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Ave Maria Law's Founding Dean Dies at Age 76

dobranski-200Bernard Dobranski, an accomplished legal educator who was the founding dean of the Ave Maria School of Law, has died, current dean Kevin Cieply announced Saturday. He was 76.

Law school founder Tom Monaghan chose Mr. Dobranski in 1999 as the person he wanted to implement his vision for a Catholic law school. He was a highly regarded legal educator, who served as dean of the Detroit Mercy School of Law and the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University of America.

Together with Mr. Monaghan, Mr. Dobranski assembled a high-powered team of professors and attracted the attention of U.S. Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

The law school opened in Michigan in 2000 when it was licensed by the state of Michigan.

Mr. Dobranski stepped down as President and Dean because of health issues in 2009, shortly before the law school completed its move to its current location in Naples.

"Bernie was pivotal in so many ways to the founding of the law school and the success it experienced under his leadership," Mr. Monaghan said in a statement. "He brought immediate credibility in the legal community and his extensive experience and reputation in Catholic higher education helped us in countless ways. He was a man with clear vision and deep convictions."

Mr. Dobranski's funeral Mass will be in the Pittsburgh, PA, area where he grew up. There will be a Mass celebrated for him on the law school campus in Naples April 1 at 12:30 p.m.

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