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Archive for Jim Towey

Towey no fan of Crist, but we can all be fans of Towey

Yesterday’s Tampa Bay Times highlighted some Florida history perhaps unknown to many Ave Maria residents. It involves AMU president Jim Towey and former GOP governor Charlie Crist.

Towey on crist

While infamous for his deep orange tan, Mr. Crist’s more substantive notoriety is as the sitting Republican governor who opted not to run for re-election in 2010 so that he could run for the U.S. senate, lost the GOP senate primary to Marco Rubio, and instantly morphed into a liberal independent to run against Rubio in the general election.

Rubio victory speech

Crist (who in prior campaigns advocated abolishing the IRS, bringing back chain gangs, and impeaching Bill Clinton – and who as governor actually appointed key Clinton impeachment leader Charles Canady to be a Florida Supreme Court Justice) ran an embarrassing campaign and was soundly defeated by Rubio.

crist flip flop

Soon afterward Crist joined one of Florida’s most well-known personal injury law firms, Morgan & Morgan, whose ubiquitous media ads include advocacy for legalizing medical marijuana. Crist himself became a TV pitchman for the firm.

Crist for the people

Then in 2012, Crist – still an independent – emerged to endorse Barack Obama during a televised speech at the Democratic National Convention, after which Crist joined the Democrat party.

Charlie Crist Republican Turncoat

Which brings us to yesterday’s lengthy article that tries to answer the question “Who is Charlie Crist?”, just as Crist signals the start of a campaign to do what “now should be impossible… to be governor as a Republican and then governor, again, just four years later, as a Democrat.” In trying to answer that question, the journalist highlighted a 1995 incident involving Crist and Jim Towey:

Today, Crist talks about civility and bipartisanship, but Florida’s last Democratic governor [Lawton Chiles] saw Crist as the main obstacle to that. For instance, Jim Towey, Chiles’ idealistic, outspoken head of social services and a former aide to Mother Teresa, lost his post because of Crist’s committee [Senate Committee on Executive Business, Ethics and Elections]. Towey is now the president of Ave Maria University near Naples. He shakes his head that Crist is campaigning as a friend of black voters when he played such a key role in putting so many of them behind bars and in chain gangs. “He can change his image, but he can’t change the facts,” Towey said. “What I see Charlie Crist doing today is the same thing I saw him doing 20 years ago. He’s a master at media manipulation.”

Back then, according to Towey, Crist was gracious to him in private even while ripping him in public. Years later, Crist ran into Towey at the White House, where Towey led President George W. Bush’s faith-based initiatives. Crist greeted him cheerfully, like they were longtime pals, “happily saying hi to my wife and me when he led my firing when we had two little kids under 3 years old,” Towey said. “To him, it was all forgotten. Didn’t mean a thing. That’s how the guy is wired.” Cordial or pathological? Decorous or two-faced? The velvet glove was open to interpretation.

towey last day

To be sure, prior to Towey’s initial appointment as Florida’s head of social services everyone knew the agency was in terrible shape and it would be an extremely difficult job. And shortly after the senate fired him the legislature split the huge behemoth agency into two agencies. To be sure, Charlie Crist’s career proves him to be the epitome of a political opportunist – which makes Towey’s remarks ring all the more true.

Some readers might remember a bit about this incident – it was mentioned in passing when Towey first came to Ave Maria. The fact that it was highlighted again this week can serve as a reminder of the weight of experience and the breadth of contacts (seems pretty obvious when a man has been advisor to a saint, a president, a governor, and a senator*) that Jim brings to his office each day as the president of AMU. We can all keep praying that he continues to use them for the success of the institution so dear to our town, and we can thank him for working in earnest to be a man of virtue who is not afraid to take on very difficult challenges.

*Blessed Mother Teresa, President George W. Bush, Governor Lawton Chiles, and Senator Mark Hatfield

Comments, Chronology & Video: Ave Maria University President Towey reacts to Hobby Lobby decision

Today’s Supreme Court news in the Hobby Lobby HHS contraception mandate case reverberated in Ave Maria rather loudly. While the impact the decision will have on lawsuits by non-profits such as AMU is not clear, AMU president Jim Towey (an attorney) sees today’s decision as a good development. AMU is represented by the Becket Fund, the same  law firm that prevailed in today’s Hobby Lobby case. The Ave Herald’s coverage is here.

AMU APPLAUDS US SUPREME COURT DECISION 6-30-2014 final AVE MARIA UNIVERSITY LAWSUITS Chronology

 

 

Back from Calcutta, President Towey says heart of AMU education is “learning about your faith and putting your faith in action”

Mother Teresa continues to influence the Ave Maria University campus. In this video, AMU students discuss their experience travelling to Calcutta on a recent trip with with AMU president Jim Towey.

According to Towey, “at the heart of what Ave Maria’s education experience is all about is learning about your faith and putting your faith in action.”

Afternoon pilgrimage with Mother Teresa: “If there are poor on the moon we will go there”

Mother Teresa as a young woman

I had wanted to see the new Mother Teresa exhibit in Ave Maria since it opened on April 2. After some good news at work, I walked downstairs and headed down the block toward the exhibit to make an act of thanksgiving to God. And I am so glad I did. The exhibit was very moving. For anyone who felt Mother’s absence when she left this world it will be hard not to well up with emotion at every information panel in the exhibit.

Mother Teresa Exhibit 2.1 Mother Teresa Exhibit 7.2 Mother Teresa Exhibit 14.1

What a gift it is to have here in Ave Maria Mother’s Read the rest of this entry »

Mother Teresa exhibit opens April 2, anniversary of John Paul II’s death

Ave Maria University’s new Mother Teresa Project Exhibition Hall will open to the public on Aprilmother teresa project 2, 2014. According to new information on its website, this date was selected “in honor of Mother Teresa’s friend, Pope John Paul II, on the ninth anniversary of his entrance into heaven.” The opening had been tentatively slated for the feast of St. Joseph, March  19.

According to its website, the Mother Teresa Project “educates students on the life and unique spirituality of Mother Teresa through a program of study that immerses them in her life and writings.”

mother teresa project information

Update: Link to the AMU press release.

Newsflash: Ave Maria is Normal

Ave Maria Groove

Ave Maria University: Normal?

Every year or so somebody writes a summary about how the Ave Maria project – town and university – is progressing. While the most recent such article appearing in Gulfshore Life seems to start with that broad aim by recapping some history, it ends up focusing only on Ave Maria University. If you don’t have time to read it yourself, here are some highlights along with article quotations from each of the people shown in the photos:

Read the rest of this entry »

What’s up at Ave Maria University?

The 3rd Annual AMU Scholarship Dinner was held on Feb. 20, 2014 at the Ritz-Carlton, Naples.

Someone in the know had this to say:

The whole video is great: Cog Audino juggling during Jim Towey’s speech, Myra’s passion about the Performing Arts Center, and everything. But if you really want the goods, check out Travis’ troupe at 1:50 when Andrew Olson, Michael Stewart, Nicholas Robert George Ciavarra, John C Miller, Peter Atkinson, and Andrew Heim rock out to One Direction.

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