Finals week! Final Blog of the academic year!

Finals week! Final Blog of the academic year!

Finals week!  Final Blog of the academic year!

And if you are wondering why I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks, here’s why. 

First, I accepted an invitation by a senior student to be on his intramural basketball team.  The good news is that I played well enough that the opponent actually started to guard me.  The bad news is that I tore meniscus in my left knee and had minor surgery.  Lessons learned?  Probably none.  In fact I want to go out and play as soon as the rehab concludes.  But my wife Mary carefully reminds me that there is a reason why there isn’t a senior circuit for basketball like there is for golf. 

So perhaps I scored my last points in competitive basketball (in a game, by the way, that we lost by two points).  But perhaps not.  How can I possibly go out on a loss?

My stupidity in playing against athletes a third my age did not keep me from having a great couple of weeks that were as busy as you would expect.

Mary and I started a new tradition of having the graduating seniors over to our house for dinner.  It was great having them at our home.  Catherine Buxton and Ethan Manos were engaged the night before on the pier at Naples, and so there was much to celebrate.

These seniors will be missed, and here’s a snap shot of some of the ones who were there in our backyard.

They were freshmen four springs ago when I was announced as the new president of Ave Maria and so my connection to them is both sentimental and strong.  

Here is a staggering statistic that speaks volumes about the culture of Ave Maria University:  Twenty-two members of the graduating class are engaged to be married to each other.  How great is that?  The New York Times ran an interesting book review on Sunday about the damaging effect of the hook-up culture that afflicts so many colleges and universities.  Our campus is different.  We think marriage is a beautiful vocation.  And if you count recent alums and underclass students who are currently engaged, you have 48 Ave Maria students heading to the altar.  For a university our size, that is nothing less than glorious. 

And speaking of glorious, those who saw our student Shakespearean performances were amazed.  The toughest ticket at Ave Maria is to these annual plays as seating is limited (until we get the Performing Arts Center built!) and demand is high.  Dr. Travis Curtright who directs the troupe is incredible.  I saw the group’s final evening performance of Twelfth Night (or, What You Will) and they were great. The Curtright family hosted a cast party at their house last week that featured rib eye steaks grilled to perfection by Board of Trustees Chairman Michael Timmis and Dr. Tim Moore.

These actors couldn’t resist one final impromptu performance of a favorite scene or two.

Senior week also included recitals, and I attended Jensine Caranto’s.

It was standing room only and she did not disappoint.  The amazing thing about this pianist and violinist is that she became a vocalist while studying at Ave Maria. 

What was particularly touching about her performance was that as she sang her final solo, her exquisite voice cracked with emotion.  How could it not?  With beaming family members and adoring students there overwhelming her with emotion, her skills gave way to her tender heart.  

Jensine Caranto

Jensine is one of the five finalists for the President’s Award, the highest award that Ave Maria University bestows on a student.  The winner will be announced Friday. The finalists in addition to Jensine are:

Miquel Gonzalez

Anthony Lane

Lilla Lukacs

Paige Pilarski

Commencement awaits on Saturday and our university is privileged to welcome the Librarian of Congress, Dr. James Billington, as our honoree and speaker.

Dr. Billington has been Librarian of Congress since 1987 and is a brilliant scholar, a thoroughly decent man, and an admired friend.  At age 84, he has succeeded in everything – except retirement!  I look forward to having him with our university community as we confer diplomas on 194 graduates.

I hope all of you students have a great finals week – and an even better summer!  We look forward to welcoming a new entering class that is shaping up to be our largest ever.  I’ll be taking a break from regular blog posts but there will be one development in late June that will merit a post:  the U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Obamacare mandate/Hobby Lobby case.  Ave Maria University has much at stake in this decision and as I sign off for the semester, I commend this important matter to the intercession of the Blessed Mother – and your good prayers.