While the tedious, time-consuming permitting processes are under way, the university is making plans to begin recruiting students at The Vineyards site to begin classes this fall. Two four-story buildings are nearing completion there. They will house administrative offices, classrooms and living space for the university's inaugural students. Several existing buildings will be used for lecture rooms, coffee bar, administrative offices and other needs. The property includes a swimming pool and fitness room. Already living and working at The Vineyards site are two of Ave Maria's powerhouses: Nicholas J. Healy Jr., the university's president, and the Rev. Joseph Fessio, a Jesuit priest "on loan" to the university as its chancellor.
Beginning Feb. 10 and ending April 7, the university will launch Ave Maria Institute, a lifelong learning program primarily designed for retirees but open to other devotees of continuing education and intellectual enrichment. Classes and lecture series on topics such as the lives of the saints, global politics from a Christian perspective, and other Catholic-oriented interests will be held in The Vineyards site's buildings. "There's a lot of interest for something like this in Naples, with the high population of retired people living here," Fessio said earlier. "We will fill a niche not quite filled already. It looks like a good fit."