.- The Board of Governors of Ave Maria School of Law has voted to move the law school from its current location in Ann Arbor, Mich., to the town of Ave Maria, Fla. The law school plans to open on a site it will share with Ave Maria University in the fall of 2009.
After almost five years of discussions and research about the feasibility of relocating, the Board of Governors determined that the move would give the Law School its best opportunity to thrive and continue fulfilling its unique mission of educating outstanding lawyers in the context of the Catholic intellectual tradition, a press release said.
The board also noted its first step is to begin the process of securing the acquiescence of the American Bar Association (ABA) for the move.
The Law School has been in Michigan for seven years. It achieved full ABA accreditation by 2005 — in the shortest time possible, said Bernard Dobranski, Ave Maria School of Law president and dean.
"The board believes significant future success will be found in Southwest Florida where the Law School will be co-located with a new and vibrant Catholic university in one of the fastest growing regions in the country,” said Dobranski. “This will allow the Law School the unparalleled opportunity to accelerate its efforts to become a premier educational institution, integrating strong legal fundamentals with a deep understanding of the Catholic faith and intellectual tradition."
Ave Maria School of Law currently has 380 enrolled students, 18 fulltime faculty members, including Judge Robert Bork, former Circuit Court Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In its seven-year existence, Ave Maria has enrolled students from 49 states and abroad, and from more than 200 colleges and universities.
However, reaction to the decision is not positive all the way around. The Alumni Association Board of Directors issued a statement condemning the decision and saying that the move “at this time is not in the best interests of the Law School or its community.”
”The Alumni Association Board of Directors believes our alma mater's early success counsels against a decision to close the school in Michigan,” says the statement. “We have difficulty believing that Ave Maria School of Law's amazing success is sufficiently likely to recur after ‘relocation.’”
Alumni Association Board President Alex Vernon told the Naples News that the released statement does not reflect the opinion of everyone on the board. Vernon said he believes the decision to relocate is in the best long-term interest of the school.
Ave Maria School of Law was founded in 1999 through the vision and generous financial backing of Thomas S. Monaghan, Ave Maria School of Law chairman of the board, and founder of Domino's Pizza.