Paul L. Caron

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ave Maria Offers to Sell Naming Rights for $20m

From next week's National Law Journal:  Ave Maria Still Looks to Move, Puts Name on Block; As Embattled School Fights Suit, It Is Selling Name Rights for $20m, by Julie Kay:

Got $20 million? If so, you could have a law school named after you. Ave Maria School of Law is selling naming rights to itself to finance the new facility it's building in southwest Florida. "We'd like to find someone who would want the opportunity to have their name associated with the school, to help us with the construction costs," said Dean Bernard Dobranski. He said the school is rapidly moving forward with its controversial plan to relocate from Ann Arbor, Mich., to Ave Maria, Fla., and has even obtained architectural renderings of the new school. ...

The plan is moving ahead, Dobranski insists, despite continuing controversy surrounding the school's planned move, faculty departures and an ongoing investigation by the ABA. The ABA will at some point rule on whether to continue to accredit the school. Meanwhile, a whistleblower lawsuit filed by three professors who say they were wrongfully terminated is progressing. Lawyers for the defendants — Dobranski, Ave Maria founder Tom Monaghan and the Ave Maria Foundation, the school's philanthropic arm — have filed responses. ...

Dobranski said the school has rebounded from the controversy and now has a record number of law students. Additionally, he said, the school has been contacted by 15 to 20 tenured professors interested in working for Ave Maria. Safranek, one of the professors who filed the suit, disputes that rosy view and said he knows of seven faculty members who are planning on leaving. "This is about whether it's a real law school or Tom Monaghan's school," he said. "The best people won't come to work for Monaghan."

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Does the $20 million buy the name of the entire school or merely the name of the building? My assumption is the latter. The tone of this article suggests that selling naming rights is somehow inappropriate, but all sorts of schools sell naming rights (including the entire school, not just a building). I have no interest in appearing to denigrate any school (law, business, medical or other), hence I will not specify particular schools (or buildings) named after their benefactors, but they are not hard to find. (I have no problem with schools selling naming rights to buildings. It strikes me as a sensible fund-raising practice.) Ave Maria is hardly exceptional in this practice.

Posted by: EHD | Dec 19, 2007 9:37:12 AM