Ave Maria University opened its doors to students in the Fall of 2007 in the planned town of Ave Maria, Florida which is 17 miles east of the city of Naples. It was Tom Monaghan’s dream to build an institution of higher education that would be faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church. He donated $250 million for this purpose. Ave Maria is the first new Catholic university built in the United States in more than 40 years.
Ave Maria University is a private, Roman Catholic college that offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. The college offers courses in biology, economics, literature, philosophy, politics, music and theology. The tuition at present is in the $17,000 range with the total cost for the year being about $26,000. Most students are able to receive some sort of financial aid. There are approximately 710 undergraduates and 150 postgraduates enrolled at this time.
Although best known as the founder of Domino’s Pizza and former owner of the Detroit Tigers baseball franchise, Thomas Monaghan now devotes his attention full time to non-profit endeavors, specifically focused on underwriting Catholic higher education. He currently serves as the Chancellor of Ave Maria University. The institution is designed to prepare students for leadership in academics, professional occupations, and service to the greater community.
Tom Monaghan was born in Ann Arbor in 1937. His father died when Tom was four years old which resulted in living his early years in an orphanage and a string of foster homes. After graduating from Ann Arbor’s St. Thomas High School in 1955, Tom enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. He returned to Ann Arbor after his honorable discharge three years later and enrolled at the University of Michigan.
It was during his years at the University of Michigan that Tom founded Domino’s Pizza. . By 1998, Domino’s had 6,250 stores, and ranked as the world’s largest pizza delivery chain. Tom tells the story of Domino’s Pizza in his autobiography, Pizza Tiger, published in 1986. He sold Domino’s Pizza in 1998 to Bain Capital, Inc., foregoing its day-to-day operations, which he had been overseeing for 38 years.
Tom and his wife Marjorie were married in 1962. They have four daughters and eight grandchildren.
The address of Ave Maria University is 5050 Ave Maria Blvd., Ave Maria, Florida 34142. Telephone: 239-280-2500.