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Ave Maria Law School Launches Major Initiative to Attract Better Students

The Ave Maria School of Law is making a major push to raise the caliber of students entering the school in the fall of 2015.

Law School President and Dean Kevin Cieply said Thursday that thanks to funding from school founder Tom Monaghan, the school is offering 50 three-year, full-tuition scholarships to students who meet criteria for both academic achievement and faithfulness to the Catholic Church.

"We want to increase our academic standards," Mr. Cieply said in an interview, "and reverse a trend" of lower scores on the LSAT examination.

To be eligible for the scholarship, which also includes a stipend for living expenses in the first year, college seniors need to have a minimum score of 150 on the LSAT, a grade point average of at least 3.0, and either graduate from one of the 20 schools included in the Cardinal Newman Society's Guide to Choosing a Catholic College or be involved with the Catholic Church as FOCUS missionaries, members of Opus Dei or members of the Christ the King Parish at Domino's Farms in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Mr. Cieply said that the law school has no affiliation with Opus Dei, but that Mr. Monaghan included them in an effort to "target groups that are particularly devoted to the Church and bring high fidelity to Catholic teaching."

The first word of the scholarship program, which is estimated to cost about $3 million a year, came Wednesday when Mr. Monaghan met with about 40 seniors at Thomas Aquinas College (TAC) in California, which is one of the schools listed in the Newman Guide.

" I would love to have all 50 [scholarships] come from this school, because I think it's the finest Catholic school in the country, and you guys have the perfect background for law school," he was quoted as saying on the Thomas Aquinas website.

""Everywhere I go, when I'm asked about Catholic higher education, I always mention TAC because I think it's the best Catholic college in the country. The quality of its spirituality and academics are second to none." According to the TAC website, Mr. Monaghan then quickly added, "Now the best Catholic university in the country is Ave Maria!"

AMU also is listed in the Newman Guide and 2015 graduates are eligible for the scholarship if they meet the academic and LSAT requirements.

In addition to the scholarship program, Mr. Cieply also said that the law school is offering a three and a-half day "pre-law program" on its campus in Naples for students considering attending law school. For students that are accepted, the law school will pay for their transportation to Naples and accommodation.

"Overall, it's an aggressive program," Mr. Cieply said. "We're saying to these students, 'Maybe you should consider law school.'"


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