Forming Students Who Will Build Up the Kingdom: An Interview With Mark Middendorf, by Paul Senz

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Mark Middendorf is the fourth president of Ave Maria University, located in Ave Maria, Florida. (Images:

The fourth President of Ave Maria University talks about his journey from the corporate world to Catholic education, the centrality of prayer and adoration in learning, and the importance following Ex Corde Ecclesiae.

By Paul Senz, Catholic World Report, April 23, 2023

Paul Senz has an undergraduate degree from the University of Portland in music and theology and earned a Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry from the same university. He has contributed to Catholic World Report, Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly, The Priest Magazine, National Catholic Register, Catholic Herald, and other outlets. Paul lives in Elk City, OK, with his wife and their four children.

Ave Maria University was founded in 1998 as Ave Maria College in Ypsilanti, Michigan. In 2007 the campus was moved to Florida, and it added graduate programs, making it a full-fledged university. The school has grown rapidly over the years, and an entire community (Ave Maria, Florida) has developed around it.

Founded by Tom Monaghan – founder of Domino’s Pizza and a prominent Catholic philanthropist – the university inaugurated its fourth president, Mark Middendorf, last year.

Middendorf is a native of Chicago, Illinois, and holds a Master of Business Administration in Finance from DePaul University. After years in various marketing and management positions, he discerned a call to the New Evangelization, he left the corporate world he had come to know and was so experienced in, and founded Lighthouse Catholic Media. …

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