Move in weekend went great, and thank God, Tropical Storm Erika changed her mind and did not decide to attend our first day of classes today. It is wonderful to see familiar faces blend in with the new students as the Ave Maria University family is formed anew. Eight new full-time professors complement the scholarship of our returning faculty members and will lead a student body eager to learn from them. Later today our Bishop, His Excellency Frank Dewane, will celebrate the opening Mass and we look forward to welcoming him back to our campus.
The Bishop will find great excitement when he arrives. We have our largest entering class ever (hovering at 400 at last count) as well as total enrollment (now around 1,100). Our Department of Nursing is teaching its first cohort of students and the Education Department is now permitted to give teaching certificates to graduates who fulfill the requirements. Both of these are firsts. The Music Department has been revamped and revitalized with three new professors leading the way under Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs Gabriel Martinez.
Last night we began a new tradition in the Oratory – the 8:30pm Sunday Mass – and it was attended by hundreds of students. We believe every week this Mass will attract the great majority of our students and allow a worship experience with a college feel. It also will allow students traveling that day to get back and attend Mass with their friends.
Later this week, at our convocation, Dr. Mark Miravalle, a Marian scholar from Franciscan University and a proud dad of one of our sophomores, will be addressing our students on the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy. After his talk, I will host a very nice reception for our honors students in the Executive Dining Room.
Our Lady is watching over her university and the evidence of the Lord’s favor on our campus community is palpable. May we all work together in unity and make this new academic year a time of joy, mercy, and excellence.