Office of the President

About Antoine M. Garibaldi, Ph.D.

portrait of antoine garibaldi, detroit mercy president

Dr. Antoine M. Garibaldi is the 25th and first lay president of University of Detroit Mercy, a Catholic, Master’s Comprehensive University sponsored by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and the Religious Sisters of Mercy. 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.

For 18 consecutive years, Detroit Mercy has achieved top tier rankings for Midwest Best Regional Universities in the U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” edition. In 2020, as a result of a reclassification by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, Detroit Mercy ranks No. 179 in the “Best National Universities” category and is one of only four universities in Michigan ranked among the top 200 in the nation. The University also ranked No. 45 among “Best Value Schools” and No. 133 for “Best Schools for Veterans.” Additionally, in the 2020 edition of the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education college rankings, the University ranked among the top 20% of all U.S. universities – No. 172 out of almost 1,000 institutions of higher education that were selected for these rankings.

Since June 2011, Dr. Garibaldi has led Detroit Mercy in accomplishing multiple strategic goals in enrollment and retention, academics, fundraising and community engagement. In December 2018, The Campaign for University of Detroit Mercy’s goal of $100 million was achieved a year ahead of schedule...

View Dr. Garibaldi's complete biography >>

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    2019 President’s Convocation Remarks

    University of Detroit Mercy
    President’s Convocation
    Monday, August 19, 2019

    Good morning, Detroit Mercy colleagues, and welcome to the 2019-2020 academic year. Since our Commencements on May 10 and 11, many of you never left and have been working on the McNichols, Corktown and Riverfront campuses. For example, we have held two summer school sessions and five SOAR Orientations; our student leaders hosted more than 200 students and advisors from 25 Jesuit universities for the National Jesuit Student Leadership Conference (NJSLC); we have coordinated a number of summer camps for secondary, middle school and elementary school students in Architecture, Engineering and Athletics; and we were one of two major parking sites for the Rocket Mortgage Classic PGA Tour in the third week of June. The feedback from visitors to the McNichols campus has been overwhelmingly positive and we expect the same favorable expressions throughout the school year.

    As I have done in the past, this morning I will focus on six topics: (1) the progress made in the Detroit Mercy 2020 plan; (2) the positive trends on our first-year and transfer student enrollment; (3) the progress of The Campaign for University of Detroit Mercy; (4) an overview of our recently approved Strategic Plan - University of Detroit Mercy 2019 – 2024: Boundlessly Forward; (5) our community involvement initiatives in Live6 Alliance and other similar programs; and (6) a preliminary snapshot of some of our progressive initiatives for the next decade.

    Advancing Detroit Mercy from “Good to Great”

    Before highlighting some of our progress over the last year, some of you may remember that at my first convocation eight years ago in 2011, I talked about how important it was for all of us to begin thinking about advancing Detroit Mercy from “good to great” and how that theme should drive the five-year strategic plan that we were about to develop. I selected the message of “advancing from good to great” as a result of twice hearing organizational theorist Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great, How the Mighty Fall, Great by Choice and Built to Last, that summer. Collins spoke about some of the most pressing challenges of higher education: the rising costs of postsecondary education; declining public financial support of higher education; competitiveness among traditional colleges and universities; for-profit and online institutions; the less than positive public perception of higher education; and more. Collins also pressed us to answer the delicate question of which colleges and universities would survive in the next 10 years.

    A little more than eight years later, some colleges and universities have not survived and the challenging issues in 2011 still exist in 2019. My message in 2011 was that we must control our own destiny, strive to be “great” rather than “good,” and provide a high quality education at an affordable price. To be successful, our willingness to do things differently would determine if we continued to be competitive with our other local and regional institutions. The good news is that we have made progress, but there is much more for us to accomplish.

    Detroit Mercy 2020 Plan and Strategic Plan 2019 – 2024: Boundlessly Forward – The primary rationale for establishing the Detroit Mercy 2020: Envisioning a Boundless Future plan was and continues to be to strengthen the University for its long-term viability. Our most recent five-year strategic plan ended in 2017 and much of the attention since has focused on the fourth goal of that plan: effective management and financial health. We have taken several significant steps to address that goal by:
    • Making our tuition more affordable to students and their parents by re-setting our undergraduate tuition from $41,000 to $28,000;
    • We also adjusted our student financial aid proportionately to parallel the new $28,000 tuition price;
    • A voluntary employee service incentive program was also offered. One hundred and eight employees accepted that opportunity;
    • We also discontinued some academic programs that have not generated an adequate number of students to justify continuing those academic degree programs; and
    • Similarly, we have made other structural adjustments throughout the University that include reducing the number of public safety officers as well as streamlining our athletics programs.

    All of those decisions and many more were and will be absolutely necessary to assure that we will be in a sound fiscal position over the next two decades.

    The University is building on its many recent successes to create a clear and concise strategic plan to create the best possible future for the institution. The plan has been co-authored by many of you in the Detroit Mercy community. More than 500 of our staff, administrators, faculty and students from all three campuses participated in a variety of workshops and forums to create this shared vision. The expectation is for the plan to be a living document and a reminder of the ongoing quest to live out the mission of the University’s founders.

    The University of Detroit Mercy Strategic Plan 2019 – 2024: Boundlessly Forward will foster enrollment growth, leading to long-term financial stability for the University by focusing efforts on:

    1. Building a more vibrant campus that attracts, engages and transforms students;
    2. Offering dynamic and relevant academic programs focused on the core mission; and
    3. Enhancing the pride and loyalty felt by the Detroit Mercy family through great customer service.

    The plan also supports and reinforces the University’s four major branding themes: 1) Academic Excellence; 2) Values-Based Education; 3) Excellent Future Outcomes; 4) in a Thriving Urban Setting. Moreover, the plan will serve as a guidepost for strategically focusing resource allocation and fundraising efforts.

    Each of the three primary goals is also designed to reinforce the University’s mission and the heritage of its founding sponsors, the Society of Jesus and the Religious Sisters of Mercy, in order to maintain the commitment to the “cura personalis” for each student who chooses to pursue his or her educational goals at Detroit Mercy.

    Debbie Stieffel, Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs, will provide you with an overview of the full Strategic Plan after my remarks.

    The Current Higher Education Market – Before I provide you with an update on our Fall enrollment, I would like to briefly talk about the current state of higher education. According to the 2018 spring report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, overall enrollment at colleges and universities is down for the seventh year in a row. Nationwide enrollment has declined by 1.7%, or by nearly 300,000 students.

    In Michigan, the number of students who graduated from high school in 2018 declined 11 percent from 2008. And graduating classes are expected to shrink further in the next 15 years, in Michigan and across the Midwest. With the declining numbers of high school graduates, competition is aggressive. In March, the Detroit Free Press reported that over the past decade, “only six of the state’s 15 public universities have had enrollment increases.” In the article, one public university was mentioned specifically, as one of the colleges with growth, and which has invested millions in its facilities.

    Moreover, many colleges are giving larger financial incentives to students to keep up with the competition. One example is a large state university that experienced a significant decline in its application pool last year, but spent $1.2M more in merit aid on 369 fewer students in just one year. This equates to larger individual aid packages, which makes it even more difficult for Detroit Mercy to be competitive. Unfortunately, because of the intense competition for students, the rest of the universities in Michigan, including University of Detroit Mercy, have to contend with smaller numbers of college-aged students. But there are indeed opportunities for us as long as we focus on quality, outcomes and better facilities, but we have much to do in these areas.

    The undergraduate tuition reset gave us a boost in overall interest in the institution, which is demonstrated in an increase in our application pool and admitted student numbers, 6% and 11%, respectively. Our McNichols deposits have increased as well by four percent. However, deposits for the Aquinas College Nursing Program are lower than last year by a third.

    While we are keenly aware of the diminishing traditional-aged market, we have taken steps to attract more students to our graduate programs through more competitive pricing. Since announcing a tuition reduction for certain programs, we have had an increase in applications and confirmations for some of our programs, specifically business and engineering.

    Enrollment Projections for 2019-2020 – As of August 12, 2019, 544 freshmen have confirmed for Fall compared with 578 freshmen last year as of this date. A total of 6,351 applications have been received this year compared with 5,154 in 2016 an increase of 23 percent. Confirmations of graduates from Catholic high schools total 89, compared with 100 last year; 71 of the confirmed students are from the Detroit Archdiocesan high schools compared with 81 last year. Of those students from Archdiocesan high schools, 76% qualified for the higher grant signifying that they completed elementary school and high school at a Catholic institution. Last year that percentage was 66 percent.

    Our Student Orientation, Advising and Registration program (SOAR) participation rate for this summer is 100%. All students have either attended or are scheduled to attend our orientation program.

    The new first-year students have an ACT composite score average of 25 (25 last year), an SAT composite of 1164 (1147 last year) and a high school grade point average of 3.6 (3.6 last year). Twenty-seven percent (27%) are in the top 10% of their high school graduating class compared with 20% last year, and there are 12 Valedictorians and Salutatorians. Twenty-three confirmed first-time students have been accepted into the University Honors Program.

    One-hundred and twenty-eight (128) freshmen are the first in their family to attend college (116 last year), and another 92 students (91 last year) will be the first in their family to receive a bachelor’s degree. Of the 544 confirmed freshman students, 190 or 35% are Pell-eligible compared with 33% last year. Sixty-four percent of freshmen are women compared with 58% last year.

    Our new undergraduate students will be coming from 13 states: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington; and 6 countries: Belgium, Canada, Lebanon, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and South Korea. Thirty-seven of our incoming freshmen are international students and 88 percent (83% last year) of our incoming students are from Michigan.

    As of Monday, August 12, 149 new transfer students were registered for the Fall, the same as last year in Fall 2018; and 341 new graduate students registered compared with 267 last year.

    With respect to registration for Fall 2019, as of August 12, 2,402 undergraduate students are registered compared with 2,566 in Fall 2018; and 934 graduate students are registered compared with 878 in 2018. The professional school enrollment is at 1,165, compared with 1,171 at this same time last year.

    The overall preliminary registration total as of August 12 is 4,501 compared with 4,615 at this same time last year, which is a -2% decrease. 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, please refer your returning students to the Admissions, Financial Aid or College/School offices if they are having any difficulty registering.

    University Advancement and Comprehensive Campaign Activities Update – The Campaign for University of Detroit Mercy has surpassed the $100 million goal a year ahead of schedule. You may recall that at the end of 2018 we reached the original target of $100 million. We are currently at more than $108 million in projected gifts and pledges. We are continuing to build relationships with contributors and asking for support as we move toward the official deadline of December 31, 2019. Nearly 77% of the support has come from individuals with a majority of the funding from alumni who believe in their alma mater. You may be aware of several significant commitments from alumni and many others. As of today, the University has received 30 gifts over $1,000,000. These gifts are a testament to our alumni and friend’s generosity but also the confidence that they have in the University and the work we are doing. Thank you for assisting in our campaign efforts.

    The focus of the campaign has been on four main areas: Student Scholarships; Academic Programs and Faculty; Facilities Renovations; and Unrestricted and General Support. Thus far, we have raised:

    • $37,898,401 for Student Scholarships toward the $40,000,000 goal;
    • $41,933,409 for Academic Programs and Faculty toward the $25,000,000 goal;
    • $11,835,005 for Facilities Renovations toward the $25,000,000 goal; and
    • $13,000,000 for Unrestricted and General Support toward the $10,000,000 goal.

    We will be recognizing the success of the campaign at a special Christmas celebration on December 14, 2019 at The Henry Ford. You will be receiving details in the coming months.

    Alumni Relations has been vigorously working to increase alumni engagement with more than 2,850 interactions with our alumni. Three hundred and four (304) alumni were newly engaged and participated for the first time during the most recent fiscal year. We continue to host alumni events across the country. And, as you know from correspondence, the fourth Fall Homecoming Celebration will be held on September 20 and 21. More details will be provided in Campus Connection, but go to the Homecoming website at community.udmercy.edu/homecoming for more information on this fun-filled weekend.

    Live6 Alliance Activities – Dr. Geneva Williams has been appointed Acting Executive Director of Live6 Alliance. Dr. Williams is well known locally as a former executive vice president at United Way for Southeastern Michigan as well as a non-profit leader, lecturer and leadership strategist. She has been working as a consultant with The Kresge Foundation and Live6 Alliance on other projects. I am confident that she will continue the mission and work of Live6 Alliance during this interim period. The Live6 Alliance HomeBase had its grand opening on April 25 and it has become a popular meeting place for many neighborhood, civic, business and government groups

    Celebrate Spirit! – On Thursday, September 12, 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 celebrant for the Celebrate Spirit! Mass will be Gilbert Sunghera, S.J. with a reflection by Dr. Catherine Punsalan-Manlimos our new Assistant to the President for Mission Integration.

    Colleagues, we have made good progress in several areas, but we still have much more work to do to become an even stronger institution this year and in the future. Our reputation locally and regionally is growing; our enrollment is growing; our alumni are becoming more engaged and giving more to the University; and your daily contribution to the University and our Mission are absolutely critical.

    I thank you for all you have done and continue to do for Detroit Mercy!

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    2019 McNichols Campus Commencement Speech

    University of Detroit Mercy
    McNichols Campus Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony
    May 11, 2019
    Antoine M. Garibaldi, Ph.D.

    Thank you, Dr. Beer. University of Detroit Mercy Board of Trustees Board Chair Mike McNamara; our distinguished speaker, Mr. Rip Rapson; Faculty, Staff, and Students of the University; Parents, Spouses, Relatives and Friends of the 2019 graduates; and, most especially, the 2019 Undergraduate Graduating Class of University of Detroit Mercy. We are happy to have you here for our 2019 McNichols Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony.

    The primary reason we are here today is to celebrate the accomplishments of our Class of 2019 graduates. But because our commencement ceremonies always coincide with another special celebration this weekend, I would like to begin by asking the graduates to join me in wishing their mothers an early Happy Mother’s Day!

    We all owe so much to our mothers, as well as our fathers, and other special relatives for the care, attention and support they provided over the years to raise us and mold us into the persons we have become. And, Graduates, this is one of those occasions when it is most appropriate to express your appreciation to the persons in your lives who not only encouraged and supported you but also made it financially possible for you to achieve your dream of becoming an attorney. And I know how much your accomplishment also means to your spouses, grandparents, brothers and sisters, uncles, aunts, and best friends who have joined you and cannot wait until you walk across the stage to receive your diploma. Make sure to thank all of them for their inspiration, encouragement, and especially for the many times you told them that you could not join them because you had to study!

    Before you receive your degree, I believe the audience might like to know a few interesting facts about your class of 689 graduates. Your class shares similar characteristics, and some different, with regard to your ages, gender, and hometowns.

    Seventy-five percent (518) of you are 25 years old or younger – with the youngest being 19 and the most seasoned in the late 60’s.

    Your class also has more women than men: 64% female and 36% male.

    And among the 689 bachelor’s degree candidates, you are from many different places across the country and the world:

    573 (or 83%) of you are from Michigan;

    27 (or four percent) of you come from 13 other states;

    and the remaining 89 of you are from 8 countries, including Australia, Canada, China, Egypt, France, India, Luxembourg and Spain.

    Those similar and different personal characteristics provided you with a rich and diverse educational experience that will be well used in your profession and in the communities where you will live and serve.

    As I began thinking about a theme for my brief remarks to you this afternoon, I took a few minutes one day to look through the graduation list. I don’t do that usually because I typically know many students who are graduating. But this review of the graduation list was different because I began to recall when and how I met several of you. I noted the names of some of you whom I met while you were still in high school or on your first campus visit. Some of you have been very faithful in making appointments during the semester for my weekly student hours. Some of you I met during my annual freshman luncheon and some during your student-athlete campus visits. And there are others of you whom I have told on more than one occasion come by and see me. You know who you are but I have decided to mention a few of you – even though I know I will get into trouble -- to see how well you might have recalled those interactions of the last few years: Kaylee, Erica, Connor, Hannah, DeRoss, Grant, Angelo, Vania, Kelly, Paola, Jeffrey, Carlos, Maria, Danielle, Tiffeny, Relicious and more. And there are other students like Ashley, Jordan, Sydney, Courtney, Kara and Kaitlin who should be here this afternoon but they have the good fortune of playing in the Horizon league softball championship in Chicago. Their first game started about half an hour ago but I know they’re thinking about winning rather than receiving their diploma this afternoon. Don’t worry, we will do a graduation reenactment as we have done before when some of our athletic teams were in the conference championships around graduation.

    My memories of our times together are very pleasant, but the more significant message is that time passes by quickly. Your four years have passed as quickly as I told you they would during your freshman orientation. You have grown academically, socially, and spiritually. But many of you have also been very active in this community and throughout the city of Detroit. Take those leadership skills and continue to be generous with your volunteer time in the community just as you have been unselfish with your time while balancing your academic other personal responsibilities. And the other message I want you to remember from the brief but fast-moving years we and your faculty have known you is that you should not postpone to a later day those significant things that you want to do.

    As a university we have made some modest progress in this community over the last eight years. But that would not have been possible without the collaboration and support of The Kresge Foundation, which is led by President Rip Rapson, our commencement speaker. University of Detroit Mercy has been fortunate to be involved in many revitalization efforts throughout the city of Detroit because of the grants we have received from the Kresge Foundation. The Detroit Collaborative Design Center in our School of Architecture has been a major beneficiary of some of the foundation’s support and many small businesses in the area had their start as pop-ups in this area. Mr. Rapson’s commitment to Detroit, as well as many other major cities across the country, is well known and we are fortunate to have him in this metropolitan area. The four years of planning leading to the establishment of Live6 Alliance in 2015 was primarily funded by the Kresge Foundation, with modest annual contributions by the University. I am personally indebted to the Foundation’s senior leadership team for their early and continuous support of our community-focused initiatives. Thank you Rip for all of that support and for being here today with us.

    Graduates, remain close to your Alma Mater and your School or College as you bring distinction to the University and your profession during your outstanding career.

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

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    2018 President’s Convocation Remarks

    President’s Convocation Remarks
    by Detroit Mercy President Antoine M. Garibaldi, Ph.D.
    Aug. 16, 2018

    Good morning, Detroit Mercy colleagues, and welcome to the 2018-2019 academic year. As is customary, many of us have been working on the McNichols, Corktown and Riverfront campuses since the May 11 and 12 commencements. But three months have passed by very quickly and I hope you had a chance to get some rest and relaxation as well as the opportunity to spend some enjoyable time with your families.

    Many people who are not in the field of higher education believe that colleges and universities are not very active during the summer. But those of us who have spent most, if not all, of our careers in this rewarding career know that we are as busy during the summer as we are during the academic year. And that is why I am very appreciative of all of you -- staff and faculty, and even our students -- who have been assisting prospective students to consider enrolling in the University and also working with new and current students in their Summer Orientation programs, class schedules, financial aid and scholarships, student accounts, summer school classes, residence hall assignments and much more. Your dedicated efforts are very much appreciated by the new students and their parents. The personal attention you provide to our students are complimented both verbally and in e-mails to me and many others at the University. Thank you!

    That same appreciation extends to our facilities and maintenance staff who make our campuses look absolutely beautiful throughout the year, but especially during the summer. I not only see it but I also hear the compliments from visitors, prospective students and many of our alumni who are coming back to the campus more often for visits and activities. Many of our buildings and classrooms have been renovated, and you may have seen some of them on the slide show during breakfast. (You will be able to view them again during lunch if you missed seeing them.) With our two summer school sessions, growing numbers of educational camps for secondary, middle school and elementary school students, the McNichols campus is a busier place during the summer. And that is really good news as our University Services staff can tell you.  Thank you to each and every one of you who make our three campuses come alive during the summer.

    As we begin this 141th academic year of University of Detroit and the 77th academic year of Mercy College of Detroit, I want to give you an assessment of the progress we have made and are making while also telling you how much more we must do in order to be a strong viable institution for the next decade and beyond. There is much good news but we also must become more financially and management efficient to counter the headwinds of a rapidly declining number of 18-year-olds in this state and region; and a citizenry that believes higher education is not only overpriced but may not be worth the money and time students spend in our institutions to obtain a degree at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels. Competition for undergraduate students in the metropolitan area, as well as throughout the state, is vigorous and very noticeable on television throughout the day and night. We know that competition will grow and that is why the Detroit Mercy 2020 plan was developed last year. I will provide you an update on the plan further into my remarks.

    Over the next few minutes, I will focus on three topics: (1) the positive trends on our first-year and transfer student enrollment and the progress of The Campaign for University of Detroit Mercy; (2) an update and the work to be completed on University of Detroit Mercy 2020: Envisioning a Boundless Future; and (3) the numerous activities of The Live6 Alliance, the economic development organization that the University co-established two years ago, and its office that is under construction on McNichols Road. I begin with some highlights on our first-year students and preliminary registration statistics.

    Enrollment Projections for 2018-2019 – As of Monday, August 13, 2018, 583 freshmen have confirmed for Fall. Last year 550 freshmen were confirmed as of this date. This is a 6% increase. Confirmations of graduates from Catholic high schools total 100, compared with 103 last year; 82 of the confirmed students are from the Detroit Archdiocesan high schools compared with 86 last year.  Of those students from Archdiocesan high schools, 66% qualified for the higher grant, which indicates that they completed elementary school and high school at an Archdiocesan Catholic school.  Last year that percentage was 54%.

    Our Student Orientation, Advising and Registration program (SOAR) participation rate for this summer is 100%. All students have either attended or are scheduled to attend our orientation program. That is very important because it increases the chances that they will be successful during their first year.

    Freshman Profile – The new first-year students have an ACT composite score average of 25 (25 last year), an SAT composite of 1147 (1135 last year) and a high school grade point average of 3.6 (3.6 last year). Twenty percent are in the top 10% of their high school graduating class compared with 25% last year, and there are eight (8) Valedictorians and Salutatorians.  Twenty-three confirmed first-time students have also been accepted into the University Honors Program.

    One-hundred-sixteen (116) freshmen will be the first in their family to attend college (131 last year), and another 91 students (80 last year) will be the first in their family to receive a bachelor’s degree.  Of the 583 confirmed freshman students, 194 or 33% are Pell-eligible (35% last year).  Fifty-eight percent of freshmen are women compared with 62% last year.

    Fourteen of our incoming freshmen are international students and 83 percent (87% last year) of our incoming students are from Michigan.  Our new undergraduate students will be coming from 18 states: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio,  Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, West Virginia; and 17 countries: Belize, Australia, Canada, China, Croatia, Egypt, Georgia, Germany, India, Jamaica, Lebanon, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, South Korea and Ukraine.

    As of Monday, August 13, 169 new transfer students were registered for the Fall compared with 179 in Fall 2017; and 267 new graduate students registered compared with 243 last year.

    There are 25 confirmed freshmen for the fourth cohort of the NIH REBUILD Detroit program compared with 15 last year. The students began this summer with a summer bridge program. 

    With respect to registration for Fall 2018, as of August 13, 2,566 undergraduate students are registered compared with 2,507 in Fall 2017, a 2.4% increase; and 878 graduate students are registered compared with 881 in 2017, a very slight decrease of .3%. The professional school enrollment is at 1,171, compared with 1,173 last year.  The professional schools have already exceeded their budget forecast of 1,139 by 32 students.  More students will be registering for classes over the next two weeks.

    The overall preliminary registration total as of August 13 is 4,615 compared with 4,561 at this same time last year, which is a difference of 54 and a 1.2% 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 problems registering.

    Our housing registration numbers are 2% higher than last year: 817 vs. 802. Approximately 50% of McNichols freshmen will be residing on campus.

    University Advancement and Comprehensive Campaign Activities Update – We continue to make good progress toward our $100 million goal for The Campaign for University of Detroit Mercy. You may recall that the public phase of the campaign was announced last October with a special dinner to thank many of our alumni and friends who have made significant gifts and included 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 -- President and CEO of The Kresge Foundation, Rip Rapson, and alumnus Matt Cullen, Principal of Rock Ventures, LLC and CEO of JACK Entertainment, LLC. The panel was moderated by our alumnus and new Trustee, Ron Fournier, former editor of Crain’s Detroit Business and now President of Truscott Rossman. It was an uplifting evening with many of our alumni and friends who had helped us raise more than $75 million in gifts, pledges and charitable estate plan expectancies at this time.

    Since that time last October, we have raised $89,178,207 for Student Scholarships; Academic Programs and Faculty; Facilities Renovations; and Unrestricted and General Support. Thus far, we have raised:

    • $33,157,186 for Student Scholarships toward the $40,000,000 goal;  
    • $34,223,712 for Academic Programs and Faculty toward the $25,000,000 goal;
    • $10,653,053 for Facilities Renovations toward the  $25,000,000 goal; and
    • $10,879,257 for Unrestricted and General Support toward the $10,000,000 goal.

    Alumni Relations has been vigorously working to increase alumni engagement with more than 2,300 individuals expressing an interest in assisting their alma mater. And we continue to host alumni events across the country. And, as you know from correspondence about the third Fall Homecoming Celebration on September 28 and 29, our program is almost final. More details will be provided in Campus Connection, but go to the Homecoming website for more information on this fun-filled weekend.

    Detroit Mercy 2020 Update and Our Work This Year – As I mentioned last year, our most recent five-year strategic plan ends this year. Much of attention since last June has focused on our fourth goal: effective management and financial health. Over the last fiscal year, we took several significant steps to address that goal by: making our tuition more affordable to students and their parents by re-setting our undergraduate tuition from $41,000 to $28,000. We also adjusted our student financial aid proportionately to parallel the new $28,000 tuition price. A voluntary employee service incentive program was also offered, and 108 employees accepted that opportunity. Also, we have decided to discontinue some academic programs that have not generated an adequate number of students to justify continuing those academic degree programs. Similarly, we have made other structural adjustments throughout the University that include reducing the number of public safety officers and streamlining our athletics programs. All of these decisions are absolutely necessary to assure that we will be in a sound fiscal position over the next five years. While the VESIP initiative was positive, we also had to replace many of the positions that will be vacated. Therefore, the President’s Council still has some very significant work to do in order to achieve the proposed annual expense reductions we proposed.

    The primary rationale for establishing the Detroit Mercy 2020: Envisioning a Boundless Future program was and continues to be to strengthen the University for its long-term viability. Because of the tuition reset, we are confident that we have attracted and enrolled more students for this Fall 2018 semester and particularly for Fall 2019, despite the declining number of college-aged students in Michigan and the Midwest. We have explored and implemented some structural changes since last year to generate more revenue and to be more financially efficient. We will be doing the same this year so that we can sustain the University’s vibrant and boundless future.

    Strategic Plan: 2018-2023 – Significant progress was made on each of the strategic goals over the last five years; but we are investing more time and enhancing our efforts even more to further increase our enrollment, retention and graduation rates. The Strategic Planning Team began the process of developing the next five-year plan last academic year, and they have been meeting bi-weekly since October of 2017.

    The Strategic Planning Team first reviewed many of the University’s internal data sets to determine the pertinent information. They also conducted “visioning exercises” with team members serving as facilitators. The team was interested in engaging with anyone in the University community who wanted to participate in setting goals for the University. Beginning with Colleagues Day in January of 2018 and continuing over the course of the year, more than 25 sessions were conducted with groups of faculty, staff and students. Over 400 community members participated in the sessions. Information was also solicited through an electronic suggestion box that was located on the website. 

    Three primary goals were identified by the Strategic Planning Team and objectives for each goal were formulated. The team will give feedback to the community so they can “fine-tune” the goals over the next month. Completion of the plan is scheduled for February of 2019.

    Open sessions will be held during the week of September 27, so please contact any member of the team if you are interested in participating.

    Live6 Alliance Activities – The Live6 Alliance, under the leadership of Cecily King, has developed several new programs and events to further enhance and strengthen our McNichols-Livernois neighborhood. I continue to serve as the Live6 Alliance Board Chair and we have obtained excellent financial support from The Kresge Foundation, JP Morgan Chase, and other foundations, in addition to the modest annual contribution we provide. The University continues to receive favorable recognition for leadership we are providing in these neighborhood efforts. Please go to the Live6 website to see how you can get more involved and to find out more about upcoming events. Live6’s headquarters, HomeBase on McNichols Road (between Prairie & San Juan), is still under construction and we are expecting a “soft-opening” in mid-September.  

    Celebrate Spirit! – Please remember that on Thursday, September 13, in the Student Fitness Center, the Detroit Mercy community will come together for Celebrate Spirit! as we officially welcome the new school year for Detroit Mercy faculty, staff and students. Celebrate Spirit! 2018 will be co-sponsored this year by Detroit Mercy Titan Athletics and University Ministry and the picnic will again be sponsored by Fiat Chrysler Automotive. The celebrant for the Celebrate Spirit! Mass will be Pat Kelly, S.J. '83. The theme is “Be the Joy!”

    Colleagues, we have made good progress in several areas, but we still have much more work to do to become an even stronger institution this year and in the future. Our reputation locally and regionally is growing; our enrollment is growing; our alumni are becoming more engaged and giving more to the University; and your daily contribution to the University and our Mission are absolutely critical.

    I thank you for all you do for Detroit Mercy!

  •  

    2018 McNichols Campus Commencement Speech

    University of Detroit Mercy
    McNichols Campus Commencement Speech
    May 12, 2018
    Antoine M. Garibaldi, Ph.D.

    Thank you, Dr. McKinnon. University of Detroit Mercy Board of Trustees Board Chair Michael McNamara; Trustees Sr. Rosita Schiller and William Young; today’s speaker, Mrs. Nancy Greening Kennedy; Faculty, Staff, and Students of the University; Parents, Spouses, Relatives and Friends of the 2018 graduates; and, most especially, the 2018 Graduating Class of University of Detroit Mercy. We are happy to have you here for our 2018 McNichols Commencement Ceremony.

    We are here today to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates; but I want to begin today’s ceremony by asking you to join me in wishing all of the mothers in the audience an early Happy Mother’s Day. Your mother and father and the other special people in your lives who are present today – your grandparents, spouses, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles and other relatives, best friends, neighbors and many others – have been your biggest supporters and know how hard you have worked to make this dream a reality. You have devoted many long hours to studying, while also holding part-time and full-time jobs, and, in many instances, managing family responsibilities also. Your families and friends are happy as most of you begin and others advance in your varied professions. So make sure to thank them today and over the next few days for their inspiration, encouragement, and support. In case you have not realized it, commencements are often more for your family than for you.

    Your McNichols Campus class of undergraduates and graduates totals 1,177!  And like many previous classes of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral graduates, you are similar in some characteristics and different in others, particularly with regard to your ages, gender and hometowns.

    For example, seventy-four percent, or 515 of the 700, baccalaureate degree candidates are 25 years old or younger – with the youngest being 19 and the most seasoned in the early 70’s. Almost 50 percent (49%), or 218, of the 447 master’s and specialist graduates are under the age of 30 and the oldest candidate in the early 60’s. And our 17 doctoral candidates range in age from 28 years old to the 70’s.

    And women outnumber men in our undergraduate, graduate and doctoral graduating classes -- 59% women and 40% men! While the magnitude of the gender gap has been growing nationally in higher education over the last two decades, there are ways to increase the number of men attending and completing undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees that will bring their numbers closer to the outstanding numbers that women have achieved.

    With regard to hometowns, 81%, or 959, of our graduates are from Michigan; six percent (73) come from 20 other states; and the remainder (120) come from 17 countries, including Belize, Canada, China, Congo, Ghana, Indonesia, Italy, Libya, Mexico, and Netherlands.

    We know that those ages, gender and hometown similarities and differences 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 come closer to that special moment of graduation, I ask that you give serious reflection and thought to this simple but serious question:

    “What is my calling?”

    “What is my calling?”

     Even though you have chosen many of our 100 academic majors for a degree that will lead you to a lifelong career, “your calling” in each of those professions is not the same as the response you would give to a friend or stranger who asks “what do you do?” Your “calling” is not “your job” or “your work.” Rather, your calling is closely aligned to the vocation you are about to begin and that you have chosen. The root of the word “vocation” comes from two Latin words – the noun “vocatio,” which means “a calling” or “a summons” and the Latin verb “vocare,” which means “to call.” Vocation is also defined as “an occupation to which a person is specially drawn or for which he or she is suited, trained or qualified.” As a Catholic university that is Jesuit- and Mercy-sponsored, we know that the word “vocation” had its origins in Christianity and it is commonly used to refer to a person who is interested in devoting himself or herself to religious life. But “vocation” is used today in many non-religious contexts and certainly applies to almost all professions.

    So, as you contemplate “your calling,” think beyond the simple reply of “I am an accountant, architect, biologist, chemist, community development specialist, computer engineer, financial analyst, historian, journalist, nurse or nurse anesthetist, philosopher, physician assistant, psychologist, social worker, teacher, writer, nurse anesthetist, political scientist…” and many other occupations that you can use to complete the sentence to describe who you are professionally. But that answer is not sufficient and why you should think more deeply about the short-term and long-term contributions you can make to your profession, to your community and to the broader society. Ask yourself instead the more difficult question: “how do I want to use my degree and advance myself personally and professionally over the next five years, 10 years or 20 years?”

    To fulfill your calling, you will need to fully use your degrees. For example, you can choose to teach, conduct research, discover cures for diseases, invent innovative products and instruments, design facilities and autonomous vehicles and much more. You can also mentor others who are interested in your profession and become involved in service activities similar to the way that you have volunteered locally, nationally and in other countries during your years as a student. Remember the people and non-profit organizations you assisted and continue that level of community service during your career. Transform the gift of education that you have received here by sharing it freely with others who can benefit from it. Your calling will come into sharper focus as you realize that whatever you select, it will be your ultimate purpose in life and the goals you want to achieve after a successful career. Thus, when you reach the end of your profession, you will follow proudly in the footsteps of tens of thousands of University of Detroit Mercy alumni who have preceded you over the last 141 years.

    And as you ponder “your calling,” use our commencement speaker and distinguished alumna, Mrs. Nancy Greening Kennedy, as a role model. Her exceptional career as an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and active civic, community, religious and university volunteer is a useful marker for you to use as a baseline for your service. If you can be half as busy as Mrs. Kennedy is now when you are at the peak of your career, the university will be very thankful for your dedicated service.

    Finally, stay close to your Alma Mater and your School or College as you bring distinction to the University and your profession during your outstanding career.

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

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