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

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

AveWatch: Monaghan Changes Ave Maria Grammar School Name

If you go to the Ave Maria Grammar school website, you'll find the following news:
Welcome! You may have noticed that our name has changed from "Ave Maria Grammar and Prep" to the Rhodora J. Donahue Academy of Ave Maria. This happened in February 2009 in recognition of a generous donation from the Donahue family. Everything else about the school remains the same!
Great. So Monaghan thought it was a good idea to remove Our Lady from the name of the school and name it for Mrs. Donahue. (It looks a tad strange to see a person's name in the blue oratory logo usually reserved for "Ave Maria.")

But that is not what makes this story interesting, according to AveWatch's investigative journalism:
-it appears that Mr. Jack Donahue had donated $5 million for AMU's Recreaton Center to be named in his honor (the "Donahue Recreation Center");
-Monaghan approached Donahue and got him to shift the money from the Recreation Center to Ave Maria University's "operating expenses";
-Monaghan then renamed the grammar school in honor of Donahue's wife.

Two observations:
1. Ave Maria University's financial situation is mysterious. Monaghan nixes a $5 million earmark for a future Recreation Center, because economic circumstances prohibit its construction, and needs the money for current operating expenses. This is similar to Monaghan announcing that high construction costs prohibited Ave Maria Law School from building on AMU's campus and moving the law school to Naples. Yet Monaghan has $3 million for one of the world's largest ever sculptures of the Virgin Mary called "Our Lady of Annunciation," set to be unveiled on Monaghan's birthday, in 2010. (Monaghan was born on March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation.)

2. Ave Maria University and the Ave Maria Grammar School are supposed to be separate and independent institutions. Yet, if AveWatch is correct, Monaghan renamed the grammar school in recognition for money donated to the Ave Maria University, not the grammar school. But the grammar school website implies that the renaming happened due to a donation to the grammar school. So what exactly happened? Someone at the grammar school should ask about the nature of this Donahue donation which lead to the school's renaming.

UPDATE: Commenter "justfacts" points me to the official AMU press release which gives more information about the Donahue donation:
In 2004, the Donahues generously pledged $5 million to the capital campaign, initially to secure the naming rights for the sports and recreation facility. However, as planning for Phase I evolved, with the Donahues' permission, the funds were redirected toward other more eminent buildings. Ave Maria University Chancellor and Founder, Thomas S. Monaghan approached the Donahues and asked if they would agree to allocate $3 million of their gift toward the naming rights of the rapidly growing grammar and preparatory school.
I assume that the grammar school and AMU are supposed to be wholly separate institutions, and yet, no one seems to give a second thought to the fact that a donation for one is being diverted to the other. If this type of thing happens with AMU and the grammar school, how do we know that this hasn't happened with the law school before? Has Monaghan ever suggested to law school donors that their donations to the law school be directed instead to his other endeavors which need more financial support? This so clearly illustrates Monaghan's conflicts of interest in controlling so many different institutions. How can Monaghan possibly act in the best financial interest of one institution that is competing with the financial interest of another institution?