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AMU Receives $5-million Gift in Memory of Former Board Chairman

Ave Maria University has announced that it has received a $5-million donation in the memory of Paul M. Henkels, a former chairman of the school's Board of Trustees. AMU will name its academic building in honor of Mr. Henkels as recognition of the gift, from the Henkels foundation.

"We are deeply honored and humbled by the generosity of the Henkels Foundation," university Chancellor Tom Monaghan said in a news release.

Mr. Henkels died in January at age 84. He and his wife, Barbara, were active supporters of Catholic education.

The full text of the press release from Ave Maria University follows.

Henkels Foundation announces a five-million-dollar gift for naming of the
Paul M. Henkels Academic Building at Ave Maria University

AVE MARIA, Fla. - (December 4, 2009) - Ave Maria University (AMU) Chancellor, Thomas S. Monaghan, announced today that the university has received a five-million-dollar gift from the Henkels Foundation.  The gift is being made in honor of the late Paul M. Henkels, former AMU Chairman of the Board.  In recognition of the gift, the university will name its academic building the "Paul M. Henkels Academic Building."

"We are deeply honored and humbled by the generosity of the Henkels Foundation," Monaghan said. "Paul was a stalwart leader among Catholic laity in the United States for decades.  His activity, generosity and leadership not only at Ave Maria University, but for Catholic education and many Catholic causes, were instrumental and will be missed. Naming our principal classroom facility the Paul M. Henkels Academic Building is a fitting tribute to such a great man, and we are extremely thankful to the Henkels Foundation for donating the funds to make this happen."

AMU President, Nicholas J. Healy, noted that academics, especially the liberal arts, were of the highest priority for Henkels. 

"It is fitting that our academic building is named after someone so dedicated to authentic education at all levels," Healy said.

Henkels' passion and devotion to education at all levels was manifested throughout his life's work.  Though his business prowess as CEO of Henkels & McCoy, Inc., helped grow the Pennsylvania company into a billion-dollar global engineering and construction firm, his true calling was working to further and enhance education.

One of Henkels' greatest achievements was being the co-founder of REACH Alliance (Road to Educational Achievement through Choice), an organization that worked to offer more choices of schools for students in Pennsylvania and throughout the nation.  Through REACH, Henkels was largely responsible for the creation and implementation of Pennsylvania's Educational and Improvement Tax Credit (EITC).   The program provides companies with a 90 percent tax credit on any donation made to a non-profit scholarship fund that gives parents of disadvantaged children more choices of schools for their children.

Along with his wife, Barbara, Henkels also co-founded two classical Catholic grammar schools, Regina Coeli Academy and Regina Angelorum Academy, offering Pre-K through eighth grade classes. The schools are rooted in a liberal arts course of study in a wholesome and rigorous academic environment and employ Catholic faculty who integrate the Magisterial teaching and tradition of the Catholic Church throughout the curriculum. In addition to serving on AMU's Board of Trustees, Henkels served on a number of other educational and philanthropic boards and was an active member of Legatus, The Papal Foundation and the Arts and Letters Advisory Council of Notre Dame University. 

In 1958, as a young 26 year-old businessman, Henkels created the Henkels Foundation and immediately began pledging one-third of his salary to the organization - a practice he continued throughout his career.  The philanthropic efforts of the foundation were, and continue to be numerous, but they do not encompass the entire breadth of Henkels' societal work.  Henkels was also a humanitarian and defendant of civil justice.  In a time when equal wages for all races was not the norm, Henkels arbitrated with a southern union to ensure that all employees, both black and white, would receive equal working wages if employed at the same position.

Henkels also worked closely with Monaghan in the development of Legatus (Latin for "ambassador"), which is an international organization of Catholic CEOs and presidents committed to studying, living and spreading their faith through their professional and personal lives.  When Monaghan founded Legatus, Henkels was a catalyst for the Philadelphia Chapter and became a key member of its National Board and helped form the organization during its early years.

Henkels' honors include: the Coggeshall Award of the National Electric Contractors Association for his work in labor relations and codes and standards; Sourin Award from the Catholic Philopatrian Literary Institute; Hogan Award from St. Joseph's University; the Award for Excellence from the Commission for Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania; and the Barry Award from the National Catholic Historical Society.

AMU has had the special privilege of having close connections with Henkels.  He served as a trustee since the university's inception and as Chairman of the Board from August 2006 to his passing in January 2009.

A quote by Henkels' son from a January 19, 2009, article in Philadelphia's The Bulletin characterized Henkels devotion to his faith, which is at the heart of AMU's mission. "He didn't practice what he preached," Henkels' son, Paul, Jr., said.  "He practiced what the Lord preached."

The Paul M. Henkels Academic Building will be officially dedicated at a ceremony in February 2010. 

About Ave Maria University

Ave Maria University (AMU) was founded in 1998 as Ave Maria College in Ypsilanti, Mich., to provide a liberal arts education in the Catholic tradition.  In 2002 the college relocated to a temporary campus in Naples, Fla., and added graduate level programs, as it became Ave Maria University.  In 2007 the university relocated to its permanent campus in Ave Maria, Fla.  Founded on the principles of the apostolic document Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Ave Maria University is dedicated to the advancement of human culture, the promotion of dialogue between faith and reason, the formation of men and women in the intellectual and moral virtues of the Catholic faith, and the development of professional and pre-professional programs in response to local and societal needs.  The university has attracted students from 49 states and more than 25 foreign countries. 


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