those plans, such as an uncooperative Ann Arbor Township Council, and the lure of real estate ventures in Florida. So you apparently decided that the Blessed Mother (or whomever) was calling you to pick up your things and move near Naples.

However, our School is not one of your "things," and your "use" of it to benefit other projects has been catastrophic. You had no right to cause us harm, not matter how much money you had given. We are a Catholic academic institution whose interests are unrelated to your other projects and your personal desires. You apparently have no qualms about destroying communities and projects when you think it will benefit your other desires, because you also destroyed two colleges in Michigan (not to mention the people and families that invested in those colleges) and left numerous elementary schools in financial hardship.

So you must ask yourself whether you have done more harm or good to the Catholic academic community overall. I believe you are harming our School and other institutions, and there is no logical reason for us or the Board of Governors to think you will not continue to do so down in Florida. What kind of educator would be so naive, given your track record in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, to believe that you are creating some kind of great Catholic academic institution in Immokalee?You are likely to attract educators who are off-kilter, who do not fit in wherever they are currently employed, and who are social misfits.

That is what your actions promise. We are called to engage the world, Mr. Monaghan, not retreat from it. Your retreat from Ann Arbor and your iron-fisted demolition of "your projects" there have demonstrated, in my mind, a position contrary to Church teaching.

If you would merely have fulfilled the funding you had promised and gone off to other activities, I would have no quarrel with you. Our School would have phased into other funding and built success upon success, and even now we could do so. But I believe you knew we would flourish without your funding, and you didn't just part ways amicably because then our success would not be under your influence or to your

You were willing to cripple our School with a four year campaign to exert complete control over our administration and to cannibalize our assets and what is left of our reputation. If you and the Board of Governors remember nothing else, remember this: the decimation of our once successful School was never necessary or likely, but was a direct, foreseeable, and intended result of your efforts to prop up an unstable college and eccentric town. The Board of Governors is at fault for refusing to stand up to you to defend our School's best interests. They handed the reigns of our School over to the man who has done it the most harm. Such acquiescence is shocking.

Like me, the people who actually made your colleges and schools a reality believed in the vision you shared with our founding faculty. They also believed that you were sincere and stable in your generosity, that you were a benefactor of the most kindly sort, and that you were building a Catholic community of scholars rather than a cutthroat sole proprietorship.

I believe that my trust in you was misplaced. I am asking you to resign from the Board of Governors, to fulfill any financial support to the School in Ann Arbor that you have promised, and then to phase out your involvement completely so that the faculty, credible administration, alumni, students, and donors can repair the damage you have caused and rebuild a school founded on the community that your conduct, by the grace of God through the intercession of our Blessed Mother, has not yet destroyed.

David Krause

cc: Ave Maria School of Law Alumni Association Board of Directors