November 2010: Gannon reacts to Garibaldi’s departure

An emotional Dr. Antoine Garibaldi, fresh off his plane ride back from Detroit, confirmed at an assembly Friday that he would be leaving Gannon."As you can imagine this is a day of mixed emotions for me," said Garibaldi, who has served as president for more than nine years. "Not only do I love Gannon, I'm passionate about this place."

The news surprised and saddened some students.

Gannon senior theatre and communication arts major Kathleen Cahill called Garibaldi a "truly genuine man" who will be missed, especially because he took so much time to get to know the student body.

"I'm not sure how he does it, but he knows just about every student on campus and what they are involved in," she said. "It's very rare that students go acknowledged by a university president by name and (are) asked how they are doing in their major and extracurriculars."

Joe Witkowski, a junior sports and exercise science major, said that although it's unfortunate Garibaldi will be leaving the Erie campus, the UDM community will benefit from his presence.

"When he sees you, he knows who you are and always says hi," he said. "It gave that welcoming feeling, even from someone as busy as Dr. Garibaldi. He has done a lot for Gannon – maybe it's time for him to help out another college."

Garibaldi said it was because of UDM's similarities to Gannon that he developed an interest in the school.

"Many of their programs are much like the ones here," he said. "Another point of attraction is the opportunity to contribute to Detroit's revival. Like Gannon, UDM is very involved in the service to their community. They truly believe that they have an outstanding institution, too, and they want it to get better – just like we said nine years ago."

Garibaldi said it will be left to others to decide his legacy at Gannon.

"I try to leave that up to other people," he said. "I think you'll be able to look back in 10 years and see that we accomplished a lot despite some of the major challenges we're having in the community."

While tenure will cast a big shadow over the presidency at Gannon, Garibaldi said he is excited to make his mark at a different school.

The Gannon and Erie communities showed him their support with a standing ovation after his speech. The Rev. Donald Trautman, chair of the Gannon board of trustees, said it would be difficult to replace Garibaldi.

"We know we can't clone Dr. Garibaldi," he said. "But we're going to try."

Jacob Tarr and Abby Badach of Gannon also contributed to this story.