April 18, 2000
volume 11, no. 76
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NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

School Founded by Tom Monaghan to Open in August

    DETROIT, APR 16 (ZENIT.org).- The "Ave Maria" Law School is co-sponsoring a conference on "St. Thomas and the Natural Law Tradition" from June 2-4 at the Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.

    The conference is divided into a series of presentations by eminent scholars punctuated by responses by other scholars. The topics cover St. Thomas' theory of natural law, discussing how this medieval theory relates to the U.S. theory of natural law. Some of the speakers include Dr. Janet Smith of the University of Dallas, Dr. Robert George of Princeton, Dr. David Novak of the University of Toronto, Fr. Robert Sirico of the Acton Institute, and Dr. William May of the John Paul II Institute.

    The "Ave Maria" Law School is the brainchild of Tom Monaghan, best known as the founder of Domino's Pizza. After selling all his interest in the chain, he has vowed to "die broke," devoting all his wealth to support his Catholic faith and other charities. He has provided $50 million up front to get "Ave Maria" off the ground.

    Monaghan's vision for the school, which will officially open this August, is to integrate Catholic teachings into every course, so as to produce lawyers guided by faith as well as reason. He attained the backing of several conservative politicians and started hiring professors last April.

    He hired Bernard Dobranski to be the dean of the new school. Dobranski left his position as dean of the Catholic University of America's law school to join the fledgling effort. He explained that his decision was in part brought about by the resistance he had found to making changes in universities with established faculties.

    "Over the years, a lot of Catholic law schools began to hire people who didn't care about the Catholic mission of the school, and these people are now tenured, full professors," explained Dobranski to the Chronacle of Higher Education. "In this situation, it's difficult to reaffirm your mission because faculty governance is so important."

    The school is presently hiring world-class professors to teach its students. Perhaps the most "splashy" hire was that of Robert Bork, whose 1987 nomination to the Supreme Court was rejected by the Senate. This fall, he will be co-teaching "Moral Foundations of the Law" with Dobranski.

    Monaghan says he talks to faculty recruits about the school's mission, but doesn't directly ask for their views on specific topics such as abortion. "We talk to them about the teachings of the church and ask them whether they're comfortable supporting them," he says. "If someone indicated in their discussion that that was not a commitment they could make, it would be a strike against them."

    The first-year classes at Ave Maria read like those at any law school. There are courses in contracts, torts, civil procedure, legal writing, propert, and criminal law. However, students will also take courses on the law and ethics, considering "not only what the law permits, but whether, in light of the moral law, the law should be amended," according to the school's web site, http://www.avemarialaw.edu .

    The new school has also announced that it will conform to the standards of Pope John Paul II's "Ex corde Ecclesiae," which addresses the Catholic identity of the colleges and universities connected with the Church. ZE00041620


April 18, 2000
volume 11, no. 77

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