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

Friday, April 18, 2008

Naples News on Vineyards Campus

The Naples News has an expanded article on the announcement to move AMSL to Vineyards. Some excerpts:
A law school release cited a declining national economy and high construction costs as reasons that led the school's board of governors to its decision.
Last February, the school announced its move from Michigan to what was expected to be a permanent facility in Ave Maria. But with the current financial situation, the only alternatives for the school was to stay in Ann Arbor or use the Vineyards property, Milhizer said. Since the school had told its first-year and prospective students to expect a move to Florida, it wanted to follow through, he said.

"We wouldn't want to interrupt that momentum that was forming for the move," Milhizer said.
I think the first-year and prospective students were told to expect a move to Ave Maria Town, not to Naples. Also, interesting to see the administration admit that the economy is not as rosy as it once was. Remember, the southwest Florida economy was a prominent argument in support of a Florida move to begin with. Finally, did the Board of Governors make the decision by a meeting and vote, or did something else happen?
The law school will lease the property from the university, which owns it. Both schools were founded by former Domino's Pizza magnate Tom Monaghan and Monaghan is on the boards of both schools, but there's no official relationship between them.
Hee, hee, hee. "There's no official relationship between them." But there are a lot of unofficial relationships.
It is possible, Milhizer said, that the ABA approval could be needed a second time once the law school would take permanent residence in Ave Maria town.

"I don't know if the ABA would consider that a major change," he said. "If you consider it major, it will be a move to a state-of-the-art law school building. I can't see why that would be a problem."
Interesting to see Milhizer admit that we might be looking at 2 major changes and acquiescences instead of one. I just don't know why the administration has confidence that the ABA will give acquiescence to a move to a temporary campus. I would think the ABA doesn't want set that kind of precedent.
Milhizer said he didn't know how long the school would have to stay in the Vineyards and he wasn't sure when groundbreaking would occur in Ave Maria town.
I wonder whether the school might be in Vineyards for 2, 3, or more years.
The announcement does represent a solution of sorts for Ave Maria University's failure to sell the Vineyards site. The school thought it had a deal with a Chicago-based Catholic organization to turn the property into a retirement home, but it fell apart in May. After the deal fell through, university officials had maintained on a number of occasions there were other buyers, but apparently leasing the property to the law school was the most viable option.
Interesting. I didn't know that there was a controversy over trying to get Vineyards sold.
Reaction from law school alumni was disappointment on Thursday afternoon. Jim Fox, a 2003 graduate who works at the Roetzel & Andress firm in Naples and sits on a committee that is facilitating the school's move to Florida, said he was hoping the school's transitions would end after 2009.

"Frankly I was looking forward to the law school being in the permanent facility and having the moves and transitions behind it," Fox said. "That's clearly not the case now."

But Fox said some benefits to the temporary site would be the ability to have on-campus student housing and a closer location to the area's legal community as it begins to build relationships.

Matt Bowman, also a 2003 graduate who had spearheaded a petition drive supporting the three professors that filed suit against the school, was upset at the news.

"You have to expect disappointments like this one from people who are destroying a once-successful law school for no other reason than to serve Mr. Monaghan's desires," Bowman said.
Looks like the Vineyards decision was a surprise to everyone, including Mr. Fox. Mr. Bowman, that is a succinct yet hard-hitting soundbite. Thank you!