This fall Ave Maria university will begin its fifth year on our campus and its ninth year as a university in the state of Florida.
In our young history we have had many significant moments, from the investment by Tom Monaghan of hundreds of millions of dollars at ground-breaking, to the construction of the campus, to the fall 2007 opening.
This past academic year, however, may have been our finest yet. Thanks to the grace of God and the effort and generosity of many, Ave Maria achieved the following:
Formal recognition as a Catholic university of the Diocese of Venice, by Bishop Frank Dewane
A complete transitioning of the university's senior leadership (including the president) and a streamlining of operations that cut the size of the budget by millions of dollars
Record enrollment of 745 undergraduate students last fall, including our largest entering class ever (300), and an expected 850 undergraduates this fall, including another record-breaking new student count (between 375 and 400)
Record retention of upper-class students, with 92.5 percent returning from the fall to the spring semester, and of the 560 students eligible to register for classes this fall, over 500 have registered
An increase in the number of majors offered (from 12 to 21) and minors (from 15 to 19) and the creation of a new honors program for new and returning students in the fall
A significant increase in fundraising from the year before, with over $9 million raised, including two gifts of $1 million, several gifts of a half-million dollars and nearly 8,000 donors overall
A marked improvement in net tuition revenues and the lowest operating deficit ever ($3.8 million), a dramatic turnaround from the previous year's $8 million-plus shortfall
The adoption of a 2012-2017 strategic plan that puts the university on a path toward self-sufficiency by the 2014-2015 academic year without compromising academic excellence
A major overhaul of information technology and services so that the campus is now 100 percent wireless, with a quadrupling of the bandwidth available for faculty and student research on the Internet.
Perhaps most impressive of all, the university secured these accomplishments and more while simultaneously decreasing the size of its full-time staff from 195 to 144 (while the size of our full-time faculty increased).
None of this would have been possible without the strong foundation Monaghan and his team built, and the leadership and support of Chairman Michael Timmis and the members of the Board of Trustees.
With your continued prayers and support and with the intercession of the Mother of Jesus who is our patroness, we feel our best days are still ahead.