Professor Headshots & Bios

Dr. Roger Nutt, S.T.L., S.T.D., is the provost and a professor of theology at Ave Maria University. He co-directs the Aquinas Center for Theological Renewal and is a member of the Academy of Catholic Theology. Dr. Nutt’s research focuses on Christology and sacramental theology, particularly the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas. He has written three books and translated works, with publications in esteemed journals. Additionally, Dr. Nutt serves as a co-editor for multiple volumes, contributing to subjects such as Christian responses to death, Aquinas and Christology, Aquinas and the Greek Fathers, and Thomism and predestination.

Dr. Saverio Perugini is a mathematics and computer science professor at Ave Maria University. With a Ph.D. in computer science from Virginia Tech, he previously held a tenured professor position at the University

of Dayton for 18 years. Dr. Perugini’s research interests include information retrieval, human- computer interaction, and programming languages.

He has published numerous scholarly papers and co-authored a laboratory manual through an IUSE grant from the National Science Foundation. In 2023, he published a programming languages textbook and is currently working on three book manuscripts. As a senior member of the ACM and IEEE Computer Society, he joined Ave Maria University in the fall of 2022 to establish and lead the computer science program.

Prof. Joseph Pearce is a visiting professor of literature and a renowned author with many internationally acclaimed bestsellers, including works such as “The Quest for Shakespeare,” “Tolkien: Man and Myth,” and “C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church.”

His books have been translated into multiple languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch, Italian, Korean, Mandarin, Croatian, and Polish.

Pearce is not only an accomplished author, but also a host of two 13-part television series covering Shakespeare on EWTN, as well as a writer and presenter of documentaries discussing Catholicism In “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit.” His talents extend beyond literature, with his off-Broadway performance in the verse drama, “Death Comes for the War Poets,” having received critical acclaim.

Pearce is a frequent participant and lecturer at various literary events held in the United States, Canada, Britain, Europe, Africa, and South America. He is also the editor of the “St. Austin Review” and series editor of the Ignatius Critical Editions. Additionally, he is a senior instructor at Homeschool Connections and senior contributor at “Imaginative Conservative and Crisis Magazine.”

Dr. Samuel Shephard, a biology professor at Ave Maria University, grew up in the Scottish Highlands and later worked as a commercial fisherman in Ireland, sparkinghis passion for fisheries science. He pursued graduate studies in the field and made significant contributions to the scientific community through his publications.

More recently, he has focused on environmental stewardship and integrating sustainability with Catholic teachings. Outside of academia, he is happily married with seven children, embracing the joys of family life. Dr. Samuel Shephard embodies a spirit of scholarly exploration, merging faith and science to promote harmonious coexistence with nature.Dr. Samual Shephard

Dr. Janice Chik Breidenbach is an associate professorof philosophy at Ave Maria University with research affiliations at Oxford and UPenn. She is working on a book entitled “How Many We Are: Assembly Among the Expressive Freedoms” and has published numerous articles on the topic.

Dr. Breidenbach teaches and speaks on logic, metaphysics, aesthetics, ethics, human action, and the philosophy of motherhood. She holds degreesin philosophy, public policy, and music performance. Outside of work, Dr. Breidenbach enjoys homemaking, wine tasting, and playing music for her son, Paul Thomas.

Dr. Michael A. Dauphinais serves as the Fr. Matthew Lamb professor of Catholic theology and the co-director of the Aquinas Center for Theological Renewal at Ave Maria University. With degrees from Duke University and the University of Notre Dame, he has written and edited numerous scholarly articles and books on Thomas Aquinas, the Bible, and Catholic theology. He recently co-authored “Wisdom from the Word: Biblical Answers to Ten Questions about Catholicism.” Apart from teaching, he frequently speaks and hosts “The Catholic Theology Show” podcast. Married to his wife, Nancy, for nearly 30 years, he is a grateful revert to the Catholic Church.

Dr. Seana Sugrue is the Ambassador Michael Novak chair of politics at Ave Maria University and previously served as the associate director of the James Madison Program at Princeton University. With over two decades of experience, Dr. Sugrue teaches constitutional law and civil liberties, specializing in separation of powers, religious liberty, marriage, civil society, and civil disobedience. As a highly regarded professor, her guidance and mentorship have aided many students in pursuing law and

public service careers. She holds degrees from the University of Ottawa and McGill University and is also a proud mother of three talented young women.

Dr. DiAnn Ecret, an alumnus of Our Lady of Lourdes School of Nursing, Wilmington University, and Villanova University, completed her Ph.D. in healthcare ethics at Duquesne University. With 37 years of diverse clinical nursing experience, and over two decades in nursing management and education, Dr. Ecret currently teaches at Ave Maria University and serves as a part-time ethicist at the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

She plays a crucial role in Ave Maria University's Institutional Review Board (IRB) committee and serves as an ethics consultant for Be Not Afraid, in addition to her work with Life Perspectives' Health Care Task Force. Happily married for 35 years, Dr. Ecret and her husband, Michael, are parents to four children and grandparents to four.

Dr. Michael Breidenbach is an associate professor of history at Ave Maria University, specializing in American politics, religion, and law. He authored “Our Dear-Bought Liberty” (Harvard University Press, 2021), a runner-up for the Journal of the American Revolution’s 2022 Book of the Year Award. Dr. Breidenbach co-edited “The Cambridge Companion to the First Amendment and Religious Liberty” (Cambridge University Press, 2020) and has been published in esteemed publications. He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he has held research positions at institutions including Princeton University and Oxford University, and made appearances on national media. Dr. Breidenbach earned his Ph.D. from King’s College, Cambridge, and resides in Southwest Florida with his family.

Press Release


For More Information:

Kevin Wandra, 404-788-1276 or


‘The Pursuit of Wisdom’ begins at Ave Maria University 

A series of Catholic short courses presented by the faculty of Ave Maria University seeks to highlight the true, good and beautiful.

AVE MARIA, Fla., Sept. 6, 2023 – In today's fast-paced, information-driven world, we may feel overwhelmed by the constant barrage of noise and data. Numbers, facts, opinions, websites, books … we can easily become burned out on the joy of learning. Ave Maria University has a solution: “The Pursuit of Wisdom,” a series of free online courses presented by the faculty of Ave Maria University that will provide practical wisdom and insights around important topics and themes to help Catholics lead a more inspired, meaningful and joyful life.

Each video course is between one to three hours and broken down for on-the-go inspiration. 

Here is the lineup of Ave Maria professors and the topics they address in the initial launch of short courses:

- Dr. Saverio Perugini: “A Catholic Perspective on Computer Science”

- Dr. Samuel Shephard: “Stewarding the Environment”

- Joseph Pearce: “The Genius of J.R.R. Tolkien”

- Dr. Janice Chik Breidenbach: “The Philosophy of Motherhood”

- Dr. Michael Dauphinais: “The Wisdom of C.S. Lewis

- Dr. James Patterson: “The Wisdom of Fulton Sheen”

The short courses also can be accessed via the free “Pursuit of Wisdom” app, available to download on major podcasting platforms, such as the App Store, and coming soon on Google Play.

More courses will be available later this year.

“We’re inundated with information everywhere we go,” said Roger Nutt, provost and professor of theology at Ave Maria University. “God desires for our hearts and minds to be filled with wisdom, not information. Our hope with ‘The Pursuit of Wisdom’ short courses is to provide Catholics with edifying content that helps them to joyfully recognize the truth, beauty and goodness we all crave.” 

For more information, please visit https://thepursuitofwisdom.org. For additional information, or to schedule an interview with Roger Nutt, provost and professor of theology at Ave Maria University, or any of the aforementioned “The Pursuit of Wisdom” presenters, please contact Kevin Wandra of Carmel Communications: kwandra@carmelcommunications.com or 404-788-1276.  

About Ave Maria University

Ave Maria University is a Catholic institution of higher learning located in Ave Maria, Florida. Ave Maria University was established in 2003 as a Catholic university, according to the guidelines of the Code of Canon Law by the Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice in Florida. The recognition of Ave Maria University as a Catholic University is granted upon the university’s commitment to continue to be guided by the teachings of the Catholic Church and faithfulness to the apostolic constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae. Ave Maria University is committed to helping its students develop the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life and grow in their appreciation of truth. The goal of AMU is simple: to build the foundation of a truly Catholic university that forms future generations of truly Catholic men and women faithful to the Magisterium of the Church. For more information about Ave Maria University, please visit www.avemaria.edu.



Calling Those Who Seek Wisdom

Introducing The Pursuit of Wisdom, a series of short courses presented by the faculty of Ave Maria University. Each professor will provide practical wisdom and insights around important topics and themes to help you lead a more inspired, meaningful, and joyful life. 

Less Information, More Wisdom
In today's fast-paced, information-driven world, we may feel overwhelmed by the constant barrage of noise and data. Numbers, facts, opinions, websites, books...we can easily become burned out of the joy of learning.
The solution is to pursue wisdom. God desires for our hearts and minds to be filled with wisdom, not information! Wisdom cuts through the noise, providing valuable insights and guiding us toward meaningful decisions. Wisdom fills us with joy and appreciation of the good, the true, and the beautiful.

Insights from Top Catholic Scholars

Join the professors of Ave Maria University on this incredible journey...new programs are added regularly!

Topics from Theology to Computer Science

Each beautiful video course is between 1-3 hours and broken down for on-the-go inspiration.

Free to Friends of the University and Beyond

Thanks to our generous donors and members of the Annunciation Circle, The Pursuit of Wisdom series is free of charge - forever!

Sample Full Episode: The Wisdom of Fulton Sheen

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BREIDENBACH: The Rise of American Politics