Antoine Garibaldi cites enrollment, endowment growth as goals
DETROIT â€” A University of Detroit Mercy with more students, greater public awareness, stronger finances and enhanced programs is the agenda Antoine M. Garibaldi, Ph.D., has set for his presidency of the venerable Catholic institution.
With Archbishop Allen Vigneron celebrating the Mass, Garibaldi, 61, was formally inaugurated as UDMâ€™s 25th president April 13, 10 months after assuming the helm of the university. He becomes the first president in the 135-year history of the university to be neither a priest nor a vowed religious.
Garibaldi succeeded Jesuit Fr. Gerard L. Stockhausen as president in June 2011 and has spent the intervening months meeting with faculty and staff to develop a strategic plan for the universityâ€™s future.
In an interview before his inauguration, Garibaldi said the first element of that plan is to â€śdrive academic and institutional excellence.â€ť
The university currently offers more than 100 academic programs, but some of those need to be promoted more vigorously, Garibaldi said. Among the existing programs he hopes to see grow is the Department of Education.
Some new programs will be added as well, such as the multifaceted robotics program set to begin this fall.
Another goal is to improve enrollment, retention and graduation rates.
Garibaldi said undergraduate enrollment â€” now at about 3,000 â€” could rise by several hundred without the student-to-teacher ratio rising above 15:1.
And while the fact that many students must work while going to school poses challenges, Garibaldi said he wants to see an increase in the current rate of 55 percent graduating within six years.
UDM already has a respected national reputation, but Garibaldi said he hopes to see a heightened awareness of the distinctiveness of the institution.
Locally, Garibaldi wants to promote the universityâ€™s involvement with the community, such as its legal and dental clinics and student community service projects, even as UDM seeks new ways to engage the community.
â€śThere are lots of good things for us to build on here, and Iâ€™m confident we can do that,â€ť he said.
Garibaldi said he believes UDM can help enhance the communities around its three campuses â€” the McNichols campus in the area of West McNichols and Livernois, the Law School campus downtown, and the Dental School campus at the north end of the Corktown district.
Garibaldi also plans to strengthen the universityâ€™s fiscal health, saying he wants to see UDMâ€™s endowment grow to about $75 million, three times its current size.
The Catholic heritage of the universityâ€™s sponsorship by the Society of Jesus and the Sisters of Mercy is a matter Garibaldi said he not only wants to preserve, but build upon.
He cited student retreats and opportunities for Christian service as important elements of his plan.
And he said he has been visiting area Catholic high schools in an effort to get more students to consider UDM.
Before his appointment as UDM president, Garibaldi was president of Gannon University, a Catholic university in Erie, Pa.
Before that, he was a top executive of the Educational Testing Service, having previously been provost and chief academic officer of Howard University in Washington, D.C.
A native of New Orleans, he received his undergraduate degree from Howard in 1973 and his doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota in 1976.