Ave Maria University was officially recognized as a Catholic university on Friday by Diocese of Venice Bishop Frank Dewane.

Ave Maria, a university located in an unincorporated community in Collier County, was founded in 2003 by Domino’s Pizza magnate Tom Monaghan.

According to The Washington Post, Monaghan used “a large slice of his fortune to build a Catholic university in southwest Florida, exciting conservative Catholics with his dream of an academically first-class institution that is also solidly orthodox.” The Post also reported that he “produced lots of controversy … over his plan for a surrounding town in which contraceptives would not be available.”

Now, eight years later, the school was officially recognized by the Catholic Church.

The News-Press reports:

The Code of Canon Law regulates the establishment and conduct of a Catholic university by the competent ecclesiastical authority who in this case is Dewane. He made the announcement at this morning’s installation of Ave Maria’s second president H. James Towey.

“You really know how to make an inaugural president’s day with that decree today,” Towey said. “This just adds to the joy and excitement of the day.”

Ave Maria has an enrollment of 858 students, an annual budget of $28.5 million, 155 employees and 12 majors and 15 minors.

The university recently joined 18 other Catholic Colleges and various Catholic groups in petitioning the Obama administration to repeal a recent decision to include birth control in a list of preventive health care services.

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