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AMU Scholarship Dinner Gets a Taste of New Arts Center, Outside and In

sd6-400More than 400 people got a better look at plans for a performing arts center at Ave Maria University, as well as a taste of the type of talent that will be showcased inside it, Thursday night at AMU's annual scholarship dinner at the Ritz Carleton beach hotel in Naples.

The dinner honored Myra Daniels, founder of the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts, for taking on the leadership role to build the 1,200-seat center and a museum dedicated to the life of Mother Teresa, which will be next door.

sd7-300It was her love of Mother Teresa that first sparked her interest to get involved with Ave Maria University, Mrs. Daniels said in an interview.

"She was my favorite hero," she said, explaining that after she got to know Jim Towey she then visited AMU and was struck by the artistic talent of the students.

"I heard the choir led by Tim McDonnell and was simply blown away," she said, deciding then to do what she could to help AMU build an arts center as well as a museum dedicated to the life of Mother Teresa. Left, Mrs. Daniels reacts to a humorous song performed by the Shakespeare in Performance Troupe (above right) which will perform 12th Night, also known as What You Will, in April.

The choir performed at the scholarship dinner Thursday night which showcased students' talent instead of a more traditional after-dinner speaker, and the university also conferred an honorary doctorate on school founder Tom Monaghan, which he said was his 13th honorary degree.(Below right, AMU Board of Trustees Chairman Michael Timmis drapes the doctoral hood on Mr. Monaghan.) The event raised a half-million dollars, Mr. Towey said.

sd2-200Speaking briefly, Mrs. Daniels told the audience that, "Ave Maria is one of the great opportunities in our part of the country. This is not just a local thing – this is big time."

She said in an interview that she has already received some promises of support toward the goal of raising between $10 and $15 million for the project.

"You have blessed me by giving me the chance to do this," Mrs. Daniels said. "This is the most exciting thing I have done. It's needed, it's wanted, and it will change the life of the students. 

Below left, Mrs. Daniels and Mr. Towey with an image of the new arts center behind them. 



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