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About Antoine M. Garibaldi, Ph.D.

portrait of antoine garibaldi, detroit mercy presidentDr. Antoine M. Garibaldi is the 25th President of University of Detroit Mercy, a Catholic, Master’s Comprehensive University sponsored by the Religious Sisters of Mercy and the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Founded in 1877 by the Jesuits, University of Detroit consolidated in 1990 with Mercy College of Detroit, which was founded in 1941 by the Religious Sisters of Mercy. University of Detroit Mercy is the largest Catholic university in Michigan and has more than 5,100 students in undergraduate and graduate academic programs, including professional programs in Architecture, Dentistry and Law. Dr. Garibaldi is the first lay president of the University and a tenured Professor of Education.

Since June 2011, he has led Detroit Mercy in accomplishing numerous academic, institutional, fundraising and community engagement goals. For the 17th consecutive year, Detroit Mercy was ranked in the top tier of universities in the Midwest Region in the 2018 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges.” Detroit Mercy ranked No. 19 and was the only university in Michigan to be listed in the top 25. The University also earned a No. 12 rank for Best Colleges for Veterans in the Midwest Region and was respectively ranked No. 32 and No. 13 nationally for Best Value Schools and for Best Undergraduate Business Management Programs. Additionally, the University ranked No. 188 out of 1,054 universities in the U.S. in the second edition of The Wall Street Journal’s 2018 Times Higher Education college rankings. Last year Detroit Mercy ranked No. 270 in the rankings.

The University has also raised more than $75 million toward a $100 million campaign goal. Over the last six years, several significant grants have been received, including a $1.3 million five-year grant; a $1.5 million grant from the Ford Foundation; a $750,000 three-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation; a five-year $21.2 million BUILD grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in collaboration with three other Detroit colleges and universities; and two first-time ever grants from the United States Department of Education, a five-year $1.1 million Student Support Services Program grant; and a five-year $1.3 million Upward Bound grant. In 2015, Detroit Mercy initiated the development of The Live6 Alliance, a community revitalization organization, which the University is a key member along with The Kresge Foundation and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation that will focus on strengthening the Livernois Avenue and McNichols Road (6 Mile Road) commercial corridors in Northwest Detroit.

Nationally recognized for his more than three decades of teaching, scholarly work and administrative experience in education and the federal government, Dr. Garibaldi is a Fellow of both the American Psychological Association and the American Educational Research Association and the author of eleven books and more than 85 research articles and chapters. His article, “The Expanding Gender and Racial Gap in American Higher Education,” was published in the Summer 2014 edition of Howard University’s The Journal of Negro Education. In 2015, he was selected among Crain’s Detroit Business “100 Most Connected People in Detroit.”

A longtime leader in national higher education organizations, he currently serves on the boards of the: Association of Governing Boards’ (AGB) Council of Presidents; Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities’ (AJCU) Executive Committee; Georgetown University; Horizon League Athletic Conference, which he chaired from 2013 to 2015; Michigan Independent Colleges & Universities (MICU) Executive Committee; and University of Saint Thomas (MN). Locally, he is a member of the boards of Brother Rice High School; Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA); Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau; Detroit Police Chief’s Community Advisory Board; Invest Detroit; The Live6 Alliance; Michigan Independent Colleges & Universities (MICU) Executive Committee; and New Detroit, Inc. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity. He currently serves on the Grand Commission on Historically Black Colleges and Universities Committee of Sigma Pi Phi.

Dr. Garibaldi has previously served on numerous boards and committees including: United Way for Southeastern Michigan Campaign Cabinet; National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), where he was Secretary of the Board; Co-Chair for the Children/Youth Development, Education and Recreation Subcommittee of the Detroit Mayor-elect’s Transition Team in 2013; American Council on Education, where he was Secretary of the Board; National Association of College and University Business Officers; U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops National Review Board; Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania; Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), which he chaired from 2006 to 2008; NCAA Division II Presidents Council (2005-09) and Chair of the NCAA’s Executive Committee Subcommittee on Gender and Diversity. Dr. Garibaldi was also Chairman of the Board of Directors of the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE) in 2001-02 and served on the Board from 1995-2003. Additionally, he is a former member of the American Council on Education's Commission on Leadership and Institutional Effectiveness, Wheeling Jesuit University’s (WV) Board of Directors, and Seton Hall (N.J.) University's Board of Directors and Board of Regents. He served as Chairman of the Grand Social Action Committee of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity in 2006-08, Vice Chairman in 2008-10, and was a member of the fraternity’s Education Commission from 2010 to 2012 and the Commission for Young African American Males in 2012 to 2014.

Prior to joining University of Detroit Mercy, Dr. Garibaldi was the sixth President of Gannon University for nine and a half years from 2001 to 2010. During his tenure, enrollment increased by 24 percent – more than 830 students – to 4,238 students; the endowment more than doubled; more than $40 million was raised for the largest comprehensive campaign in Gannon's history, which included more than $31.5 million in private gifts, two first-ever multi-million dollar federal grants from the U.S. Department of Education, major grants from the National Science Foundation and other foundations, and more than $5 million of federal and state grants to establish the Erie Technology Incubator. Additionally, during his decade at Gannon, more than thirty buildings were constructed, acquired and renovated; and the University was ranked for seven consecutive years in the top tier of Northern Best Regional Universities by U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” in its 2005-2011 editions. Gannon was also ranked in the Great Schools, Great Prices category for five years and as a Top Up-and-Coming School in 2009.

He has received numerous honors, including four honorary doctorates from Our Lady of Holy Cross College (LA), Seton Hall University, Gannon University and University of Saint Thomas (MN); the Outstanding Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota; the Howard University Alumni Award for Distinguished Postgraduate Achievement in the field of education; the Papal honor of Knight of St. Gregory the Great; the National Service Award from the International Salute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; "Person of the Year Award" from the University of Notre Dame Club of Erie; and the Michigan Chronicle’s 2013 Men of Excellence Award.

Some of his previous professional positions include: Senior Fellow in the Office of the Vice President for Collaborations and Corporate Secretary at the Educational Testing Service in 2000-01; Howard University's first Provost and Chief Academic Officer and tenured Professor in the School of Education between 1996 and 2000; and at Xavier University of Louisiana, between 1982 and 1996, he served successively as Chairman of the Education Department, Dean of Arts and Sciences, and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Between 1977 and 1982, he was a federal government administrator and researcher at the U.S. Department of Education’s National Institute of Education, where he was also a staff member of the National Commission on Excellence in Education, which produced the landmark report, A Nation at Risk.

A native of New Orleans, he received his undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Howard University and his Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Minnesota.

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    President’s Convocation Remarks

    President’s Convocation Remarks
    by Detroit Mercy President Antoine M. Garibaldi, Ph.D.
    Aug. 16, 2017

    Good morning, Detroit Mercy colleagues, and welcome to the beginning of the 2017-2018 academic year. I know that many of you really never left the McNichols, Corktown and Riverfront campuses because you have been working since our commencements on May 12 and 13. Those May commencements seem like yesterday, but over the last three months many staff and faculty have been assisting new, current and prospective students with their class schedules, financial aid, and student accounts and teaching summer school classes. Many colleagues have been involved in another successful summer of first-year and transfer student orientation; and this year there was 100% participation!  Our facilities and maintenance staff have kept the three campuses looking beautiful and have made numerous renovations to buildings and classrooms, some of which you saw on the slide show during breakfast and can view again during lunch. As you can tell, a great deal of work has occurred around the University since the middle of May. But I hope you all had a chance to get some rest and relaxation and especially some enjoyable time with your families.

    As we begin this 140th year of the founding of University of Detroit and the 76th year of the founding of Mercy College of Detroit, I have organized my remarks this morning differently than the past six years. More specifically, it includes a mixture of positive news on several items but also a very serious financial reality that must be addressed immediately to assure the sustainability of the university.  Many of you heard about some of the fiscal challenges at the July 12 Fiscal Briefing; but I will elaborate on that and tell you some of the specific steps that we must take to continue to receive financial support from our largest lending institutions.

    I will begin my three-part remarks by first telling you about the positive trends on our first-year and transfer student enrollment and also the progress on and the planned October public announcement of The Campaign for University of Detroit Mercy. Secondly, and most importantly, I will describe our serious short- and long-term financial issues and announce the new strategic and programmatic effort that we will use to address these fiscal challenges:  University of Detroit Mercy 2020: Envisioning a Boundless Future. And finally, I will tell you about some of the forthcoming activities of The Live6 Alliance, the economic development organization that the University was the lead established two years ago, and its anticipated temporary and permanent offices on Livernois Avenue and McNichols Road.   

    Fall 2017 Enrollment Overview – As of August 14, 2017, 569 students have confirmed for Fall. This number includes 556 freshmen and 14 Aquinas transfers.  Last year 542 were confirmed on this date (including 59 Aquinas students).  The confirmations this year are a 5% increase.  Confirmations of graduates from Catholic schools total 104, up from 85 last year; and 86 of the confirmed students are from the Archdiocese of Detroit high schools compared with 71 last year, an increase of 21%. Fifty four percent (54%) of the students from the Archdiocesan high schools qualified for the $5,000 grant, which means that they completed elementary school and high school at a Catholic institution. Last year the percentage was 52%.

    Here are a few more statistics about our incoming freshman class.

    As I mentioned earlier, 100% of the first-year students have either attended or are scheduled to attend our Student Orientation, Advising and Registration program (SOAR).

    The new first-year students have an ACT composite score average of 25 (24 last year) and a high school grade point average of 3.6 (3.49 last year). Twenty-five percent are in the top 10% of their high school graduating class compared with 21% last year, and there are 17 Valedictorians and Salutatorians compared with 11 last year.   Twenty-eight (28) confirmed first-time students have been accepted into the University Honors Program compared with nine (9) in 2015, a 68% increase.

    One-hundred and thirty-one (131) freshmen are the first in their family to attend college (129 last year), and another 80 students (90 last year) will be the first in their family to receive a bachelor’s degree.  Of the 557 confirmed freshman students, 197 or 35% are Pell-eligible (35% last year).

    While 87% percent of our incoming students are Michigan residents, the remainder will be coming from the following 14 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.  Fourteen percent of our incoming students are international students from 12 countries: Canada, Croatia, India, Kenya, Lithuania, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Spain.

    As of Monday, August 14, 179 new transfer students were registered for the Fall compared with 194 in Fall 2016; and 243 new graduate students registered compared with 198 last year.

    There are 20 confirmed students for the third cohort of the NIH REBUILD Detroit Program, 15 freshmen and 5 transfer students. The students began this summer with a summer bridge experience.

    With respect to registration for Fall 2017, as of August 14, 2,507 undergraduate students are registered compared with 2,387 in Fall 2016, a 5% increase; and 881 graduate students are registered compared with 873 in 2016, which is almost a 1% increase. The professional school enrollment is at 1,173, compared with 1,138 last year, which is a 3% increase. 

    The overall preliminary registration total as of August 14 is 4,561 compared with 4,398 at this same time last year, which is a 3.7 increase. With Term I beginning in two weeks, there is still time for us to increase the enrollment of new students and returning students, especially in those areas where we are observing a decline from last year.  Therefore, I encourage you to refer students to the Admissions, Financial Aid or College/School offices if they are having any difficulty registering.

    Our housing registration numbers are 3% higher than last year by 24 students: 787 vs. 763.  About 50% of McNichols freshmen will be residing on campus compared with 60% last year.

    Detroit Mercy’s Assistance to Marygrove College Students – As many of you know, last week Marygrove College announced that effective at the end of the Fall 2017 semester, it will discontinue its undergraduate programs and continue to offer graduate and professional development programs. In an effort to assist the Marygrove students affected by this decision and who wish to transfer to Detroit Mercy, the Transfer Team in the Registrar’s Office recently published a transfer guide for Marygrove students, which is available online. Additionally, staff in Admissions and Financial Aid are available to meet with Marygrove students by appointment or walk-in. Staff are also evaluating transcripts and eligibility for admission.

    The goal of this individual attention is to help students enroll quickly for the fall semester. Future plans may include holding informational sessions and extended office hours, based on need, to accommodate day and evening appointments.

    University Advancement and Comprehensive Campaign Activities Update -- We continue to make excellent progress toward our $100 million goal for The Campaign for University of Detroit Mercy. And because of that, we will officially open the public phase of the campaign on October 26 with a special dinner to thank many of our alumni and friends who have made significant gifts. The dinner will include a panel of two major philanthropic and civic leaders who have close ties to the University and are advancing major initiatives of the city of Detroit’s revival. The panel will include Rip Rapson, President and CEO of Kresge Foundation, and alumnus Matt Cullen, Principal of Rock Ventures, LLC and CEO of JACK Entertainment, LLC. The panel will be moderated by alumnus, Ron Fournier, editor of Crain’s Detroit Business. It should be an exciting evening with many of our alumni and friends who have helped us raise more than $75 million thus far in gifts pledges and charitable estate plan expectancies. We will tell you more about it and we will be able to announce officially the guest panelists. It should be an exciting evening as we begin the final stretch of the campaign. 

    As a reminder, the campaign has four primary areas of support: Student Financial Aid; Academic Programs and Faculty; Facilities Renovations; and Unrestricted and General Support. 

    Additional University Advancement Activities – A Marketing Strategic Plan has been developed and is being implemented by Gary Erwin, the Associate Vice President for the renamed Department of Marketing and Communications.  There has been an increase of nearly 50% in social media engagement on all platforms and all media hits are being tracked. The University has averaged more than 1,000 hits statewide and nationally per month.

    Alumni Relations has been moving forward with increasing engagement and event activities across the country and finalizing plans for the second Fall Homecoming Celebration that will take place September 29 and 30. More details will be provided in Campus Connection, but you can also visit the Homecoming website to learn more about this fun-filled weekend.

    Addressing the University’s Financial Stability and Sustainability – In our current five-year strategic plan that ends this year, our fourth goal focuses on effective management and financial health. To address this important matter, the President’s Council, with input from the Board of Trustees, has developed a comprehensive two-year program: Detroit Mercy 2020: Envisioning a Boundless Future.

    The primary goal of the Plan is to strengthen the University for its long-term viability. This progressive program coincides with the conclusion of our five-year strategic plan and will overlap the development of the new five-year plan that will begin in 2018. As a 140 year-old private Catholic university, we are keenly aware of higher education’s current and major challenges, such as a reduction in the traditional student-aged population, parental and student concerns about the cost of attendance, and uncertainty about the value and investment of a college education. Detroit Mercy is developing this progressive program to attract and enroll more students. Simultaneously, the University will realign its priorities and cost structure so that it will be able to invest in new academic programs and student services. With a sharp and long-term lens, this initiative will require careful and thoughtful consideration of every possible structural change necessary to graduate our exceptionally prepared students for careers and employment; strengthen Detroit Mercy’s financial results and fiscal indicators; and increase available resources to continue and sustain the University’s Mission and vibrant future. I will need all of your help to succeed in this effort.

    Some of the specific objectives of this effort include: the generation of a broader funding base from revenues, foundations, grants and alumni that will be used to invest in academic programs, student services and facilities; an increase of the student-to-faculty ratio to 13 to 1; and a review of all academic and co-curricular programs to determine both their utility for students and an assessment of whether they are achieving certain fiscal goals.  

    Let me mention just a few of a much larger list of specific initiatives that we expect to generate a sizable expense reduction:

    Voluntary Early Separation Incentive Program (“VESIP”) This program was announced on July 14 and represents a significant component of this two-year plan. If the VESIP achieves its goal, a smaller employee ratio commensurate with the University’s enrollment will assist in increasing the student-to-faculty ratio while also reducing personnel costs.

    Tuition Reset and Financial Aid Analysis – A national firm with expertise in enrollment services has been selected to examine Detroit Mercy’s undergraduate, graduate and professional program tuition prices. Through the collection of survey data from parents and students and the analysis of other university and available data, this study will provide valuable information on our market position for tuition in comparison to competitor institutions, as well as our financial aid discount. If the results indicate that the University is a candidate for a price reset, additional operational revenue could be generated from a higher net tuition, more students enrolling and a lower financial aid discount rate for future students.

    Academic and Athletic Reviews and Potential New Majors – Under the leadership of Provost Zarkowski, academic departments and majors are being reviewed with respect to the number of students enrolled in a particular major, number of faculty, degrees and certificates granted, cost study information, number of sections taught and contribution to the core. Several departments are currently under review. Certificates and minors are being reviewed as well. Similarly, the director of Athletics is reviewing all 19 Division I athletic programs and assessing each sport’s value to the academic and student-athlete experience of more than 300 students. 

    Hiring Freeze – The University has been in a hiring freeze since late April. As of July, positions determined to be critical are reviewed by the President’s Council on a weekly basis. Positions filled as exceptions to the freeze will be reported to the Board at the October Board meeting.  

    Facility Assessments – All campus facilities and locations will be carefully reviewed during this process to determine if they are operating at optimal levels of effectiveness and efficiency. The previous initiatives are only some of the programmatic efforts that are being taken to reduce the budget gap this fiscal year. Additional cost-saving and efficiency strategies are also under consideration, including: residence hall utilization, summer term work schedules, and other efforts.

    This is by no means an all-inclusive list of the actions that we will have to take to generate the sizable amount of annual expense reductions. But we will be meeting with the Board in September and have a more precise list of actions for them. Difficult decisions will have to be made over the next two years, but the University will be a stronger institution with a sustainable future after we go through this process. Our success and productivity will be achieved through our collaborative work, openness to change, and remaining true to the Mission of our Mercy and Jesuit founders and sponsors.

    Strategic Plan: 2012-2017 Fifth-Year Report – As we have done over the previous four years, the Detroit Mercy Strategic Plan: 2012-2017 Fifth-Year Report will be distributed electronically in September. As mentioned earlier, significant progress has been made on each of the goals; but more intensive work is needed to increase our enrollment, retention and graduation of students. The Strategic Planning Team has begun the process of developing the next five-year plan.

    Noteworthy Recent Rankings and Designations – For the 16th consecutive year, Detroit Mercy ranked in the top tier of Midwest regional universities in the 2017 edition of the U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges.”  We are ranked #24. The 2018 rankings will be coming in September. Additionally, Detroit Mercy was also ranked #24 on the list of “A+ Schools for B Students” among Midwest Regional Universities. These national rankings reaffirm Detroit Mercy’s quality academic programs, outstanding students and dedicated faculty and staff.

    The Live6 Alliance’s New Website and Activities – The Live6 Alliance continues to take the lead on several important projects to further enhance and strengthen our neighborhoods through a variety of neighborhood and networking events such as: the Speakeasy monthly dialogues, the Market on the Ave. - Farmers and Artisan Market, and the Build a Better Block event. As the work and activities of Live6 Alliance increase, you will find a variety of information on the organization’s goals and upcoming events on its new website. The website was launched in May and additional staff was added. Live6’s headquarters will be located temporarily for a few months on Livernois (across from the School of Architecture) and will open by the end of this month. The official headquarters located on McNichols Road (next to Detroit Sip) will be completed by January.  

    Celebrate Spirit! – On Thursday, September 14, in the Student Fitness Center, the Detroit Mercy community will come together at Celebrate Spirit! to officially welcome the new school year for Detroit Mercy faculty, staff and students. The theme is “Driven to Serve” and will feature a video presentation produced by the School of Dentistry, which is celebrating 85 years! Celebrate Spirit! is co-sponsored by University Ministry and the School of Dentistry and the picnic will again be sponsored by Fiat Chrysler Automotive.

    We have much to be proud of, but we have much more work to do this year and over the next five years. Increasing the number of students at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels is critical; engaging more of our 80,000 alumni and encouraging them to be more generous to the University is imperative; and having you, our key constituents, promoting the University and all of the noteworthy accomplishments is very valuable.

    Thank you for your continued cooperation and for all you do for Detroit Mercy!

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    McNichols Campus Commencement Speech

    University of Detroit Mercy
    McNichols Campus Commencement Speech
    May 13, 2017
    Antoine M. Garibaldi, Ph.D.

    Thank you, Dean Pacini. University of Detroit Mercy Board of Trustees; Board Chair John Lewis; Trustees Sr. Rosita Schiller, Brian Cloyd, and Terence Page; today’s speaker, retired president and chief operating officer for Ford Motor Company, James J. Padilla; Faculty, Staff, and Students of the University; Parents, Spouses, Relatives and Friends of the 2017 graduates; and, most especially, the 2017 Graduating Class of University of Detroit Mercy. We are happy to have you here for our 2017 McNichols Commencement Ceremony.

    Before I say a few words about this afternoon’s graduates, I want to wish all of the mothers in the audience an early Happy Mother’s Day greeting. We know that today is a special day for you, but I hope that tomorrow is even better – and hopefully more relaxing and less hectic.

    This afternoon’s class of more than 1,000 (1,057) bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral graduates, are, like many classes before them, similar in some characteristics and different in others. To illustrate that, here are a few facts about these three graduating groups’ ages, hometown and gender.

    Seventy percent, or 432 of the 612, baccalaureate degree candidates are 25 years old or younger. And the baccalaureate candidate with the most seniority is in the early 60’s. Almost 60 percent (57%), or 244, of the 430 master’s and specialist graduates are under the age of 30; and the oldest is in the mid 60’s. And our 15 doctoral candidates range in age from 28 years old to the youthful 70’s. Clearly, age has not deterred our bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral candidates from further advancing their knowledge and education.

    Secondly, 87%, or a little more than 900 (919), of our graduates hail from Michigan. Five percent (54), graduates come from 25 other states, from as far away as Washington. And the remaining eight percent (84) are from 10 countries, including Canada, China, El Salvador, Great Britain, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Taiwan and Zimbabwe.

    And third, women outnumber men almost 2 to 1 in our three groups of graduates today -- 65% women and 35% men! While that gender gap has become a national trend over the last decade, I congratulate the Ladies and advise the guys here that we have much work ahead to balance better the gender ratio in higher education!

    The age, hometown and gender similarities and differences that I just shared hopefully provided you with a rich educational experience that you will treasure for the rest of your lives and use well in your professions, careers and the communities where you will live and serve.

    As you prepare to begin your first job or assume another position of increasing responsibility with your new degrees, I ask that you give serious consideration to this often-used expression of six words:

    One person can make a difference.

    Even though there are hundreds of poems, books and inspirational quotes that use some variation of “one person can make a difference” as its theme, I selected that familiar expression for this commencement ceremony after reflecting on how a small number of individuals made it possible for us to have University of Detroit Mercy today. Just imagine for a moment that there would not be a University of Detroit Mercy had it not been for our two founders of the Society of Jesus and the Religious Sisters of Mercy. St. Ignatius Loyola founded the Society of Jesus nearly five centuries ago in 1540, and Mother Catherine McAuley established the Religious Sisters of Mercy in 1831. Both of these founders recognized the need for Catholic education at all levels for people of all races, ethnic groups and faith traditions around the world, and particularly in the United States. Today, there are 28 Jesuit and 15 Mercy colleges and universities in the United States and we have the distinction of being a member of both of these groups as a result of the consolidation of University of Detroit and Mercy College in 1990. One person can make a difference!

    Closer to home, this 15th oldest Jesuit University began as a result of the leadership and collaboration of Jesuit Provincial Fr. Thomas O’Neill and Detroit’s Bishop Caspar H. Borgess. Fr. O’Neill and Bishop Borgess signed an agreement that began the development of University of Detroit “for the education of youth” almost exactly 140 years and one month ago on April 5, 1877. Similarly, the Sisters of Mercy’s Detroit Provincial, Mother Mary Carmelita Manning, was her order’s “difference-maker” and established Mercy College of Detroit to prepare young women for careers in nursing and teaching a few miles from here on Outer Drive in 1941. And Jesuit Fr. John McNichols, the person for whom McNichols Road is named and the 13th president of University of Detroit, is responsible for the development of this campus in 1925 as enrollment grew rapidly just as the city’s population did also. Fr. McNichols was another person who made a difference!

    Each one of those six men and women of vision whom I have mentioned so far took the bold initial steps to make a difference in others’ lives. And today you are the beneficiaries of their hard work and sacrifices.

    Therefore, it’s now your turn to remember that you too can be the “one person who can make a difference.” And there will be many opportunities during your careers and your lives to share your intellect, skills and talents, and personal gift of service to make a difference.

    Today in Calihan Hall there is one person who has made a difference in as many if not more lives than the six visionary leaders I have spoken about. That person is someone who does not like to be singled out or made a fuss over like I am doing now because he is humble, unassuming, conscientious, dedicated, smart and who has made a difference in the lives of thousands of students and alumni over the last 62 years at University of Detroit and University of Detroit Mercy. I am talking, of course, about renowned Biology Professor and Jesuit Fr. Gerard Albright, who gave this morning’s invocation. Fr. Albright is retiring this semester at the seasoned age of 91. He is a 1944 graduate of University of Detroit Jesuit High School and has three degrees from Loyola University Chicago. Fr. Albright began teaching at the University in 1955 and he has taught many of you and more than 4,000 students. He has been a colleague to hundreds of faculty members and administrators and staff. Fr. Albright was ordained in 1958 and is still vigorous and asks for no special favors. On any snowy day on this campus he is usually the first person in his office --- whether the class will be in session or not. Throughout his six decades at the university as a professor, chair of the Biology Department more than once, and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, he is known for his attention to detail, the rigor of his courses and the expectations that he has for his students. Most of us can only imagine the joy that he has felt when the children, grandchildren, and maybe even great-grandchildren of his former students begin one of his courses for the first time. Fr. Albright, thank you for sharing sixty-two of your 91 years with the students, faculty and staff of the University and for educating generations of alumni. We will miss you in the classroom but we know you will be around. You have made a significant difference here as a priest and professor!

    Our alumnus and today’s Honorary Degree recipient, Mr. James Padilla, whom we will honor in a few minutes, has also made a difference as a major corporate leader in a career that is filled with many distinguished accomplishments. But his impact has been felt even more through the service he has provided to many others in this country and around the world. You will hear more about that shortly from Provost Zarkowski.

    So, graduates, with visionaries and role models like St. Ignatius, Mother McAuley, Bishop Borgess, Fr. O’Neill, Mother Manning, Fr. McNichols, Fr. Albright and Mr. Padilla, the bar is set high for you to make a difference as you join more than 87,000 distinguished alumni living in all 50 states and 87 countries. We are confident that you will bring even more distinction to the University and your professions as you make a difference in this nation and the world.

    Congratulations and much success, Graduates, and may God’s blessings be with you and your families always.

Contact Us

To contact the President's Office, please call 313-993-1455 or email president@udmercy.edu for:
- President Antoine M. Garibaldi, Ph.D.
- Executive Assistant to the President Lisa MacDonnell
- Special Assistant to the President Cassandra Wadley

Economic and Community Impact

Economic Impact

As an urban University, we are committed to nurturing the well-being of our community in metro Detroit through educational initiatives, professional services and community investments. Since 1877, the University has been a valuable higher education resource to both Detroit and southeastern Michigan.

Please take a look at our document, University of Detroit Mercy's Economic and Community Impact on Metro Detroit (PDF).

Strategic Plan

Strategic Plan

Fifth-year progress report on the Detroit Mercy Strategic Plan: 2012-2017 (PDF)

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