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Branch of University of Mobile in San Marcos, Nicaragua To Become Branch of Ave Maria College.

Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists Come Together in Unique Transaction

to Promote Higher Education in Central America

ANN ARBOR, Mich., June 30 /PRNewswire/ --

Ave Maria College, a four-year Catholic institution located in Ypsilanti, Michigan (USA), announced that it is assuming the operations of the branch of the University of Mobile located in San Marcos, Nicaragua, effective July 1. The new name for the campus, which is the only U.S.-accredited, four-year school south of Mexico, will be Ave Maria of the Americas. The announcement was made by Nicholas Healy, President of Ave Maria College.

A dedication ceremony celebrating the school's transition to a Roman Catholic college will take place at 3:00 PM on Saturday, July 1, at the newly constructed Catholic chapel on the campus, which is located in the State of Carazo, approximately 45 minutes from Managua. The ceremony, which will be accompanied by a Catholic Mass and blessing of the campus by Bishop Obispo Mata, will mark the official name change of the school. The official Deed of Use, which was signed by Nicaraguan President Arnoldo Aleman on Friday, June 30, will be personally given to Healy by Vice President Enrique Bolanos during the ceremony. Nearly 1,000 people-primarily students, parents and faculty-are expected to be in attendance. The school currently enrolls more than 400 students.

"This will be a day of great celebration for Nicaragua," said Healy. "It assures the continued operation of the school which is considered a vital part of promoting democracy in Nicaragua and a means for students to get a U.S. education in one of the toughest areas of Central America. And, since most of the current students are Roman Catholic, they welcome the addition of daily Catholic Masses, as well as the offering of theology and philosophy courses not previous available at the campus."

The school historically has operated in a Southern Baptist environment due to its ties to the University of Mobile in Alabama. It was founded in 1991.

"Ave Maria had expressed interest in becoming involved with this school more than a year ago," explained Healy. "However, we could not finalize any plans until we secured our own accreditation. We recently received notification that we are pre-accredited, which is sufficient for qualifying for federal grants and loans. We have already applied to the accreditation academy for an extension to Nicaragua."

Humberto Belli, who formerly served as the vice president of the university, will now serve as president of Ave Maria College of the Americas. Prior to his work at the school, Belli served as Minister of Education for Nicaragua. He will continue to be supported in his new role by the campus' existing faculty of 28.

Any U.S. citizen or Latin American student with a green card may apply for U.S. federal grants and loans to attend Ave Maria of the Americas. In addition, through U.S. AID (Agency for International Development), poor students who would not otherwise qualify can also receive federal funds.

Although the University of Mobile oversaw the operations of the school, the campus itself is owned by the Nicaraguan government. For that reason, government approval was required in order for the transfer to take place.

According to Healy, money has already been raised to improve the school's aqua-culture laboratory which allows for the study of fish farming. Ave Maria has also applied for grants to improve the library on campus, as well as to cover other needed capital improvements.

Ave Maria College was founded in 1998 with funds provided by the Ave Maria Foundation, which was created by Thomas Monaghan, founder and former CEO of Domino's Pizza. The institution has a strong Catholic identity and seeks to advance the ideas articulated in the papal documents Fides et Ratio and Ex Corde Ecclesiae. Ave Maria College recently received approval of candidacy status for accreditation from the American Academy of Liberal Education.
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jun 30, 2000
Words:649
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