A Heart for Service – Diverse: Issues in Higher Education

by | Jun 24, 2022 | Education

Dr. Antoine GaribaldiDr. Antoine Garibaldi arrived at the University of Detroit Mercy in 2011 with a plan to turn around sharp enrollment declines at Michigan’s oldest and largest Catholic university. Garibaldi, the first lay person to preside over the university, focused on burnishing the history, profile, and potential of an institution founded in 1877 — and abutting one of the Motor City’s most hardscrabble neighborhoods. Garibaldi traces the devolution of that area flanking University District, noted still for its 1920s mansions of stone and marble, to 1967. That year, inflamed by myriad forms of racism, Blacks set fire to sections of their city. That rebellion captured headlines worldwide.In turn, whites fled. As years passed, the exodus they sparked also counted some well-off Blacks. Catholic schools that once put kids in the pipeline to Detroit Mercy — the result of a 1990 merger of the University of Detroit and Mercy College — relocated from the city to its suburbs.“A lot [of] alumni said, ‘You should move,’” says Garibaldi, recounting entreaties made at the time to the campus’ heavily Jesuit and Sisters of Mercy administrators and faculty. “They said, ‘No, we are not going anywhere. This is where we started. This is our community.’”Today, that resonates as a righteous defiance for Garibaldi, 70. He has sought to reaffirm what tho …

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