Although best known as the founder of Domino's Pizza and former owner of the
Detroit Tigers baseball franchise, Thomas S. Monaghan is currently devoting his
attention full time to non-profit endeavors, specifically focused on underwriting
Catholic higher education. This support primarily flows through the Ave Maria
Foundation, which he founded in 1983 and for which he serves as chairman of the
In 1998, Monaghan provided the impetus for a major initiative in Catholic higher
education with the founding of Ave Maria Institute in Ypsilanti, Michigan (which later
became Ave Maria College), a Catholic liberal arts institution designed to prepare
students for leadership in academics, professional occupations, and service to the
greater community. He serves as chairman of the school's board of trustees.
Ave Maria College was the predecessor to Ave Maria University, which was founded
in 2003 and which currently operates in interim facilities in Naples, Florida.
Monaghan serves as the University's chancellor.
In addition to supporting the university and college, the Ave Maria Foundation
provided the initial funding for Ave Maria School of Law, a Catholic law school
located in Ann Arbor, Michigan (for which Monaghan serves as chairman of the
board of governors). The Foundation also helped establish the Thomas More Law
Center, a public-interest law firm that provides legal counsel to organizations and
individuals whose religious and other freedoms are threatened. In 1987, Monaghan
founded Legatus (Latin for "ambassador"), an international organization of Catholic
business leaders committed to studying, living and spreading their faith through their
professional and personal lives.
Tom Monaghan was born in Ann Arbor in 1937. His father died four years later,
ushering in a childhood spent largely in an orphanage and a succession of foster
homes. After graduating from Ann Arbor's St. Thomas High School in 1955, and
enrolling at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, Monaghan enlisted in the
U.S. Marine Corps in 1956. Honorably discharged three years later, he returned to
Ann Arbor, where he enrolled at the University of Michigan.
While still a student, Monaghan founded Domino's Pizza. He and his brother, James,
borrowed $900 to buy a small pizza store called DomiNick's in Ypsilanti. He later
bought his brother's share of the business, and opened additional stores in Ann
Arbor and Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. By 1998, Domino's had 6,250 stores, and ranked
as the world's largest pizza delivery chain, pioneering a number of industry
innovations inspired by Monaghan.
The story behind Domino's Pizza (including the many obstacles and setbacks
Monaghan overcame and the path he took to success) was compiled for the first
time in his 1986 autobiography, Pizza Tiger, published by Random House. He sold
Domino's Pizza in 1998 to Bain Capital, Inc., leaving behind its day-to-day
operations, which he had overseen for 38 years.
Monaghan has received honorary degrees from twelve universities around the
country, and in March of 2000, he was named an Honorary Fellow of Magdalene
College within Britain's University of Cambridge.
Monaghan and his wife have four daughters and eight grandchildren.
Ave Maria University Visionary and Founder
Ave Maria Real Estate and Home Services, Ltd.